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Discover the Wild Garden at Sheringham Park

Pink cherry (Prunus) blossom against a bright blue sky at Sheringham Park, Norfolk.
Cherry (Prunus) blossom at Sheringham Park, Norfolk | © National Trust Images/Rob Coleman

The Wild Garden at Sheringham Park covers 50 acres and includes a nationally important collection of rhododendrons. The garden was developed around a base planting of Scots pine and oak, with the earliest plantings being carried out around 1850.

The plant collection

Plant collector Ernest Wilson is thought to have provided specimens that added extensively to the planting here in the early 20th century, and the last private owner of the estate, Thomas Upcher, also made significant additions to the garden up to his death in 1985.

The Wild Garden is now home to over 80 species of rhododendron and azalea, often providing colour from November to August but peaking from mid-May into early June.

Two viewing platforms provide ideal vantage points from which to look down on a carpet of colour in late spring, and over the surrounding countryside at all times throughout the year.

The Ling Hut at Sheringham Park
The Ling Hut provides a welcome stop point on your walk | © National Trust Images/Kezia Everson

The Main Drive

The drive was central to Humphry Repton’s 1812 design for Sheringham Park. As you walk down it, imagine you're in a horse-drawn carriage, catching glimpses of the coastline as you travel through the rhododendrons in the Wild Garden.

Ancient and remarkable trees

There are some special trees in the Wild Garden, including one of the biggest Scots pines outside of Scotland. Elsewhere, the larger of our two snowdrop trees is one of the tallest specimens in England.

A number of veteran oaks dotted along the Main Drive may well have acted as boundary markers in the past. Many of the beech trees are well over 200 years old, including our wandering beech that's tucked away to the side of one of Repton's glimpse points.

The bright green bark of the moosewood tree is particularly striking in the winter, alongside the fresh red growth of the smooth Japanese maples. With many of the trees bare, it's a good time to observe the bird life, which includes winter thrushes, woodpeckers and roving flocks of tits

Pink rhododendrons in bloom frame the view to the sea at Sheringham Park, Norfolk
Rhododendrons blooming at Sheringham Park, Norfolk | © National Trust/Justin Minns

Spring in the wild garden

The rhododendron display is a dynamic one, gradually building in colour to its late spring peak. An early spring species ‘rhododendron macabeanum’ with its large lemon coloured flowers tucked away from the path network is worth seeking out and you cannot miss the crimson-scarlet flowers of ‘rhododendron Doncaster’ one of our most photographed species along the main drive. You will need to look up at some of our taller specimens including the appropriately named rhododendron arboreum.

We also have a number of specimen trees flowering at this time - the handkerchief, pieris and snowdrop trees are of particular interest. Spread around the garden are fifteen species of magnolia to admire.

Patches of bluebells decorate much of the estate including the wild garden, and if you extend your walk into the parkland you will be rewarded with a display of buttercups and cowslips in late spring.

Muntjac kid in the woods at Sheringham Park, Norfolk

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