Be Enchanted by Gardens Inspired by the Norfolk Countryside
If you’d like to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the North Norfolk coast, Gooderstone Water Gardens offers the perfect retreat.
The gardens are home to a combination of native and cultivated plants, plus a variety of wildlife. Created on the banks of the River Gadder, the stunning setting includes ponds and waterways.
Coral Hoyos, 71, from Lingwood, owns and manages Gooderstone Water Gardens with her husband. Since inheriting the gardens in 2001, they have dedicated themselves to reviving them. The gardens opened for visitors to enjoy in 2003.
“You hear no traffic, just the trickle of water, and perhaps bird song, or the wind in the trees. The gardens are for everyone from garden lovers, naturalists, artists and photographers to children who enjoy exploring secret places.”
History of The Gardens
The gardens were set up in 1970 by Coral’s father, who enthusiastically worked on the gardens until his death in 1994. When Coral inherited the gardens in 2001, they underwent restoration and became a wildlife wonderland for lovers of nature.
“My father, a retired farmer, created the gardens from a water meadow which became too wet for cattle to graze. Sadly, no work had been done in the five years prior to me inheriting the gardens, so they had become overgrown and derelict.
“Fallen trees had to be removed, nettles and thistles pulled, and borders cleared of weeds and replanted. All thirteen bridges had to be rebuilt, a car park created and the tea room and toilets were refurbished.”
Things to See
With six and a half acres of lush gardens and an eight-acre nature trail, there’s plenty in store for visitors. It’s the perfect place to stroll around and take in the sights of a tranquil haven.
“The gardens offer visitors the chance to relax and enjoy the natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere of its four ponds, waterways spanned by 13 bridges, a nature trail and kingfisher hide.”
Visitors are welcome to have a picnic anywhere in the beautiful gardens, making it a perfect day out for families. Alternatively, the tea room serves a huge range of homemade cakes, sandwiches, light snacks, ice cream and
“There are many paths, but you won’t get lost as all the bridges are numbered. The roundhouse on the mound gives a great viewpoint to the surrounding ponds and garden beds. This and the summerhouse in the north-east corner make an ideal place to shelter or have a picnic.
“A relaxing half hour can be spent in the bird hide where kingfishers are regularly seen or wandering around the nature trail.”
Birds and Plants
The gardens are inspired by the surrounding countryside, in keeping with Norfolk’s natural beauty. The plants in the gardens reflect this, with native plants including hemp agrimony, purple loosestrife and flag iris, as well as natural-looking cultivated plants.
“The air is fresh with the scents of the many plants and trees, especially the viburnum. July and August are probably the most colourful times, especially when astilbe is flowering along the waterways.”
As well as the beautiful scenery, there’s a whole host of wildlife to see. The gardens boast the spectacular opportunity to see kingfishers and plenty more besides!
“We have garden birds including nuthatches, woodpeckers, a pair of swans, various ducks, and an occasional heron or egret. Otters are back in the river system and sometimes visit the gardens. We also have water vole, and there are signs of harvest mice in the fen area.”
The gardens are open every day of the year from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm. The tea room is open from March to October.
Admission is usually £6.50 for adults, £6.00 for seniors and free for children. From November to March, admission is £5.00 for adults and seniors. Coaches and group visits are welcome by appointment and discounts are available. Unfortunately, card payments are not currently accepted.
There are events for visitors to enjoy throughout the year. Every April, there’s an Easter Bunny Hunt, where chocolate bunnies are up for grabs for children. On the last Sunday in July, there’s usually a Theatre in the Garden. Visitors can bring seats and a picnic for some summer fun.
Plants are available for purchase at reasonable prices from Easter to October.
Two hard paths lead into the gardens, the kingfisher hide, the tea room and the disabled toilet for wheelchair access. The other paths are flat mown grass. Unfortunately, the nature trail is not accessible by wheelchair, and there may be occasional molehills or tree roots.
Dogs on leads are allowed on the condition that owners clear up after them and take waste bags home.
Gooderstone Water Gardens is based in Gooderstone, six miles south-west of Swaffham. The postcode is PE33 9BP, just under an hour away from The Blakeney Cottage Company’s HQ.
You can find out more about Gooderstone Water Gardens by visiting their website or calling 07730 551945.