Gardens Illustrated
Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

Stunning small coastal garden in Suffolk designed by Sue Townsend

Published: August 18, 2022 at 1:50 pm
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A bright and airy seaside garden, shimmering with light and jewel-like colour, is guaranteed to lift the spirits. Words Clare Coulson, photographs Richard Bloom

In a courtyard in Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast, garden designer Sue Townsend has combined all her experience with plants that can withstand the ferocious North Sea winds, sandy soil and salty air to create a breezy, sunken garden rich with colour and movement. The brief from her clients was straightforward – they wanted an inviting space to entertain large groups of family and friends. The original garden was “grey, dark and oppressive,” says Sue. “They were keen to do something that was more uplifting.”

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In brief

What A sunken coastal garden with terraced beds and spacious entertaining areas. Where Suffolk. Size 173 square metres. Soil Sandy. Aspect East-facing. Special features Beautiful hard landscaping and resilient coastal planting. Designed by Sue Townsend (suetownsendgardendesign.co.uk).

Central to that mood is the immaculate hard landscaping (built by local contractors David Taylor Landscapes) in which beautiful paddlestone walls are topped with the pale York stone that flows through the whole space. A small, elevated terrace catches the evening sun and sits above a larger sunken dining area and a smaller seating nook with a firepit and integrated curved stone bench. “The thing I really liked about this garden is that the owners put so much emphasis on the craftsmanship,” says Sue. “It’s tactile.”

Read more about the garden below.

Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

Steps lead up to an elevated terrace, which is perfectly placed to catch the evening sun.

Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Stipa tenuissima,Geranium Rozanne, Dianthus carthusianorum, Euphorbia seguierana, Pittosporum Golf Ball, Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote, at Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

On the lowest terrace an Urbis Lily Bowl provides a focal point from the house and creates beautiful reflections from the surrounding grasses and perennials.

Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

Despite the location right on the beach, Sue has designed a private space with fencing painted to match the house and terraced planting that creates a sense of enclosure and privacy.

Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Stipa tenuissima, Dianthus carthusianorum, Pittosporum Golf Ball, Lavandula angustifolia Hidcote, at Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

In high summer pops of colour from lavender, Dianthus carthusianorum and Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ contrast with Stipa tenuissima and evergreens including pittosporum.

Erysimum Erysimum Bowles Mauve, Rosemarinus prostratus, Ballota pseudodictamnus at Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

Plants are encouraged to tumble gracefully over the immaculate York stone-topped paddlestone walls. Here Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ and Ballota pseudodictamnus are perfect partners.

Gaura lindheimeri, Erysimum Bowles Mauve at Crag House, Aldeburgh. Designed by Sue Townsend
© Richard Bloom

Airy spires of Oenothera lindheimeri add a fresh note among jewel-toned perennials.

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Authors

Richard Bloom travels widely, photographing gardens, plants and people. He was the Garden Photographer of the Year in 2016 and Garden Media Guild Features Photographer of the Year 2018.

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