Saturday, 24 September 2011

Pensthorpe Prairie Gardens

Last week, whilst on holiday in North Norfolk, we visited Pensthorpe Nature Reserve - a beautiful place with lakes full of ducks, woodland walks and gardens that bloom at different times.

The Millenium Garden, designed by Piet Outdolf, is a glorious example of prairie gardening.  At this time of year most of the flowers have gone to seed, but there are still great swathes of different grasses, swishing in the breeze.  The garden is built on a slope and gives various views through the plants till you reach the bottom, then you are eye to eye with the low-growers.
This is a view of Geraniums that you wouldn't normally get unless you lay on your stomach.
We have been to Pensthorpe at different times of the year, in March the plants were being split by the gardeners and it was very bare.

In June it starts to come into its own , but by the middle of summer it is in full swing and takes your breath away.

These are the tall grasses - I don't know the variety - that sway and whisper .

Double Japanese Anemones
There was still plenty of autumn colour in the form of Anemones and Asters - planted the way plants should be in large drifts.
If you are a nature lover, plant lover or any other sort of lover then Pensthorpe is well worth a visit - if only to see the sculpture in the Bug Garden.
There is a breeding programme for red squirrels who scamper around in wire tunnels in the tree tops

And beautiful Stilts and Cranes in enclosures with pools and reeds and  running water in an environment as close to their natural surroundings as possible - this particular enclosure would be my ideal garden.

Even though there are lots of visitors - the place is so vast that you hardly encounter anyone else whilst walking round.  You can understand why the 'Springwatch' programmes took place here - there is so much to see, we have visited when the television crews were there, and everywhere you went there were cables and the car park reserved for the BBC was full of outdoor units - and it makes you realise that a helluva lot of people are needed to produce a programme like this.

If you get the chance - it is well worth a visit at any time of year.


  1. I knew I had "been there", Elaine. It was on Springwatch. Lovely photos especially the one of the red squirrel. They must be quite tame.
    What I want to know is did you lie on your stomach to take that shot? I would say that was over and above the call of duty...

  2. Some colours! Both bright and graduated.

    (Not sure I like the bug garden!)


  3. Definitely putting that one on my bucket list!

  4. What an amazing garden! And the photos are fabulous.

  5. I especially loved the sculpture, it really works so well and yes will get some Echinacae, big wave from Ireland!

  6. A lovely post and photos of a wonderful place. I went some years ago and have always wanted to go back. With great scenery and plenty of wildlife who could ask for more. I suppose that Springwatch really put it on the map so to speak and deservedly so. Flighty xx

  7. Those drifts of colours are fantastic, Elaine. I surprised to learn of a breeding programme for squirrels -- because there aren't enough squirrels?

  8. Nikki there are grey and red squirrels here. Sadly the native red ones are in serious decline hence the breeding programme.
    More about both here -
    Flighty xx

  9. Thanks Flighty - you beat me to it - haven't got round to replies yet - still trying to catch up
    Elaine xx