Garden designers' '32-acre paradise' created over 50 years will be left to charity

  • Watch a video report by ITV News Anglia's Natalie Gray

A stunning private garden set over 32 acres of land will be left to a charity by the owners who have tended to it for half a century.

Alan Gray and Graham Robeson, the owners of East Ruston Old Vicarage, near Happisburgh in north Norfolk, have announced they will leave their gardens in their wills to Perennial, a charity that supports people working in horticulture.

The couple are both approaching 77 years old and told ITV News Anglia that it was a topic of conversation that often comes up when people visit the popular garden.

"Both Graham and I have had people coming up to us.

This is the kind of scenario you get, [people asking] 'We're wondering what's going to happen to the garden..." said Mr Gray.

The gardens have been a labour of love for Alan Gray and his husband Graham Robeson Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I said, 'you mean when we die?!' And they say 'well we didn't like to say so'. But it got us to start thinking about it."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of them buying the Old Vicarage for just £20,000 but when the couple first purchased the property there was no garden at all.

"It was not in a particularly good state, it needed to be loved again," said Mr Robeson.

The couple bought the Arts and Crafts property back in 1973. Credit: Alan Gray and Graham Robeson

Fast forward 50 years and the glorious gardens - all designed to be different - have attracted visitors from far and wide.

"It's very satisfying for us that having created this somewhat large garden, I think you could say is that it's managed well and stays open and it's there for people to enjoy." said Mr Gray.

The gardens are just a mile-and-a-half from the north Norfolk coast Credit: ITV News Anglia

Peter Newman, the chief executive of the charity Perennial, said the popular parkland would be kept open for visitors.

"It's almost impossible to imagine how you could go from nothing 50 years ago to this 32-acre paradise that they've created, with all its variety and all its beauty.

"So we're thrilled."

The incredible gardens will be kept open to the public, says the charity Perennial Credit: ITV News Anglia

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