13 great Norfolk gardens 

Top garden designer George Carter's garden at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham

Garden designer George Carter's garden at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham - Credit: Archant

Flowers, fountains, labyrinths, lakes, topiary, terraces, vibrant borders and borrowed vistas – Norfolk has historically important gardens ranging from private projects to visitor attractions 

Near Aylsham 

The gardens surrounding beautiful Blickling Hall were created over four centuries and include magnificent borders, a geometric parterre, walled kitchen gardens, an orangery, a wilderness garden and areas themed by colour and plant species. Just beyond is parkland, woodland, a lake, and even a mausoleum pyramid. Nationaltrust.org.uk 

Blickling hall gardens

Blickling gardens - Credit: iwitness24/Alex Lyons

The dramatic private garden at Corpusty Mill was created over decades. Mysterious and startling, it is a paean to nature packed with fabulous native and exotic plants. There are ponds, streams and fountains – plus a fairytale tower, courtyards, caves and even a temple. Robert Last, who created the garden is also one of the authors of the Norfolk Gardens Trust definitive book on the county's wealth of historic gardens, Norfolk Gardens and Designed Landscapes. Open by appointment only corpustymillgarden.co.uk 

The lovely gardens surrounding medieval moated Mannington Hall should reopen at the end of May although the parkland walks are open daily. The gardens include a sensory garden and walled rose gardens planted with heritage and modern roses. Visitors can also wander around the atmospheric chapel garden which includes the ruins of ancient Mannington church and Victorian follies.  www.manningtongardens.co.uk 

Mannington Hall

Mannington Hall - Credit: iwitness24/ANDREW TAYLOR

Near Dereham. 

Towering hedges enclose spaces lit in many shades of green at Silverstone Farm, North Elmham. Corridors of topiary lead into new sections of lawn, leaf, sky and stone. Internationally-known garden designer George Carter created this calm geometric garden, smoothing hedging into orbs and obelisks, adding water features and frequent touches of horticultural humour. georgecartergardens.co.uk 

Top garden designer George Carter's garden at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham

Garden designer George Carter's garden at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham - Credit: Archant

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Near Diss 

Plant-filled islands float across the landscape at Bressingham Steam and Gardens. See rippling rivers of blooms and waves of grasses, hidden gardens within gardens surrounded by hedging, all linked and embraced by wide, green lawn-lanes. The Dell Garden was begun by nursery founder Alan Bloom and his renowned island beds float spectacularly through six acres and flow into Foggy Bottom, the garden of heathers, conifers and ornamental grasses created by his son Adrian. thebressinghamgardens.com 

Spring in the Bressingham gardens founded by Alan Bloom.; Photo: Bill Smith

Spring in the Bressingham gardens - Credit: Archant

Near Fakenham. 

A fountain of flame and water is just one of the fabulous must-sees in the gardens of grand Houghton Hall. The stunning walled gardens are also filled with wisteria, a spectacular double-sided herbaceous border, an Italian garden, a formal rose parterre, fruit and vegetable gardens and an impressive glasshouse - and then there is the parkland dotted with sculptures by some of the world’s great 20th and 21st century artists, and a herd of white deer. houghtonhall.com 

Four lovely gardens are part of the huge wetland wildlife reserve of Pensthorpe Natural Park. They include a habitat garden created to inspire visitors to plant their own wildlife-friendly plots, the wave garden full of flowing swathes of foliage and the millennium garden of mixed perennials and grasses, designed by world-famous Dutch designer Piet Oudolf. pensthorpe.com 


Summer colour in the gardens at Pensthorpe - Credit: iwitness24/Lesley Buckley

Near Happisburgh  

From Holland to the tropics and a desert to the Mediterranean, the many interlinked gardens at East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens have been sculpted from coastal fields. There are lush walled gardens and walks, an exotic garden, a rose garden and, as well as all the beauty on display inside the boundary hedges, clever peepholes cut to draw in the nearby lighthouse and church. e-ruston-oldvicaragegardens.co.uk 

Norwich  and nearby

The Bishop’s Garden, Cathedral Close, Norwich, is the oldest private garden in Norwich and has been delighting citizens for centuries. This city centre paradise includes spectacular borders with plants from around the world, an impressive kitchen garden, a bamboo walk, a wildflower labyrinth - and a hebe grown from a cutting taken from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet. The garden is run organically and regularly opens in aid of charities, with the next dates on April 18 in aid of the Bishop’s Lent charity and April 25 for Norwich Samaritans. www.dioceseofnorwich.org  

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden - Credit: Denise Bradley

The Plantation Garden was submerged by a tangle of brambles and weeds for decades. The remarkable restoration, still ongoing, revealed a towering Gothic fountain, a majestic Italianate terrace at the far of the garden, and ornate stone-work, fancy beds and a network of paths and steps and bridges at every turn. plantationgarden.co.uk 

The Plantation Garden

The Plantation Garden - Credit: Denise Bradley

A century ago spectacular pleasure gardens brought 60,000 visitors a year to Brundall. Brundall Lake Gardens were known as “the Switzerland of Norfolk” and included a series of ponds cascading down to a lake, rockeries an arboretum and rare plants collected from around the world. Then they almost disappeared, with just the name of the Brundall Gardens railway halt hinting at their former glory – until the owner of one of the new houses built on the site began a restoration project across several neighbouring gardens. Read more in Rescue of a Garden by Janet Muter.  

Near Sheringham  

Next month the thousands of rhododendrons and azaleas in this coastal parkland will be in spectacular full bloom, but the entire park is one of the finest achievements of Norfolk’s Humphry Repton. He came up with the term landscape gardener in the 18th century and his first paid commission was Catton Park on the edge of Norwich before he created gardens and parkland at grand estates across the country, including Norfolk’s Blickling and Felbrigg estates.  nationaltrust.org.uk 

Rhododendrons at Sheringham Park.

Rhododendrons at Sheringham Park - Credit: Archant

Near Swaffham 

This watery wonderland of streams, ponds, canals, bridges, flower borders, meandering paths and mature trees which is now Gooderstone Water Gardens grew from a damp grazing meadow. gooderstonewatergardens.co.uk 

Beautiful Gooderstone Water Gardens

Gooderstone Water Gardens - Credit: iwitness24/ANDREW TAYLOR