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Private Gardens of Norfolk


By AndrewR


If you receive the RHS Garden magazine, you may have seen this trip advertised. As it turned out, not all the gardens were in Norfolk but there was still lots to see.

First we went to the Beth Chatto Gardens near Colchester. This was created in 1960 on waste ground between two farms where the soil was considered too poor to grow crops. This is also the driest part of the British Isles so plants have to be tough to survive. As well as a dry garden, there is also a wet garden (in what used to be a soggy hollow) and a gravel garden, created on the old car park.

Next was Woodwards, a small private garden in a Suffolk village. There were lots of island beds, a vegetable plot and many containers and hanging baskets containing bedding; the owner also planted 11000 bulbs for his garden opening last spring.

The next three visits were to gardens in and around Norwich. First was The Plantation Garden, an urban Victorian garden being restored by a group of enthusiastic amateurs on a shoestring budget. The bank on the left shows how they found the garden when they started work; so far they have restored the lawns and flowerbeds plus walkways among the trees and shrubs on the right.

Whenever there is a magazine article or television program about exotic gardens, Will Giles’ garden is featured. Here he grows bananas, tree ferns, bromeliads, succulents, cacti and houseplants among other plants that look exotic but are hardy enough to survive outside during the winter. A sheltered spot (he only recorded -3C during last winter) helps to challenge the beliefs of what we can grow in this country.

Lake House is another private garden built on part of the grounds of a country estate. How about waking up to this view every morning? Maintenance of the various ponds and lake is shared between the residents – the lady we visited looks after the first two pools, her neighbour the third and someone else the lake at the bottom!

Oulton Hall is a Georgian House owned by a garden designer. The walled garden contains many highly designed, formal sections but the rest of the grounds are more informal with some naturalistic corners too.

Hill Cottage is the archetypal small cottage garden densely planted with shrubs, climbers, perennials, annuals, herbs, vegetables and fruit. The whole garden is run organically and is never watered but supplies enough food for the owner all year round.

East Ruston Old Vicarage is a plantaholic’s paradise. It has everything – topiary, borders, wild flowers, trees, shrubs, climbers, perennials, bedding, exotics – and a wonderful sales area! It is twenty acres in total, so if you are visiting, allow at least four hours and then hit the tea room.

Finally we called at Devil’s End, another privately-owned garden run single-handedly by a guy with ME with occasional help from a man waiting for a hip replacement! The garden is in two sections, either side of a lane to the nearby village church. Beside the house are a parterre and a small woodland area; on the other side a potager, colour-themed borders, a pond and more woodland.

We called at Wootton’s Nursery on the way home (we were asked not to buy trees as they would not fit in the coach!) but I managed to return from the trip with only four new plants for my garden.

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~Oh Andrew! how I envy you~what a great trip!

21 Jul, 2009


I wondered where you were, Andrew! From your photos, which are beautiful, it looks as though the weather was good for visiting gardens. Sounds like a lovely break for garden-lovers. :-)

I've only been to Beth Chatto's....I loved it!

You were very restrained - what did you buy?

21 Jul, 2009


Love pics Andrew...I've been to East Ruston....a magical place and the owners are real characters...I'm sure I have some pics...will post them if I can find them...
PS: The tea room was worth "hitting"

21 Jul, 2009


Interesting blog, Andrew...
East Ruston Old Vicarage looks especially tempting...
Did anyone buy odd-shaped plants which were difficult to fit into the coach ? Did you photograph the coach and passengers with all their purchases ? :o)

21 Jul, 2009


i went to east ruston last year it is stunning isnt it.
lovely blog by the way.

21 Jul, 2009


spritz - I bought:
Codonopsis clematidea at Beth Chatto's - a small scrambler with pale blue flowers and a foxy smell
Salvia africana-lutea 'Kirstenbosch' at East Ruston - tender shrub with flowers that open yellow and quickly turn brown. I've seen this growing near the Cape of Good Hope in its native environment
Teucrium fruticans 'Compactum' - dwarf version of a ten foot shrub with blue flowers
Euphorbia 'Tasmanian Tiger' - variegated euphorbia less than two feet tall (these last two plants were from Wootton's)

TT - sorry, was too busy gloating over my treasures. I've never seen the salvia for sale anywhere before and I've been after the teucrium for a couple of years

I love East Ruston garden. If it was closer, I'd be up there every month it is open - it's like a new version of Hidcote. You could write several blogs about just this one garden and still have pictures left over

21 Jul, 2009


That's good to know you found some plants you've wanted for a long time...

... East Ruston... looked it up on the map... a little way south of Mundesley.... is that the village ?

21 Jul, 2009


Great blog Andrew and the photo`,s are lovely,sounds like my idea of a smashing day out,glad you enjoyed it and thanks for sharing.........

21 Jul, 2009


Aha my turf
I used to live in Mundesley for many many years grew up there
, East Ruston isnt that far from there at all. Glad you enjoyed our neck of the woods, next time venture towards the Broads and pop in to see my garden
Il provide tea!!

x x x x

21 Jul, 2009


Look out Mookins...
Andrew "hits the tea rooms" Lol. :o)

21 Jul, 2009


hehe I would employ the help of my children to fetch and carry

x x x

21 Jul, 2009


TT - no, I hit the Plant Sales areas - hard!! No time for the tea room :-(
The salvia I bought was sitting on its own in a pot without a label but I was 99% certain what it was and the guy behind the till confirmed it was the variety 'Kirstenbosch', not the specie plant. GOTCHA

21 Jul, 2009


Lucky Mookins you live on the Broads!!!! you lucky devil.....we used to hire a cruiser there for about 8./9 years in a row.....the most relaxing holidays ever...Sadly we are not nimble enough on our pins anymore (well OH isn't..)...we still have video and pics so we can at least remenisce.....

21 Jul, 2009


A great blog Andrew, thanks for that. Its given me some ideas for days out during the school holidays (so watch out Mookins, look through the curtains before you answer the door !!) Lol :~))

22 Jul, 2009


~I checked out where the Old Vicarage is and it is a long way from Swansea ~maybe next year!

22 Jul, 2009


Norfolk is a beautiful area, have always lived here. I was a very lucky girl growing up by the sea only a 5 min walk away from the house.
Now Im in a posh part of Norfolk (i think its posh) 3 min walk from the river :o)

x x x

22 Jul, 2009


~ my dad was from Lowestoft and we used to go for our summer holidays from Newcastle~ visited Norwich,Great Yarmouth etc ~lovely area.I used to live 5 mins from the sea on the North east coast ~wild in the winter!

22 Jul, 2009


Definatly wild by the sea, lat year we were renting a house which was near a caravan park on the cliffs.... very scary to think that we could wake up to be either down the cliff or have a caravan in the garden hehe

x x x

22 Jul, 2009


Some lovely places to add to my 'visit' list. Great photos and descriptions, Andrew. Many thanks.

23 Jul, 2009


Thanks Andrew for a great day I hope to have the time (and a car) ti visit these gardens.I have always wanted to go to Beth Chatto's.

26 Jul, 2009


Rbtkew - Beth Chatto's garden is at Elmstead Market. You might be able to get there by public transport with a bit of planning. Get a train from Liverpool Street to Colchester (about an hour). I think there are buses to Elmstead Market that leave from right outside the station

26 Jul, 2009


Thank you Andrew for the tour trips of the beautiful gardens, that I can visit from my chair with out inconvienencing any one to push me I thouroughly enjoyed it all lovely pictures.

27 Jul, 2009


so enjoyed your pics andrew looks like you had a great time....

28 Jul, 2009

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