CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today CLICK HERE

Norfolk garden designer George Carter

PUBLISHED: 11:54 04 July 2017

George Carter in his garden at Silverstone Farm (photo: Simon Finlay)

George Carter in his garden at Silverstone Farm (photo: Simon Finlay)

Archant © 2011; 01603 772434

His portfolio ranges from the Jerusalem olive grove where Jesus was arrested to the grounds of Boris’ Johnson’s official retreat. Rowan Mantell talks to world-renowned Norfolk garden designer George Carter

George Carter in his Norfolk garden (photo: Simon Finlay)George Carter in his Norfolk garden (photo: Simon Finlay)

Apart from a recreation of the Garden of Eden, working on the Garden of Gethsemane must be one of the biggest gigs in garden design.

George Carter has been helping restore the Biblical garden where Jesus prayed as his disciples slept, replacing a 1920s design with plants which would have thrived at the foot of the Mount of Olives 2,000 years ago.

Between creating gardens around the world and across centuries of history, George returns to his own garden at Silverstone Farm, North Elmham, near Dereham.

It was at art college that his fascination with gardening began, as outdoor installations segued into gardens. He arrived in Norfolk as the first exhibitions designer for Norwich’s Sainsbury Centre gallery and found the county, with its level landscapes and Dutch-influenced architecture, ideal for his style of gardening.

His own garden, created over the last 26 years, is all smooth lines, clipped shapes and sculptured planting. Towering hedges enclose spaces lit in many shades of green. Corridors of topiary lead into new shade-dappled sections of lawn, leaf, sky and stone. Inspired by 17th century Dutch gardens, George has conjured serenity and formality from Norfolk farmland,

Away from the county he has designed lavish gardens in the United States and contemplative gardens surrounding some of the most venerated religious sites in the world. He has worked on huge stately home gardens and tiny town courtyards, the historic gardens at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, alongside the Chelsea Flower Show site (where he has won several gold medals), and the frivolous Garden of Surprises at Burghley in Lincolnshire which is packed with pools, jets, fountains and water-themed fun.

Clients include the Franciscan monks who look after gardens at holy sites in Jerusalem and Rome, Lord Heseltine, apparently a keen and knowledgeable gardener, and the trustees of Chevening House in Kent which was given to the nation and is used by the Foreign Secretary (currently Boris Johnson) as a country retreat. Here George is restoring a water cascade based on an 18th century engraving of the gardens. (Sadly the historic picture does not include a zip wire.)

George Carter's garden at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham (photo: Simon Finlay)George Carter's garden at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham (photo: Simon Finlay)

George is a maker as well as a gardener, and designs gates, urns, fountains, pools and planters for clients.

The virtually flower-free calm of his own garden is offset by a series of plant-related witticisms. A gate with a star-shape of garden tools is a homage to one of George’s landscape design heroes, Humphry Repton, whose first commission was Catton Park, just north of Norwich, and who went on to create parkland and gardens for grand estates across the country. In the former farm orchard at Silverstone trees have been marshalled into a circle and gilded apples sit on wooden posts. A segment of deep water designed as a canal doubles as a swimming pool, the classical-style Temple of Convenience is a toilet. The farm outbuildings have been incorporated too, one barn transformed into a banqueting hall with a galleried library, another a mini orangery, and outside are new farmyard gardens – with one even featuring some flowers.

Today he loves most aspects of gardening, except controlling weeds. “I think one of the most interesting things about gardening is the scale of it and how you can create an illusion of space, whether the garden is tiny or huge,” said George. “It’s a kind of architecture. And working in a garden is therapeutic too.”

Some of his favourite Norfolk gardens include those at Elsing Hall, near Dereham, at Holkham where he is working on the walled garden, and Sheringham Park, as designed by Repton. He is a writer too, specialising in garden history and design, and his next book, Setting the Scene, will be out next year to mark the bicentenary of the death of Repton, another great Norfolk gardener and writer.

See for yourself

Silverstone Farm Gardens are open through Invitation to View on Sundays, July 16 and September 10 at 2.30pm.

George Carter's canal pool at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham (photo: Simon Finlay)George Carter's canal pool at Silverstone Farm near North Elmham (photo: Simon Finlay)

Booking is essential www.invitationtoview.co.uk/properties/silverstone-farm/

George also gives four lectures a year at Silverstone. On Friday, May 19 a day focusing on Baroque gardens will include talks on Portugese and Italian gardens, plus Dutch-style British gardens and a visit to Hunworth Hall near Holt. Two more lecture days will be held in the autumn. georgecartergardens.co.uk

More from People

As the Lord Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, or Bishop Graham to his flock and many friends, prepares to retire, he bids a fond farewell to Norfolk

Read more
November 2018
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The battlefields of the Somme contain many thousands of graves for those who fell in the Great War. But only one cemetery bears the name of our county. As we prepare to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, Stacia Briggs visits Norfolk Cemetery for a very personal pilgrimage

Read more
November 2018
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A bomb blast changed Dan Majid’s life for ever. Now the Norfolk PE teacher is ready to represent his country again

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

As he prepares for the auction of the fabulous Break hares, the charity’s patron Jake Humphrey reveals he is hoping to add to his own collection of GoGo creatures

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Humans and Other Animals exhibition will mark 25 years since the artist’s death

Read more
October 2018

Whatever your age, whatever your ambition, whatever your ability, Total Ensemble creates inclusive theatre with extraordinary results both on stage and off it

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The new novel by Sarah Perry is out this month. It’s frighteningly good, writes Rowan Mantell

Read more
October 2018
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Explorer, adventurer and UEA graduate Benedict Allen is set to reveal all about his controversial Papua New Guinea expedition when he appears in Norwich this month

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

If your child has recently finished their studies and is considering what to do next, teaching English abroad can be a fantastic experience, both professionally and personally

Read more
September 2018

Tucked away in a small village, a trust is working hard to preserve a unique part of our shopping history

Read more
September 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search