Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England
© Charles Martinez/Amazing Aerial Agenc
Stunning symmetry. Abbey Gardens in England
Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds comprise a living, vibrant park, and just not because of their five hectares of colourful displays and ornate flowerbeds—they have changed with the times, all while still jealously guarding their history. The site here in the county of Suffolk, in eastern England, was originally home to a powerful Benedictine Abbey in medieval times—in fact, 2022 marks the 1000th anniversary of the storied abbey. You can still visit the abbey ruins and marvel at the 14th-century Great Gate and Norman Tower, which have survived through the ages. Nathaniel Hodson took the original Abbey Gardens and designed them as a botanic garden in 1831, using the Royal Botanic Gardens in Brussels, with its concentric circles, as his inspiration.
A century later, the people of Bury St Edmunds saw the popular park’s circular beds replaced by 64 island beds in honour of George VI’s coronation, which they celebrated in 1937, all set off by specially designed illuminations. A water garden and rose garden added more dimensions to the park, followed by an herb garden (the monks of yesteryear would be happy) and a sensory garden for the visually impaired. Today, gardeners plant about 20,000 plants in the spring to dazzle summer visitors, and then they do the same with 12,000 plants and 20,000 bulbs each fall in anticipation of a colourful display the next spring.