Helmingham Hall in Suffolk has been named the winner of the 2017 Historic Houses Association’s Garden of the Year Award.
Presented annually since 1984, the honour is designed to recognise the importance of some of the country’s most spectacular gardens with outstanding horticultural and public appeal.
The Grade I listed gardens at Helmingham are owned by the Tollemache family, who have lived in the house since it was built in 1490.
Currently the house is inhabited by Timothy and his wife Xa, a landscape designer and gardener. The current owners have lived on the site longer than any of the previous 18 generations and have brought their family up inside the boundaries of its moat.
Visitors to the garden first reach a Parterre and Hybrid Musk Garden, approached along a wide grass causeway flanked by large yew domes. Beyond the Parterre, and surrounding it on three sides, is a rose garden planted in 1965 by the then-Lady Tollemache. The garden contains hybrid musk roses edged with Hidcote lavender and under-planted with London Pride.
Guests can also see a working walled kitchen garden, complete with sweet peas, runner beans and gourds, surrounded by double herbaceous borders in cruciform style. In 1986 this area was restored to the original eight sections, as per garden plans. Arched tunnels have been added to the vegetable plots creating new walks and vistas, while two bridges lead to an Apple Walk and Wild Flower Garden.
The borders at Helmingham consist of shrub, topiary, grass and colour-themed flowers. While separate areas are planted to flower in early spring and summer providing a variety of stunning plants to look at throughout the open season.
A Knot and Herb Garden was also added recently, while this area is also home to the main rose garden.