It is the NGS festival weekend. The very same weekend when 90 years agoa hundreds of gardens all around the country opened their gates to raise funds for district nursing. It is amazing to think that since then the charity has raised over £50 million and is still running.
The garden gate is open at Stiffkey, a village on the North Norfolk coast. It must be one of the only rural NGS properties to be on a bus route, the Coastal Hopper conveniently stops just outside the gate. For car drivers the view from the car park towards the sea is breathtaking. I was fortunate to visit a day or two ahead of the opening.
The owners have been here since early 2000s and it was Arabella who showed me around. We began our tour on the other side of the drive where a walled garden has a neat lawn, a small area for vegetables and a border waiting to burst into colour.
The 19th century house sits up on a chalk ridge. Surrounded by woodland the garden is about 7 acres.
Alliums, aquilegia and irises are the predominant flowers; the dark irises by the house are set off by the pale brick behind.
The sculptured dog lies lazily on the lawn looking intently up at the house.
A series of terraces run down in front of the house. The blend of purples and blues is enriched by the bright pink of gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus.
A path runs along the the middle terrace where stipa gigantea floats in the breeze, it is beginning to turn golden already. My photography on this bright day does not do justice the colourful display.
Purple-tinged shrub of forest pansy cercis canandensis grows at either end of the lowest terrace where salvias will take over from deep blue irises. Salvias are the speciality of David the gardener who propagates hundreds of varieties at his home.
At the base of the terrace is an informal meadow that slopes gently down to a wooded area. Sicilian honey garlic, allium nectaroscordum siculum can just be seen dotted amongst the grasses.
Paths lead through the surrounding wood. It is a circuitous route through dappled shade, for some distance the lonicera nitida hedge has been clipped informally.
David believes in a good planting of ground cover and all the way through it is dense; ivy, lamium and wood spurge cover the woodland floor.
In small clearing sticks are stacked into a wigwam.
This hedge is truly dead, it is intentional, an idea inspired by Kew Gardens, felled branches and wooded debris are stacked between fence posts. This is a process which has been carried on for several years and saves endless bonfires.
There are plenty of places to sit either in the shade,
on an elegant bench sheltered from the sea breeze,
or lying back in the baking sun.
It is fun to have new ideas and the intention in this border is to have topiary, perhaps a flight of poultry.
The circular brick is a work of art. Step on to it before walking through the trees to a viewing point looking out to the sea.
Paths are mown around the patches of long grass, a sculptured ram peers out.
A Wollemi pine is growing well in this sheltered coastal garden.
David shows me his cunning slug trap; he places the pellets inside and quite simply the slugs and snails crawl in.
A variety of shrubs grow around the garden; pretty in pink is the deciduous indigofera with its upright racemes.
Bushes of abutilon vitifolium brighten a shady border,
The scent of the philadelphus tomentosus is delicate.
and against a wall summer jasmine is already coming into flower.
Whilst there are several colourful nodding heads of aquilegia many have been sadly wiped out by downy mildew.
I particularly admire this white one.
There is another little problem in the garden that attacks the plants. Muntjac deer nibble the new shoots particulary the geranium palmatum.
Still on the pink theme mat-forming perennial Phuopsis stylosa spreads out across a paved area.
The bunting is up and ready and the garden will be open TODAY from 1pm -5.30pm.
There will be two more gardens open in Norfolk today: Bank House , Marshland St James, which is in the Fens and The Old Rectory, Brandon Parva not far from Norwich.
All over the country gardens will be joining in the Festival Weekend so why not download the App or click on https://www.ngs.org.uk/ to find a lovely garden near you. You will have fun, maybe learn something new but most of all you will be contributing to charity: