Decorative Arched Footbridge, Desert Wash, East Ruston, Norfolk

Arched wooden bridge with spiky uprights

While this wooden footbridge prompted my post, I thought I’d add a few words about Old Vicarage Gardens in East Ruston where it can be found. Like many English gardens, it’s a series of themed garden rooms that make the most of micro-climates, both natural and created.

Being close to the North Sea, the garden doesn’t have the arid conditions or unrelenting sun we associate with a desert landscape but yucca, aloe, agave, dasylirion and cactus seem happy there in the Arizona-inspired Desert Wash.

Verbena bonariensis in the Desert Rush at East Ruston
The area was created by replacing some of the sub-soil with four hundred tonnes of flint, topped with layers of gravel mixed with soil. Low walls made from river boulders complete the effect.

A sizeable collection of plants survive a Norfolk winter’s cold and rain in this free-draining medium, as it prevents their roots from staying too wet.

In parts of Arizona, a year’s worth of rain may come in two or three bursts. Channels are formed when torrents of run-off water sweep by, dragging stones along in their wake. The Desert Wash artfully mimics this. A wooden footbridge arches over one channel, its spiky uprights creating a focal point.

Verbena bonariensis in the desert garden at East Ruston

Californian poppies add summer colour, but when we were there a couple of Septembers ago, it was the turn of Verbena bonariensis to shine.

Arched footbridge with upright spikes

For more about East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens, visit their website. The garden plans to open, afternoons only, from Wednesday to Sunday until 24th October, but please check online before planning a visit.

33 Replies to “Decorative Arched Footbridge, Desert Wash, East Ruston, Norfolk”

  1. That’s so interesting about how the dry imported ground enables the plants to withstand the cold, wet winter. It’s amazing to me how a desert could be created like that. The verbena does indeed shine!

  2. That’s an interesting garden, and I happen to be very fond of Yucca(!); . . . but why would such a landscape be of interest in such a climate? Most of us who live in desert and chaparral climates grow such plants because options are limited. Such plants really should be more popular here than they are(!). Some of the desert Yucca, such as Joshua tree, would not be happy there. They rot if they get too much water. My former home garden was in chaparral, which is not as difficult as desert, but it was not as lush as this garden.

    1. There can be a pleasure in the challenge of growing something we’re not supposed to be able to, and there is a fashion for xeriscaping. There are limits though.

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