Blickling Hall is a stately home in the village of Blickling north of Aylsham in Norfolk, England, that has been in the care of the National Trust since 1940.(Wikipedia) and the estate was once the home of the Boleyn family and now encompasses nearly 5000 acres, with an impressive Jacobean house, a lovely garden and acres of parkland to walk or cycle through.
We visited it in August 2013, during one of the warmest summers we have experienced in recent years. The sight of the beautiful Jacobean mansion, with its turrets and gables and salmon-pink brickwork is breathtaking. I adore symmetry, and this is so wonderfully symmetrical, even the Dutch-style service ranges opposite each other on either side of the wide gravel drive.
From this aspect you have a glimpse of shrubs and climbers such as fuchsias, ferns and hydrangea ‘petiolaris’ on the walls and in the dry moat. This is just an appetiser for what awaits you through the entrance in the east wall.
In front of the hall is a flower-filled parterre, a formal garden interspersed with topiary. The planting is the work of Norah Lindsay who worked on country house gardens in the 1920s and ’30s. Her relaxed interpretation of Gertrude Jeykll’s painterly style is ordered by hedges and topiaries. She left the 17th century fountain, but cleared everything else apart from the topiary, including the famous ‘grand pianos’.
She joined the corner flower beds in to four squares and each one is edged in two-tone roses. Pink and crimson Floribundas ‘Else Poulson’ and Kirsten Poulson’ or orange and red ‘Locarno’ and Polyantha ‘Gloria Mundi’. Two of the corners are filled with herbaceous plants in pastel colours whilst the other two are filled with hotter colours. Monkshood, bellflowers, globe thistles and delphiniums create the cooler beds whilst achilleas, heleniums, rudbeckias and lilies shout loudly from the hotter palette.
To the raised south-side of the parterre box-edged double borders have been created in the Lindsay style filled with daylilies, crocosmia, purple berberis and striped miscanthus grasses and behind them is a border of pale and silvery plants.
Away from the house paths run up through woodland to the Doric Temple. This is a grid pattern and each radial walk is of a single tree species such as beech or lime which lead to circular clearings.
Behind the temple you have views over the surrounding parkland. And close by you will find a handsome Orangery built around 1782 and now once again hosting orange, lemon and lime trees. Within the woodland you can find a Secret Garden which is a cool, green retreat with brick pathways and a sundial, hostas, daylilies, sweet-scented honeysuckle and blue-flowering hydrangeas.
Tucked away behind the mansion a little walled garden can be found with ancient Victorian glasshouses and beds of flowers and vegetables. I think walled gardens are always worth a wander around to see what hidden treasures can be found.
If you do manage to find yourself in this corner of North Norfolk then do not miss visiting this marvellous garden and house. It is truly delightful to see what can be grown in a county known for its hostile climate of dry summers and cold, windy winters.