Blooming lovely

Katie Elliott, gardener at Columbine Hall is helping to organise a big open gardens event in Stowupl

Katie Elliott, gardener at Columbine Hall is helping to organise a big open gardens event in Stowupland, which includes Columbine Hall. Katie has been gardening at the hall since the age of 16 in 1997. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Open gardens season is in full swing, and Stowupland is ready for you

Stowupland Open Gardens

Stowupland Open Gardens - Credit: Archant

Kate Elliott doesn’t look like someone short of knowledge or ideas.

After all, for the past 18 years she’s had 4.5 acres surrounding stunning 14th century Columbine Hall in Stowupland to keep her busy.

It’s here, as professional gardener to owners Leslie Geddes Brown and Hew Stevenson that Kate learned her trade, becoming so expert she made the finals of the 2009 Professional Gardener Awards. Even so, despite her considerable experience and expertise, Kate likes nothing more than dropping in on other people’s gardens, picking up ideas, gleaning tips and hints.

And that’s exactly what she’ll be doing on June 14 between 1pm and 6pm when Stowupland people throw open their garden gates to visitors in the Stowupland Open Gardens event, in aid of Holy Trinity Church.

At least 10 gardens will be open, ranging from small cottage gardens to 2-acre plots, another with rare breed pigs and yet another lovingly tended by the winners of the Daily Mirror Shed of the Year. There will be tea and home made cakes on sale at the church hall, and some garden owners could even be offering ice cream and Pimms.

Kate’s own work at Columbine Hall will be on display, of course – visitors can wander through the colour themed walled kitchen garden, admire the formal gardens designed by George Carter, see the Mediterranean and herb gardens, bog garden and the wild flower meadow. They can also wander round the moat and take a peek inside the polytunnel and greenhouse.

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“I love showing people round – it makes all the work you do worthwhile,” says Kate. “And I very much enjoy visiting gardens myself. You always come back with new ideas and to see all the other gardens in Stowupland will be great.”

Kate’s been gardening ever since she can remember.

“I used to help my grandparents when I was four or five years old, and I got my first greenhouse when I was 10. I’ve always loved it.”

When she left school there was only one thing she wanted to do, so when an opportunity arose to work at Columbine Hall she jumped at it.

The local post mistress visited Columbine Hall in 1997 during the very first Stowupland Open Gardens. At that time Hew and Leslie had owned the hall for just three years, having bought it semi derelict, and there was still a lot of work to do.

“She cheekily suggested to them that they could do with a gardener, and knowing that I wanted to be a gardener she told me to get in touch with them I’ve been here ever since!”

Stowupland Open Gardens, June 14, 1pm-6pm at Columbine Hall, Stowupland, Stowmarket IP14 4AT

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