this month's flower
Edgworth and District Horticultural Society



See also the picture gallery

Our 4-day tour to Norfolk was universally enjoyed with (largely!) good weather. The selection of gardens left us all feeling that the next one couldn’t possibly add anything new but every time we were confounded and amazed by something entirely different.
We made an early start for the tortuous journey to Norfolk but our journey passed pleasantly with a well-timed break at the gardens of Belton House, near Grantham. Here we met our popular tour manager, Michael who we knew from our previous visit to the North East. From the entrance, the sudden view of the sunken Italian garden with its topiaries, fountains and Orangery was arresting. Another highlight was the lavender garden in front of the house, heavy with scent and a Mecca for bees.

Our hotel for the holiday was the Holiday Inn in Norwich and though a somewhat character-less building was peaceful, comfortable, provided good food and had a heated indoor swimming pool which was used by many of us.
Next morning our first visit was to Corpusty Mill, the private garden of Roger Last. This amazing garden is actually three totally different and very large gardens. We were astonished to discover that Roger maintains everything with one person’s help on one day a week!  The main garden, bounded on one side by a long flint wall is full of plant interest as well as a quirky, dark and winding grotto and a stone folly. In one “room” a self portrait of Roger peeps discretely from a painted window. Behind the Mill is a landscaped meadow with a large lake and a stone cave with a large gunnera above and a part-submerged figure is glimpsed within. A modern folly, a seven-metre stainless steel spire, acts as an eye catcher. 

The last garden here is mainly open meadow and has many plaster-casts of Roger arranged around it.

Our visit to NT’s Felbrigg Hall was rather rushed so some opted to visit just the fine 17th-century country house whilst others sheltered from a torrential downpour in the large and splendid Walled Garden. Both are really worth a another visit

The huge garden at East Ruston Old Vicarage has so much variety and interest that the afternoon was nowhere near enough to explore its myriad of paths and garden spaces. There is a walled garden divided into rooms by yew hedges, a fountain garden, views of a church and lighthouse through windows in the hedge and spectacular walks where you are engulfed in massive hydrangeas all heavy with blossom.

On Sunday after breakfast we travelled to the gardens at Bressingham. For many these were the real highlight of our visit to Norfolk. The Dell Garden, has a huge range of herbaceous perennials grown in sweeping and colourful island beds. Adrian Bloom’s garden at Foggy Bottom also has island beds but with trees and grasses giving it a more secluded atmosphere. The collection of large and small steam engines, cars and other machinery wasn’t just for the engineering “hairies” – especially the fairground ride!

Back in the centre of Norwich we visited two neighbouring private gardens, very different from each other.  First was Mr. and Mrs. Palmer’s garden at Hawthorn House, a multi-level terraced garden with a topiary hedge like giant seats, Here a landscape company was responsible for the design and maintenance and we were given a tour of the garden by the designer. Much of the garden is woodland areas with formal terraces. Next door is Exotic Garden where we were met by Will Giles in suitably tropical looking shirt!  This amazing garden is full of plants which shouldn’t be seen growing outside next to the North Sea. It has tropical and house plants, cacti and bromeliads in the branches of trees. We walked past tree ferns, and under canopies of Brugmansia and. Bananas. The garden was a riot of colour. By now on this busy day, his mugs of tea were very welcome. All this is achieved by what must be an immense effort - each year he takes all the plants into protective poly-tunnels and then recreates the garden in the spring.

Our last visit of the day was to Plantation Garden, also in the centre of Norwich. Tiredness was taking hold and enthusiasm waning as we drove through Norwich but none of us would afterwards have missed the visit to this fine garden. Constructed in a chalk quarry it was created by philanthropist Henry Trevor, with a "Gothic" fountain and fancy bricks from a local manufacturer to create medieval style walls, ruins and follies. It is being carefully restored by volunteers from a dereliction of ivy and sycamore.
Monday found us heading for home but breaking our journey again near Grantham at Easton Walled Garden. Here, gardens which had been created over 400 years were abandoned for 50 years in 1951 when the family home was pulled own after being requisitioned by the army during the war and left  derelict. It was interesting to see the efforts and success of the family’s personal restoration of what is returning to be a lovely garden.

Another wonderful holiday with like-minded and friendly folk from Edgworth & District Horticultural Society.