Henstead Exotic Garden

Into the Jungle: Henstead Exotic Garden

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Last weekend I went to visit Henstead Exotic Garden near Beccles in Suffolk. The weather was still very warm, so it was a great pleasure to spend time in a garden that provided plenty of shade.

That precious shade was provided by the many trees, shrubs and bamboos growing in the garden. Amongst these are around 100 palms, giant yellow bamboo that can grow a foot a day (plants grow fast in the warmth here) and beautiful red-leaved bananas.

Henstead Exotic Garden

The garden has been established for less than 20 years, with its owner, Andrew Brogan, having moved to Suffolk in 2004. It is not what you might expect to see in Suffolk. This garden survives winters here because many of the palms and other exotics are actually quite hardy and due to its sheltered site, surrounded by a belt of older trees. (These include yews and oaks, some of which are up to 300 years old.) Additionally, the garden is only two miles from the coast, which protects it from having prolonged frosts.

Henstead Exotic Garden

The deep shade created by the lush growth of the plants at this time of year made trying to photograph it very tricky. It was very dark in many areas. (But, oh, I did enjoy the cool!) I tend to prefer not to use the higher ISO speeds on my camera, but this time I really had no choice.

It was so much easier when I emerged from under the leafy canopy into the nursery area. Here there was a large open area that allowed me plenty of light to photograph some of the plants in containers. (The nursery area is packed with all sorts of serious temptations, many at very reasonable prices…easy to spend a long time at this bit!)

Henstead Exotic Garden

I reckon I’ll have to return to the garden earlier in the year in future, so that I can photograph some of the lovely garden features that were hidden in it’s dark depths. There were ponds and an artificial stream that would be easier to photograph at a time when the canopy above hasn’t yet filled out.

There were interesting buildings too – the main one being a large tropical-styled summerhouse, which must be an inviting place to spend a relaxed hour or two. There was also a ‘Thai pavilion’ and viewing area which visitors clamber up to via some rather deep steps – an exciting viewpoint up close to the trees and bamboos! I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this very different garden – I’ll be back!

Henstead Exotic Garden

25 thoughts on “Into the Jungle: Henstead Exotic Garden

  1. It’s always interesting to find a different kind of garden in the UK. I had thought of having a more exotic style until I realised that my garden is far to exposed. This one looks rather Cornish!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the Cornish gardens are all pretty much sheltered in valleys with trees on the higher ground. Me, I am on the higher ground with no shelter whatsoever from those Atlantic gales.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Is that photo of the reddish leaves the red-leaved banana? I’ve never heard of such a thing. They’re quite beautiful. Your photo of the ferns is nice, and those pink flowers in the last photo are interesting. They appear to be vining; do you happen to know what they are?

    Photographing in dark areas is hard. When I began visiting the east Texas woods, I discovered pretty quickly how different they were from our prairies and such. Sometimes, I found dappled light even more challenging than low light levels, especially if the wind was blowing and the shadows and light patches kept moving.

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    1. Yes, that’s the banana (Ensete) – I think it’s probably something like this: https://www.exoticplantsonline.co.uk/essential/ensete-ventricosum-maurelii-red-abyssinian-ethiopian-banana/
      The pink flowers belong to a large shrub – Clerodendrum bungei. I think the ‘vine’ parts actually belong to a plant beside it that has long bare stems.
      Dappled light is a nightmare – too much contrast for the camera to cope with! And not much you can do about it in someone else’s garden. And yes, the wind makes it all so much harder! Fun, hehe!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was blessedly cool – must remember that next summer. Made me feel that we need to create more shade here. Glad you liked that first shot. I found it a tricky garden to photograph. Maybe next time will be easier! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Garden exploration the easy way! I was amazed by how much of a difference the shade from the trees made to the heat. It was much more comfortable in the garden than it was a little way outside it. Trees and shrubs work wonders!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a very interesting garden to look around – so different to anything else round here. (Although there’s a wonderful exotic garden in Norwich which I really enjoyed visiting a few years ago.) The plants were tempting – didn’t allow myself to buy any because I already have some waiting to be planted…)


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