The following Report is written by Colin Adlam.
A group of us who visited the BPS East Anglia Group Indoor meeting in Norwich on 27th October 2018, took the opportunity to visit The Plantation in Norwich, which was very close to the BPS EA meeting place. We believed there was a rustic bridge at The Plantation, and as the Danesbury Fernery is missing one, thought we would take a look!
Priorities, and a cup of coffee.
The rain had held off all morning and our visit included a nice coffee stop on the way to Norwich at The Courtyard Restaurant. This was in the stable block of the one-time residence of Maharajah Duleep Singh the last Maharajah of the Sikh Empire, later sold by his executors to the Guinness family.
It’s a nice stopping place, and as we left, we heard they had opened a dedicated café. Oh well, next time!
The Plantation – our visit
“The garden was the creation of a local man, Henry Trevor (1819-1897), a successful and prosperous upholsterer and cabinet maker. In 1856 he took a long lease on a disused chalk quarry just outside the city walls”.
A 5 minute walk round the corner from Peter and Nick’s house we found The Plantation Garden approached through a driveway to The Plantation House.
The house is undergoing repairs possibly the result of sinkholes relating to chalk quarrying side-tunnels from the Plantation Garden site!. A gated entrance takes you to a reception area with a gazebo structure with information displays, and close to a greenhouse for The Plantation Garden Preservation Trust (PGPT).
Behind the gazebo you find two entrances to the main garden, one over the rustic bridge and one underneath. The planting was already interesting, with ferns, palms, bedding and shrubs a plenty.
The Bridge – too far?
We all had a look at the bridge from both above and below, but I think the consensus was disappointment. With a fairly wide span the bridge was, probably necessarily, quite heavily constructed of structural timber and steel. The only rustic element seemed to be the criss-cross decorative spars of the hand-rail. Hopefully we can come up with a more rustic feel for our much smaller bridge when time and funds allow that project to proceed.
Moving into the garden proper we were all mightily impressed. My description won’t do it justice so I recommend looking at their website 360 degree panorama.
The garden is a mix of formal lawns and beds with fanciful structures all around, in an approximation of a rectangle. The main end wall and the fountain centre grabbed our attention straight away. The fountain is a tall and fanciful gothic folly of three tiers in a circular pond.
The side wall, incidentally separating the garden from the house, climbs the quarry edge and is surmounted by a balustrade. As you get closer you realise the wall is no simple brick, stone or flint construction but is instead made up of what can only be described as Victorian building and church salvage. All very cleverly re-built to create patterns, alcoves and niches.
At the far end is the similarly fantastical wall with stairs and slopes up the face with even more elaborate decoration than the garden wall. You climb up three sets of stairs joined by three slopes before the final steps bring you to the rustic Summerhouse. There was once a path at this level back to The Plantation House, but sadly closed off currently and looking overgrown. I am sure the PGPT members have it in mind to open this up one day. More pictures can be found at: http://www.tournorfolk.co.uk/norwichplantationgarden.html
With time approaching the start of the BPS EA meeting we retreated, cajoling Sarah away from plants to identify, and wandered the short distance back to Nick and Peter’s house.
See the Report of the BPS East Anglia Group meeting.