Why I love Suffolk - Barbara Segall

Garden writer and herb expert Barbara Segall

Garden writer and herb expert Barbara Segall - Credit: Barbara Segall

There are so many memories but lying on the grass under an old apple tree in my first garden when I moved to Suffolk in1986 is one that often comes to mind. We moved to a Victorian farm ‘villa’ originally called Peace Villa which was renamed Holly Cottage (not by us though) just outside Long Melford. There was a blank canvas garden of an acre in which I was thrilled to start my first real garden. And because of the cottage's name and the holly and ivy in the garden it was also the inspiration for  my first book, The Holly and the Ivy (Ebury Press1991). 

The Scallop by Maggie Hambling on Aldeburgh Beach. I loved it from the first time I saw it. The words ‘I hear those voices that will not be drowned’, from Benjamin Britten’s opera Peter Grimes are so moving and the sculpture, which has its enthusiasts as well as detractors, is always a talking point. And I think that is what great public art should be, a place where conversations start. I love walking to it along the shingle and back whenever I visit Aldeburgh.

It follows that the beach at Aldeburgh is my favourite beach in Suffolk. In summer I enjoy seeing the sea plants such as sea holly and sea kale as well as sea pea, that carpet the shingle. The fishing boats and wooden buildings where fish is still sold on the beach attract me and in winter a brisk walk along the Crag Path, then onto the shingle, is the best way to blow away any cobwebs.

Now I live in Sudbury, right in the centre of the town, and I enjoy the amenities of this hard-working town (shops, market, coffee culture and the soon-to-be-reopened Gainsborough's House. The new galleries and the planned exhibitions due to open in summer 2022 are going to be exciting.

Place to eat
The Bildeston Crown is a place I return to often. A friendly atmosphere, tasty food and in winter, warming fires. It is also perfectly placed near The Boule In where there are seasonal sales showcasing French interiors and garden ware.

During the celebration for Benjamin Britten’s centenary I had tickets for a performance of Peter Grimes which was set on the beach at Aldeburgh. It was the most evocative opera performance with the sea as the backdrop for the set. The wild and windy weather that night also added atmosphere to the performance. 

Harris & Harris is an independent bookshop in Clare run by Kate Harris. It is a tiny shop and packed full of all the books you know you want to read. When my most recent book, Secret Gardens of East Anglia (Frances Lincoln) was published in 2017 I had the pleasure of being an ‘Author on the Stairs’ at the shop. Kate’s thoughts on books and her passion for making books and reading so important is infectious and her Instagram posts drive readers straight to the bookshelves.