Blooming Swannington has big fundraising ambitions

A small village with big ambitions – Swannington (population approximately 200) near Reepham – is planning a bumper edition of its biennial open gardens event on Sunday 25 June to raise funds for two important local causes.

The Old Rectory, Swannington. Photo: Jeremy Smith

Eight gardens will be on show with all proceeds split between the upkeep of the village’s 13th-century church and redevelopment of the local play area: both are much in need of financial support.
Urgent repairs to St Margaret’s church are required amounting to £300,000. The church has received a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to cover nearly 80% of this, but additional funds must be raised locally to ensure the overall success of the project.
Meanwhile, the play area is currently little more than a grass field after much of the equipment was condemned by safety officials last summer.
Gardens along the Swannington in Bloom trail include Swannington Manor, where the grounds have previously been described as “the most romantic in Norfolk”.
Built in 1700, the house (not open) creates a stunning backdrop to the garden. A huge 300-year-old yew hedge, thought to be unique to this country, dominates the garden, creating a natural framework for the mixed shrub and herbaceous borders. Specimen trees, a sunken rose garden and a knot garden add further interest.
Other gardens open as part of the event range from the highly groomed to more natural environments, each with their own character and story.
The trail extends for almost a mile, as far as Upgate Cottage. Seemingly mature, this idyllic country garden has in fact been created over the past six years. Roses and herbaceous plants abound, with a heated greenhouse, bog garden, vegetable patch and wildflower orchard with walks. The garden is also home to chickens, geese and lambs.
Chairman of the organising committee, Pamela Smith, said: “We might be small, but we’re incredibly lucky to not only have some beautiful gardens to show off, but also lots of community-spirited residents, who pull together to ensure that everyone who visits Swannington in Bloom has a wonderful day out.”
The last event in 2015 attracted more than 400 visitors despite dismal weather, so the hope is that a sunny day this year will make for a record turnout.
In addition to the various gardens on show, there will be stalls and attractions on the village common, including pottery, glassware and art by local artists, along with demonstrations from Aylsham blacksmith Arthur Purdy.
Visitors can also enjoy home-made teas at the church and in several gardens, with a barbecue provided by farm butchers Swannington Farm to Fork and beer from Reepham-based Panther Brewery.
Guided tours of Upgate Common will run hourly, giving visitors the chance to explore this Site of Special Scientific Interest, and a variety of modern and vintage farm machinery will be displayed adjacent to the common.
Vehicle enthusiasts will also enjoy the display of classic cars on the green in Swannington village.

  • The gardens are open from 10 am – 5 pm on Sunday 25 June. Tickets cost £4 in advance, £5 on the day, with more information about the gardens and details of where to buy tickets ONLINE

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Swannington Manor. Photo: Jeremy Smith

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