Norfolk Holiday

Day 1:

Left Paxton on time. I did notice a bag on the coach with plants in it and we hadn’t even started our journey!

We arrived at Ellicar Gardens on time.  The natural swimming pool was much admired and some wished that they could have had a swim. The water lilies were delightful. The prairie planting was not to everyone’s liking but the overall effect was pleasing.

The cakes were very good. There were plants for sale but no one succumbed to temptation. In the tea room there was a video on the four favourite garden implements and at least one person found the information helpful.

We then continued our journey to Haconby. The traffic through Grantham was slow and were late arriving at Chapel Street. The garden was an absolute delight and I think we all agreed that it was a pity that we did not have longer there. Unfortunately the owner had recently died but his daughter kindly  arranged the visit. She was very knowledgeable. There were numerous interesting plants to admire.

We arrived late at West Acre and went straight in for tea and cakes. The cafe had recently been upgraded and was delightful.  A selection of cakes was presented on a cake stand and they were delicious. Then most people made a beeline to the nursery where there were some lovely plants for sale at very reasonable prices. I bought a couple of peonies which were on my wish list and some phlox to add to my growing collection. Then there was time to walk around the walled garden. On getting on the coach for the final leg of our journey on day one there was a good collection of plants on board!

We then arrived late at UEA and after unpacking our things it was straight into dinner.

The consensus view was that we had had a good first day. I managed to write up everyone’s comments on each of the gardens by bedtime.

Day 2:

We woke up to bright blue skies and a welcome breeze. We had a prompt start at 9 am and arrived at Chestnut Farm by 10:15 am.  We were welcomed by owners who had been there for over fifty years. We were all given a map of garden on the back of which was a list of plants looking their best. Half of the group were invited to have coffee first but many got distracted by the plant sales and had to be encouraged to go round to the tea room. The garden was beautiful and there were a number of unusual trees and shrubs (including Calycanthus) and rambling roses reaching up to the sky. The cottage style planting was lovely; an Anemone rivularis in the Fountain Garden was much admired. The cakes served with coffee and tea were delicious.

We then travelled for about an hour to reach East Ruston Old Vicarage. We had lunch and Anthony Gray, one of the owners welcomed us. We had all afternoon to explore the garden. There were welcome areas of shade and seats to take  a well earned rest whilst exploring the extensive gardens. The other owner Graham Robeson drove by the coach as we were preparing to leave, in his wonderful vintage car.

I spent the evening demonstrating to members how to navigate the website and to email me images. Unfortunately, many people had difficulty connecting to ‘The Cloud’. 

Day 3:

It was another lovely day weather wise with a pleasant breeze first thing. We departed on time from UEA for our first garden visit to High House Gardens, Shipdham. The delphiniums were in full bloom and the herbaceous borders were magnificent. The plant sale area was popular as there were some very good plants.

We then went to Creake Nursery. There was a rush to be the first to arrive and grab the best plants! There was a good selection of plants for sale and on my second walk round the nursery I spotted some of the older varieties of Phlox which I couldn’t resist. When we returned to the coach there was an array of plants on board!

Next stop was Holkham Hall for lunch and a visit to the walled gardens which we reached by an open – air tractor buggy. We passed the monument to Thomas William Coke who introduced crop rotation in the late 1700’s and the Ice House, a must ‘have’ for all large houses of that era. The walled garden is being restored. The derelict greenhouses were fascinating.

Our last stop at Dunbheagan was a delight; the garden was stunning and the refreshments delicious. The previous owner had named the house after the Dunvegan (Scottish Gaelic: Dùn Bheagain), a small town on the Isle of Skye.

We returned a little later than planned to UEA. I was too tired to write up the comments on our visits for the day.

Day 4:

There has been no break in the hot weather.  Our first visit to Janet Sleep’s garden lived up to expectations. It was a true plantswoman’s garden with many interesting plants (and plants for sale).

On our way to Bressingham we stopped at another nursery, The Plantsman’s Preference which had a good selection of geraniums and grasses.

We started our visit to Bressingham with lunch and then had the whole afternoon to explore the gardens. The gardens in front of the Hall were open and apart from having to dodge the sprinklers well worth the time. Prior to our visit there had been some suggestion that Foggy Bottom would not be worth exploring, but everyone I spoke to on my way round the gardens was impressed by the planting and atmosphere there. I failed to find the fragrant garden on my way back from Foggy Bottom. On my way back to the coach I wandered round the Dell Garden; Pat Inman commented on the fact that there were not many Phlox but I actually lost count of how many I spotted on my way round the garden (10 and counting). I took my time exploring the Dell and thought that we were due back on the coach at 5 pm. Whoops! I spent the rest of the holiday living down my mistake!

Whilst some members chose to watch the football the rest of us did the quiz after dinner. Thank you to Diane and Brenda for organising this.

Day 5:

It is to the credit of our driver Rob, that not only was all our luggage safely stored in the hold, but the majority of our plants which occupied one half of the hold. Sue’s recommendation to use sturdy bags rather than crates worked well.

The highlight of the day was our visit to the delightful garden at Bank House, Marshland St James, where we were also treated to delicious cakes.

The gardens at Doddington Hall were a disappointment but the old trees, some of which pre-dated the Hall were impressive.

We arrived back at Paxton Hall just before 6 pm. The coach was quickly unloaded and we all made our way home.

Images to be loaded later.

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