Wells-Next-The-Sea

It has been effortless to stay at home over the past year, which, for many reasons, has been great. I’ve been able to get on with the house and garden, and I have been really pleased with how things have progressed.

It is still essential to get out and search for inspiration. This weekend my wife and I have left the children with their grandparents and headed off to Well-Next-the-Sea. While not far from home, Wells is a world away in terms of aesthetics and role within the community. While Wells, like most North Norfolk towns, now cater for affluent day-trippers and holidaymakers, it has a history in fishing poverty and is still an active fishing port. The town holds onto its hard-working history in its architecture and fishing harbour; it now hosts plenty of quirky shops full of fishing memorabilia priced accordingly towards its better off-target audience. All of this is nestled between, in and around small fisherman’s cottages and old large industrial buildings.

Places like Wells offer inspiration to the travelling gardener. The town mashes together function, necessity, intent and opportunity into a wonderfully beautiful dishevelled mess of buildings and hidden gardens. It’s not always clear where one building turns into the next, and even weeds add to the aesthetic.

The small streets running between the main roads offer the most exciting views. Homes are built on top of homes with little regard for planning. Small fisherman cottages are squeezed into tiny gaps, and even smaller gardens spill out into the road or whatever passes for a road. Gardens are crammed into small spaces between house and road, some intentionally designed to look rustic, others appear to be made of self-seeded opportunistic plants from nearby gardens.

One would expect the result to look like an uncoordinated mess; instead, it gives the eye something to work with and explore and enjoy. There is inspiration here. Inspiration to relax and let nature be spontaneous, not trying and controlling everything in the garden, embracing soft edges and allowing a little mess; you never know, it may just work and be pleasing to the eye.

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