Drought Tolerant Gardens 3

The Old Vicarage East Ruston.

During our tour of East Anglia, this garden was high on my Wish list to visit.

When Alan Gray and Graham Robeson first came to the old vicarage there was no garden whatsoever, it was a blank canvas. Every garden was designed entirely by them as were the various buildings, their sole aim has been to try and enhance the setting of their home. Alan occasionally writes for the RHS magazine and has his own YouTube channel. Throughout the garden there are many rare and unusual plants growing. They propagate from these in small numbers so that they may be purchased from the plant sales area. There is a converted barn for a tea room with a wonderful display of vintage garden tools on the walls. The garden lies 1½ miles from the North sea.

The pedestrian entrance court.

The pedestrian entrance court with its free draining gravely soil is planted each spring with a variety of succulents, with Aeonium ‘zwartkop’ and the slaty blue Cotyledon orbiculata taking centre stage.

The garden spans 32 acres, containing many garden rooms to discover and explore. Herbaceous borders, gravel gardens, sub-tropical gardens, a box parterre, sunken rose garden, Mediterranean garden, Walled garden, large woodland garden and a Desert Wash garden.

The Desert Wash. 

This area of the garden is designed to resemble parts of Arizona where, it probably only rains, once or twice a year, but when it does rain it floods and great rushes of water channel through the landscape tossing rocks and stones around and leaving behind dry channels and islands where succulent plants flourish.

The real work in making this garden started one metre below the surface where they broke up the sub-soil and incorporated lots of gravel. Then they built layer upon layer of gravel and gravel mixed with soil, the aim being to keep this area very free draining especially during the winter.

Many of the plants grown here are able to tolerate some cold provided they remain dry at the root. Some four hundred tonnes of flint of various sizes have been used in the construction of this area.

They are always experimenting and pushing the boundaries with the planting. Besides the usual drought tolerant plants you will find Puyas, Bromeliads, Agaves and Aloes. Nothing is wrapped for winter protection, the excellent drainage prevents water lying around their roots.

Slide Show The Desert Wash.

Viewed through a porthole cut in the shelter belt is this much photographed borrowed view of Happisburgh lighthouse.

St Mary’s church at the end of the garden.

This is one area of the garden, there is so much more to see not least its magnificent Walled Garden which was built to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

5 thoughts on “Drought Tolerant Gardens 3

  1. I am very jealous. It must have been such an interesting visit. I suppose you tried the tea room, too. It is 37 degrees in the garden just now – not that I am in the garden. Amelia

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  2. This is one of my very favourite gardens, Brian – not least because it demonstrated how you could indulge every garden whim if you had enough money and space!! I remember being very impressed on both our visits that Alan could be seen not just working in the garden but manning the entrance desk. One of the times we must have visited at just the ‘right’ time because the wildflower meadow was so wonderful and unexpected that it moved me to tears (and, in a garden setting, only my wisteria flowering for the first time has done that before!!)

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