Visit the Suffolk plot that wowed Gardeners' World presenters

Geoffrey Ingham in his garden in Ousden

Geoffrey Ingham in his garden in Ousden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Visitors have a chance to peek into one of the county's most unusual green spaces thanks to the National Garden Scheme.

Over a span of nearly two decades, Geoffrey and Christine Ingham have utterly transformed their plot into an outdoor oasis, carefully designing, crafting and planting up what is surely one of Suffolk's most intricate and interesting gardens. The results are stunning

Christine and Geoffrey Ingham in their unique garden in Ousden

Christine and Geoffrey Ingham in their unique garden in Ousden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Aptly named Dip-on-the-Hill, the one-acre plot in Ousden is 'scooped out' of the south-facing landscape, nestled behind a 15th century thatched cottage...and amazingly began life as a couple of Scots pines and ‘a bit of a mess in between’.  

The couple, who moved to the county from Cambridge in 2005, have always had an interest in gardening. Explaining the inspiration behind the green-fingered masterpiece, Geoffrey says: “It looked like a good site, and I’ve always been interested in unusual plants that weren’t often grown.  

Geoffrey stood among his towering bamboo

Geoffrey stood among his towering bamboo - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“I like evergreen plants, as you’ve always got something all-year-round. What I wanted to create was something permanent, and something that defies winter.” 

With that in mind, Geoffrey soon got to work, bringing his vision to life. “We got a mini bulldozer and a digger in and cleared the whole lot except the perimeters. Being quite old – I'm 80 now – I can’t plant saplings at my age, so I got trees and plants from Cambridge and transplanted them, and over the years they’ve developed. 

Geoffrey also built on his love of architectural plants, shape and form, influenced by Japanese gardens.  

Green plants and shrubs in the Dip-on-the-Hill garden

Green plants and shrubs in the Dip-on-the-Hill garden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Most Read

As you step into the Inghams' garden, you’re met with exactly that. There are pine trees and bamboo, topiary and cloud forms in every shade of green. The end result is a calm, reflective place that uses the light to play through the vertical planting as the day progresses and the seasons turn. Always green, it’s a garden for contemplation and immersion. 

So eye-catching is the project that it featured on an episode of Gardeners’ World earlier this year, with host Adam Frost describing it as “a considered study in texture, structure, form and space, with foliage from all around the world bought alive by winding gravel paths. It’s all about gardening in layers and contrasting the vertical with the horizontal. The trunks of the tall trees help frame the multi-stem shrubs that have had their canopies lifted and at their feet topiarized evergreen forms an undulating bank.” 

Green plants and shrubs in the Dip-on-the-Hill garden

Green plants and shrubs in the Dip-on-the-Hill garden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Other visitors have been just as captivated by the hidden oasis, as Geoffrey says: “You can’t see the gardens until you come round the back of the house, but we had one chap so taken aback, he said ‘you don’t expect to see this sort of garden in rural Suffolk’. Most people are quite surprised.” 

Incredibly proud of the hard work he’s put into his garden over the years, Geoffrey is now opening Dip-on-the-Hill to visitors all-year-round by arrangement via the National Garden Scheme, giving tours, and sharing his knowledge of the garden and its plants.  

Just some of the beautiful flowers in the Ingham's garden

Just some of the beautiful flowers in the Ingham's garden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

“Because of the nature of the garden I’m happy to offer visitors access throughout the year, but we try and stick to June through to the end of September,” says Geoffrey.  

“It’s a perfect way to see a garden you love – time and again – or to visit one that has always spiked your curiosity, and Dip-on-the-Hill certainly does that,” adds National Garden Scheme chief executive George Plumptre.  

Green plants, trees, and shrubs in the Dip-on-the-Hill garden

Green plants, trees, and shrubs in the Dip-on-the-Hill garden - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

To find out more about Geoffrey’s Dip-on-the-Hill garden, or the National Garden Scheme, visit findagarden.ngs.org.uk