Step into spring with the National Trust

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Spring is a time of awakening – nothing signifies the season more than seeing bright new flowers emerging from hidden bulbs. In Norfolk, the National Trust cares for a number of places that showcase the very best of springtime blooms.

One of the best places to enjoy a springtime walk is at Blickling Estate, where the arrival of spring brings with it an abundance of colour, as thousands of bulbs begin to emerge. Here, the garden team have planted more than 100,000 daffodils, 10,000 tulips, 2,000 hyacinths and 400 hellebores, which will soon create a sea of colour you won’t want to miss.

The 55 acre garden also features magnolias, azaleas, rhododendrons, wisteria and peonies. Then as spring progresses, you can find one of Norfolk’s finest displays of bluebells, many of which can be found carpeting the ancient woodland on the estate.

The bluebell is a member of the lily family and has a clever way of surviving under the dense shade of woodland. The green leaves emerge early in the year, well before the leaves of the trees open. This means that the bluebell does most of its growing with plenty of light and so replenishes the nutrients stored in its bulb.

The flowering bit is really the end of the cycle and the leaves die away until the following year. Because bluebells spread very slowly they’re considered to be an indicator of ancient woodland sites, like you’ll see at Blickling. Even if the trees aren’t very old, the fact there are bluebells around can indicate that there has been a wood on a site for a very long time, or was once there at some point in the past.

In the 1930s, thousands of bluebell bulbs were taken to be planted in Blickling’s formal gardens. So whether you start in the garden, then head to the wood or do it the other way around, it’s worth visiting both areas to celebrate the swathes of blue. You might even like to plan a visit to the Festival of the Blues in May?

Elsewhere in Norfolk

The Walled Garden at Felbrigg always surprises and delights. Here, you’ll find some rare and botanically interesting plants in the Mediterranean-inspired beds and the allotments might give you some inspiration for your own garden. The fruit trees in the orchard will be in blossom and it won’t be long before the rhododendrons and camellias will be in flower in the West Garden.

The Wild Garden at Sheringham Park is at its best towards the end of spring, when the rhododendron collection attracts thousands of visitors each year. If you climb to the top of one of the viewing towers, you’ll even be able to witness this colourful spectacle from above the tree line. But you’ll need a head for heights!

As the seasons start to change and summer is taking over, it could be time to make a date to visit the gardens of Peckover House in Wisbech. The gardens there have quite the floral scent in June when the roses are in full bloom, and the sight is pretty impressive too.

To find out more about National Trust places in Norfolk, visit: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/eastofengland

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