Give Oxburgh Hall a splash of colour

GARDENERS at a stately home in Norfolk are hoping to add a splash of colour to the flowerbeds, with a new planting scheme.

GARDENERS at a stately home in Norfolk are hoping to add a splash of colour to the flowerbeds, with a new planting scheme.

Visitors to the National Trust's Oxburgh Hall are being called upon to help plant several thousand bedding plants in the Victorian Parterre.

Once used as a large vegetable patch during the second world war as part of the Government's Dig for Victory campaign, the Victorian Parterre is now a focal point of the gardens at Oxburgh and a welcomed sight by visitors.

Adding a real splash of colour during the summer months, the Parterre was created by the Bedingfeld family following an inspirational trip to Versailles. Originally made from coloured gravels, the Parterre is now planted with bedding plants contained within a slow growing variety of box.

For years Heliotrope marine, Marigold 'Yellow Boy' and Cineraria maritima 'Silver Dust' have been used. However, this year the gardening team have had to look at creating a completely new planting scheme, as the restoration of their greenhouse means that it's out of action and can't be used for growing the normal varieties.

Head gardener Graham Donachie said: 'We've chosen to plant a mix of yellow and blue violas and dark blue petunias. We were originally going to plant just violas, but the cold winter has meant that they're in short supply. So we've made up the quantity we need with petunias.

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'The hardy violas will be planted with the help of visitors over the next two weeks. Then if the weather holds and there are no sharp frosts, the remaining petunias will be planted in the first week of June. Geraniums and Canna indica will form the centre of the beds as usual.

'It's a huge task planting this many bedding plants. We found that by enlisting the help of our visitors last year, not only did the job get done quicker, but that our visitors really seemed to relish the opportunity to plant their own little piece of Oxburgh. This year we're keen to get even more people involved,' he added.

Visitors can help shape this year's gardening masterpiece this week or next, and again in the first week of June. Open Saturdays to Wednesdays, 11am - 5pm.

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