Blickling Lodge, avenues of yew. (54)

Last Tuesday torrential rain prevented me from visiting Blickling Lodge. Situated near the market town of Aylsham in Norfolk, it once belonged to the Blickling estate but is not to be confused with Blickling Hall.  A break in the weather a couple of days later allowed the gates to unlock and swing open for me, ahead of the garden opening this coming Sunday.

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On the approach to the house with the walled garden behind, there is a colourful mixed border


which is broken in the centre by the most comfortable looking seat swinging between pots of agapanthus.


The owners were out but Plug was there to greet me and quickly led me around to the other side of the house where I met head gardener Rachel.


Rachel was just dead-heading paeonia lactiflora ‘Festiva Maxima’, the plants of which were looking very healthy and well supported by home-grown hazel sticks.  It is a simple but effective parterre with the white flowers of hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ now carrying on the show.


We start our tour in the walled garden situated close by the house. A path bordered by a delightful mix of herbaceous and mixed planting runs down the centre.


Unaffected by the recent rain, clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ scrambles over the iron fence at the back of the border. This is a clematis that was originally raised in France in 1900 but was then lost to cultivation until it was rediscovered by the great plantsman Christopher Lloyd. I wonder who the good lady was who gave her name to this pretty clematis.


Fruit trees are trained against the wall and are just receiving a summer tidy. Cut flowers grow in blocks along the border,


flowers such as ammi visna ‘White’, so good in arrangements,


and old favourites such as sweet peas.

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On the other side of the garden the border is reserved for the neat rows of vegetables,

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with a fruit cage in the corner.


Cornflowers burst out from the coldframe by the neat greenhouse.


On the opposite wall and across the swimming pool,  is a raised bed of herbs resting under a carved stone coat of arms.


Hydrangea paniculata ‘kyushu’ is content in a pot.


Against the wall is a climbing rose ‘The Generous Gardener’ and Rachel sings its praises; repeat flowering, fragrant and disease resistant. I discover that it was introduced by David Austin in 2002 and named to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of the NGS.


Moving away from the walled garden and walking back past the house is a dell where a small hexagonal building has been built. It is a dog kennel, constructed 5 years ago with the added luxury of central heating.


A generous planting of hydrangeas edge the wall of the building where three dark purple clematis climb the supports.


Mature trees such as oak grace the lawn,


and a monkey puzzle tree araucaria araucana is impressive, almost menacing.



An avenue of yew ‘squares’ with magnolias planted on the outside, leads to the narrow obelisk.


The sky is very grey and in the field beyond the cows are lying down, it could be an ominous sign.


A pair of Portugal laurel, prunus lusitanica are clipped into lollipops and stand by the entrance to the tennis court; benches await the keen spectators .


Buttresses neatly project from the long yew hedge which takes you back to the house,


and on the other side is the avenue of yew ‘onions’, beautifully shaped they are very appealing.


A majestic bench sits in a recess,  the hedge opposite is lowered for better viewing of the cricket field beyond.


The ‘onion’ avenue narrows to a wooden bridge, recently restored after damage from a falling branch.  From here the garden becomes wild and watery.


The river Bure flows by, a haven for wildlife such as the otter,


and blue dragonflies; this is a male banded demoiselle gently pausing on the Norfolk reed.


The yellow water-lily, nuphar lutea floats in the slow moving water. It apparently smells like the dregs of wine, which is why it is sometimes called ‘Brandy Bottle’.


It is mainly wild flowers growing in this area but there are some ornamentals too, such as these Siberian Irises,


which almost look exotic.


Hazel and willow are grown and cut for use in the rest of the garden. Living willow is latticed around the back of a  bench.


Walking back towards the house I can’t help but admire not only the smooth lawns of the cricket pitch in front, but also the equipment that goes with it.


It is a well maintained garden around a family home. A variety of flowers and vegetables are grown in the delightful walled garden, and the formal areas contrast with the more relaxed and peaceful planting by the river. Open on Sunday 2nd July (tomorrow) between 2.00pm -5.30pm with home-made teas it surely makes for a perfect Sunday afternoon outing.



34 thoughts on “Blickling Lodge, avenues of yew. (54)

  1. Yet another gem, if only Norfolk was closer to Sussex I would be there like a shot!
    Keep up the good work, almost there!


  2. Went to school here in the 1960 when it was Burebank School. From age 12 to 17. Headmaster was Mr Johnson.
    Gardens look lovely. Would love to revisit sometime.
    Mike Barton


      • Hi Mike, Interesting to hear you were at Burebank back in the sixties. My older brother and I were both there during Kevin and Heather Johnson era. Do you remember their German Pointer Dan?
        I was hoping to go to the Open garden on Sunday 14th June but due to corona virus not sure now if it will be open or not. Also it co-insides with the expected delivery date of our fifth grandchild so we may be requisitioned for child care at that time.


    • Hi Chris
      Just seen your comment about being ar Burebank school in the 60’s. I was in the same year as David Bradshaw, Ian Fairclough, Richard Callaby. Any names familiar? Would like to revisit but unlikely to be open due to COVID.
      Mike Barton


      • Hi Jonathan,
        I was in the same year as you and Mike Barton at Burebank, Aylsham. You are the person who gave me an appreciation of classical music. You played the old upright piano in the school assembly hall and we both used to purchase LP’s from a postal record club if you recall? Do you still live in Chelmsford?
        Thanks to this blog for enabling us to reconnect after more than half a century.
        David Fraser


      • David… how nice to hear from you after so long.

        it would be good to see how your life fanned out.
        Bet you have good stories to tell
        I have.


      • Hi Jonathan,
        Great to hear from you. A good memory after more than half a century since our Aylsham days.
        Are you on WhatsApp? I’m in touch with Mike Barton and it work well rather than using this blog who kindly permits us to initially reconnect. My mobile is 07530850213. I wonder if per chance you still live at Little Baddow Hall? It would be good hear form you. Hopefully the gardens will have an open day in 2022 so keep an eye on ‘thegardengateisopen’ and the National Garden Scheme website. David.


  3. Hi David
    Yes I do remember their German pointer Dan! I did revisit a few years after leaving and met Kevin and Heather again. We have been back to Aylsham a few times and had a cottage their last year.
    Sorry but what is your surname? Am sure I must know you.
    Mike Barton


    • Hi Mike
      It would appear that Blickling Lodge gardens will not be open for the foreseeable. I din’t think you have received the last replies I have left on this blog.
      We were at school together from 1963.
      Hope to be in touch
      David Fraser


      • Hi David
        Good to hear from you. I didn’t think they would be open. It would be nice to go back when when we can to see how it has changed. Hope to keep in touch
        after all these years.
        Mike Barton


      • Hi Mike, Thanks for replying. Do you use whatsapp or google hangouts (07530850213) so that thedardengateisopen blog can be used for it’s intended purpose. I do appreciate them enabling us to be in touch after more than half a century!


      • Hi Mike
        Have just checked Blickling Lodge on the National Garden Scheme to see if a ticket could be reserved for their open garden next Sunday but see that it has now been officially posted as ‘cancelled’. I would have been travelling from Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne, E.Sussex.
        Still hoping to get in touch with you.


      • Hi David
        I do remember you now I know your surname! We have 2 grand children 12 and 8. I worked for ICI later to become Astra Zeneca. After several moves including USA now live in East Yorkshire. Good luck with your next Grandchild.
        Keep in touch
        Best regards


  4. Why have my comments disappeared ?
    Would like to keep in touch with Blickling lodge and visit when it can reopen. Also old friends when it was Burebank School.
    Mike Barton


  5. Is it possible you will open on 14th June? If not could this happen a little later?
    The gardens look lovely and would love to see how they have changed from when I was at Burebank School.
    To David (Card?) was your brother Nigel Card? Probably got the name wrong.
    Mike Barton


    • Hi there – I am not the owner just the writer – the National Garden Scheme really hope to open their gardens soon but still waiting on government guidelines. I will let you know as soon as I know. It is a lovely garden and thank you for visiting my blog.


    • Hi Mike,
      This is David Fraser replying to your enquiries. I do remember you as we were both at Burbank at the same time. I would also like to visit the grounds which now look amazing if they are going to be open next month. It would be good to be able to contact without going through this blog?


  6. Just shown two of my grandsons a picture of Blickling Lodge. A rare occurence to capture their attention for more than five seconds but they were fascinated by such a splendid building.
    I couldn’t resist tapping Burebank and I’m recognising names but not faces yet.
    I was there in the 60s.
    James Hebden
    Marseillan France


  7. remember your name.andca few others on this site .also a t school in the 1960s and remember cooking the pigs swill that dear Mr Johnson decided to educate us with. drove past with my daughters a few too many years ago now and was amazed with what the owners have achieved. landscaping has been my forte these last 50 years


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