The area between Downham Market and Wisbech on the edge of Norfolk is not particularly known for its gardens. Last Sunday driving through the lanes and over the dykes between the flat fertile fields of the Fens, I discovered Bank House. The familiar yellow NGS signs were helpfully posted at all the crossroads which relieved my doubts of getting lost for ever.
On entering the drive to left of the house, I was greeted not only by a sumptuous smell of bacon rising from the kitchen but also an explosion of irises growing along a low wall.
Stepping down past the joyful lupins onto the turf path you are immediately aware that the owners are keen gardeners, for this is a garden where no space is left unattended.
Packed with plants, they are even grown under the shaded canopy of the mature trees right up to the trunks.
This part of the garden is also set aside for production. Young vegetables in neat rows and greenhouses for propagation.
It is always such a pleasure to be able to buy plants grown in the garden but I was mortified to miss out on a purchase of this gorgeous red weigelia.
I don’t imagine the garden owners have much time to sit but all around the garden is a variety of seats delightfully placed.
Quiet areas to soak up the morning sunshine and listen to the bird song.
Or under the shade to enjoy that too tempting bacon butty.
The two acres are divided into many areas. Sometimes decisions have to be made:
I took the brick path towards the orchard where I found some very happy hens,
pecking around an old cart filled with the cut willow.
These wooden deer add a playful note to this wilder side of the garden.
Slipping back into the main part of the garden this clematis seems to be clamouring for attention,
and I am not surprised because the irises are stunning. Iris was the personification of the rainbow in Greek Mythology and here there is such a variety of colour; a splash of gold,
or blending in with the soft summer palette.
You cannot help but admire this flamboyant flower.
However it is not all about vibrant colour, and within this one garden there is such a diverse range of growing conditions.
This lady catches the sun hiding modestly amongst a collection of greenery.
There is a selection of fun topiary in the making too,
and nearby in the long border an impressive patch of ornamental grass gently spilling over the neat edge of the well-kept lawn.
At the end the garden you are drawn towards some primulas growing in a secluded space. Here a visitor confides that he has so enjoyed his visit that he is now inspired to go home and get working on his own garden.
And that is what so often happens when visiting an NGS garden; not only are your spirits lifted and you gain that little bit of inspiration, but you have also contributed to raising much needed funds for all those marvellous caring charities that the Scheme supports.
Over two hundred people visited Bank House last Sunday, and combined with plant sales and refreshments an amazing £1,459 was raised. There is another opportunity to visit this charming garden this year as it will be open again on Sunday 26th August, or you can arrange a private group visit.
Your visit to an NGS garden really does help to change lives.