Open Gardens

Last updated on November 18th, 2017 at 07:54 pm

Walsham-le-Willows Open Gardens

Pink house with black wooden slats on front, church sticking up in background, loverly lawn infront with parts of garden; plants, trees and a hedge

On the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday of August each year over 30 gardens in Walsham-le-Willows are open for your viewing pleasure.

View descriptions of the 2017 Gardens

Clematis Jubilee growing through a shrub with a lawn in the background.The weekend is not just about the gardens but also live music, art exhibitions, a farmers market, craft stalls and plant stalls and of course, delicious refreshments in two venues, the Memorial Hall  and the Priory Room where wonderful light snacks, lunches, teas and cakes (and especially the meringues!) are provided by people from the village.

Visitors come not only for the gardens but also the appreciation of the calm and serenity that is created by the event over the two days.

‘…we go to a lot of open gardens events and this is the best…’

visitors to willow cottage garden

Ian Toulson, friend of the Walsham Open Gardens Committee has created a virtual tour from 2016, with musical accompaniment which gives a good feel for the event, and is published on You Tube.

The Entrance charge for the weekend is £7* per person (one day pass) or £10* per person (two day pass).  Children under 16 free of charge.

gift aid it logo*To enable us to claim GIFT AID the charge includes a voluntary contribution of 10%.

Please make sure you sign a GIFT AID form on arrival.

Visitors can elect to pay the standard entrance fee £6.40 (one day pass) or £9.10 (two day pass) without the donation.

The entrance fee buys you the following:
• A copy of our detailed programme of events during the two days
• Entrance to all gardens
• Entrance to all other events
• Free parking and free travel on the village bus.

‘…we had heard about Walsham but never been.  We will be back next year…’

Walsham-le-Willows open-gardens. Visitors enjoying one of the gardens.

Car Parking
The car park is well signed and is immediately opposite the church.  The main car park often fills up in which case you will be directed to a neighbouring field. Both car parks are well signed and attended.
There is also ample parking for coaches on hard standing, although if you are planning a coach party we wblue event car parking signould welcome call in advance so that we can make suitable arrangements.

There is no separate charge for car parking, the only charge being the entry ticket.

Parking for those who are disabled is available and clearly marked in the car park of the Village Memorial Hall.

Refreshments and toilets are available on arrival at the Priory Room, opposite the Main Car park and the Village Memorial Hall, next to the Bowling Green.

The Gardens MiniBus Service travels around the village on both days.  The service will run from 10:45 until 6:00 for those who would like a bit of help getting around all the gardens.   The bus makes regular circuits of the village. It’s free and available to anyone – just wave it down and get on and then be dropped off at the next garden.

walsham-le-willows open gardens flower festival display 3The 2017 programme of events in full

Opening Times – 11.00am – 6.00pm both days

Permanent Exhibits

  • Flower Festival in the Church on the theme of The Queen
  • Bell Ringing Demonstrations
  • Art Exhibition and Sale

Music in the Church

  • Sunday 27th – Various Guest Organists – 12.30pm – 4.30pm
  • Sunday 27th – Songs of Praise – 6.30pm – 7.30pm
  • Monday 28th – Various Guest Organists – 11.30am – 4.30pm

Music in the Village – Memorial Hall Car Park

  • Sunday 27th – The Breckland Brass Band – 2.00pm – 4.00pm
  • Monday 28th – The Gislingham Silver Band – 2.00pm – 4.00pm

plate of dood from walsham open gardens weekendOther Attractions

  • Lunches, Teas and Refreshments in the Memorial Hall and Priory Room
  • Village Market (opposite the Church and at the Memorial Hall) 11.00am – 6.00pm both days
  • Barbecue and Pizzas in Garden No. 3
  • Walsham History Group Information & Publications Garden No. 10

On Monday evening from 5pm there will be a cake and produce sale of any thing that is left.

‘…the best meringues in Suffolk…’

BBQ at Collen Baker’s garden (Garden No.3)

‘much credit must go to your entertaining staff. I haven’t enjoyed my lunch so much in years ! It’s lovely to see traditional values with a real ambience of a traditional summer fare!’

BBQ Walsham-le-Willows Open GardensAvailable on both days along with homemade Fresh Pizza from a wood fired clay Pizza Oven.

We’ll be cooking traditional meats from our very own village butcher, Rolfe’s of Walsham.

Come and enjoy the banter of our chefs and bar stewards.

Wildwood Garden - Pimms & Produce for Walsham-le-Willows Open Gardens



The Allotment Association – Pimms and Produce  tent in Garden 18 is open both days between 12 and 4pm.

Why not visit them, freshly grown produce will be for sale whilst supplies last.


‘…we had a lovely lunch in the village hall and its such good value…’

Village Market Stalls – confirmed for 2017

Church Barn Forecourt

    • Helens Herbaceous – herbaceous plants
    • Bill and Ben Nursery – stone ornaments for the garden
    • Stowmarket Beekeepers Association – honey, beeswax furniture polish and hand creams. There will also be a fully contained live demonstration hive to view and beekeeping equipment for visitors to handle
    • Gardeners Delight – second hand gardening tools
    • Second Chance – hand decorated, decoupage garden pots and vases
    • SandEdge Ltd (SUNDAY ONLY) – garden furniture, structures, gifts, hand tools and accessories
    • Riverside Bulbs (MONDAY ONLY) – wide variety garden bulbs
    • Suffolk Wildlife Trust – wildlife and all things Suffolk

Church Barn Indoor Market

    • Walsham Open Gardens Weekend, Church Barn Indoor Market StallHand painted furniture and giftware by Vin
    • Mary’s Little Gems – unique handmade jewellery using natural stones, crystals, shells and glass from around the world
    • Phoenix Trading – exclusive range of unique, top quality greetings cards and gift wrap
    • Lily Craft – hand decorated cotton bags, bunting and gifts
    • The Tea Lady – homemade jams, preserves and chutneys
    • Maddog Cottage – handmade jewellery using silver, gemstones and pearls
    • Our Slice of Country life (SUNDAY ONLY) – embroidered cushions and gifts
    • Lovely Hands – gardening gloves and lovely hand care products

Memorial Village Hall

  • Morahill Nursery – herbaceous plants

Garden 3 The Elms

  • Yoke Jewellery – handmade glass jewellery

Vintage 1933 Rolls Royce This year, why not take the opportunity to tour the village in style? Over the weekend we will be offering trips around the village in a vintage 1933 Rolls Royce 20/25 with Park Ward coachwork. Tours will start and finish in Collen Baker’s garden No. 3 and the charge will be £5 per tour for a maximum of four people. All the proceeds will go to the Gardens Weekend.

A photography competition is also part of the event.

Image of blue cornflowes in white vase on table loooking through open gate in red brick wall out to The Street beyond
Winning Photograph 2015

Photographs in jpg format of activities during Gardens Weekend can be sent  to Mike Unitt.  A hard copy can be put in the Observer box at Rolfes of Walsham.

Prizes are £40, £20 and £10 for first, second and third places, respectively.

Please be aware that the Gardens Weekend committee reserve the right to use any photographs submitted for promotional purposes.


History of the Walsham Open Gardens Weekend

Looking up at some yellow roses.The Walsham-le-Willows Open Gardens Weekend will celebrate its 37th Anniversary Year in 2017 and can certainly claim to be one of the best, longest running and most successful Open Gardens events in East Anglia and probably the country.

The idea for the Open Gardens in Walsham was first suggested by the thenVarious plants in a garden, including some pink roses, infront of a well trimmed hedge. Blue sky. vicar of St Mary’s Church, the Rev. John Rutherford but credit for the ongoing developments of the Open Gardens event must be given to the late Hilary Russell, a plantswoman whose extraordinary energy and leadership is looked upon as being the reason why so many visitors now come to Walsham-le-Willows on the Sunday and Monday of the August Bank Holiday.

Chairman Robin Newell deserves a special mention for his untiring efforts and organisational ability, as does the late Dr Alec Russell who gave so much help to his wife and who was the original Chairman of the organising committee.  The weekend relies on the hard work of lots of people and every year there are over 200 local people involved in one way or another.

Funds raised at the Open Gardens are for village Small Walsham gardencauses and most importantly the maintenance of the fabric of St. Mary’s Church, a magnificent example of a typical 15th Century East Anglian Church and worth a visit in its own right.  So far over £120,000 has been raised by Open Gardens for the church.

The Open Gardens Weekend events has many sponsors without which it would not be so successful…


C/O John Stebbing Architect Ltd
78 Whiting Street
Bury St Edmunds   IP33 1XN
01284 704546
Email: John Stebbing