Friday 5th May 2023 - All About Natural Surroundings
Before we came here to live, we holidayed and did day trips with our young sons to Cromer and when they were older, weekend breaks in both Overstrand and Cromer, on our own. We basically had a choice of two routes, through Norwich, or to avoid the traffic on the city ring road, through Swaffham, past Fakenham then to Holt and finally Cromer. Each time we went through Letheringsett I saw the notice pointing to the Wild Flower Centre. We never went and after some years, it was taken over by Simon and Ann Harrap and renamed, Natural Surroundings. Simon has given talks at the Gardening Club and on one of these occasions I purchased his comprehensive book, Wild Flowers. However, up until this week, we had never visited Natural Surroundings.
On Tuesday and with good weather, we headed towards Letheringsett, turning right towards the Bayfield Estate and right again to Natural Surroundings. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, but to use a modern-day term, ‘I was blown away’ by what we saw, as we walked round the grounds. These are divided into gardens, each with a separate theme, plus there is woodland and a meadow/bog area, with board walks leading to the River Glaven. The total area is around eight acres which also incorporates a tea room and plant sales area. It was so peaceful with the music accompaniment, provided by the birds in the trees and I have never seen so many cowslips blooming enmasse. We were recommended a visit to the chalet which had tanks of young field mice, scampering up and down stalks, disappearing down holes; their antics were greatly amusing. There are areas of particular interest to children, in particular the bug hotels - I have asked Peter to build me one. I saw my first newt in the largest of the ponds, dotted throughout the grounds, and a bee disappearing into a hole in the ground. I found two similar holes in our garden today. If we hadn’t visited Natural Surroundings, I would have presumed it was a developing ants’ nest and not the homes of solitary bees, which looking on the internet I think are mining bees.
Before we left, I purchased a camassia quamash plant; now in a border in our garden. The cakes in the tea room looked tempting but as, by then, it was lunch time, we gave them a pass in favour of the lunch I had planned at home. We both said how we would love to have a garden big enough to incorporate a wild area but we do have, what I grandly term as, the woodland, currently full of bluebells in full flower.
I have other things I was going to mention today, but I decided to hold these over until next time, enabling me to write more about our visit to Natural Surroundings. I hope this blog has tempted readers, who appreciate wild flowers and surroundings, to take a visit, that is if you have not already done so. As a taster, I have included a selection of the photos I took on Tuesday.