Ulting Wick, Essex – terrific tulips and more

tulipa paul scherer in early morning frost
Frosty tulips at Ulting Wick

Ulting Wick in Essex has received its fair share of mentions in the press and on social media and has quite rightly been named by photographer Clive Nichols and The English Garden magazine as one of the top 7 must-see ‘paradise’ gardens in England.

Philippa Burrough and husband Bryan moved into the property 20 years ago and over this time the garden has been transformed from an insignificant patch into a remarkable garden with year round appeal.


Ulting Wick has become famed for spring colour and the tulip displays in particular have proved extremely popular, having been photographed by garden photographers and featured in the national press.

Each year Philippa plants around 6000 tulip bulbs, creating a show-stopping display around the garden.  Approached by a gravel drive featuring a clipped central holly tree, the front elevation of the low-lying white painted Essex farmhouse is peppered with hot plantings of orange and yellow tulips, narcissi, hellebores and blue muscari, with the promise of alliums and bergenias to come.


The garden winds around the side of the house beside a gentle stream overhung with weeping willows which opens out into a miniature lake, resplendent with quaint bridges and photogenic rowing boat moored to the bank.  Beyond the stream, a wilder side of the garden is revealed with resident hens overlooked by a bronze resin owl statue. I was privileged to spot a hare capering about and was informed by Philippa that hares are frequent visitors.


To the rear, further mixed bulb plantings lead to the box parterre in the former farmyard, where old brick paths wind around blackened barns and swallows swoop in and out of the eaves.  At the time of our visit, the box parterre was understated and neat, a contrast to the spectacular and exotic plantings that Philippa implements in the summer.

Spring Dawn with tulips in English Garden
Spring Dawn at Ulting Wick


The main tulip display this spring is in the vegetable garden, where, alongside early asparagus, raised beds are host to a multitude of colour-graded tulips.  Here, colour blocked pink, purple and white tulips such as ‘Sapporo’, ‘Infinity’, ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Merlot’ stand alongside further blocks of reds and oranges.  A particular favourite was ‘National Velvet’, a deep velvety red, and ‘Abu Hassan’, a delicious chocolatey burgundy with yellow tips that look as though they have been dipped in golden caster sugar!


Two further gardens were a delightful discovery, one planted in pinks and purples with gorgeous little box topiary shaped like Mr Kipling French Fancies, surrounded by tulips and with Alliums, Peonies and Dianthus showing early signs of life.  A further garden, similarly planted, was totally white and green, a restful and pure combination surrounded by neat yew hedging.

At all NGS open days Philippa serves teas in an open fronted barn overlooking the parterre.  All cakes and scones are home-made, either by Philippa or friends, including celebrated local garden photographer Marcus Harpur.

Ulting Wick is part of the National Gardens Scheme and is open several times a year both for the NGS and for party visits by prior arrangement.




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