Open Gardens will help Swannington church
Swannington, near Reepham, a small village with big ambitions, is planning a bumper edition of its biannual open gardens event on Sunday June 25 to raise funds for two important local causes.
Eight gardens will be on show with all proceeds split between upkeep of the village’s thirteenth century church and redevelopment of the local play area.
Both are much in need of financial support: urgent repairs to St Margaret’s church are required amounting to £300,000. The church has received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to cover nearly 80% of this, but money must be raised locally to ensure the overall success of the project. The play area is currently little more than a grass field after much of the equipment was condemned by safety officials last summer.
Gardens along the Swannington in Bloom trail include Swannington Manor, where the grounds have previously been described as “the most romantic in Norfolk”. The house (not open), built in 1700 creates a stunning backdrop to the garden. A huge 300-year-old yew hedge, thought to be unique to this country, dominates the garden creating a natural framework for the mixed shrub and herbaceous borders. Specimen trees, a sunken rose garden and a knot garden add further interest.
Other gardens open as part of the event range from the highly groomed to more natural environments, each with their own character and story. The trail extends for almost a mile, to Upgate Cottage. Seemingly mature, this idyllic country garden has in fact all been created in the past six years. Roses and herbaceous plants abound, with a heated greenhouse, bog garden, vegetable potage and wildflower orchard with walks. The garden is also home to chickens, geese and lambs.
Chairman of the organising committee, Pamela Smith, said: “We might be small, (population approximately 200), but we’re incredibly lucky to not only have some beautiful gardens to show off, but also lots of community-spirited residents who pull together to ensure that everyone who visits Swannington in Bloom has a wonderful day out.”
In 2015, the event attracted over 400 visitors despite dismal weather, so the hope is that a sunny day this year will make for a record turnout. In addition to the various gardens on show, there will be stalls and attractions on the village common including pottery, glassware and art by local artists, along with demonstrations from Aylsham blacksmith Arthur Purdy.
Hungry visitors will be able to enjoy homemade teas at the church and in several gardens, with a barbecue provided by farm butchery Swannington Farm to Fork and beer from Reepham-based Panther Brewery.
Guided tours of Upgate Common will run hourly, giving visitors the chance to explore this Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a variety of modern and vintage farm machinery will be displayed adjacent to the common. Vehicle enthusiasts will also enjoy the display of classic cars on the green in Swannington village.
Gardens are open from 10am – 5pm on Sunday June 25. Tickets cost £4 in advance, £5 on the day. For more information about the gardens that will be opening and details of where to buy tickets, visit www.swanningtoninbloom.org
The image of Swannington Manor’s ancient yew hedge and gardens is courtesy of Jeremy Smith.
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