50 not out for opening of Lexham Hall gardens

A riot of colour at Lexham Hall gardens
A riot of colour at Lexham Hall gardens
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Lexham Hall, near Litcham, will achieve a remarkable 50 years of opening its gardens for the National Gardens Scheme in Norfolk on Sunday.

Set in parkland with its formal gardens, colourful woodland walks and historic walled garden complete with a crinkle crankle wall, Lexham Hall has always been a popular attraction for visitors.

The house was derelict and the gardens non-existent when William and Jean Foster bought Lexham just after the Second World War in 1946. The only feature of note was the walled garden which was given over to the production of fruit and vegetables.

Once the house had been restored, the renowned garden designer Dame Sylvia Crowe was called in to help design many of the garden features that can be seen today.

Jean Foster, a keen plantswoman, set about planting the gardens and in 1966 Lexham opened for the first time for the NGS.

Her son Neil took over the estate in 1989 and with his wife Anthea has continued enthusiastically to develop the gardens, introducing an extensive range of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and magnolias, lengthening the season of interest with bulbs, perennials and many unusual shrubs and trees.

The links to the NGS were strengthened when Anthea served as county organiser for more than 20 years and Neil continues to carry out the vital role of treasurer. Current county organiser Julia Stafford Allen said: “The NGS here in Norfolk owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Foster family for not only allowing us all to share their wonderful gardens for a fantastic 50 years but also to Neil and Anthea personally for all they have done for the NGS in raising vital funds for the nursing and caring charities we support.”

The gardens at Lexham Hall (PE32 2QJ) will be open from 11am to 5pm on Sunday; admission £5 adults and free for children, home-made teas and plants for sale.