A Little Off Base: England's countryside is bursting with public gardens
July 19, 2006
GOODERSTONE — A green thumb is a popular trait in this country, and it shows by the gardens that blossom in front of many homes.
It’s safe to say that the Brits take pride in their floral friends. If you feel the same way or just want something to do other than take a trip to a crowded British city or attraction, why not venture out to a local garden park?
You could get your garden fix by smelling a neighbor’s flowerbed, but they may give you a weird look as you stroll through their yard.
There are numerous garden parks throughout the English countryside that allow visitors to enjoy the bright colors and smells of nature up close.
I did just that when I spent a recent afternoon at the Gooderstone Water Gardens, about 20 miles north of RAF Mildenhall.
Originally built in 1970 out of a damp meadow, the water gardens feature colorful flowers, a variety of trees and shrubs, ponds, 13 bridges over waterways, an 8-acre nature trail, a tearoom, and a “bird hide” affording a view of small kingfisher birds.
Walking along a waterway in this garden park, I came across two grumpy geese that hissed at anyone who passed too close. On the other hand, swans in the East pond were eager for attention, especially if you had food.
A few other visitors were already in the wooden bird hide as I entered it. All of us kept a lookout for a kingfisher but no one could spot one.
I then made my way to the western part of the gardens, where yellow Trollius flowers sprouted from the ground and crimson Primula Vialli spikes displayed their tiny purple flowers.
Plenty of benches made for quiet seating, where visitors could relax and take in the scenery.
The entrance fee to the Gooderstone Water Gardens is 4 pounds for adults and one pound for children. Children 5 years old and younger are free.
The water gardens are in the town of Gooderstone, which lies between Oxborough and Cockley Cley. Follow the brown signs, which will lead you to a green sign at the edge of the parking lot.
Other popular garden spots
Helmingham Hall Gardens, about 10 miles north of Ipswich; Cost: 4.50 pounds for adults and 2.50 pounds for children.
Bressingham, a few miles west of Diss; Cost: 7 pounds for adults and 4 pounds for children. (Allows access to the museum as well.)
Pensthorpe, about 40 miles northeast from RAF Mildenhall; Cost: 7 pounds for adults and 3.50 for children. (Children younger than 5 are free.)
Abbey Gardens, in the heart of Bury St. Edmunds; Cost: Free.
For more garden parks in your local area, check out www.greatbritishgardens.co.uk