Rebecca Smith - Garden design & consultancy

Tulip Time - Garden Visit to Ulting Wick in Essex

Ulting Wick near Maldon in Essex is known for it's tulips. My recent visit to see the gardens did not disappoint!

The view from the entrance to the garden is of deep planting and singing colours. It is all set against the lush backdrop of the River Chelmer as it winds its way through the garden. 

I first met Philippa Burrough, chatelaine of Ulting Wick, last year after our Twitter conversations about gardens, open days and children led to plans to visit the garden in September. 

The garden has been created over a period of more than ten years around the house and a series of listed barns. The barns create a stunning backdrop to the planting, and at this time of year, tulips are the scene stealers:


The shapes and colours are carefully chosen to contrast and compliment in equal measure - elegant lily-flowered tulips are balanced by more solid cup-shaped blooms and all off-set with contrasting foliage. In this example, the red-leaved heuchera adds spice and sets off the more orange-y tones of the red tulips to perfection.

Tulips beds

In the kitchen garden, raised beds of massed tulips highlight the contrasting colours and shapes. All the groups need a contrasting colour to really create a frisson, this is the magic ingredient to successful planting. The tulips shown here are covered to protect the blooms from maurauding local deer who can decimate the tulips in a manner of minutes - as they are a real delicacy! They are uncovered for Open Days. 

In the Pink Garden, the tones range from clear pink to peach to claret and back:

Ulting Wick


The Pink Garden in September is filled with dahlias, again in constrasting and complimentary shaped and colours, all set against the black backdrop of the Listed barns. 

Ulting Wick


The riot of colour is contrasted with the quiet planting in the adjacent White Garden. 

Ulting Wick

Ulting Wick

The gate leads to the lawn and the river. Seats overlook the water and create vistas under the weeping willows. 

Ulting Wick

Design details throughout the garden add to the timelessness. Shown below is a seating area near the house which has stone paving edged with brick and the whole area surrounded with pea shingle and embellished with curliques of buxus hedging. All very beautifully toned together and far more interesting than if it were simply a paved terrace or just shingle. The Auricula Theatre is new this year and filled with succulents at the moment. 

seating area

Ulting Wick

ulting wick

Also new this year is Philippa's greenhouse shown above. It replaces a smaller one and is home at the moment to the tender plants which willbe planted out after the risks of frosts has passed. The pots in front are tulips which are being trialled before planting out in the garden.

Ulting Wick


At the centre of the garden is the Old Farmyard. This area is tranformed by Autumn into a jungle of hot toned colours and tender planting. 

Ulting Wick

Teas Ulting Wick

Here beats the heart of the Open Days, the tea barn for cakes and refreshements. Ulting Wick will be open for the National Gardens Scheme this Friday 1 May from 2 - 5 pm. For other dates and times of openings please see the Ulting Wick website:

Cold frame


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