2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Graham Robeson OBE and Alan Gray purchasing the Old Vicarage at East Ruston in Norfolk. They are using this anniversary to announce that they have decided to leave their house and garden to the charity Perennial in their wills. It is their wish that their garden should continue in perpetuity, be cared for and open to visitors and to raise monies for Perennial to benefit people in horticulture and all those that appreciate the benefits that nature has to offer.
“Having looked at Perennial’s gardens and admired the way in which they are cared for, we have decided upon our deaths to bequeath the garden and East Ruston Old Vicarage to Perennial. It is our wish that the garden be cared for and open to visitors in perpetuity and raises vital funds to support people in horticulture. We look forward to the future with confidence that long after we have gone East Ruston Old Vicarage and its garden will go from strength to strength, its future ensured for the benefit of gardeners and all those that appreciate the benefits that nature has to offer,” say Alan Gray and Graham Robeson.
East Ruston Old Vicarage was built in 1913, just before the outbreak of the First World War. It was bought by Graham and Alan in 1973 and over the past 50 years it has been enlarged and improved from a Vicarage with around two acres of garden to the 32-acre garden and parkland that we see today.
Great emphasis has been applied to the attraction of wildlife and today this oasis in a prairie landscape is home to many bird species as well as other mammals and invertebrates. These share Herbaceous Borders, Exotic Gardens, a Sunken Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Desert Wash and large Woodland Garden amongst others.
Both Alan and Graham have links to Norfolk. Alan was born in South Norfolk and by the age of seven had three gardens, one at each of his grandparents houses and one at his parents’ home. Graham was born in Hertfordshire but spent school holidays at his grandparents home in Happisburgh, the coastal village that is next to East Ruston. He appreciates that as a child the villages and general area had much more shelter from the elements than it does today. This has had a marked influence on the garden being wildlife friendly. Ponds, banks, hedges, the odd copse of trees, even log piles are all incorporated into the design of this wildlife haven.
There is an on-going project of the developing Arboretum where many rare and unusual trees are establishing adjacent to the Orchard of heritage fruit trees, many originating from the eastern counties. The Arboretum is the site for the twice-yearly Plant Fairs that attract both buyers and sellers from far and wide, these are held twice a year in June and September.
Peter Newman, Perennial’s Chief Executive, says: “We are delighted that East Ruston Old Vicarage will, one day, be one of our gardens and are so thankful to Graham and Alan for trusting Perennial to look after their beautiful creation for future generations of garden lovers.”
Perennial owns and manages three legacy gardens: York Gate Garden near Leeds, Fullers Mill and The Laskett . East Ruston Old Vicarage is the second additional garden, along with Mona’s Garden in north London, to be pledged to Perennial by its creators.
Help build better futures for people in horticulture by visiting East Ruston Old Vicarage and Perennial’s gardens. For further information about leaving gifts in your Will go to perennial.org.uk/legacies.