12 lovely places to see spring flowers in Suffolk
- Credit: Clare Sheehan
Spring is one of the most enchanting times of the year for a walk. As well as being able to feel the first flush of sunny warmth on our faces, after months of bleak, cold days, there’s much to see on the ground as our woodlands, meadows and riverways burst into life.
From the dainty violet heads of crocuses, to sunshine-hued daffodils, and seas of purple bluebells...colour is all around us right now.
Here are just few of the spots locally where you can experience nature’s rainbow for yourselves.
Nowton Park, Bury St Edmunds
Found just on the outskirts of the town, and open from 8.30am to 6pm in winter months, soon moving to summer opening hours of 8am to 9pm, this is a fabulous asset to the area – and popular with picnickers year-round.
Across 200 acres of space, the park brings together marked walking routes, a hornbeam maze (from the end of May), ponds, football pitches, wide open space, play areas – and a pretty good café, open for sticky toffee lattes and snowy rocky road.
In spring, Lime Avenue is accented by a sea of gold, as thousands of daffodils come into bloom, with primroses and celandines popping up all over the grounds too.
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Blakenham Woodland Garden, near Ipswich
Open until June 30, the gardens were sought-after by late MP for Woodbridge and Sudbury John Hare for many years, with aspirations to create a space where the wild and cultivated worked in harmony.
Once acquired by John, the keen gardener spent three decades carving out this peaceful, natural spot, which is a delight in springtime for its bluebells, replaced later in the season by pink-edged magnolias. The garden is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm and entry is £5 (half price for children). It will be opening for the NGS on April 24 from 10am to 4pm, with tea and coffee, Tosier hot chocolate and plants for sale.
Bull’s Wood, near Cockfield
One of the few places in East Anglia to see rare oxlips – Suffolk’s county flower. It’s free entry and there’s no parking, so you’ll need to leave your car in the village. Oxlips, ranging in colour from pale beeswax, to buttery yellow, are a joy to behold here, and are joined on the woodland floor by early purple orchids and wood anemones. There’s a very short circular walk to enjoy so it’s best to visit here as a stopping point for a few minutes of admiration and reflection, rather than a full day out.
Arger Fen and Spouse’s Vale, near Assington/Bures
There’s not a lot of parking here, but entry is free and it’s open year-round. Do expect to get muddy, even on some sunnier days as the tree cover and up and down terrain mean it’s prone to be a bit boggy in parts. Pathways here meander up hills and down into low gullies, where swathes of headily-scented wild garlic wash the ground with green, followed by frothy white flowers as they age. They’re followed by some of the county’s most magnificent displays of bluebells.
This wild, nature-filled habitat, has an almost magical quality.
Dollops Wood, Polstead
How delightful is the name of this woodland? It sounds like it should be in a Lord of the Rings film! Found just off Heath Road, which links Polstead Heath to the main part of the village, there’s a fine display of bluebells to be seen here. Watch your step though. It’s quite uneven on some pathways underfoot, due to tree roots and badger’s digging. After you’ve visited, take a walk around Polstead itself. There’s a lovely walk from the village pond, up to the church, across the sheep meadows (you might see a few lambs), across to Polstead Hill and following the footpaths beyond.
Columbine Hall, Stowupland
Dedicated head gardener Kate Elliott, who joined the family’s work on the grounds at the tender age of 16, painstakingly plants thousands of bulbs at Columbine every single year, creating simply stunning displays. Kate adores tulips, and you’ll see an impressive variety, from frilly parrot tulips in cheerful bright hues, to dark, velvety chocolate-coloured blooms.
The garden is open in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice on Sunday, March 20 from 1pm to 4pm, and from Sunday, May 1 from 1pm to 5pm.
The Abbey Gardens, Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds
The ancient walls surrounding these gardens, which slope down gently to the river Lark, have many stories to tell, and truly are the jewel in the town’s crown.
Across the 14-acre site are play areas, a café, aviaries, the ruins of the Abbey of St Edmunds and, at their heart, some of Suffolk’s most stunning floral displays.
Around 20,000 bulbs are planted in the beds, and handily placed benches mean you can sit, enjoy a bite to eat or warm drink, and admire them for hours. The park is open from 7.30am Monday to Saturday, and from 9am Sunday, closing around 6pm.
The Place for Plants, East Bergholt
Loved by gardeners for its high-quality plants and expert advice, there’s more than meets the eye to this garden centre. Its gardens re-opened to the public on March 1 (10am to 5pm, £6 entry in March and £7 per person from April) with the chance to see the last of the snowdrops, magnolias and more spring colour amongst the grounds and arboretum.
Kentwell Hall, Long Melford
Even when the main house is closed, there is so much to see at Kentwell as the seasons change. The gardens are glorious and almost boundless, stretching out to include sunken grounds, an ice house, formal topiary, farmland and more.
The Snowdrop Sundays have just finished, and the attraction is now looking forward to late March, April and May when the spring flowers pop open. More than 75,000 bulbs are planted, with stunning daffodil drifts on the front lawn. Also see cowslips, violets and primroses.
The gardens are open on Saturdays and Sundays in March and most of April from 11am to 3pm. Entry charges apply and vary depending on day of visiting.
Haughley Park, near Stowmarket
More than 100 acres of mixed woodland set in 250 acres of parkland can be explored on the Bluebell Sundays here – the last Sunday of April and first Sunday of May – raising money a local church.
The gardens are open from 2pm to 5.30pm and entry is £4 for adults, or free for under 16s.
Reydon Wood Nature Reserve, near Southwold
This small coppiced woodland is worth a look in if you’re in this part of Suffolk. Park for free at the junction of Wood Farm Lane and Rissemere Lane and you can visit at any time. The medieval woods are known locally for their bluebell displays, and children can enjoy a spot of den building.
Freston Wood, near Ipswich
Grab a bite to-go from nearby Suffolk Food Hall (or the excellent Freston Boot) and take a short walk from Freston Church or the layby on the B1456 hill, to the woodlands. Bluebells follow a winding upwards path in the medieval space. Truly beautiful.