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. It is, isn’t it. British gardeners are paying more attention to plants that thrive in warmer climates, to plan ahead for a warmer climate. Ironically, I’d be concerned we might end up with a wetter, colder climate if the North Atlantic Drift were to forsake us.

    1. You have to be a bold gardener to go that far in amending the landscape. Most of us stop at trying to turn our hydrangeas blue or pink, naturally wanting whatever colour our soil does not provide.

    1. It was quite a drive for us, but I’d be happy to go back there. We saw Beth Chatto’s garden and a few others too. The only one I was not wildly impressed by was Hyde Hall. It was good, of course, but it didn’t strike a chord somehow.

  1. I’ve been to those gardens a couple of times, the first time I thought the entry fee was expensive for what it was as I’d previously been told by someone ‘there’s not much there’ but oh how wrong she was. It’s a delightful place, imo well worth going to, and I got some great photos including several of the wooden footbridge which makes a great focal point 🙂

    1. It will come to be seen as a garden of our times. It was nice to see both the owners out in the garden when we were there, including one working in the Desert Wash.

    1. I love to see arched bridges. We have some stone ones in a nearby wood. I’ve had a few near misses on the steepest one in winter when it’s been snowy underfoot.

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