Gardens Group


A Visit to Chestnut Farm, West Beckham

On Sunday 28th April
“The Famous Five” as in Enid Blyton fame arrived at Chestnut Farm, West Beckham within a few minutes of each other; one came by the main road the other two cars took the scenic route down lanes with lovely spring colours exploding in front of us, hawthorn, cherry blossom and fields of rapeseed
The parking was on the village green and we were given a very warm welcome at the house and a plan for getting around the three acre garden
Pebble walk ways and lawns took us over the garden through tulips and around the fountain past the bleached espalier limes down into the orchard around the vegetable patch and on to the pond. There were plants that had amazing colour and a lot of shade planting which inspired us all
An amazing red bark peeling and curling tree flanked by the pond turned out to be an Acer
This was one of the very best gardens that I have visited through the National Garden Scheme made even better by an excellent tea room with some really lovely cakes.

Chesnut Farm - West Beckham

This is a new group which was formed by members who enjoy both gardening, and appreciating others’ gardens.  Corrie started the ball rolling in April by inviting us to her strikingly varied garden with seasonal tulips, late daffodils and a large swathe of lily-of-the-valley, flanked by an enormous range of perennials, shrubs and trees.  In May, by way of contrast, Margaret’s garden is compact and newly created, with ornamental pots arranged in front of a range of climbers effectively screening the neighbouring houses.  Gardens groupPenny’s garden (June’s choice) is divided between newly-planted ornamental beds edging a lawn, and a well-established orchard. 

There is always a sense of optimism and enthusiasm with a freshly and neatly designed bed, acknowledging that in a couple of years, the plants will be strongly vying with each other for space!  Featured is Penny’s gravel garden.


If you enjoy pondering over other people’s gardens, or feel the urge to throw open your own, please contact Sue Badger on 01603 737572 for further details.

The group visited other gardens around Norfolk, including Blickling Lodge and Bird in Hand in Blofield in July and Hindringham Hall, Marlingford, Black Horse Cottage in Hickling and Mannington Hall in August and September.  The Bishop's Garden had their Open Day, and we couple a visit to this with a stroll around a small but perfectly formed garden behind The Bear Shop in Elm Hill, designed by  Gerdrude Jyckell.  The last visit of the season was to Holkham Hall's walled garden, where we were forced to spend money at the Plant Fair!
3 of our own gardens were featured in the Sources supplement of the Third Age Matters national magazine, in a quiz along the lines of matching the garden to the owner, as set out below.

Wroxham and District U3A’s Gardens Group
You know the well-known adage about dog-owners looking like their dogs – well how about a horticultural equivalent: that a garden reflects the essence of its owner’s personality.  This phenomenon is quite apparent in the newly formed Gardens Group in Wroxham.  This group began as a way of appreciating other members’ gardens, learning about their history and development, their problems and successes, their inspiration and headaches, but revealed much more: the very soul and spirit of the gardener at work.
As a way of unscientific research, try matching these 3 gardeners to their gardens.
Sue is enthusiastic, energetic and disorganised. Now a retired teacher, over the years she has taught every age group from Year 1 to Year 11.  As a gardener her favourite flower is the one she happens to be looking at.  She is generous with her time and supportive to others and finds it hard to say no. She went to the last U3A AGM for a cup of tea and a chat and came out as Secretary. 



Corrie is strong minded and determined.  Originally a science teacher, she has extensive knowledge of eco-systems, as her garden testifies.  She has given immense amounts of her time to fund-raising for community causes: creating a Youth and Community Centre, and more recently, successfully raising over £300,000 for her church, which doubles as Wroxham’s U3A base, aptly called The Hub.
Penny is versatile and creative.  She is ordered, artistic and very focussed.  She has undertaken 2 degrees, both history related, and used them in historical research, including cataloguing the print collection at Wolterton Hall, the 18th century home of Lord Walpole.  She is now a classically trained contralto, performing alongside her cellist husband.

Garden 1 has a natural, friendly feel to it, wild in places, loved by insects, children and dogs. It gently sweeps round, dipping down here, turning a corner there.  Trees and shrubs are mature, and seasonal perennials provide year-round colour.

Garden 2 is mature and forever evolving, with whimsical planting.  Mostly trees, shrubs and perennials, there is all year round colour.  Paths reappear with the mower and ground cover plants don’t quite suppress the weeds.

Garden 3 is also newly-created, with the focus on strong design, incorporating colour, texture and shape.  Weeds are not permitted to grow.  There is thoughtful planting, complementing the converted barn, patio and flint walls.


How did you get on?  The answers are revealed below.


Text Box: Garden 1 belongs to Corrie;  Sue’s is garden 2 and Penny is the owner of garden 3.