Suffolk garden experts choose their flowering favourites

Six of the county's top horticultural experts tell us about the plants they most love to grow and why

Graeme Proctor, Cornelian Cherry

For me Cornus Mas, or the Cornelian Cherry, signifies the end of winter as its abundance of fantastic bright yellow flowers appear so early in spring. Its delights carry on throughout the year as it bears bright red, edible fruits and some truly spectacular autumn colour. This very hardy plant needs little pruning, is happy in most soil types and positions – a winner in any garden!

Graeme Proctor heads Crown Nursery in Ufford, a real delight for any gardener. Why not treat yourself to a visit there.Crown Nursery, High Street, UffordTel: 01394 460

Sue Townsend, Gaura lindheimeri

Gaura lindheimeri is one of my favourite plants and flowers prolifically from June to October. With its delicate star-like white flowers held high on long, slender stems, it moves in the slightest breeze providing a touch of lightness and movement to borders. I like planting it amongst other ‘must have’ plants – verbena bonariensis, and grasses such as stipa gigantea and stipa tenuissima – to create a relaxed, airy feel from early summer until autumn. The butterflies and bees just love this combination! It likes moist but well drained soil in full sun and has a spread of 60cm x 90cm high.

Sue Townsend Garden DesignTel: 01728 648 790,

Lucy Redman, Allium

Alliums make you smile or indeed cry, as onions are also in the Allium family! Ornamental Alliums come in all sizes from 15cm to 1.2m, ranging from the delicate little A. cyathophorum var. farreri with its delicate pink flowers to the short fat exploding firework, Allium schurbertii (which looks amazing sprayed silver at Christmas). But my all time favourite, grown for its long flowering period (May-June) and thick chunky 1.2m high stems is Allium Globemaster – a real stonker with big lilac purple flowers bigger than a tennis ball. Their giant bulbs are available from Parkers Bulbs in the autumn.

Lucy’s garden at Rushbrooke, near Bury St Edmunds is open every Friday, 10am-5pm from Easter Friday through to the end of September. As well as designing gardens she runs part-time courses in garden design and practical gardening. or ring 01285 386250

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Sara Eley, Camellia

My favourite plant is an impossible question but for this time of year you cannot beat the Camellia. The first one here, a C ‘J C Williams’ flowers on about Christmas day (slightly later this year) and is a wonderful single pale pink. There are so many different varieties, C ‘Alba Simplex’, yellow and white, ‘E G Waterhouse’ another lovely variety and the wonderful single dainty C ‘Cornish Snow’ (white) and C ‘Cornish Spring’ (pink).  We have constant flowering Camellias from late December until June. I love walking around the garden with my secateurs and cutting as many different types as possible and placing them in a vase of water, they look lovely with their glossy dark green leaves. 

Sara Eley, lives and works at The Place for Plants, East Bergholt, Suffolk CO7 6UP with husband, two children, dogs, chickens, guinea fowl and peacocks.Tel: 01206 299224

Nicholas Newton, Hamamelis intermedia Jelena

I love woodland gardens and this is a gem with its beautiful autumn coloured leaves and spidery copper orange flowers in late winter, early spring. The flowers are a real uplift at the end of a long winter, and I always try and plant up for rich colour in the autumn which is my favourite season. Woodland flowering shrubs also take me back to mountaineering trips to the Himalayas where I’ve been lucky enough to see them growing in the wild.

Nicholas Newton is a Registered Member of the Society of Garden Designers and may be contacted on 01728 638903 for further information or

Belinda Gray, Globe artichoke

The globe artichoke is a magnificently handsome plant with its silver-green leaves forming majestic clumps that have become an architectural feature in my kitchen garden. I add off-shoot plants to the rear of the herbaceous border for sheer size and stature. Picking the young, tiny globes in mid-summer allows for cooking in their entirety and as the globes get larger, the prickly-edged petals can be pulled away, dipped in melted butter; their succulent flesh sucked from each one. The treasure is still to come. What ismore sublime than the tender heart of an artichoke? Hidden within the hairy base, there lies a tender disc of flesh, indescribably delicious.

Belinda Gray Tel: 01394 384 712Vegetable gardening design and school

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