2014 – the Norfolk group had offered to host the National Plant Heritage AGM and the first visit on offer was a tour of the private garden of the Bishop of Norwich. Although it had rained for us most of the way over from Surrey the sun was shining as a large group walked over to the gate.
The four acre garden opens in aid of charity several times a year, but was opened specially for our group. We were greeted by two Simons – the Bishop’s Chaplain, Simon Ward and the Head Gardener, Simon Gaches.
Large open areas of lawn and woodland lie close to the cathedral with other smaller areas around the 500 year old flint boundary walls. A rose garden includes Rosa Norwich Cathedral ( = ‘Beacath’) donated by the late Peter Beales to commemorate the 900th anniversary of the cathedral.
One knowledgeable member of the group commented on the similarity of the flowers of the Rosa viridiflora to Sinocalycalycanthus – a name to impress if ever I heard one, and which we found later in another part of the garden enabling us to make the comparison.
Nearby, a maze mown into the grass with ‘walls’ of cowslips and cow parsley.
The perennial borders were dense with foliage and some early flowers. They are being replanted over a five year period to remove perennial weeds and the stock plants are being held in one of the large beds in the vegetable garden.
Buddleja colvilei ‘Kewensis’ was in flower
and when the group were told that it was available in the sales area, there was a gentile rush and a complete sell-out.
Simon told me that customers seem to really like taking a ‘personalised’ plant home with them – labels being produced using a Brother garden printer.
The clouds were threatening in the direction of St Helen Bishopgate
but the sun continued to shine over the cathedral garden, allowing us to rest and admire the view
or get out binoculars to look at the resident Peregrine falcons, which can also be viewed with their four chicks on a webcam.
On the way back to the hotel, with their first plant purchases already under their belts,
but this is what I’d have taken home if I’d had a tow-bar on the car.
Over the next few days we will be posting more about the Members’ Weekend in Norfolk, including visits to gardens private and public and our new CEO’s first visit to a National Plant Collection.