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Looking for something to do this weekend? Help make Jean and John’s day

PUBLISHED: 14:00 21 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:38 21 July 2018

'Im very much a plantaholic and especially like plants you would rarely see anywhere else,' says Jean Walton. These are scenes from the garden at Westfield, near Dereham. Pictures: Jean Walton

'Im very much a plantaholic and especially like plants you would rarely see anywhere else,' says Jean Walton. These are scenes from the garden at Westfield, near Dereham. Pictures: Jean Walton

Archant

You’re set to open your garden for charity and then find a key road will be closed. Aaarrgghh! But all is not lost

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Poor Jean and John Walton. Listen to Jean. “We open for the National Garden Scheme on July 22 and to our horror saw a sign placed by the bridge, saying the road would be closed at that point, from the 16th, for three weeks! Apparently Anglian Water will be laying pipes across the fields and under the road by the bridge in Dereham Road. I will speak to the workmen when they arrive to see if they can allow pedestrian access from the Westfield Road end for our opening but I suspect cars will not be able to get through. This will mean accessing the village from the other end.”

Jean sends failsafe directions (see below) and adds: “The diversion to get to us isn’t very long and so shouldn’t cause a problem, but most people access the village from the Toftwood end and if they see or hear the road will be closed will most likely think they can’t get to us and won’t think about coming in from the other end.

“We will put as many diversion signs up as we can but sometimes it’s difficult to find something suitable to attach them to. It’s impossible to bang a stake in the ground at the moment.”

Quite. I’m sure the public will rally to the cause. Let’s find out what the garden, near Dereham, is like, and tempt them. How’s this for starters?

“One area is ‘heaven and hell’, where in ‘heaven’ the plants have pastel colours and heavenly names like Salvia Blue Angel,” says Jean.

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And don’t miss: Jan and Mark’s lovely garden

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“Then you enter ‘hell’, where the colours are more vibrant and the plants have hellish names like Crocosmias Lucifer and Hellfire. I love what I call my ‘hot’ bed, where the plants are bright reds, yellows, oranges and mauves, especially lush in late July to October when the Cannas, Ricinus, Tithonia, dahlias etc are in full bloom.”

Beginnings…

“We moved into Dunbheagan in January 2006 and had well over 100 old apple trees and conifers taken out. This left us with a blank canvas, allowing me to begin designing the garden. We are really lucky to have a sheltered site with the most beautiful loamy soil you’ve ever seen.

“I’m very much a plantaholic and especially like plants you would rarely see anywhere else. I enjoy growing plants from cuttings and seeds. I also love colour and form, and try to achieve the ‘wow’ factor when planting.

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“We have a variety of large beds and borders, with a massive selection of plants, roses, dahlias, herbaceous, annuals and bedding, bog bed, shrubs and trees. The pond is surrounded by a rockery which seems to get bigger every year.

“There are numerous paths going in all directions for the visitor to discover different areas as they wander round the garden. There are plenty of places to sit and relax.

“We also have a carnivorous-plants bog, with plants native to the UK. Our son Andrew brought them from our old house and so one of our first jobs was to dig out a big bed, fill it with peat and then add the carnivorous plants and landscape around it. I’m hoping to add some new types to the area next spring.”

So nothing stands still, then…

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“Every year I take on a new project. I’m always changing a part of the garden.

This year we dug out the box hedging, which had developed box blight, and all the plants growing within those beds. This area is now a very large herbaceous bed and is filling out very well. We also dug out two large conifers, giving us a large space to change another bed: now full of herbaceous and shrubs, plus a new tree – a Cornus Kousa Milky Way.

“This autumn I want to redevelop the shady area under the chestnut tree, rearrange the ferns, add some new shrubs and change the direction of the path running through it. I always have plenty of ideas going round in my head!”

How was Jean hooked?

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“I have always been interested in plants and gardening. I first started gardening with my grandad when I was just a toddler. He gave me some excellent advice which I always try to adhere to.

He advised me to learn and remember a plant’s name.

“He said you would be looking after and enjoying it for a long time, so treat it like a friend and get to know its name. This meant not only knowing its name but how to look after it.”

Open July 22 for NGS charities

12.30pm to 5pm

Adults £4.50; children free

Dunbheagan, Dereham Road, Westfield, NR19 1QF

Two miles south of Dereham

“From Dereham take A1075, signposted Shipdham/Watton. After approx two miles turn left, where signed Westfield. After approx half a mile you reach the crossroads with the Westfield village sign. Left into Dereham Road. Dunbheagan is just over half a mile on right.” Home-made teas served on front lawn by Growing Together, “a horticultural project I’m passionate about, within Independence Matters, the day centre for special needs adults, at Rash’s Green”. Music during afternoon by ‘Diana and Paul’

Contact: 01362 696163 and jandjwalton@btinternet.com

“John and I tend to work together very well. I design,

deal with the plants. John is the ‘lawn technician’ (he mows the grass!) and cuts the hedges,

clears up after me (a lot), makes cups of tea and helps with all the jobs best tackled by two people – or jobs I don’t like! I couldn’t cope without him.”

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