The Blickling Estate in Norfolk

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I am a bit behind.  We visited Blickling months ago on our Norfolk trip and I am trying to remember, beyond these few images, what it was like and what I thought.

One thing I could never forget, however, were the clipped yew hedges.  They would have to be my absolute favourite thing about the property.  And maybe the topiary.  But mostly the hedges, which look straight out of a children’s book, with gateways to unseen sections of garden.  There are some wonderful photos here of the annual trim and which show a better sense of their scale and form.

Usually my favourite thing about estate gardens is the kitchen garden.  Perhaps because we can relate to it the most, being mainly vegetable growers. The walled kitchen garden at Blickling has great potential but it wasn’t exactly aspirational, even looking a little rough round the edges when we visited.  I am not someone who looks for perfection, I find it a little boring, but there was something about it which just seemed unloved.

The house, like all National Trust properties, is very impressive and was once home to Anne Boleyn.  Apparently it is considered the most haunted house in Britain.  A truly bizarre thing to relate to when you visit on a cheerful day in late summer.

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East Ruston Old Vicarage, Norfolk

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East Ruston Old Vicarage is a must visit for visitors to Norfolk. However please don’t do what we did and arrive before opening time (a leisurely 2pm) in desperate need of tea / coffee / any old caffienne, having been victim of a powercut at our rented cottage.  Sad, desperate times they were.

We detoured to the beach for a few hours before returning and I am pleased to report that they serve tea and we cleaned them out of savoury bakes. I was also very happy to meet their gang of lhasa apsos who were hanging about the cafe area, presumably trying to nick cake crumbs.

The gardens are lovely.  You must pick up the booklet while there as the illustrated map of the grounds is a nice keepsake and extremely helpful in guiding you around.

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The garden is made up of many ‘rooms’, some of which have been positioned to ‘borrow’ a view from a distant landmark.  One of the most stunning has to be the framed view of the Happisburgh Lighthouse from the Winter Garden.  So difficult to photograph and one that really must be seen in person (an image can be seen here). My other favourite thing about this garden was the glasshouses. Er, again no pictures. Clearly we were too busy enjoying these lovely things! One housed a beautiful climbing rose and the scent was just incredible as you walked inside.

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They also have a nicely stocked nursery area where you can purchase plants. Must be a lovely place for locals to come and stock up.

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East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens / Closes for winter on 26 October / Opening times: 2 – 5.30pm

Chelsea Flower Show Show Gardens, part 1

Chelsea show gardenMy favourite show garden at RHS Chelsea has to be the Window Through Time garden designed by Roger Platts to capture “the design trends and themes of Chelsea shows past and present”.  I just loved the planting, the framing sculpture, the domed topiary at one end (above) and the more natural victorian cottage garden style at the other (below).  It was a delight to photograph.Chelsea show gardenchelsea show gardenshow gardenI love the green wall in this roof garden by Nigel Dunnett, the designer of the London Olympic Park wildflower planting.  You can’t tell from this photo, but the garden used water beautifully.  show gardenchelsea show gardenThe Laurent-Perrier Garden by Ulf Nordfjell is a bit too stuffy for me to really, really  love it, but the work that has gone into creating it is frankly impressive.  More show garden photos to follow very shortly!

Derek Jarman’s Dungeness Garden


We were in Camber Sands over the weekend for the All Tomorrow’s Parties music festival and I couldn’t resist a quick trip to Dungeness to see Derek Jarman’s famous Prospect Cottage.  The Dungeness landscape was more than a bit bewildering for us festival weary folk and the wind was blowing a (freezing!) gale so we spent most of our trip crawling around in the car – mouths agape – only to get out to take a few iphone snaps of this lovely place.

I will be going back in the warmer months for sure.

A Dome Greenhouse in London


We saw this unusual, dome greenhouse at a NGS open evening a couple of weeks ago in London.  The main drawcard of the Clapham garden at this time of year is a sea of 1,500 tulips, but the late spring meant that they were not yet in bloom (it is open again this week for tulip viewing).  The visit was not wasted as we were able to admire this lovely greenhouse.   Steve took these images on his iphone.

NGS Greenhouse

NGS greenhouse