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

Next event Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday of August 2019 (25th and 26th)


John Stebbing (Secretary)
2 Vine Cottages
The Street
Walsham le Willows
Suffolk  IP31 3AZ
01359 259 061 / 07831 325 610



For the last 39 years, on the Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday of August 2019 the Suffolk village of Walsham le Willows opens its garden gates to the public as part of the quintessential English summer event, an Open Gardens Weekend.

The weekend is not just about the 30 or so 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, including the famous 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.

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

“…we go to a lot of open gardens events and this is the best…”

black and white line drawing of outline of a film camera - large

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.

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

Another video which gives a flavour of the 2018 event



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.


11 am to 6pm both days

walsham-le-willows open gardens flower festival display 3

Permanent Exhibits

  • Floral Displays on theme of All Things Bright and Beautiful
  • Bell Ringing Demonstrations
  • Art Exhibition and Sale

Music in the Church

  • Sunday 25th – Various Guest Organists – 12.30pm – 4.30pm
  • Sunday 25th – Songs of Praise – 6.30pm – 7.30pm
  • Monday 26th – Various Guest Organists – 11.30am – 4.30pm

Music in the Village – Memorial Hall Car Park 

  • Sunday 25th – The Breckland Brass Band – 2.00pm – 4.00pm
  • Monday 26th – The Gislingham Silver Band – 2.00pm – 4.00pm
plate of dood from walsham open gardens weekend

Other Attractions

  • Lunches, Teas and Refreshments in the Memorial Hall and Priory Room from 10.30 am
  • Village Market (opposite the Church and at the Memorial Hall) 11.00 – 18.00 both days
  • Barbecue and Pizzas in Garden No.6
  • Walsham History Group Information & Publications The Memorial Hall Garden
  • Vintage Market in garden No.3
  • Morahill Nursery – herbaceous plants (located at the Memorial Village Hall)
  • Art Exhibition in the Church

“…the best meringues in Suffolk…

BBQ Walsham-le-Willows Open Gardens

BBQ at garden No.6 Available 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.

“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!”

A line of wooden sheds painted yellow, orange, not painted so natural wood colour, sky blue etc. – an agricultural version of Southwold’s beach huts. Many various plants and vegetables growing in front of all the sheds.

The Allotment Association – Pimms and Produce  tent in Garden 19 is open both days between 12:00 and 16:00. Why not visit them, freshly grown produce will be for sale whilst supplies last.

“…we had a lovely lunch in the village hall and it’s such good value…”


Walsham Open Gardens Weekend, Church Barn Indoor Market Stall

This is held on both days in Church Barn, which is opposite the church, in The Causeway. There are a variety of stalls and exhibitors, including plant stalls, gift stalls, craft stalls.

The Suffolk Wildlife Trust and the Stowmarket Beekeepers Association who will be selling honey, beeswax furniture polish and cream. They will also have a demonstration beehive to view and beekeeping equipment for you to handle. In addition there will also be stalls outside the Memorial Hall.


New this year is a Vintage Market being held in Garden no.3. Here you will find stalls offering high quality Vintage clothes, linen, and china as well as a small display of vintage/classic vehicles. Some of the proceeds of sales will be donated to The British Heart Foundation and The Suffolk Accident Rescue Service.


Vintage 1933 Rolls Royce

2017 brought the opportunity to tour the village in style.  Over the weekend trips were offered 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. 6 and the charge will be £5 per tour for a maximum of four people. All the proceeds will go to the Gardens Weekend.


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.


blue event car parking sign

Car parking for the event 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 would 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 disabled people 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 and in garden 5.  There is also a separate toilet outside the Primary School.

Block graphic of a minibus with passengers

The Gardens MiniBus Service travels around the village on both days.  The service will run from 10:45 until 18:00 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.

Open Gardens Sponsors

Bedfords Estate AgentsClarkes of Walsham CoolTech
Equus Environmental Equus Environmental Greenview Environmental
Microcide Ltd Miles Drainage Myatt Country Fresh Ices
My FlatpackPollard and Co. Premier Printers Ltd
R & D Construction Robins Row Rolfes of Walsham
The Blue Boar The Six Bells Walsham Community Council
Wyken Vineyards



The Walsham-le-Willows Open Gardens Weekend can certainly claim to be one of the best, longest running and most successful Open Gardens events in East Anglia and probably the country.

aquilegia sp

The idea for the Open Gardens in Walsham was first suggested by the then 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.

close up photograph of viola flower
Viola sp.

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 causes 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.

Visit some other open gardens events, find more at