7 stunning gardens you have to visit this summer

The gardens at Pensthorpe begin to look really colourful especially on a lovely bright afternoon

The stunning gardens at Pensthorpe Natural Park - Credit: Richard Brunton

Norfolk is blessed with a multitude of stunning gardens for the public to visit.

Here are a selection of the best as we head into the summer months.

Head gardener Sam Garland with the herbaceous borders of the Bishop's Garden which is opening as loc

Head gardener Sam Garland at Bishop's Garden in Norwich - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Houghton Hall 

Houghton's five-acre Walled Garden is perhaps the jewel in its crown.

The old kitchen garden was commissioned by Lord Cholmondeley to be redesigned in 1991 as a memorial to his grandmother, Lady Sybil Cholmondeley.

Visitors in the walled garden at Houghton Hall.Photo: Graham CorneyCopy: Sarah Hardy Sat.Mag. Qa

The stunning gardens at Houghton Hall - Credit: Archant


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It is now divided into several contrasting ‘ornamental gardens', and features a spectacular double-sided herbaceous border, a rustic temple, fountains, and a formal rose parterre. 

Houghton Hall is located almost 10 miles west of Fakenham. 

  • Adult tickets for the Walled Garden and stables are priced at £10. They must be booked online.
Houghton HallNational Gardens award given to Houghton HallFor:EDPCopy:Richard Parr

The stunning gardens at Houghton Hall - Credit: Archant

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Gooderstone Water Gardens

This unique attraction, near Swaffham, consists of six acres with a natural trout stream, four ponds and a host of colourful borders.

The site was originally a damp meadow but, in 1970, retired farmer Billy Knights began drawing up plans for its transformation.

A quiet corner of Gooderstone Water Gardens with four of the linking bridges in sight.
City:Gooder

Gooderstone Water Gardens, near Swaffham - Credit: Eastern Daily Press, Archant

Machines were soon digging out the ponds and waterways, and the gardens have now been open for several decades with a restoration in between.

The 13 bridges are numbered to help you find you way round, while a cuppa can be enjoyed at the tearoom in the south-east corner. 

  • Adult tickets are priced at £7
Gooderstone Water Gardens in the Summer sunshine.

Gooderstone Water Gardens, near Swaffham - Credit: Martin Sizeland

Pensthorpe Natural Park

Norfolk favourite Pensthorpe boasts four main gardens, each with something different to offer. 

The colourful Millennium Garden is a stunning cascade of mixed perennials and grasses created by world-famous Dutch designer, Piet Oudolf.

SUMMER COLOUR IN PENSTHORPE GARDENS

The colourful gardens at Pensthorpe Natural Park - Credit: Lesley Buckley

Meanwhile, the Wildlife Habitat Garden is planted with species to entice insects and mammals.

The newest garden in the collection is the Corten Infinity Garden, while the serene Wave Garden has achieved international recognition at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show.

Pensthorpe Gardens. Picture: Lesley Buckley

Pensthorpe Natural Park, located 10 miles west of Fakenham - Credit: Lesley Buckley

Bressingham Steam and Gardens

Adjoining the much-loved steam museum, Bressingham's gardens are split into six distinct sections. 

Perhaps the best known is Adrian Bloom’s Foggy Bottom Garden, named after the man who joined the family business in 1962 and was keen to create his own space.

Views from Bressingham gardens and Foggy Bottom

Bressingham Gardens, which adjoins the steam museum near Diss - Credit: ANDREW TAYLOR

Mr Bloom's first plantings came in 1966 on the site of an empty meadow and, over time, it has become a wealth of mature conifers, trees and shrubs from all over the world.

it continues to develop and change, meaning there is always something new for visitors to see.

  • Tickets must be pre-booked online for a specific time slot
Spring in the Bressingham gardens founded by Alan Bloom.; Photo: Bill Smith

Bressingham Gardens, which adjoins the steam museum near Diss - Credit: Archant © 2011

Raveningham Gardens

Raveningham Gardens is protected by belts of woodland, creating a kinder environment for the herbaceous and mixed borders, wildflower meadows and rolling lawns.

The walled Victorian kitchen garden was brought back to full working order over the last two decades, producing fruit, vegetables flowers for the house. 

Snowdrops and aconites provide a colourful attraction for visitors to Raveningham Hall and Gardens.

Snowdrops at Raveningham Gardens - Credit: Nick Butcher

Priscilla, Lady Bacon - the current estate owner's mother - was an energetic plantswoman who collected rare species from around the world, transforming the garden over 50 years.

Visitors can also enjoy the Herb Garden, Rose Garden and Time Garden.

  • Adult tickets are priced at £5 per person
Raveningham Gardens, Raveningham Hall. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Raveningham Gardens, between Loddon and Beccles - Credit: Archant

Bishop's Garden

The Bishop of Norwich's historic private garden is full of delights, including bee hives, herbaceous borders and a short woodland walk.

It only opens to the public on select days throughout the year, raising funds for a different charity on each occasion.

The vegetable garden in the Bishop's Garden

Bishop's Garden in Norwich is open to the public only a few times a year - Credit: Denise Bradley

There is a kitchen garden, bamboo walk and a popular plant sales area, and the garden continues to evolve with new plants and features introduced year by year.

Among the many rare and unusual plants is a Hebe planted from a sprig taken from Queen Victoria’s wedding bouquet in 1840.

  • Visit the Diocese of Norwich website to view opening dates and ticket prices
Bishop's Garden, Norwich. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Bishop's Garden in Norwich is open to the public only a few times a year - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Felbrigg Hall, Gardens and Estate

Billed by the National Trust as a "hidden gem", Felbrigg features a majestic walled garden where you can breathe in the scent of lavender, sage and mint.

Many modern surprises can be found within the traditional space, including one of the few octagonal working dovecotes in the country - dating back to the early 1750s. 

Felbrigg Hall Gardens for Leader page and Sunday supp. Pics for Mike Pollitt.Picture; Sam Robbins

The magnificent gardens at Felbrigg Hall, near Cromer - Credit: Archant

Old figs against the south-facing wall of the herb border are the only original remaining plants from the garden of the mid-18th century. 

Lesser known is the West Garden, which surrounds the house and offers an opportunity to wander round the gravel paths amongst the trees and shrubs. 

Felbrigg Hall Gardens for Leader page and Sunday supp. Pics for Mike Pollitt.Picture; Sam Robbins

The magnificent gardens at Felbrigg Hall, near Cromer - Credit: Archant


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