Blickling Hall and Gardens
- By Richard Walters
- 28 May 2019
- Show Gardens
Any looking for ideas for a great day out in Norfolk should certainly consider visiting Blickling Hall and Gardens. Set in grounds covering 4,600 acres and with beautiful gardens covering 55 acres, with bike trails, picnic spots and the majestic Blickling Hall to visit, this is one of Norfolk’s top visitor locations with good reason.
The Hall itself is impressive. Built in c. 1616 (although there was an original Hall and estate there long before, possibly the birthplace of Anne Boleyn), it is well worth looking through the rooms, which are maintained in the period style. The surrounding estate is accessible through walking trails (dog friendly) and bike tracks through rolling parkland and farmland.
However, as a garden designer and horticultural enthusiast, my main interest was in the gardens and my wife and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours exploring.
Coming through the entrance the first part of the garden, the Parterre, is set in the east lawn. With a stone fountain as the central feature, there are four large planted areas accentuated by large yew topiaries. Although we were a little early to catch the full colour of the packed perennial beds, the shades of green coupled with the neat formality of the lawn and topiary were very relaxing. There were many old and wizened Wisteria still in full bloom cascading over the ancient walls, whilst an eye catching Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ took pride of place next to the steps leading up towards the Orangery.
Walking along one the many delightful tree lined avenues that are the hallmark of the Estate brings you to the Orangery (complete with a statue of Hercules), stocked with various citrus and with an appropriately tangy and delicious fragrance. Outside this area was one of my favourite spots (there were a few) with large unfurling ferns and frondy Mahonia lending a prehistoric air.
The Dell Summerhouse
Walking through the woodland led to another enchanting area, this time with a sunken glade surrounded by drifts of forget-me-not, ferns and other shade loving plants. As a fine drizzle had set in by this point, we were quite happy to take refuge in the Dell Summerhouse set at the top.
The perimeter of the gardens overlook the surrounding parkland and led us down towards the Temple, built c. 1730. Hidden in the woodland was a rose garden unlike any other I have visited, and, in my opinion, so much the better for it. Set within the woods, it comprised mostly shrub roses giving it an informal and wild air. Although we were too early to appreciate it in full bloom, I can imagine that in a month or so it will be looking (and smelling) amazing.
The other memorable of this part of the garden was the extensive collection of various scented azaleas and rhododendrons. Scattered throughout the woods, and also lining the formal lawns back to the Hall, the strong yet subtle scent was really wonderful.
The Secret Garden
Coming through the Wilderness, you venture upon the Secret Garden, complete with sundial and surrounded by beech hedges. Further on, and into the shade again hostas, ferns, Japanese anemones and many other shade loving plants jostle for position along the pathway.
The view of the Parterre and Hall emerging from the trees…
The Double Border
Finally, walking back along the peony lined walls (we were a bit early for the peonies too, but should look amazing when in full bloom) above the sunken Parterre, we headed back to the Hall through the double border. As the rain had started to become more persistent we hurried through, although still managing to enjoy the overall effect of the formal shrubs vying with the informality of the emerging perennials, not to mention the ever beautiful alliums.
The Walled Garden
The final part of the Blickling Hall and Gardens, the refurbished 1930’s walled vegetable and stock bed, was a fine example of it’s type, with the next generation of perennials coming on well and a large range of herbs and vegetables on show. The lilac Nepeta looked lovely lining the paths through the garden.
©Richard Walters 2019
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