Parham House and Gardens are steeped in incredible history, which makes wandering through those long, wide borders a step back into another world. That’s all very well and good, but when I spoke to new head gardener Tom Brown about the gardens, I discovered that the site is still pushing forward with all sorts of exciting plans.
Take their organic potager, which is stunning but also fascinating for the different environmentally-friendly techniques used by the gardeners to nurture barrow loads of crops each year.
Or the fabulous colours in the long borders: mixtures of golds, reds, deep blues and purples. Plants romp all over one another in a fantastic, enthusiastic riot.
Tom is keen to bring the potager and cutting garden into their own as productive yet stunning parts of this huge estate. The cutting garden is already working pretty hard, supplying 20 baskets of flowers for the huge house, while the potager is an incredibly inspiring example of how a veg plot can look hot. It produces a vast amount of fruit and veg for the house, but every box-edged bed is planned so visitors find themselves staring as intently at it as they do with the white willowherb and red orach in the flowerbeds.
Beds full of marrows – which are fairly grump-looking plants – have tall plants such as nicotiana sown amongst them. And some of the lettuces are left to flower at the end of the season, which create marvellous pyramids.
The gardeners are committed to growing all Parham’s fruit and veg according to organic principles. Tom has introduced mesh protection for the carrots which means no pests can nibble them, while a special spray containing citrus juices and garlic repels slugs and aphids.
The garden is full of unusual fruit trees as well, including apple trees dating back to before the Second World War, quinces and medlars.
If you’re as hooked on Parham as I am, and I keep returning year after year, there’s a marvellous garden weekend running today and tomorrow (10 – 11 July) at the gardens, packed full of experts and specialist nurseries and fabulous ideas for growing your own. Visit the Parham site for more information.