Events Past

Reports of previous HPS Norfolk and Suffolk Group events, as told by our members.

Garden Visit: High House, Shipdham, Thetford

Written by Aileen Butler. Posted in Events Past

10th June 2017

On a glorious summer’s day a small, but eager party met at High House Gardens at Shipdham. The bees easily outnumbered us, but they did not in any way distract us from the plethora of flowers, shrubs and trees that greeted us. Entry was by the small nursery and for a while I wondered if we would get beyond there, as plant buying was already in progress when we arrived.

It is hard to describe this garden as formal, despite the undoubted formal layout, because it had such a cottage garden feel about it, from the border near the nursery to the blossoming beds that followed.

Campanulas, peonies, geums and hardy geraniums , fought for our attention as they battled with pink deutzia and deep red potentillas. Just like the bees and butterflies we each pointed out a favourite plant or an attention seeking display.

As we wandered through a small arboretum of assorted trees we came upon a shepherd’s hut it  just needed a good book to provide the perfect hide away. In the long grass, a perfect oasis for insects, nestled rusting farm tools, somehow they looked as though they should be there. The pond was alive with bright blue dragonflies, but sadly the water lilies had yet to show us their splendour.

The garden was divided by hedges of various types and each room had borders to delight everyone. A stand of deep blue delphiniums immediately demanded our attention, amazingly still upright after the strong winds of the preceding week. Foxgloves were busy providing nectar for the bees and two brilliant gold grasses glowed in the afternoon sun. Yet again we were greeted by plants vying for our attention a crazy mix of colour and perfume.

A well ordered fruit and vegetable garden left us in awe, as our own were no near the same stage as these, nor had we any sweet peas in flower, so we three sweet pea lovers savoured their sweet perfume. The cutting garden and greenhouse did not fail to impress and everywhere you wandered in this garden there were roses delighting the eye and nose. The chickens at the rear of the garden were relaxing in the warm sunshine enjoying a dust bath and clucking with contentment, it was a pleasure to stand and watch them.

Our final foray was into the front garden, a large curving bed with a profusion of colour especially the spectacular deep red lupins, and various campanulas with their globe like flowers showing off in the bright sunlight.  A seat, at the end of the bed provide a much welcome sit down allowing us to enjoy the scene before us.

It was with equal delight we were told that tea and a choice of homemade cake was ready, which turned out to be as big a treat as the garden had been. A plant lover made this garden and plant lovers enjoyed it.

Aileen Butler

Garden Visit & Plant Sale: Fairhaven Water Gardens

Written by Chris Davis. Posted in Events Past

13th May 2017

Twenty eight members attended, and were taken on a guided tour, by Head Gardener, Ian. with information on the history of the gardens, the two types of candelabra primulas - P. japonica, which hybridised to give red and pink varieties, whereas the other gives rise to pale ones and other colours. They have self- seeded along the banks of the waterways. Of particular note was the Viburnum mariesii, with it's layers of pale blooms in the light shade.

The massive oak trees mentioned in the Domesday Book were examined, also the extensive quantities of Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton ?) and some very large plants of Gunnera manicata.

Ian explained that there were issues with the tidal nature of the water level - 5hrs after high tide at Gt. Yarmouth. Extra high tides had required digging out to raise levels and the use of board walks.

Willow and hazel were coppiced for various uses in the garden. They made good plant support structures and were used in a layer under soil to create new paths over boggy areas, since the continuous covering of moisture delayed disintegration for some years.

The vast quantities of fallen leaves were collected in December, turned out into piles  after some months, then the coarse material  sieved out, before leaving until the following year when it is fine and ready for sale.

Boat trips were available, and it was encouraging to note that up to two dogs could be taken on board.

The Plant Sale was also managed by a few other members who did not attend the walk. There were plenty of nice plants, thanks to the time and energy of members who kindly brought them along for fund-raising. There was a continuous trickle of customers throughout the period and a total of approximately £100 was raised. In addition, two of Len Speller's Acer collection, and a couple of the large pots were sold. ( The proceeds from these go back to Pat Speller.)

Chris Davies