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Sulby Gardens

Northampton

Interesting and unusual property, on the Leicestershire border between Welford and Husbands Bosworth, covering 12 acres comprising working Victorian kitchen garden, orchard, and late C18 icehouse, plus species-rich nature reserve incl woodland, feeder stream to River Avon, a variety of ponds and established wild flower meadows.
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    Some images courtesy of Leicester Forest Photographic Society and Rob Wilson.

    Sulby Gardens originally comprised the gardeners’ cottage, walled kitchen gardens and orchard for Sulby Hall, a minor stately home redesigned in 1792 by Sir John Soane, and demolished in the early 1950s. It included an herbaceous walk alongside the canalised stream on the southern boundary of the original property which comprised about 3 acres. By the time we bought it in late 1976, the orchard and herbaceous area were derelict, as were most of the greenhouses, and it had been used as an alpine and conifer nursery.

    In the intervening 40 years, we have restored the orchard and kitchen gardens, and built up an apple collection of 63 varieties, both old and new (from which Sulby Gardens single variety and blended apple juice is made), plus a dozen varieties of pear, and 10 varieties of plum including gage, damson, and bullace. Surplus fruit provides winter food for large flocks of fieldfare, redwing and mistlethrush, as well as badger, muntjac, rabbit, fox and grey squirrel.

    We are also self-sufficient in vegetables, salad crops and soft fruit. Part of the old apple store was converted into a conservatory which has a good cropping dessert vine, bougainvillea, plumbago, jasmine and pelargoniums. The original Victorian Carnation house was conserved complete with its wrought iron opening gear, and houses fig, nectarine and interesting decorative plants.

    Part of the original paddock has been turned into a dedicated Butterfly Garden with nectar rich shrubs and plants at their peak between July and October especially for butterflies and other insects.

    The Nature Reserve. During the 1980s and 1990s, four parcels of adjoining land were purchased bringing the total acreage to 12, including a four acre wood with a late 18th century Ice-House, a wetland, and two pieces of arable land which are now well-established wild flower meadows, giving colour from April to October and providing food for large varieties of insect by day, and as many as five species of bat by night! There is an extensive winter snowdrop and aconite display among the trees from January to March, a stunning show of snakes head fritillaries and cowslips in the flower meadow in late April, as well as a small bluebell spinney.

    A total of seven ponds has been established, providing a wide variety of invertebrate habitat including 18 species of breeding or visiting damsel and dragonflies, as well as attracting nesting kingfishers and an otter. The entire area has been enriched for wildlife habitat, including the provision of nestboxes for birds and an artificial badgers’ sett, as well as breeding, hibernating and basking sites for grass snakes, slow worms and common lizards.

    In 2008, Sulby Gardens was included in the Northamptonshire edition of the Historic Gardens of England series by Timothy Mowl and Clare Hickman, and in 2009 was designated by the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust as a Local Wildlife Site.

    Featured on BBC Radio Northampton (Oct 2016).

Features and Attractions

Open Day features incl April: snakeshead fritillaries, cowslips, bluebells. June: flower meadows in full bloom. Aug: butterflies, dragonflies, aquatic plants. Oct: two-day Apple Event, labelled display of apples, new season's Sulby Gardens Apple Juice, and apple-themed cakes. Regular plant sales.

Press and Media Coverage

Featured on BBC Radio Leicester's 'Down to Earth' gardening programme (Sept 2017). CPRE Award Winner 2017.

Sulby Gardens- Canceled

Refreshments:

On this day, this garden is open by arrangement, which means that you will have to contact the owner to arrange visits for groups.

Pre-booking essential, please go to our events page to book your tickets.

Admission by donation

Admission:
  • Adult:
  • Concessions:
  • Child:

On this day, this garden opens as part of .

Admission also gets you entry to this garden in the area:

Click the dropdown arrow next to the opening date above to find details of entry costs and to add the opening to your online calendar.

Click on any opening date on the calendar above to find details of entry times, entry price and to add the opening to your online calendar.

  • Regular opening
  • Open by arrangement only
  • Cancelled opening

Please Note: The dates published in the Northamptonshire County Booklet 2018 for Sulby Gardens openings are incorrect. Please see correct dates above.

Owner Information

Mrs Alison Lowe
01858 880573
ecolowe@btinternet.com

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How to find us

Sulby Gardens
Sulby
Northampton
Northamptonshire
NN6 6EZ

16m NW of Northampton, 2m NE of Welford off A5199.
  • More detailed directions
    Past Wharf House Hotel, take 1st R signed Sulby. After R & L bends, turn R at sign for Sulby Hall Farm. Turn R at junction, garden is 1st L. Parking limited, no vans or buses please.
Accessibility information

NB: Children welcome but under strict supervision because of deep water.

More about Sulby Gardens

Some images courtesy of Leicester Forest Photographic Society and Rob Wilson.

Sulby Gardens originally comprised the gardeners’ cottage, walled kitchen gardens and orchard for Sulby Hall, a minor stately home redesigned in 1792 by Sir John Soane, and demolished in the early 1950s. It included an herbaceous walk alongside the canalised stream on the southern boundary of the original property which comprised about 3 acres. By the time we bought it in late 1976, the orchard and herbaceous area were derelict, as were most of the greenhouses, and it had been used as an alpine and conifer nursery.

In the intervening 40 years, we have restored the orchard and kitchen gardens, and built up an apple collection of 63 varieties, both old and new (from which Sulby Gardens single variety and blended apple juice is made), plus a dozen varieties of pear, and 10 varieties of plum including gage, damson, and bullace. Surplus fruit provides winter food for large flocks of fieldfare, redwing and mistlethrush, as well as badger, muntjac, rabbit, fox and grey squirrel.

We are also self-sufficient in vegetables, salad crops and soft fruit. Part of the old apple store was converted into a conservatory which has a good cropping dessert vine, bougainvillea, plumbago, jasmine and pelargoniums. The original Victorian Carnation house was conserved complete with its wrought iron opening gear, and houses fig, nectarine and interesting decorative plants.

Part of the original paddock has been turned into a dedicated Butterfly Garden with nectar rich shrubs and plants at their peak between July and October especially for butterflies and other insects.

The Nature Reserve. During the 1980s and 1990s, four parcels of adjoining land were purchased bringing the total acreage to 12, including a four acre wood with a late 18th century Ice-House, a wetland, and two pieces of arable land which are now well-established wild flower meadows, giving colour from April to October and providing food for large varieties of insect by day, and as many as five species of bat by night! There is an extensive winter snowdrop and aconite display among the trees from January to March, a stunning show of snakes head fritillaries and cowslips in the flower meadow in late April, as well as a small bluebell spinney.

A total of seven ponds has been established, providing a wide variety of invertebrate habitat including 18 species of breeding or visiting damsel and dragonflies, as well as attracting nesting kingfishers and an otter. The entire area has been enriched for wildlife habitat, including the provision of nestboxes for birds and an artificial badgers’ sett, as well as breeding, hibernating and basking sites for grass snakes, slow worms and common lizards.

In 2008, Sulby Gardens was included in the Northamptonshire edition of the Historic Gardens of England series by Timothy Mowl and Clare Hickman, and in 2009 was designated by the Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust as a Local Wildlife Site.

Featured on BBC Radio Northampton (Oct 2016).

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