Helmingham Hall – Plant Heritage Spring Plant Fair

254 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel

May, 2016

Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

Out of the blue – literally – clouds rolled up yesterday and deluged mid-Suffolk. One of the ancient oaks at Helmingham was struck by lightning and blazed through the night. Hardly auspicious for a public event carefully watched over by security services following the Manchester atrocity. By morning, however, it was a spring day as at the beginning of the world.

As volunteers to meet and greet we were advised to arrive more than usually early, and did so. No evidence of security measures meant we were free to spend an hour with the stall holders, as long as we didn’t get in their way, and buying plants from them has never been in their way. With a work-shift from 10 am to 11.30 we were grateful for the plant creche, and only too happy to start off the voluntary collection for the benefit of Suffolk Plant Heritage. A tall fern, several slender grasses, an astrantia and some creeping thyme quickly joined the free fuchsia, to which were added later half a dozen herbs.

Meeting and greeting gives an opportunity for making concrete music – if only we had a recording machine. How many different ways can you say “Welcome, here’s a plan of the site and there’s a free fuchsia for you in the Plant Heritage marquee”? After several versions it seemed worthwhile to think how they could all be overlaid in an electronic composition played at different speeds both backwards and forwards. We must ask a musician friend’s student son to work on the idea.

Apart from stuffing adverts for the autumn fair into the site plan, directing people to the portaloos and/or food, plus telling parents there were activities for children, we also had a chance to assess the various ages of the visitors. Silver travellers were in plentiful supply, sometimes it seemed as grandchild wardens. It was also good to see how many young couples attend. Gardening is a thriving activity and interest has in no way been diminished by the concentration of programmes on the Chelsea Flower Show.

It is of course a more leisurely way of seeing some Chelsea medallists, as well as hear a talk by Lady Tollemache, a gold medallist herself and recipient of a recent award for work in the historic gardens at Helmingham. She is now delighted to be able to spend her days in the gardens then go home to a modern house in the village, leaving the Hall and its splendours – plus problems – to the next generation. She was the first speaker of the day and was followed by a number of other experts.

The fair also encompasses crafts and antiques or byegones. There is a portable dance floor for those who have the energy; the Colchester brass band was due to perform for a sedentary audience and there were a treasure hunt and craft activities for children. Access to the gardens was within the cost of the fair. What more could be desired?


Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.