Object for June – Little Hall Garden

Colonel MargaretTurner Zulzi

Little Hall is nearly 650 years old and over time has had many and varied owners. The last residents before the property finally passed out of private hands and into the possession of the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust in 1975, were twin brothers named Gayer Anderson.  They bought the property in 1925, restored it as you see it now and created this beautiful garden. It is managed and maintained solely by volunteers.

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The garden has a separate volunteer Team and the planting plan was drawn up in 1995 by Maggie Thorpe, then team leader, based on what she found when she took over. A garden is a living and ever changing thing but we maintain that plan as closely as is feasible. The major change has been the creation of the Millennium Garden, far left corner through the arch.   That area had been the remains and foundations of sheds which were cleared and planted as you see it now.  

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The tranquil garden at Little Hall is typically English. The colours change on a regular basis as some flowers fade and new plants with different coloured flowers burst into bloom. As well as the flowers, roses and lavender the garden contains a selection of shrubs such as Helichrysum, or the Silver Curry bush that has clusters of yellow flowers and bright silvery grey foliage. It thrives in hot conditions and is cold tolerant. There are also a selection of Hebes which offer bright foliage in winter, and sparkling flowers through summer into winter.

One of our newer plants to the garden is Lychnis coronaria, or Rose campion. It is a short lived perennial which forms silver leaves and a profusion of glowing magenta flowers. It enjoys a long season of interest, easy to grow,trouble free and not fussy about soil or exposure.

Lychnis coronaria, or Rose campion
Sow the seeds in a seed tray indoors. Scatter the seeds on the surface and cover lightly with seed compost. Place in a bright spot. The compost must be kept continuously moist until germination. When the plants are ready they can be planted outdoors about twenty centimetres apart. They will grow to about forty five centimetres high. Lychnis will readily self seed.

The season begins with a lovely display of tulips, clematis and spring flowering shrubs and is followed by iris, oriental poppies and roses. There are a number of unusual plants, many of which enjoy the sheltered situation.

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The ingenious sculpture of the heads of the brothers was commissioned by Little Hall as part of a competition.

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In the Presence of Absence
Jennifer Hall, 2003

This simple sculpture aims to capture the presence of the Gayer-Anderson twins by using space as the image. The abstract bronze shape represents the frozen space between the brothers as they look towards one another it thus outlines their profiles, hinting at their presence.

The emphasis is on the absence of any physical image of the twins but introduces the thought that, despite their absence, their presence is strongly felt around the garden and the house. The question posed is, what do you see? Do you see the abstract shape as the sculpture or the space around it?

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Apart from removing two large conifers in order to improve the view, the layout of the main garden is largely unchanged and, we hope, retains its original beauty and sense of calm.  The battle against weeds and ground elder and occasional attacks of fungus keep the Team constantly busy and additional human and material help is always welcome!

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The pump was used for emptying the cellar

Features to note include the old pump by the house wall, the plaque on the wall by the steps leading down from the terrace, the gravestones of the brothers’ Aberdeen terrier Peter and of Zoobzie their beloved cat.  You will also see various donated plants and seats.

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“Zoobzie” (“Gay Lord” in the Stud Book) a Siamese cat who was the G-A’s constant companion from 1942 until he died in 1955. “The most delightful and beloved pet we ever had”

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Top Left: Modern copy of a Della Robbia glazed and coloured terra-cotta relief of the Virgin and Child, carried to England unwrapped from Florence by The Pasha, Major Gayer-Anderson.
Top Right: The Gayer-Anderson Crests, a lion and a tree, designed and made by Colonel G-A, appears on this and all the other houses that they restored in Lavenham, carrying on the tradition of pargetting which has been a special feature in East Anglia for centuries.
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The Mask in Concrete is the portrait of a village boy (Sorrell by name) and was made by Colonel Gayer-Anderson.

The Garden this week

and some pictures from previous years

See some recollections of Little Hall open for Hidden Gardens in 2019

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