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For choice and unusual plants grown and sold in a beautiful garden

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Our gardens are the backbone of the nursery. They are the reason that we sell plants because we are first and foremost gardeners, plants people that love creating beautiful scenes with flowers. We are just very lucky that we can make a modest living doing a job we love and one that gives a thrill so many times a day. As it is a labour of love kind comments are always appreciated and so when in the autumn of 2012 we were approached to be included in the highly prestigious Gardens to Visit 2013 book we felt very honoured. We are in the 2018 edition too!

The gardens are open every day that the nursery is open (see below for booking group visits with guided tour) and you are free to wander around the acre site at no charge. There are seats dotted around the various areas and you are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy the inspirational use of plants. We are also open for special pre booked group visits and coach parties / bus tours these include a guided tour and can be arranged for the day or evening. On a few special days we open in aid of charity (Red Cross and National Gardens Scheme) when there is an entrance charge (see Events page). We are now getting to be well known as a popular tourist attraction in Nottinghamshire, a day visit often combined with the historic market town of Newark or Southwell with its famous minster, both within 8 miles.

We started the gardens in 1994 and every year since new beds and areas have been initiated. This is a slow process as we are on the heaviest of clay soils (worked out brick pits around the corner) and in a very bad frost pocket. However it does mean that if we grow it, it's hardy! We work very hard to make the soil better with the engine room of the garden being numerous compost heaps, huge quantities of this compost, gypsum, sharp sand and much toil slowly makes a decent soil although it is through gritted teeth that we smile when a visitor takes a handful of our hard won loam and scornfully says ' and they said that they had clay'.

In early spring the shade garden is at its stunning best, raised beds are stuffed with rare Hellebores, Snowdrops, Erythroniums (Dog toothed Violets), Trilliums, Epimediums Pulmonarias, Primulas, Wood anemones and snakes head Fritillarias by the hundred .

Although this area is predominantly a spring garden Orchids, Veratrums, Cardiocrinums (8' high giant Himalayan Lilies), the tropical looking Cautleyas, Tricyrtis (Toad Lilies) and Japanese Saxifrages provide interest until well into the fall. A Hosta walk (containing over 40 different varieties) provides coolth during hot July days and you’ll have to visit to learn how we keep the slugs at bay and the leaves hole free!

As the shade garden loses its initial spring vibrancy herbaceous borders and colour themed beds take over. There are traditional long twin herbaceous borders with old roses and clematis and towering perennials intermingled with many rare jewels that mean that you have to work hard so as not to miss anything.

Notebooks are often produced and where the label has been misplaced we are always on hand to try to give an identification. If it is not already available from the nursery, just mention an interest and it will, when large enough, be added to the propagation list.

Other herbaceous borders are themed and more intimate; we have blue and white, pink and white and purple and yellow borders.

In June the soft yellow border which slowly transforms through oranges to hot reds as you move along it always attracts admiring attention.

At the height of the summer separate hot borders are a beacon to unabashed, glorious colour. These were revamped in late 2009 and early 2010 and the soil improved, a backbone of Crocosmias, Hemerocallis and Kniphofias stir the blood and provide the perfect foil for Heucheras, gaudy daisies and Geums.

One of the most successful projects undertaken recently was the construction of a large pond (visitors often refer to it as a lake but that must be an exaggeration) and bog gardens.

This attracts much wild life like the pesky water muddying ducks and the welcomed, shy, reclusive moorhens. In summer the air flashes with light reflected from the wings of Damsel flies and prehistoric-looking Dragon flies. They skim the surface looking for prey and also to lay the eggs that the retiring Golden and Silver Orfe enjoy. The planting around the pond is lush and the grass naturally drips into the water giving an impression of permanence belied by its recent construction. Bog and marginals of Iris, Phlox, Astilbe, Lobelia and flowering rush (Butomus) blend the water into the garden making it an area that we and visitors alike migrate to, to spend happy moments in reverie.

Around the patio are raised beds filled with many different types of Angel’s Fishing Rod (Dierama) these bulbous South African plants enjoy a well drained yet not dry soil and the raising of these beds stops them rotting during the winter. They start to flower in early June and are at their best in July the mainly pink bell flowers wafting on wiry arching stems; a unique plant and much hardier than people expect.

In front of the patio is a scree area where the soil has been replaced with gravel to improve drainage to varying degrees of success. Although in some areas the drainage is rather less than perfect it is an area where plants have self sown to the benefit of the garden. Huge drifts of Verbana bonariensis attract autumn butterflies and rare alpines form low hummocks in spring and early summer. At the back Piet Oudolf style plantings mix grasses and the burgundy pin cushions of Knautia macedonica in a haze of silvery filamentous leaves.

This provides the foreground to another area I’m currently improving the soil of: the amphitheatre.

Neighbours, who had been very kind when we first moved into Norwell had many tons of clay subsoil to get rid of and I said I could make a feature of it. Using a JCB we made a horse shoe shape facing due South and raised it to a height of about 8’ at the ‘heel’ of the ‘shoe’. This is now planted with Mediterranean style plants and others which enjoy sun, heat and awful soil.

Enjoying a resurgence in popularity are Hardy Chrysanthemums, writing this now at the end of a stormy, rain lashed November there is still much colour in the garden from these autumn stalwarts.

We have the largest collection of any garden open to the public with over 100 varieties on display and hold, with two other gardens  the dispersed National Collection of these beauties. These are set out through the borders, in special Chrysanthemum beds and in a large daisy bed where they mix with grasses and Asters. These asters are specially selected so they don’t get mildew (predominantly A. novae angliae types). The Asters flower before many of the Chrysanths and they have complimentary but differing colours to them, being more blues and purples. They are also a good contrast to our famous autumn grassoretum (an arboretum of grasses).

Grasses can be difficult to place in borders with other mixed plantings and here we grow them as individual specimens in the lawn. The effect is very special and after a spring trim starts to look its best from June onwards. Many grasses have excellent autumn colour and the structure is maintained throughout the winter. We believe that it is important to keep winter as short as possible and our garden comes to a climax in October; having more colour then than it does in mid-August.

Recently, our open days in October have attracted much attention, ensuring that people realise that September and October can be some of the most rewarding months of the gardening year. In 2012, Ian Salter, one of the many friends we have made through our gardens, was kind enough to send some excellent photos he had taken. Bear in mind that this was the second week of October after the wettest year ever recorded and it shows what can be done.

In October 2013 the renowned garden photographer Carol Drake visited our gardens ostensibly to take photos of the Chrysanths. However, they were particularly late in 2013 due to the perishingly cold spring. She did manage to take some lovely photos and some will be included in an article on our gardens in the November 2014 issue of Country Living. To whet your appetite here is one of Carols photographs:

 Clive Nichols came to the gardens and an article was made of our gardens for Country Life. Here is one of his:

In conclusion, if you have the opportunity come and visit us, give yourself time to lose yourself in the garden and enjoy the plants, bring a picnic, visit the excellent local pub and buy a cuppa and slice of homemade cake at our self service tea room, we look forward to meeting you.

Summer visits

Groups are welcome by appointment during late May, June and July for day or evening visits and also for autumn colour in September and October for day visits. Coach parties or private cars equally welcome. Groups are taken around the gardens being shown plants of particular interest and questions answered. Duration from 90 mins. to 2 hrs+. Cost for garden visit which includes guided tour, delicious home made cakes, tea or coffee is £6.00 a head. The nursery will be open at the end of the visit for any purchases.


Dear Andrew,
Thank you very much indeed for the garden tour you gave last Monday evening. We found it very informative and appreciated your knowledge and your willingness to share it with us. I know too, that the refreshments provided a perfect end to the evening so please pass on our sincere thanks to your wife. I am sure many of us will visit again to stock up with more wonderful plants.
Many thanks to you both...

Dear Andrew,
On behalf of our Hardy Plant Society Group can I say a huge thank-you for allowing us to visit your garden and nursery. As always we all enjoyed the visit, your garden is so well presented, with the bonus that we can purchase the plants. Your passion for plants is infectious and we all felt re-energised following the visit.
Kind regards...

Dear Andrew,
Just a note of thanks for our visit to your Nursery last week and also the excellent cakes.
During the 10 years I have been organising our Groups's Garden Holidays we have been fortunate to see many excellent Nurseries, but the general opinion on our coach was that Norwell was at the top of the table. Your introductory talk was first class and we filled the coach with plants and fortunately had a trailer for the luggage on our return journey. I do hope that we will be able to get you to come and speak at one of our Meetings during one of your quieter periods.

Dear Andrew,
I am writing to say how much we enjoyed our visit to Norwell Nurseries yesterday.
Thank you for your warm welcome, the excellent talk and tour and the delicious tea and cake that followed.
I would say that was the perfect end to the afternoon but the time spent having a good look through the sales area and finding some gems to buy and take home was the part of the visit that many had looked forward to most of all!
We will all have pleasant memories of a happy day in a lovely garden, Thank you.

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