Friday, 26 July 2013

Summer flower and steam spectacular at Bressingham Gardens - a great day out for all the family

Bressingham Gardens - where steam trains are paired with spectacular borders
Few gardeners can imagine the possibility of pairing steam trains with spectacular summer borders, but the combination really does work and solves the problem of a family day out likely to appeal to all ages during the long summer holidays. That's what you'll find at Bressingham in Norfolk and when I visited this week, I was astounded by the colour and form of the 16-acre gardens and enchanted by the narrow-guage railway train that winds its way through the Dell Garden. 
Bressinghams was founded by Alan Bloom in 1953
The nursery at Bressingham, known as Blooms, was founded by Alan Bloom in 1953. He was primarily a nurseryman, with a special interest in hardy perennials. But his other great passion was steam trains. All his initial efforts went into the horticulture side of the business, where he experimented with the highly-successful island beds that remain such an outstanding feature of the six-acre (2.4 hectares) Dell Garden today. But his love of horticulture was matched by his love of steam engines and he acquired his first locomotive less than a decade later - 10-ton Bertha - purchased in nearby Thetford in 1961.
Part of the charm of Bressingham is that you can hop aboard a miniature train and see Alan Bloom's horticultural prowess and magnificent planting schemes up close, before exploring the rest of the gardens at leisure on foot. But there is another whole section of garden, equal in size to Alan Bloom's, created by his son Adrian, who joined the family business in 1962. This part of the garden is known as Foggy Bottom and although equal in size to the Dell, is very different in both temperament and planting.   
The garden that Adrian Bloom has created in the last 50 years on the site of a former meadow is very different to his father's plot and features a range of conifers and heathers from all over the world that keep their colour and structure throughout the seasons. There is also a fine collection of giant redwood trees (sequoladendron gigantum) which he brought back from California and grew from seed. The unusual name - Foggy Bottom - does not come from morning mists rising from the large central pond, but rather from a place that Adrian knew in the United States.
Bressingham is definitely worth a visit, whether you are a railway or plant enthusiast. It is open daily (10.30-17.00) from the end of March to early November and there are various different tickets available, depending on whether you want to visit the gardens, or ride the trains. Click on the link for prices. You can also stay at Bressingham Hall, at the heart of the gardens, on a bed and breakfast basis.
For more summer garden ideas, click here


  1. Realy a great garden, very colourful.


  2. Such serene colors and soft light! I think it works so well given the large trees and woods framing it all.

    1. The trees really do make this garden, especially the redwoods.

  3. Very interesting, and beautiful, too!
    Thanks for the tour.
    Have a wonderful week-end!
    Lea's Menagerie

  4. Very beautiful! I certainly should visit Bressingham on one of my visits to England, it looks so beautiful and I have books of both Alan and Adian Bloom.

  5. Bressingham would definitely be on my "must see" list in England, too. The natural, yet organized look is the type of garden I like best. Beautiful photos winding up the hills to show all the levels of plants!

  6. Thanks for the virtual tour! Great pictures - you can imagine how the whole place it's looking. I like the fact that Adrian come up with his own garden style, making Bressingham even more wonderful.

  7. Wow, stunning garden ! I love the colours. Thanks for tour !