Arrangements are now in hand for the GOGG holiday In 2022 to Norfolk with Barnes Travel We shall be staying at the Comfort Dolphin hotel in Great Yarmouth from Monday 27th June to Friday 1st July. We stayed at this hotel when we toured Norfolk in 2006 and were very happy with it including the vegetarian food. Great Yarmouth is one of the most popular seaside resorts in the UK and has been smartened up in recent years.It also has a long history as a North Sea fishing port and, as well as the miles of golden sands, it has an historic centre and a harbour where we watched terns fishing when we were here in 2006.

We will be visiting 2 gardens in Essex and 5 in Norfol, 3 of which we visited in 2006, The draft itinerary for the tour is as follows:-

Day 1

On our way up to Norfolk we will visit RHS Hyde Hall gardens in Essex. Perched on a hill overlooking the Essex wheat fields over 25 acres of gardens have been developed over the last  30 years to showcase gardening the driest part of the UK. It feature a large dry garden with a wide variety of drought resistant plants and the Hilltop garden has roses and herbaceous borders. In 2017 the boundaries of the garden were extended to create the Global Growth vegetable garden lwhere circular vegetable plots have been developed around a large glasshouse to show various kinds of plants from across the World and to challenge conventional allotment growing. With its many other gardens, Hyde Hall makes an excellentintroduction to what should be a wonderful tour.

Day 2

 In the morning we will visit the National Trust estate at Blickling Hall. The 55 acre gardens here are set around the Jacobean house and represent a panarama of garden history from the 17th century to the present day filled with colour and interest. The parterre has corner beds planted in the 1930s with roses growing around the edges.. There is an orangery dating from 1782 with a variety of half-hardy plants and a kitchen garden as well as many other historical elements.

 Our afternoon visit will be to the 15 acre garden at Hoveton Hall near Wroxham deep in Broadland. Here there are 2 walled gardens the first of which is known as the Spider Garden because of the spider’s web gate and contains many old roses. The other walled garden was the original 19th century kitchen garden and contains well-labelled vegetables grown in a time-honoured way. The magnificent glasshouse is one of only 3 or 4 remaining examples in the UK constructed with iron In the 19th century .The gardens abut the wetlands of Wroxham Broad and the rare Norfolk Hawker dragonfly may be seen here.

Day 3

Our morning visit will be to Pensthorpe Wildlife gardens near Fakenham. These 200 acre gardens appeared in the BBC Springwatch programme several years ago and were created mainly for the benefit of wildfowl and other wildlife. However the site containsp 2 important gardens created by well known garden designers.The larger is the Millenium garden which  is  probably one of the finest example of a garden designed by Piet Oudolf in the UK. The smaller is the Wave garden by Julie Toll using a mixture of wild and cultivated plants to great effect. Both are striking and colourful gardens which merge gently into the natural landscape. In addition the newer Infinity and Wildlife Habitat gardens are designed to be both beautiful and to be attractive to all kinds of wildlife.

. In the afternoon we go to the charming little seaside port of Wells next the Sea on the North Norfolk coast for some free time. Here you can walk or take the miniature railway to the beach with its miles of golden sands, perhaps enjoy excellent fish and chips sitting on the harbour wall or sample a pint of Wherry Bitter on board the “Albatros “,a Dutch North Sea clipper permanently moored by the quay. Also look out for marsh harriers and other wetland birds over the salt marshes as  we make our way back to our hotel along the coast road.

Day 4

 Our morning visit will be to Mannington Hall, the home of the Walpole family. The 20 acre gardens are full of charm and colour featuring lawns running down to a moat and drawbridge and other colourful sections. The former walled garden includes rose gardens showing the development of the rose from medieval to modern times with over 1500 varieties together with a vegetable plot and children’s garden.

 In the afternoon we go to East Ruston Old Vicarage near Happisburgh (pronounced Haysborough!). When we visited back in 2006 the garden had just begun to be publicised nationally and we were totally bowled over by this stunning garden created by.Alan Gray and Graham Robeson. I’ve no doubt that it is worth coming on the holiday if only to see this incredible garden. Undoubtedly this is the most flamboyant garden we have ever visited in the 20 years of running these holidays..With so many individual gardens it is difficult to pick out the highlights but the desert wash garden, the Mediterranean garden and the brilliant herbaceous borders should not be missed. Rare and unusual plants abound including many half-hardy plants reflecting the closeness of the garden to the sea. The gardens also make use of the surrounding areas with vistas out to 2 churches and a lighthouse. Altogether this is a magical place!.

Day 5

On our journey home, the last garden we visit will be Beth Chatto’s garden near Colchester but although the last it is by no means the least important. Although Beth died a few years ago, her daughter has taken over the management of the garden and it remains one of the greatest gardens in the UK. It was created in a area of farmland which was unproductive and shows how a wonderful garden can be created in the most unpromising areas. Beth was one of the most influential gardeners of the 20th century and the garden remains a classic example of the way to use the right plant in the right place.The dry garden created on the original car park is an object lesson in colour and design in an area of very low rainfall but throughout the garden are wonderful combinations of plants. At the bottom of the garden is a beautiful water garden created in the former marshy area which is wonderfully colourful and serene.There is a nursery with many of the plants in the garden on sale.

Barnes will be booking the gardens and should be producing a poster (based on this note) and booking form and I hope to be able to send these out before Xmas. I will send them to everyone who has been with us on recent holidays but if you are interested and haven’t been with us before, let me know either by phoning me on 01242 230442 or emailing me on the GOGG address ( and I will add your name to the list.


Vic Ellis 8/10/21