Ulting Wick: drier than Jerusalem? One of the Secret Gardens of East Anglia

Philippa, me and Lou sheltering from the storm
Thanks to Lou for letting me use her tweeted selfie :)  

When an owner says their garden is 'drier than Jerusalem', the last thing you expect is to arrive in a downpour of biblical proportions. That's what happened when I visited Ulting Wick recently. 'Third time lucky' I thought when I made the arrangements, as I've tried and failed to visit the past 2 years. That thought was almost my downfall. Almost.

The rain was coming down so heavily when I arrived I could hardly see out of the car window and I was deafened by the noise. Bright flashes of lightning made the courtyard stand out in stark relief for a second before fading again into the murk. I was giggling so hard at the irony, I struggled to get into my rain gear. Also which of the buildings I'd glimpsed should I run to for shelter?

Luckily owner Philippa Burough quickly came to my rescue and guided me to the potting shed where she and new head gardener Lou Nicholls had taken shelter from the storm. It was a great opportunity for Lou to take a selfie of us before we all settled down for a good catch up and a gossip.

Exotic garden at Ulting Wick

Thankfully the storm soon abated leaving a moody sky in its wake whilst it rumbled away across the Essex countryside. It left a newly washed garden for me to squelch around with Philippa as my guide. I knew from her tweets an exotic garden was a treat in store for me and it certainly didn't disappoint. Philippa isn't afraid to use colour and her combination of plants and form were sublime. Moody Ricinus with pink dahlias or Echinacea are highlights stuck in my memory.

Lots of colour at Ulting Wick

After a whistle stop tour, I was left to noodle around on my own for as long as I liked - heavenly! It's clear that Philippa and Lou work hard to keep this garden in tippity top condition.

The productive vegetable garden

Who says vegetable gardens can't look good? Not I. I loved the idea of growing cucurbits up wigwam poles as well as the more usual beans.

Listed barns screened by wispy Verbena bonariensis

Careful thought has been put into how plants can be contrasted with the listed barns on the property and used along the pathways linking different parts of the garden.

Classic black and white

Black, white and greenery make for a quieter area of the garden...

More colour and greenery to admire

... though colour and lusciousness are never far away.

A surprise corner of the garden at Ulting Wick

There are woodland and water areas too, though Philippa told me it's unusual to find so much water here at this time of the year. It's been a topsy turvy season at Ulting Wick in 2017, but then most years seem to be these days don't they?

Inviting Adirondack chairs by the water at Ulting Wick

Two of my favourite Adirondack chairs invite the visitor to tarry awhile. I resisted because there was so much I wanted to photograph.

There's always a grand pot display around the front door
Philippa & Lou frequently tweet from Ulting Wick. I was delighted they joined #mygardenrightnow last week

I hope you've enjoyed your garden tour and a huge thanks to Philippa and Lou for making my visit so enjoyable. NB Ulting Wick opens for the NGS on Sunday (10th) and also on September 15th, 2-5pm. See Philippa's entry on the NGS website for more details.

I'll leave you with a final selection of images from the garden and news of a grand book.

Flowers, sculpture, features and the mother of all bee weather vanes
More features and flowers which caught my eye - there's a Friday Bench too :) 

A new book on the blog

Secret gardens of East Anglia collage
If you've enjoyed my trip to Ulting Wick, but can't get to an NGS opening, then you'll love Secret Gardens of East Anglia as Philippa's garden is one of the 22 featured.

It's the next best thing to being there and you'll also get to see the garden at tulip time. 10,000 bulbs are on order ready for planting out in November. I feel tired just typing that*.

If you're planning a trip to East Anglia, this book provides excellent guidance on some special places to visit in addition to those that are better known.

If you can't get to East Anglia but love reading about special gardens, then this is also the book for you.

It's the latest in a series of fine regional garden books published by Francis Lincoln. Barbara Segall has woven a web of magical words around photographer Marcus Harpur's wonderful images. Within the pages you'll get to know the garden owners, their thoughts behind the garden they've made, plus see lots of beautiful views taken in more than one season.

It'll make a great gift for any garden lover.

* = Update April 2018: Andrew visited for Philippa's NGS opening and waxed lyrical (literally) over those 10,000 tulips.


View towards the house from the pond
The receipt of my review copy last month was a poignant one as Marcus died a few days earlier. This book is a fitting tribute to his skill as a photographer and I have a lot to learn from his eye and talent.

Years ago I never dreamt I would count him as a friend. I used to open The English Garden and think, 'Oh good there's a garden with Marcus's photos'.

Barbara's also a good friend whose generous spirit and company I've enjoyed on many occasions. Her recent blog post gives a warm insight into her friendship with Marcus, as well as the process of garden book making. She also reminds us of the importance of taking time to celebrate life's milestones

Putting poignancy and friendship to one side, I would still love this book.


  1. It really does look like a wonderful garden to visit. Sadly I had to cancel my visit for tomorrow, but am hoping to make it next year.

    1. That's a shame Julieanne - I had to do the same last year :(

  2. Ulting Wick was one of my favourite garden visits last year with GMG, especially being allowed to wander at leisure. It looks as though it would be worth a second visit, I can see some changes from your photos.

    1. I was due to go on that visit Caro, but fate decreed I was needed elsewhere instead. I think Philippa changes the plants she uses from year to year to keep things fresh.


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