The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives. Gertrude Jekyll
Our holiday started with a change from our planned itinerary as we visited the secret gardens of Easton Lodge, Roadworks had rendered the route to Gibberd Gardens inaccessible to coaches, but it was certainly a good alternative. The gardens have a very interesting history, having been owned and redesigned by Daisy Greville, Countess of Warwick, mistress of Edward VII. The gardens are managed by volunteers and their dedication and enthusiasm was clear to see. Our next stop was Marks Hall Gardens and Arboretum. The Marks Hall collection is planted on a geographical theme with plants from the temperate regions of the world grouped together. There are areas representing Europe, Asia, North America and the Southern Hemisphere, set in more than 200 acres. It is a very tranquil place with a beautiful and inspiring walled garden, planted with a modern theme.
The Stoke by Nayland Hotel, our base for 4 nights, proved to be an excellent choice. We all enjoyed well-appointed spacious bedrooms and a delicious dinner each evening with plenty of choice. The hotel is located in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural and is surrounded by two championship golf courses, so there were wonderful views from the public areas. Sadly, the cold weather deterred us from enjoying drinks on the terraces, soaking up the last rays of the day, that I had envisaged!
Our second day dawned grey and chilly as we headed to Southwold, but we enjoyed the commentary of our blue badge guide, Ian, as we drove through stunning countryside and attractive villages. At Southwold, some of us visited Adnams Brewery for a guided tour and either a gin or beer tasting session, while the more sober amongst us had a stroll around the town and seafront. Next on the itinerary was a guided walking tour of Ipswich starting at Christchurch Mansion and visiting iconic buildings such as theAncient House, which dates back to the mid-16th century and features detailed pargeting and wood carving. Sadly, our trip to Ipswich also featured a visit to the hospital as one of our party developed appendicitis which curtailed her holiday.
One of the highlights of the trip was the visit to the privately owned Layer Marney Tower where the owner, Sheila, treated us not only to delicious cake but a wealth of delightful and engaging stories and observations about the 500 year history of England’s tallest Tudor gatehouse which was visited by Henry VIII. Next up, lunch in the beautiful city of Colchester, followed by a visit to Green Island Gardens, more cake and an opportunity to buy some unusual plants.
On the penultimate day of our holiday we visited two spectacular but vastly different gardens. Fuller Mill Gardens owned by Perennial, the gardeners’ benevolent charity, is another tranquil and enchanting garden situated on the banks of the River Lark. It is a Suffolk gem, with beautiful vistas at every turn. Helmingham Hall is, as it sounds, extensive and grand! Privately owned by the same family, the Tollmaches, for 500 years, Helmingham Hall has a moat complete with drawbridge! Xa Tollemache, the present owner, is a talented and celebrated garden designer who many of us observed tending to the knot garden which she created in 1982.
Having checked out of the hotel, we travelled to Bury St Edmunds and another spectacular house and garden, Ickworth, now owned by the National Trust. The Italianate gardens were designed by the 1st Marquess as pleasure grounds for his family and guests to enjoy. Our final garden was Wyken Hall Gardens which though small, contains many different gardens, including a well-stocked vegetable “allotment” and a maze.
After a wonderful holiday, we arrived back at CSG, we’d enjoyed each other’s company and seen some beautiful gardens that were definitely worth visiting, many only just over an hour’s drive away.
The gardens to be visited include:
The Forgotten Gardens of Easton Lodge
Marks Hall Gardens & Arboretum - guided tour
Southwold with an optional visit to Adnams Brewery (not inc)
Ipswich – guided tour
Layer Marney Tower – guided tour, tea and cakes!
Green Island Gardens
Fullers Mill Garden
Helmingham Hall Gardens
Ickworth House (National Trust)
Wyken Hall Gardens & Vineyard
Note some of these have changed from original itinerary due to unforeseen circumstances
5 day holiday for 2021
The Gardens and Heritage House of Essex and Suffolk
4* Stoke by Nayland Hotel
Having had many enjoyable and well-planned holidays booked by Tailored Travel in the past, we will be using their services again for our holiday for 2021.
The 4* Stoke by Nayland Hotel has been provisionally booked on the basis of 4 nights bed, breakfast and evening meal. The hotel is located in a countryside setting in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 10 miles from the centre of Colchester. Facilities at the hotel include a restaurant, bar, spa with swimming pool, gymnasium, sauna, steam room and a Jacuzzi and two golf courses! All rooms are en suite and feature television, telephone, hairdryer. A double room will cost £599.00 per person, for single occupants there is an additional £99.00 supplement. Lunches, holiday insurance and gratuities are also not included.
We have agreed a full programme of excursions which will appeal to both garden lovers and art enthusiasts and the cost of the holiday includes entry to all the gardens, excluding Ickworth (which will be free to National Trust members) and the services of a blue badge guide for 3 days.
F0r the full itinerary for the holiday, please click here