A drive into Norfolk at the weekend resulted in the discovery of one of the most exciting gardens I have visited to date. The East Ruston Old Vicarage has now been added to my list of favourite gardens.
I must admit I am not normally someone who gets over excited about exotic gardens. I visited Heligan at the end of April and whilst I enjoyed it, I was not running around getting over excited. This hidden Norfolk garden however, really got me going!
The entrance court is spectacular. It is awash with an array of vibrant colours and succulent plants, with Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop' taking the centre stage.
The garden lies 1.5 miles from the North Sea. Due to the maritime influence the garden is less susceptible to extensive frosts.
It is protected by large planted shelter belts of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) and many eucalypts. These atypical conditions have given the garden a unique micro-climate which has enabled owners Alan Gray and Graham Robeson to grow a huge range of rare and tropical plants.
The woodland garden provides a tranquil environment with a hint of the mysterious as dappled light falls on the unusual trees and exotic shrubs.
Borders are overflowing with flowers and butterflies.
Polygala myrtifolia 'Grandiflora'.
The garden has been designed to incorporate a number of stunning views of local landscapes. One walk ends with a view of Happisburgh Church, another of the lighthouse (below). I couldn't get a photograph to do it justice, but the view of the lighthouse incorporated into the walk is inspired and has to been seen to be appreciated fully.
There is something for everyone in this garden. From formal topiary, traditional borders, exotic and mediterranean gardens to wildlife ponds.
Wildlife has been actively encouraged in the garden by planting mixed hedgerows, banks, wildflower areas and ponds. On my visit I saw an array of birds and insects flitting about the garden.
The Old Vicarage at East Ruston is a veritable banquet of unusual plants, clever planting and flamboyant design. For anyone who loves gardening and visiting gardens it really is a must see.
The nursery is excellent and packed with rare and beautiful plants. Just make sure you take plenty of pocket money with you!
I for one will most definitely be visiting this garden again and again and again!