East Anglia: Helmingham Hall

BALI Regional Event

Helmingham Hall
19 Sep 2024
Helmingham Estate, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 6EF
Opening times:
2:30pm - 4:30pm

Join the East Anglia committee to visit the spectacular Grade 1 listed gardens at Helmingham Hall.

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Following on from the Who’s Who event at Nethergate Brewery, we are keen to continue engagement within the region visiting this fantastic estate full of history, and a multitude of stunning gardens.

On the day we will have a guided tour with the Head Gardener of three years, Brendan Arundel, who, as well as focusing on the  artistic, creative and expressive side to the work, also gardens with biodiversity, sustainability and the environment at the forefront of his mind.

The range of gardens on the estate include The Parterre, Herbaceous Borders, Bridges, Seats & Tunnels, Borders, The Orchard, The Apple Tree Walk, The Knot Garden and The Rose Garden.

On the day:

2:15pm Arrival

2:30pm Guided tour from Head Gardener, Brendan Arundel

4:30pm Finish

About Head Gardener, Brendan Arundel:

After training at the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Brendan undertook the RHS Wisley Diploma based at their flagship garden in Surrey. He finished as the Top Student and was retained by the RHS, spending the next 5 years working at their sister garden in Essex, RHS Hyde Hall. Originally from Suffolk, Brendan was keen to return to his home county and when the opportunity to oversee the gardens at Helmingham Hall arose he didn’t give it a second thought. He has been working at the Hall over 3 years now and particularly enjoys the artistic, creative and expressive side to the work, whilst also gardening with biodiversity, sustainability and the environment at the forefront of his mind.

Helmingham Hall Gardens

Gardens and History:

The influence of well known garden designer Xa Tollemache is clearly visible. The parterre was redesigned in 1987 and the new rose garden to the east of the coach house was created in 1982, together with the knot and herb garden.

The Parterre and Hybrid Musk Garden

The Parterre and Hybrid Musk Garden are on the west side of the house and are approached along a wide grass causeway which is flanked by large yew domes, separating the house moat from the garden moat that encircles the Walled Garden. The Parterre was redesigned in 1978 using a permanent planting of box hedging infilled with Santolina incana. Beyond the Parterre and surrounding it on all three sides is a rose garden planted in 1965 by Dinah, Lady Tollemache, containing hybrid musk roses edged with Hidcote lavender and underplanted with London Pride. This collection has since been consistently added to.

The Walled Garden & Herbaceous Borders

Cruciform borders are the highlight of this working kitchen garden. Behind the borders are a multitude of different roses trained on wires. Throughout the seasons the colour scheme intensifies with additional dot planting of annuals to prolong the flowering season into late summer.

Bridges, Seats and Tunnels

By creating arched tunnels through the vegetable plots they have introduced new walks and vistas. George Carter made two seats on the south-facing border and there are two bridges leading out of the Walled Garden: an ancient one that takes visitors to the Apple Walk and a second, newer bridge that was also designed by George Carter, leading into the Wild Flower Garden at the end of the main border.

Shrub Borders

If you walk away from the Hall up the length of the border and turn right before the gates, you will see a mixed border on the left. The colour scheme is blue, yellow and silver, incorporating Pittosporum tenuifolium, rosemary, sage, Mahonia, Physocarpus diablo and ferns interplanted with vigorous perennials such as Inula magnifica and Cephalaria.

We have planted David Austin roses on the south-facing side, along with Bupleurum fruticosum, Carpenteria and other unusual shrubs. Alstroemeria, Delphinium, Agapanthus, and a selection of perennials grow amongst them.

The Topiary Garden

Completing the circuit of borders within the Walled Garden is a narrow south-facing topiary border with interesting and humorous topiary shapes, separated by big drifts of Iris ‘Sable’, Delphinium and white lavender.

Colour-themed Buttress Border and Potager

Continuing our idea of planting the wide borders with different characteristics, we have created yew buttresses on the north side within the Wall. These buttresses serve to separate colour-themed borders, creating interest in mid to late summer.

We have echoed this buttress effect with similar shaped wire work further down the Wall, where you will find our Potager along with interesting herbs and salad crops. Various climbing plants are trained up the wirework.

The Grass Borders

Turning left before the gate, this east-facing border houses decorative and unusual shrubs such as Heptacodium miconioides, Lonicera involucrata and Euonymus ‘Red Cascade’, punctuated by different and interesting forms of grasses.

Hellebores are planted for early interest and ground cover. Kniphofia look wonderfully cosmopolitan with the grasses, which include Miscanthus ‘Silberspinne’, ‘Rotsilber’, and ‘Graziella’, Luzula sylvatic ‘ Aurea’, Panicum virgatum, Stipa brachytricha and Pennisetum ‘Karley Rose

The Orchard

Crossing over the garden moat we come to the Wild Flower Garden and Orchard, where you will also find the tennis court, which has been designed to be as unobtrusive as possible, with fishing net in place of normal chain link fencing. Here wildflowers abound with primroses, cowslips, ox-eye daisies, with pyramidal and marsh orchids blooming later in the year. Cut paths make a walkway through the long grass. After the formality of the previous gardens it is refreshing to find an area of natural wildness on the edge of our Tudor deer park.

The Knot Garden

In 1982 we decided to create a garden that was historically sympathetic to the house and visually effective when viewed both from the raised walkway and also from the windows of the house across the moat. In the Knot Garden, there are two knot patterns planted in boxes, with each pattern divided into four squares; the one on the south side is inter-planted with herbs. Two of the four opposite squares show the pattern of the Tollemache fret, the other two patterns showing our initials, a ‘T’ and an ‘A’. The interstices contain a theme of plants introduced into Britain before 1750.

The Rose Garden

Beyond the knots we planted two simple rectangular beds, each planted with Rosa ‘Mundi’ and R. ‘The Fairy’, edged in catmint and interplanted with forget-me-nots and Bergenia. The four outer beds are edged in Hidcote lavender and planted with roses: one of R. x alba and species roses; one of R. centifolia and Moss roses; one of R. gallica, Damask and Bourbons; and one of ‘China’, R. rugosa and Hybrid Perpetual roses.

Among the roses we plant spring bulbs, white foxgloves, blue and white Campanula persicifolia, several species of Geranium and late-flowering perennials. This dense planting in a restricted colour range is very effective, both visually and botanically.

The inner beds are edged in hyssop and planted with a romantic profusion of David Austin roses, small shrubs and herbaceous plants that span the season, from early hellebores to late-blooming Fuchsias and Hibiscus. In the centre lies a brick pattern of a circle within a square within a cross, closely planted with golden thyme, through which Narcissi and Madonna lilies grow throughout the different seasons. From the central circle a stone figure of Flora, holding a garland of roses, surveys the scene. These brick beds are softly enclosed by yew hedging.

If you leave the Rose Garden towards the Tea Rooms you will pass through a simple avenue of Pyrus nivalis edged in box. The brick path has mounds of Parahebe, Geranium and Fragaria growing along it.


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