Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden, at South Walsham in the Norfolk Broads, opened to the public on 19 April 1975. To mark the 40th anniversary, the garden team has embarked on a project to restore the West Garden.
Former Fairhaven manager and Head Gardener, George Debbage has masterminded the first phase of the project, the restoration of a candelabra primula bed. Work has included stabilising the dyke edge, which has eroded over a number of years due to the incursion of high tides. Planting up the bed began on Friday 27 March.
George Debbage began working at Fairhaven as a gardener in 1963, when it was owned by the Second Lord Fairhaven. George became manager in 1975 for the charitable trust set up to open the garden to the public after Lord Fairhaven’s death. He retired on 1 January 2007.
George explained: “The bed that I have been restoring was in fact the job that I was given on my first day here, 13 March 1963. It was a freezing cold day and the Head Gardener sent me down into the garden to weed the bed. After a while I realised that I was the only gardener out and about. The rest of them were doing jobs indoors, because it was so cold, and sent the novice into the West Garden to see what he was made of!”
“I am very pleased that Louise has invited me back to help on this project. This was the more formal part of Lord Fairhaven’s woodland garden, closest to South Walsham Hall, where he lived. Visitors in May will start to see the fruits of our work, as the candelabra primulas come into flower.”
Louise Rout, Fairhaven Garden manager said: “We have really valued George’s knowledge and expertise as we begin our West Garden restoration project. Our initial work has been supported by a grant from New Anglia LEP and ongoing funding will come from garden entry gift aid donations. We will gradually restore the area, as funds allow, over the next three to four years.”
Most of the materials for the restoration of the candelabra primula bed have come from the woodland, except for the poles used to shore up the dyke edge. The candelabra primulas have all been propagated in the garden. A new Hydrangea Walk is also being created in the West Garden to add colour in the summer; all of the hydrangeas for this new bed have been grown locally at Viking Nurseries.
The garden is open daily all year 10am to 5pm (closed Christmas Day and closes 4pm during the winter), also open Wednesdays until 9pm from May to the end of August. Entry is £6.20 adult, £5.70 concessions and £3.65 child (under 5 free). Free entry to tearoom, gift shop and plant sales.
There is wheelchair access throughout the garden, including a Sensory Garden and plus accessible boat trips (additional charge). Visitors requiring special facilities are advised to telephone in advance, mobility scooters available.
Dogs are welcome on leads; small charge to cover poop scoop.
George Debbage (seated) with Ian Guest, Fairhaven Head Gardener and new candelabra primulas plants for the renovated border.