Hidden gem might be an overused term but in the case of The Plantation Garden in Norwich there couldn’t be a more perfect description.
Although in the heart of the city, next to the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, only a small sign on the busy Earlham Road gives away the location of this restored Victorian garden – and I know some people who have walked past it for years and have never been in.
I’ve known of its existence for some time but sadly never got around to visiting until very recently, which I now think is a shame as it is such a wonderful place (you can see more photos of the fountain which I used for #MySundayPhoto by clicking the link).
Even though I’d been to the website to find its exact location and flicked through the gallery of photographs to see what was there, coming down the slope, turning the corner and stepping into the almost three-acre garden for the first (and second) time still stopped me in my tracks.
It is not just because it is so visually breathtaking and unexpected but there is something magical about the peaceful atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
What is even more incredible is that after the second world war up to 1980 the garden, which was originally created by a prosperous upholsterer and cabinet-maker named Henry Trevor in the late 1850s, was effectively abandoned. What we see today is the result of the hard work of the trust and volunteers who have brought it back to its former glory. It is an amazing restoration and one all those involved should be proud of. Please take a look at their website to find out more about its fascinating history.
When we visited early on a Sunday morning we were the only ones there which gave us chance to really explore and see all the wonderful details of the Grade II English Heritage garden, which includes “a Gothic fountain, flower beds, lawns, an Italianate terrace, ‘Medieval’ wall, summer-house, woodland walkways and a rustic bridge”.
Since our first visit, I’ve already been back (on my own this time) and I can’t wait to see it in spring and summer. I think my camera is even more excited.
As well as allowing visitors to just wander about and soak up the atmosphere, there are also events run throughout the year. This year they have included a vintage fair, Sunday teas and screenings of popular films, including The Breakfast Club.
The garden is open every day and entry costs £2 per adult (children under 16 with an adult go free). You can find out more about facilities (there is no parking on site, for example), opening times and a map of how to find it here.
Top tip: Should you happen to have a lively toddler with you, you could always park at Intu Chapelfield (the shopping centre) and walk through Chapelfield Gardens nextdoor to make use of their play equipment for 15 mins or so as it is on the way.
Update: Check out our return visit in Spring 2017.
Here’s a little 30-second pan around the garden I did on my phone (it features some rather happy guitar music, if you have your sound on).