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29 October 2014

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Felbrigg Hall gardens
Felbrigg Hall gardens

Felbrigg Hall

The hall at Felbrigg in north Norfolk has existed since the 14th century, but its beautiful walled kitchen garden is thanks to the Victorians, writes Amelia Reynolds.

Felbrigg Hall in north Norfolk is renowned for its beautiful Victorian gardens. Tina Hammond has been head gardener for five years. She graduated with a degree in philosophy and never thought horticulture would be her profession, but she loves every minute of it.

Spring is a busy time of year for gardeners and Tina has already planted potatoes, beans, parsnips and beetroot.

Head gardener, Tina Hammond
Head gardener, Tina Hammond

Carrots have been covered with a fleece sheet to protect them against the erratic variations in temperature.

Tina is most excited about the asparagus patch - although nothing is happening yet, when the spears start to show they'll be in demand from the hall's public restaurant.

As many as 70,000 people visit the garden every year. Tina likens it to a piece of theatre, but beneath the pomp and presentation is some practical gardening.

The beds and borders have guzzled 240 tonnes of compost so far this year. The soil looks and feels fantastic and Tina's top tip is to cover as much soil as possible with a mulch.

She advises laying good quality compost in the garden and letting the worms do the rest. As she showed me around I noticed the vegetable beds inter-cropped with flowers.

The dovecote at Felbrigg Hall
The dovecote at Felbrigg Hall

Apparently it helps keep insect pests away, which is important in a garden which doesn't use any chemicals.

Four full-time gardeners work at Felbrigg. Two Victorian greenhouses have been restored and the resident chickens have taken a liking to them.

There are also lots of beautiful white doves that have made their home in the famous dovecote, the central piece of the walled garden. It's a peaceful and serene place.

Tina remembers coming to Felbrigg as a child and picnicking in the grounds. She never dreamed that one day she would be working here as head gardener. So what's it like? "I feel blessed," she answers.

Felbrigg Hall, garden and park is a National Trust property and is open from Saturday to Wednesday until 21 July, 2005 when it opens seven days a week.

last updated: 07/04/05
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