The Suffolk Coast's Glorious Gardens

With the pleasures of the warmer weather upon us, there is no greater delight than a gentle amble around a garden in full bloom. With a broad array of dedicated gardens to pursue along the Suffolk coast, there is no better time to explore them all- from the smart and manicured to the wild and wonderful! Gather your family and friends, grab a picnic and get amongst nature! 

Kensington Gardens, Lowestoft

Perched on the Kirkley cliff top at the heart of the seafront at Lowestoft, Kensington Gardens were originally opened in 1922 as an extension to the esplanade. The gardens, lovingly maintained by volunteers mostly retain the same traditional layout from years past, with herbaceous borders, beautiful seasonal floral displays and a canopy of mature oaks- creating a relaxing dappled lighting effect.

There is a frequently used traditional bowling green, tennis courts and a charming little cafe which serves hot and cold drinks, snacks as well as lovely home-made dinners. Children will be keen to see the tree atop the rockery, which has been chosen by locals as a ‘fairy tree’ and adorned with little doors, fairy figurines and more, as well as the large boating lake where you will see adults and children alike driving their remote control boats. 

Directions to Kensington Gardens

Belle Vue Park, Lowestoft. 

Belle Vue Park can be found in North Lowestoft, overlooking the ravine and with a view of the sea. This was the first free public park in Lowestoft, opened in 1874 and cherished since by locals and visitors alike. The layout remained largely unchanged since it was first opened and boasts a beautiful combination of floral displays, mature gardens and grand trees.

The sloping paths are rich with the wildlife who make their home in the park and the semi-natural habitat supports many species. The park has several more unusual features, including a charming little thatched cottage which used to be inhabited by the gardener, a 19th century iron bridge, commemorating Queen Victoria’s jubilee stretching from the park across the ravine, and the naval war memorial. You can also see the poppy-inspired Peace Garden within the park, offering a space for quiet contemplation and remembrance to the fallen soldiers of the First and Second World Wars. 

Sparrows Nest Gardens, Lowestoft

Located just a stone’s throw from what remains of Lowestoft’s historic ‘fishing village’ the Sparrow’s nest is a glorious park with plenty for visitors to enjoy as well as an important connection to Lowestoft’s heritage and history. With expansive areas of lawn, shady nooks and walkways, as well as paths in and out of trees and up and down slopes, these gardens are well worth a visit, especially if the weather is good.

Explore the flowers and shrubs and keep your eyes open for the wildlife who make their home here. Pay a visit to the Maritime museum located in an unassuming cottage in the park to uncover artefacts and items pertaining to Lowestoft’s maritime legacy. There is a wonderful cafe on site; Martello Coffee House, which sells cakes, sandwiches, ice-cream and cream teas, as well as a range of great quality hot food. If you want to enjoy a more formal meal, Giardino’s, the Italian restaurant at the bottom of the park serves delicate pasta dishes, crisp pizza and has a dedicated childrens’ menu too. There are sometimes community fun days, live music or theatre events taking place around the stage in the park, which create a real buzz and atmosphere in what are already very vibrant gardens. 

Directions to Sparrows Nest Gardens

Christchurch Park, Ipswich

Extending across almost 33 hectares of picturesque grounds in the heart of Ipswich, grade II listed Christchurch Park is an expansive and uplifting area to take a walk, as well as being a location of historic and horticultural significance.T

ake in the sprawling green spaces as well as formal gardens brimming with seasonal bedding displays, roses, shrubbery, a large rockery, and native and non-native plants. Some of the Oak trees and Sweet Chestnuts in the park are 300-400 years old, and the park protects various species of plant that would not usually be found in urban surroundings. Meander your way through the paths and walkways, past tennis courts, croquet lawns and the bandstand and pay a visit to the pond which is home to wildlife including swans, ducks, geese and even terrapins. The ‘Mayor’s walk’ is a poignant part of the park, where you can wander and see the commemorative plaques remembering Ipswich’s mayors through history. 

For more information visit https://www.ipswich.gov.uk/services/christchurch-park

Somerleyton Hall & Gardens

Somerleyton Hall & Gardens have been lauded as one of the finest gardens in East Anglia since the 17th century, and once you have visited it is easy to see why. Surrounding the stately Somerleyton Hall, the 12 acres of gardens are magical and romantic, with winding walkways, hidden corners and copious examples of beautiful shrubs and flowers as well as stately old trees.

The centrepiece of the gardens is the Nesfield Parterre to the west of the hall restored relatively recently, the precise landscaping draws the visitor toward a great equatorial sundial encircled by the signs of the zodiac. The sunken ‘White Garden’ is a haven for bees and butterflies, which you can watch from the vantage point of one of the lovely benches dotted around the pond. More and more wonders are around each corner, with a rose garden, arboretum, walled garden and even a Yew tree maze dating back to 1846. Visit the tearoom, located in an airy conservatory and visit the plant shop on the way out to take a piece of the garden home with you. 

For more information and to book entrance visit https://www.somerleyton.co.uk/

Elmhurst Park, Woodbridge

Close by the River Deben and not far from the main centre of Woodbrige itself, Elmhurst Park covers almost two acres and is enclosed within boundary walls like a secret garden. The park is beautiful; with flowers of all colours, diverse mature planting and various historic features of interest. Originally belonging to a property called Elmhurst, the park would have contained fruit and vegetable gardens, stables and a gardener’s cottage. Nowadays, you can make your way along the wheelchair accessible pathways and see the traditional horizontal sundial, the public shelter built to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and even a Napoleonic cannon. 

Directions to Elmhurst Park

The Red House & Gardens, Aldeburgh

The Red House and Gardens in Aldeburgh were home to famous composer Benjamin Britten and his life partner the tenor Peter Pears from 1957. The gardens surrounding the house only serve to complement the historic home. Spanning several acres, these beautiful and serene gardens include a mix of formal and informal areas, featuring well-manicured lawns, vibrant flower beds, and a variety of trees and shrubs.

Particular highlights include the tranquil pond, a vegetable patch, orchard, and herb garden, which give a hint to the practical and self-sustaining lifestyle Britten and Pears enjoyed. The gardens offer a picturesque and insightful glimpse into the plants and shrubs that Britten and Pears spent time nurturing and visitors can uncover the ‘Garden Discovery Trail’ with its beautiful flowers, sculptures from Britten’s art collection as well as other fun activities. 

For more information and to book visit https://brittenpearsarts.org/visit-us/the-red-house

Felixstowe Seafront Gardens

If you take a stroll along the promenade at Felixstowe you’ll soon happen upon the newly restored Seafront Gardens that sit on the cliffs between the town centre and the beach. There are eight Grade II listed gardens which are of significant historic interest as they were created a hundred years ago as a pleasure ground with the Victorian seaside visitors in mind. 

The Gardens thrive as a result of the natural springs which occur along the cliffs, combined with the proximity to the beach. The interconnecting gardens stretch for almost a kilometre along the promenade, with a significant proportion of original planting still surviving and the original path layout maintained as it was years ago. 

There are eight gardens to uncover: Town Hall Gardens and the South Cliff Shelter; Pram Walk; Ivy Terrace and the Ranelagh Steps; Spa Pavilion approach, the Wishing Well and Dripping Pond; Pavilion Terrace; Serpentine Steps and the Round and Octagonal Shelters; Rose Garden; Cliff House Garden and the Arch Cascade.In the summer months the scent of roses, fuchsias and lavender fill the air and waterlilies can be seen on the ponds.

For more information and directions visit https://www.visitfelixstowe.org.uk/things-to-do/the-seafront-gardens/