07 March 2020

The garden at Manor House Farm is something to experience. Open every year as part of the National Garden Scheme, it has received the Conservation Award and numerous other accolades and it's easy to see why.

Covering four acres, the garden offers a series of different spaces which surround the wisteria-covered house on three sides.

You might almost think of the garden as a set of rooms. A fragrant tunnel of roses leads away from the house and transforms into a pleached lime walk beyond. There's a formal quadrant that's balanced by a vegetable parterre. A highlight is the unusual walled ‘Taj garden', complete with formal carp pond, old fashioned roses and tree peonies. In another area a small arboretum has been planted with unusual specimen trees, while in another part a ‘hot’ gravel garden has been created.

Beyond the formal gardens are Libby’s hens and guinea fowl as well as Robin’s unusual pair of rhea, who share a paddock with a small group of Formosan Sika Deer.

But then you're onto the farm itself.

There are other lodges close to Manor House Farm, and both have pretty impressive gardens of their own. Carricks at Castle Farm wins awards for their gardens, which are beautifully bounded by the River Wensum. And the Old Hall East Runton has a wonderful garden originally designed by Gertrude Jekyll, though your hosts here modestly insist that was a long time ago.

When it comes to formal gardens that are open to the public, in this area the main draw is the Sandringham Estate. Taking up 20,000 acres of the Norfolk Coast AONB the estate itself includes a huge range of habitats and woodlands, most of which are open to the public (and their dogs).

For serious garden observers the main draw is the 24 hectares of formal gardens that surround the house, which are open from April to October, and Sandringham House itself. Although you do have to pay to get in at least the cost of entry means you don't have to pay the car parking fee. Check on their website as on certain days Sandringham is closed.

Libby Ellis, Manor House Farm

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