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A guide to the best Norfolk gardens holiday cottages

A guide to the best Norfolk gardens

Julie Smith 07 May 2021

There’s nothing quite like the sights and smells of an English country garden, and wandering around herbaceous borders, wildflower meadows and arboretums is the perfect way to get some fresh air into your lungs and spend quality time together.  Luckily, Norfolk is a county that’s blessed with an abundance of gorgeous gardens, so you’ll never be short of green spaces to explore. From the formal walled gardens of grand stately homes to waterside woods, here is a selection of the best gardens in Norfolk to visit during your next short break or holiday.    

Norfolk Lavender

Norfolk gardens guide

Norfolk is renowned for its fragrant lavender fields. You can spend time strolling amongst these pretty purple flowers on a visit to Norfolk Lavender near Heacham. Lavender has been grown at this Norfolk Coast site since 1932, and the 100-acre gardens are one of the country’s largest lavender farms. In addition to the extensive purple fields, there is a cottage garden area at Norfolk Lavender which is filled with different herbs including parsley, sage, chamomile, and a variety of mints.

  • The tranquil lavender gardens are open throughout the year with an on-site plant centre where you can purchase rare and unusual varieties.
  • The large site also features an animal garden and playpark to keep children entertained during your visit.
  • Browse a range of lavender gifts such as candles, teas, essential oils and soaps in the on-site shop. 

Address: Caley Mill, Lynn Road, Heacham, PE31 7JE

Stay nearby: Norfolk Cottage | Sleeps: 5 guests plus 2 dogs

Houghton Hall and Gardens 

The best Norfolk gardens

Originally built in 1720 for Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, Houghton Hall is a grand country estate that comprises a grand mansion house and extensive grounds. One of the highlights of the gorgeous grounds at Houghton Hall is the 5-acre walled garden which has been divided into a selection of ornamental areas including a formal rose parterre, a spectacular double herbaceous border, and a collection of statues, sculptures and fountains to seek out during your visit. 

  • The 450 acres of grounds are also home to an extensive deer park where you can watch a herd of rare white fallow deer roaming free.
  • Houghton Hall features a manicured croquet lawn so you can try your hand at playing this traditional English garden game.
  • Twisting pathways allow you to explore parkland and woodland at Houghton. Discover a number of follies including the Grade I listed Water Tower which was designed by Henry Herbert, the 9th Earl of Pembroke.

Address: Houghton Hall, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 6UE

Stay nearby: 3 Norfolk Heights | Sleeps: 6 guests plus 1 dog

Bressingham Steam and Gardens

The best Norfolk gardens

You can take a magical railway journey around a glorious collection of plants and flowers at Bressingham Steam and Gardens, near Diss. The gardens are split into six distinct areas spanning 17 acres and include vibrant borders, fragrant flowers and the Foggy Bottom pond section which is home to 500 different varieties of conifers.  

  • Choose between four different steam train journeys on narrow gauge railway lines that criss-cross around the gardens and surrounding woodland.
  • Riding on Bressingham’s vintage carousel galloper with its painted horses and traditional fairground organ museum is great fun for everyone. There’s also a play area to keep little ones entertained.
  • Other things to see and do at Bressingham Steam and Gardens include a crazy golf course and a Dad’s Army-themed museum.

Address: Bressingham Steam Gardens, Low Road, Diss, IP22 2AA

Stay nearby: Dove Barn | Sleeps: 8 guests

Sandringham

Norfolk gardens

One of the private residences of Queen Elizabeth II and the place where the royal family typically spend their Christmas period, Sandringham is a grand country estate with sprawling formal gardens that are surrounded by roughly 600 acres of dog-friendly parkland. The formal gardens are open from April to October and feature ornamental lakes and streams, an 800-year-old oak tree, and a collection of camellia, magnolia and rhododendrons.

  • Flowers within the enclosed cottage-style gardens are at their best during July and August when they are a haven for bees and butterflies.
  • The Sandringham Royal Parkland is open throughout the year and features waymarked nature trails and a woodland play area for children.
  • It’s well worth taking a tour of Sandringham House to see the sumptuous rooms that the royal family gather in for Christmas. Afterwards you can enjoy an elegant afternoon tea in the on-site Sandringham Restaurant.

Address: Sandringham, Norfolk, PE35 6EN

Stay nearby: Hayloft Dersingham | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Pensthorpe Natural Park

The best Norfolk gardens

Pensthorpe is a large Norfolk nature reserve near Fakenham with wetland areas, natural meadows and four specially designed gardens to explore. At the heart of Pensthorpe is The Millennium Garden, which was created by renowned Dutch designer Piet Oudolf in the summer of 2000 to celebrate this landmark year. It’s a kaleidoscope of different colours and textures with lush landscapes, mixed grasses and beautiful blooms. The protected wetlands at Pensthorpe are a haven for wild birds including warblers, redwings and chiffchaffs which you can watch up close from a series of special hides.

  • A Wildflower Habitat Garden at Pensthorpe features a gentle stream and has been designed as the perfect habitat for a range of Norfolk wildlife including dragonflies, bees, butterflies and frogs.  
  • The shaded woodland Wave Garden features rolling hills, lush green foliage and locally produced sculptures with semi-circular seating areas where visitors can relax and enjoy the tranquillity.
  • Play areas at Pensthorpe include the outdoor WildRootz with zip wires, tunnels and a paddling stream. Hootz House is an eco-friendly indoor play area that is surrounded by the vibrant Corten Infinity Garden.

Address: Pensthorpe Natural Park, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 OLN

Stay nearby: Garden Cottage Wellingham | Sleeps: 2 guests 

Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden

The best Norfolk gardens

Located in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, Fairhaven is an ancient woodland and wildlife garden with its own private waterway and more than 4 miles of pathways to wander around at your leisure. The organic woodland at Fairhaven spans a total of more than 130 acres with botanical gardens that are a mixture of wild and cultivated plants and flowers including a carpet of yellow primroses each spring. This tranquil part of the Norfolk Broads is rich with local wildlife and there are a variety of nature trails to follow around the site.

  • Take a scenic boat trip along the Broads from Fairhaven to St Benet’s Abbey. You’ll pass under picturesque bridges and can see herons close up during the relaxing journey.
  • Children will love seeking out a variety of carved wooden bears in a family-friendly trail around the woodland gardens. 
  • Dogs on leads are welcome to join you at Fairhaven, with water bowls available for them in various parts of the garden. 

Address: Fairhaven, School Road, South Walsham, Norwich, NR13 6RZ

Stay nearby: Herons Quay | Sleeps: 4 guests

Felbrigg Hall

Norfolk gardens guide

Felbrigg Hall is an elegant Norfolk National Trust site that’s surrounded by landscaped parkland with wooded areas, waymarked trails and a large lake. Wander around the estate’s beautiful walled garden and you’ll see perfectly manicured lawns and hedges and double borders filled with an assortment of seasonal plants and flowers. A kitchen garden provides a variety of different vegetables for the estate, and fragrant herb beds are filled with mint, sage and lavender.

  • Surrounding the house at Felbrigg is the tranquil West Garden, which is home to an orangery with a series of gravel pathways to explore and a ha-ha that separates the garden from the wider estate.
  • At the centre of the walled garden is a much-photographed historic dovecot - it’s still home to the estate’s doves and chickens which are free to wander around the garden at their leisure.
  • There are 520 acres of dog-friendly grounds to explore at Felbrigg, with lots of buggy-friendly trails to walk along and a famous Victory V woodland pathway that’s made up of two tree-lined avenues. 

Address: Felbrigg, Norwich, Norfolk, NR11 8PR  

Stay nearby: Winnies | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 2 dogs

Raveningham Gardens

Norfolk gardens guide

Raveningham has been home to the Bacon family since 1735 and the large rural farming estate includes 10 acres of gardens that are protected and sheltered by the surrounding ancient woodland. The traditional English country garden dates back to the Edwardian era and features a wide variety of trees and shrubs including roses, sweet peas, snowdrops as well as rarer and more unusual species. There’s also an on-site walled kitchen garden, wildflower meadows, a collection of 19th-century glasshouses, and a wonderful Time Garden which was inspired by the work of Sir Francis Bacon.  

  • There’s a number of original sculptures by Susan Bacon to look out for as you wander around the extensive Raveningham gardens.
  • You’ll find lots of benches and seating dotted around the garden so that you can rest and relax, along with an on-site tea room to call in for refreshments.
  • Dogs on leads are welcome in the garden and will love wandering through the trees in the site’s arboretum - which includes a specially created stumpery - and walking around a beautiful lake.  

 

Stay nearby: Hillside - Gelderston | Sleeps: 4 guests

Other Norfolk gardens worth visiting include:

Norfolk gardens guide

Plan your getaway to Norfolk

The best Norfolk gardens

If you have been inspired to visit some of these beautiful Norfolk gardens, there are lots of lovely holiday cottages where you can rest your head after days spent exploring grand country estates and beautiful wildflower meadows.  Browse our hand-picked collection of Norfolk cottages to find your perfect base, whether you are looking for a romantic bolthole, a dog-friendly property or a holiday home for the family.



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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