Houghton Hall and Gardens in the heart of rural Norfolk, walled gardens, sculptures and a ha ha. We didn’t go in the house as it cost a bit more and there was a separate music festival in the grounds which provided a constant background of banging music, but here’s what we did see, until the camera battery ran out!
There was a combination of permanent sculptures by different artists and the Earth Sky exhibition by Richard Long. It gave a focus to our wanderings and I do like a map to follow. Through the stable block courtyard and a block of pleached limes, the first sculpture we stopped at was in front of the house, A Line in Norfolk, made of Norfolk carrstone. And that’s what it is.
The Full Moon Circle, which has been here since 2003, was my favourite and the bossy man was right, it does catch the light better looking towards the house although you want to get the long vista in looking the other way.
More sculptures were hidden in an area of hedges and trees and included a solid concrete shed but I really liked the building lined with benches their backs sloped to give the perfect view of the sky through the hole in the roof.
A round about way back over the vast area of mown grass, along the ha ha, and retracing our steps through the courtyard to get to the walled garden.
The walled garden is divided into four by hedges, with some of these quarters subdivided, and two main flower borders down the middle. High hedges and small feature gardens mean that you never know what is around the next corner.
Following the outside wall, we are first treated to a bit of cold frame and glasshouse envy. What an amazing place to sit! It has a trickling fountain at the back with goldfish and a stunning view to the long borders out the front. To each side there are more greenhouses with proper work going on.
Box hedges, so neatly trimmed, are a big feature of the walled garden and next along from here features an intricate pattern of hedges filled with scented bedding and punctuated with clematis.
Round the corner, more delights, a mass of pink Japanese anenomes in between the mellow red brick walls and box hedges.
After this, tempted by the sound of running water, I forgot the plan to stick to the edge and went in search of fountains.
In the foreground is Waterflame by Jeppe Hein but I didn’t stay long enough to find out that there is a flame that comes out of the top, it was also here that the battery began to run out on the camera so the next shots required waiting for the battery to charge enough then taking quickly before the camera shut down again. Lesson learnt!
This is the other pond with fountain in the middle and more fish. An enclosed space with only one entrance and full of spirally box and Verbena bonariensis. A peaceful space with tempting benches to sit awhile.
Back on track following the outside wall, some inspirational planting and something that I might be able to recreate on a smaller scale. A great combination of heleniums and sunflowers even if I don’t have the wall for a backdrop.
And the view from that pergola is of an ornamental fruit cage surrounded by dahlias in suitably orangey colours and then more fruit bushes.
There is a border devoted to named dahlias and small but old looking fruit trees. I am afraid by now we were tiring and knowing that we had a long drive home we hurried a bit and I completely missed the vegetable beds. Two herbaceous borders flank the central pathway and a bit late in the day I discovered the rose garden with a pretty sunken fountain and seating area.
The central path in two distinct sections looking towards the glasshouse. Nice mown stripes!
A whiz round the toy soldier collection in the stable block and the shop filled with lovely but very, very expensive artworks and we were done. Well worth the long journey and perhaps a return visit when the roses are out.