Last chance to visit bluebell woods…..

Cold weather has held back the bluebells this year. They are still looking glorious. Last chance to visit Coton Manor tomorrow.  Here’s some photos from our visit today. As usual, we started with a picnic. Spreading our rugs under the branches of some apple trees, we  tucked into home-made bread and warming soup, followed by an array of cakes and shortbread. A great start to our garden visit.

Our little haven can be found at the far end of the car park. Funnily enough, we’d never noticed the orchard before. But full of blossom today, we could hardly miss it. Next we set out to visit the bluebells.

As you can see, the bluebells are at their peak of perfection. It’s a sight I’ll hold in my memory until next spring. That blue, with the unfurling lime green leaves, and the honey scent. Just glorious!

We found the dogs’ graves. What a peaceful resting place.

The gardens always provide breathtaking planting, deserving of a separate post. But for now, here’s a taster of what we found.  Luckily the wisteria escaped any damage from the recent hard frosts.

I love this view from the terrace steps.

I wrote about visits to bluebell woods here mentioning Coton Manor  and Hodsock Priory .  For more information click on the highlighted words. Also look at the Woodland Trust website for bluebell woods all over the country.  Be quick to visit. They are at their best right now.


First picnic of the season. We visited Hodsock Priory for the bluebells.

No picnic is complete without jam jar flowers- and chocolate cake.

And this is the glorious view. 

I wrote about Hodsock snowdrops here. Also a must-visit for bluebells. Last chance to see them this coming weekend 6th and 7th May, 10-3pm. I’ve shared more photos over on twitter @kgimson. 

Do you have any favourite bluebell woods you like to visit? Are you a fan of picnics? 

A visit to Coton Manor

My car could probably drive itself to Coton Manor. The route is so familiar. I’ve been  visiting  the garden for about 20 years. And each time I learn something new. I  take a pen and paper to make a note of planting combinations. I always have to walk around the garden in the same direction. First, the top terrace, by the garden school, where there’s beautiful terracotta pots of seasonal plants. Tulips today, mass planted in a single colour. Then on through the rose and lavender garden. Through the arch to the top woodland walk. Down the slope, following the stream, watching the ferns unfurling, spotting a patch of erythronium dogs tooth violets and some maroon tipped trilliums. Crossing over the  rill, we walk through the wildflower meadow- full of cowslips and camassias.  Not horticultural matters, I know, but the little speckled bantams that live at the bottom of the stream garden are such a delight to see. We chuckle over their  fluffy feathered legs, and their funny little ways. Today, one spots a fly, and zigzags crazily through the orchard, neck outstretched to catch the tasty morsel. There’s flamingoes. Puzzling when first encountered.  But a treat to look forward to on every subsequent visit. They are seemingly colour-coordinated with the orange pink tulips along the stream bank. Today we walked through the bluebell woods.  We stood still and just gazed. A sea of blue, set against the smooth grey beech trees. And then, the scent. We store up such glory- to last the whole year. Until next time.  

Coton Manor’s five acre bluebell wood- open until 15th May 12 noon to 5.30

I am always drawn to houses built with the warm honey coloured Northamptonshire stone.  The original Manor House was destroyed during the Civil War and rebuilt in 1662, using  stone salvaged from nearby Holdenby House.  The current owner’s grandparents moved to Coton in 1926, extended the house and created the bones of the current 10 acre garden. A history of the house and gardens has been written by Ann Benson, available through the Coton manor website 


We always hope to be in time for the wisteria flowering. Such a glorious scent.


The lavender-edged terrace garden has Tulip Elegant Lady and double late peony flowered Black Hero. Soon there will be geraniums, erysimum and heucheras to cover the bulb foliage. The garden school is on the right. Courses still available (at time of publication) this summer are by Sarah Price, Tom Duncan,Johnathan and Peter Gooch, Martyn Rix, Brian Ellis, Rosy Hardy and the owner Susie Pasley-Tyler.

Tulip Black Hero- a double peony flowering form   

I always find plenty of inspiration for container planting. This is my favourite at Coton, the copper urn and Spring Green Tulips.


Tulip Yellow Spring Green. New to me and something I will try this year.   
ELegant Lady Tulip. Reliable and  lives up to its name.

fringed Blue Heron tulip. Such a colour!

Honesty (Lunaria annua) An unusual bi coloured form.

iris – possibly Plum Tart. 
Plants, seeds and bulbs can be purchased at the nursery. The garden opens Tuesday to Saturday 12 noon to 5.30  from 25th March to 1st October. Mum and I have bought season tickets, which means we can visit the garden through the changing seasons and obtain lots of planting inspiration. 

Do you have a favourite garden that you like to visit? What planting inspiration have you found?  Please leave a comment so that I know I’m not talking to myself here.