Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Skinny Beans and Falling in Love 

Isn’t it great when you look forward to something and it turns out to be even better than you had anticipated?


I had wanted to see Felbrigg Hall's walled garden for some time, but since I am a seasoned procrastinator I only got round to it a few days ago. Thankfully there are no photos of me stepping into the garden, although I am certain I wasn't the only visitor who stopped dead in their tracks and stood open-mouthed with eyes like organ stops.  

The use of wall-trained plants was superb. Uncompromising mass planting resulted in a whopping wall wow-factor. I have never been the number one fan of climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris). It is a solid, dependable plant and I rely on it to do a job, which it does very well, but it has never set my heart aflutter, until Felbrigg. 

Here is what the wall looked like from the other side. These are not the best photos in the world. No camera shake facility is any match for a flabbergasted gardener.


They were not in full flower when I saw them. Imagine what they will be like this week! The same full-on effect was achieved with figs in the allotment area. 


The plants seemed more exuberant than any others I have seen this summer. Clearly the walls help to protect them, but we mustn't overlook the addition of a jaw-dropping 75 tons of mulch which has been applied every winter since 1999. They use their own garden compost on the main borders and mushroom compost in the vegetable gardens. Oh how I love a good mulch.


The allotments there are delightful. Trug-loads of delicious fruit and vegetables are interspersed with flowers which are grown thickly in serried ranks of great gorgeous herbaceous hedges


Areas are set aside for families to grow their own food. Fruit and vegetables grown in the garden supply the restaurant and when fruit is ripe in the orchard, visitors are invited to take one piece to enjoy. Bees are encouraged and no pesticides are used on the vegetables, fruit, or borders in the walled garden.  
Bantams control insect pests in the allotments and rescue guinea fowl free range in the orchard. It is this generous, inclusive approach which makes the garden all the more special.


For me, the most relaxing area was the orchard. Mown paths meandering through longer grass and a thoughtfully placed bench is an unbeatable combination, especially when you are still recovering from Hydrangea heaven.


Having feasted my eyes on all these uberplants**, my thoughts turned to my climbing French beans which are not their usual feisty selves this year. Their stems are skinnier and the leaves are set further apart than usual. The same thing has happened with a number of my friends’ runner and French beans. I have taken the precaution of a later sowing, just in case cropping is reduced. Of course, now I have done this, we will be in for a great bean glut later this summer. It’s a good job that we love beans as much as we love mulch (although, much as we love it, we don’t eat the latter).

* Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/felbrigg-hall

** I'm sorry, I don't know where my laptop keeps its umlauts.









36 comments:

  1. I really like the look of the mown paths. Thanks for sharing the beautiful garden.

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    1. It is a truly lovely garden, Mary. Mown paths are so cost-effective, yet incredibly beautiful.

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  2. Funnily enough someone was telling me about Fellbrigg this morning - sounds like a 'must' visit. As for the runners - mine are exactly the same as you describe - not sure what's going on with them.

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    1. Me neither. Perhaps they're sulking about our lack of summer.

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  3. What a wonderful place to visit! I read your profile and smiled when I saw that you, too, are concerned about wildlife habitat. All these beautiful little creatures need homes too. Thanks for stopping in this July 4th. I'm going to be your follower. I bet I could get some good gardening tips from you! Looks like you have your own gardening challenges to deal with. Have a lovely week and try not to resent those of us who broke away from the King. :-)

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  4. P.S. I only know how to use the umlaut when it's above an 'a.' Our daughter's name uses an umlaut. Alt+132. Let me know if you ever find where my laptop is hiding the enye (tilde over an 'n') :-)

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    1. I have been trying - I am still umlautless and I'm not sure if I will ever have need of an enye, but I now feel that I should seek out the opportunity to use one! How very glamorous to have an umlaut in a name. My neice has one over an 'o' and I suffer from umlaut envy whenever I send her a Christmas card!

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  5. A walled garden is a gardener's paradise, so when the wall is also covered in flowering greenery it must be amazing! I like the fact that it is mainly organic. Hope I'll get there one day. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. You are right - walled gardens are very special. I sincerely hope that you get to visit this garden.

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  6. Oh A walled garden, heaven absolute heaven. I have a thing about walls, especially dry stone.

    I love a good mulch to, in fact, it is one of life's pleasures for this gardener.

    Climbing Hydrangea are beautiful. I have never grown one, but always admired them. What a beauty at Fellbrigg. I wish I could have seen your face :)

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    1. Yes it's the perfect combination - a walled garden and a good mulch. If I were a plant, I would feel very blessed!

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  7. how lovely! I have never seen a climbing hydrangea before.

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    1. If you are going to see climbing Hydrangeas - these are the ones to see!

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  8. What beautiful pictures! I am sure that I would have been in awe as well! Looks like you had an enjoyable time on your journey Happy 4th of July and Happy Gardening! Mindy

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    1. Thank you! I did - I can't wait to go back in late summer!

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  9. It looks a great place to visit and I would head straight to the wall too! We don't have enough umlauts in blogs so I hope you find yours soon :-)

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    1. You're right - not enough umlauts and not enough enyes - and this is still an umlaut-free zone as they are very good at hiding.

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  10. My climbing French Beans are exactly the same! Weedy in a Clark Kent sort of way but I somehow doubt whether they'll be going into a phone box and coming out all muscly...

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    1. Welcome Nick! I love the idea of your Clark Kent beans. Mine are beefing-up now - they may yet be superheroes!

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  11. I think this is a place that I would like to add to my list of gardens I would like to see someday. Thanks for taking us along.

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    1. My pleasure, Jennifer. Isn't it lovely to add gardens to your must-visit list?

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  12. I agree, it is great to look forward to something, and have it be better than anticipated! :-) The orchard is my favorite too! I enjoyed the tour and lovely images. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Beth. Orchards are so special. It is always a privilege to be able to sit and relax in one.

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  13. Fabulous pictures of the beautiful place! The wall covered with climbing hydrangeas are really something. Thank you for taking us along with you. Thank you for your visit to my blog, too. Have happy days ahead.

    Yoko

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    1. Thank you Stardust - and wishing you happy days ahead too!

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  14. What a lovely garden to visit. I love walled gardens, especially when planted to good effect.

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    1. You're right, Crystal. Sometimes a walled garden is an opportunity missed. I didn't feel that about Felbrigg - it was everything I wanted it to be and more.

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  15. More and more I am convinced of the power of good mulch! The wall of hydrangeas is truly gorgeous. It illustrates how mass planting can make a bold statement, while small numbers of the same plant might be overlooked.

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    1. Ah the magic of mulch! This garden is a splendid example of the power of a good mulch!

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  16. There is a city in my state named Norfolk and I thought you had moved to Virginia. :o) This garden is gorgeous! I love the vine covered walls and the cool octagonal building.

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    1. I know about Norfolk, Virginia because I sometimes get their weather forecast off the internet by accident. Often I prefer their weather forecast!

      The building is a dovecote. Doves were a source of fresh meat in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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  17. There is a city in my state named Norfolk so I thought you had moved to Virginia. :o) I love the vine covered walls and the cool octagonal building.

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  18. I visited Felbrigg Hall several years ago on a visit home. I must do it again. I've lately come to appreciate hydrangeas and they are on my hopelessly long list of plants for my new garden. I think I am going to have to build a red brick wall too.

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    1. Oh to be able to have a beautiful red brick wall!

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