The Tea Garden is a fantastic place to sit, relax and enjoy a drink and a bite to eat. It is also where you can begin to explore the botanical richess of Natural Surroundings. As well as a general profusion of trees, shribs and flowers, there are several small themed gardens.
We all know the Common Poppy – it still occasionally paints arable fields red, is Norfolk’s ‘County Flower’, and is the symbol of remembrance – but there are around 250 species of poppy worldwide. The Poppy Garden has been designed to showcase some of these, from the well-known Californian Poppy and Welsh Poppy to less frequently grown species such as the Californian Tree Poppy, Plumed Poppy, the exotic Snow Poppy and the legendary Himalayan Blue Poppy. Wherever they come from, and whatever their name, they are all a joy to have in the garden.
The poppy family (technically the Papaveraceae) is surprisingly varied. As well as plants that everyone would recognise as a poppy, it includes the Bleeding-hearts Dicentra and the Corydalises, both familiar garden plants, and the fumitories Fumaria, weeds of gardens and arable fields whose tiny flowers repay a closer look. Greater Celandine, a common weed around towns and villages, is also a poppy and not at all related to Lesser Celandine, which is a buttercup.
A half barrel that has been planted with a selection of grassland plants, all of which grow in the wild in southern England. The include Cowslip, Meadow Buttercup, Selfheal, Yellow Rattle and Sweet Vernal Grass. Perhaps the most spectcular plants are, however, the Common Spotted Orchids. These have spread and flower profusely, so much so that they have now seeded themselves into the adjacent bank, and we will now also be managing this as a meadow.
Romanian ‘Sock’ Meadow
In 2017 we visited the meadows of southern Transylvania in Romania (the Viscri district). They represent some of Europe’s most intact traditional grasslands. The low-intensity management and mixed farming has allowed huge areas of the countryside to be filled with wild flowers. It was an amazing eye-opener!
Returning from our walks each day, we found our shoes and socks covered in seeds, picked up in the meadows. Back home in Norfolk we sowed them and the flowers that grew from the debris in our socks now have a permanent home in a half barrel next to the Chalet.