We have just spent a very enjoyable day at Holkham Hall in Norfolk. I am sure that many of you have heard of this wonderful house, park and garden, and if you have not been there, it is time you went!
Holkham Hall is home to the Earl of Leicester, and although privately owned it is open to the public on many days (see website for full details). It is a member of the Treasure Houses group which consist of just ten of the most magnificent palaces, house and castles in England today. They are an invaluable asset, offering an insight into life over the centuries and preserving our heritage for all to enjoy.
The Hall is surrounded by a wonderful sweeping park which contains many special trees as well as a herds of both Fallow and Red Deer. Walkers and cyclists are encouraged to explore the 3,000 acres, which contain prominent landmarks such as a large obelisk, a monument to Coke of Norfolk (a great agriculturist), an Ice House as well as the lake and Walled Gardens.
Bicycles are available for hire and routes of all lengths are clearly signed for both walkers and cyclists. Very family friendly with routes encouraging exploration of the park, the farm or around the lake. There is a fun Nature Trail around the lake with brilliant information panels full of facts about the plants, insects, birds and other animals to be found.
The lake is a prominent feature of the park – beautiful and a haven for wildlife. There are rowing boats and canoes to hire – or you could have a go at water zorbing!
Our reason for visiting, however, was to see one of our students who is a gardener in the 6-acre walled garden. These were originally laid out by Samuel Wyatt during the late 1700’s and were of major importance in providing the house with food and flowers for many years. Unfortunately the gardens had fallen into a state of neglect but are now undergoing an exciting restoration.
The walled garden is surrounded by an impressive shelter belt of specimen trees as it is only a stone’s throw from the coast. The actual garden is divided into seven sections, or ‘rooms’ by high brick walls, so providing a practically frost-free micro-climate throughout. Victorian greenhouses and sunken greenhouses, which would have provided the Hall with all sorts of exotic produce such as pineapples, peaches, olives, figs and melons, are being restored to their former glory as these are so important to our horticultural heritage.
Outdoor vegetables and fruits, including a vineyard planted last year, cut flower areas, herbaceous plantings – and so much more. One of the ‘rooms’ is laid predominantly to lawn as this is the venue for functions such as concerts and plays, as well as plant fairs.
Yes, there is a lot of ‘work in progress’ with grants in the pipeline to help with the restoration projects, but this is a garden already well on its way back to its former glory.
n Manea School of Gardening (RHS Approved Centre). RHS Courses taught at all levels. Limited places left for the courses commencing in September.
Closed for plant sales until September.