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Our Short Break in Stratford-on-Avon – Part 4 – Coughton Court

On our return journey from Stratford afforded us the opportunity to return to explore the gardens of the National Tust property, Coughton Court, a garden we had not visited for many years, so we looked forward to seeing how our memories of the place matched up with the reality.

Coughton Court is the family home of the Throckmorton family, who continue to maintain and develop the garden and grounds as well as the house itself.

In particular, we remember the walled rose garden which is often quoted as being one of the most romantic gardens in the UK which is of course the land of romantic gardens. We could both remember this area which was full of scented roses, many old-fashioned varieties, and its beautiful statue of a female figure. I can even remember the beautifully soft subtle planting around its base of Sedum sectabile and Stip tenuissima. I hoped that planting still remained.

The introductory set of eight photos below illustrate the variety of points of interest at Coughton. They show the beauty of the buildings themselves, the rose garden, bog garden, orchards, woodland, riverside walk etc

The Throckmorton family rose garden was developed in 1966 and was designed by a Chelsea RHS Show award-winning garden designer, Christina Williams. What makes ir si special and different to traditional rose gardens is the way the roses are heavily underplanted with herbaceous perennials. The statue is of Fair Rosamund, a beauty of the 12th century and reputedly the mistress of King Henry II. The popular ancient rose, Rosa mundi was named after her and specimens are planted around the statue. The gentle planting of my memories has sadly been superseded.

There was so much to enjoy in this rose garden that it is best to look at following a gallery of photos that I took within its bounds. Click on the first photo and then navigate with the arrows.

Moving on from the rose garden and its rich sites and aromas, we found our way into a much more open space which presented a pleasant contrast to the business of the rose garden. Here a rectangular lawn was edged with herbaceous borders, planted with Gertrude Jekyl style gentle end of the spectrum plant choices. We enjoyed a slow amble among each side, appreciating the individual plants, plant combinations and the bigger picture of looking right along the length of each border.


It is always good to visit a garden with many different aspects and the gardens at Coughton Court manages to certainly provide lots of different styles of garden to enjoy. Here are few shots showing different aspects I haven’t the space to share. Enjoy!




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Coton Manor – an atmospheric gem.

Coton Manor Gardens are so full of atmosphere. Ten acres of hillside gardens are landscaped to give variety throughout the year on this Northamptonshire estate. There are streams, fountains and ponds, a bluebell wood and meadows. We have visited this romantic garden a few times already but decided to visit again in July of 2016.

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Honey coloured stonework make the buildings look warm and welcoming and entering the drive after a short walk from the car park we noticed climbers covering every wall. We entered a cosy courtyard on our right which gave us the chance of refreshments and a peruse of the nursery tables. A surprise here for everyone was the resident Hyacinth Macaw who greets each visitor on arrival with a loud screech!


The garden itself is designed around a series of garden rooms separated by yew and holly hedges, and each room has its own special character and atmosphere, which makes for a refreshing garden walkabout. Leaving one room you don’t know what to expect next. Close to the house courtyards featuring half-hardy plants such as Pelargonium and Salvia make for a colourful start to our wanderings. Share our wanderings through these areas by following the gallery below. (click on the first photo and navigate through by clicking on right hand arrow)


We passed through an archway surrounded by scented pink roses and from there moved on to the Rose Garden and then wandered into an area of woodland shade garden complete with a small stream.

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Some very unusual and interesting plants came to our attention in the wooded and streamside gardens, all beautifully lit by the rays of the sun penetrating the tree canopy.

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Steps, paving and walls of warm limestone appeared throughout the garden affording ideal places for wall plants to get a hold.

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I will finish this report on our visit to the romantic garden at Coton Manor with a few more photos which I particularly enjoyed taking. I hope you like the salmon pink plumaged flamingoes which had free range of the garden but mostly seemed to enjoy sleeping with their head hidden beneath their wings,

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Croft Castle month by month – July

It was getting towards the end of July so was time for our monthly visit to see what had changed throughout the garden at Croft Castle. The weather certainly wasn’t what we expected in July, as rain fell intermittently and temperatures failed to rise much above the mid-teens.

The first big change in the garden was in the long border we have to pass on every visit on our way to the walled garden.

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Our first view of the walled garden convinced us that we were in for a colourful time.

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The beautiful pink poker like flowers of this Francoa caught our eyes in the borders opposite the grape vines, which were now showing the first signs of little bunches of tiny bright green grapes.

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July was definitely the month for Crocosmias and Japanese Anemones. Crocosmias provided hot colours to enjoy while the Anemones gave us the cooler colours.

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On the north wall Nicotiana and Dahlias were flowering well among a mixture of flowering shrubs, annuals and perennials. Buddlejas were already flowering and we hope to see each bush covered in long racemes of butterfly-attracting blooms on our next couple of visits. Let us hope the sun is out then so that all the wildlife that loves Buddleja will be out seeking nectar and pollen.

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Apples were beginning to show the first signs of ripening as they blush a little. Close by there were plenty of Figs forming on the plants grown close to the walls for extra protection. The borders along this side of the walled garden were mostly blue and white.

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There were few Rose flowers to be seen on this visit but perennials did make up for it, with Morinia, Geraniums and herbaceous Clematis taking centre stage.

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The veggie beds were looking good with healthy rows of salad crops and the newly created willow walkway was coming on nicely.

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Views looking over the perennial plantings in the main borders towards the castle and its surrounding buildings showed the softness of the plantings.

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The final part of our monthly tour involved us leaving the shelter of the walled garden with its own special micro-climate and wandering towards the castle followed by a walk around the perimeter of the building. We noticed that the old Walnut tree is now loaded with green shelled nuts so it looks as if it may produce an impressive harvest in the autumn. Our next visit to Croft Castle will be our August one so we will be able to see if the nuts are still developing.

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Croft Castle month by month – Part 5 May

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We are almost half way through the year now so we were expecting to see some big changes at Croft on our May visit.

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We made our May visit to Croft Castle on a warm sunny day so everything in the garden looked colourful and full of cheer. The leaves were fully out on all the trees and herbaceous plants were beginning to flower.

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The long border we always pass as we make our way towards the walled garden is now lush with every shade of green with occasional splashes of flower colour. Our view from the long border towards the church and castle is framed beautifully by trees in full leaf. The Horse Chestnuts were in full blossom. They are beautiful flowers when looked at close up.

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On the walls of the buildings close to the walled garden roses were in full bloom.

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As we passed through the gateway into the waled garden we were amazed by how much the first view had changed. It simply looked so green and lush.

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For the first time this year the vineyard at Croft was showing signs of growth with shining bronze-green leaves bursting from every bud.

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We expected to see major changes as we walked through the blue gates to look at the greenhouse and the surrounding garden. Bright reds of poppies hit us first but close by these cute bantams were definitely new. We certainly found plenty of colour in the greenhouse as plants under cover were flowering way ahead of their normal time.

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Leaving the greenhouse area back through the blue gates we could see that the productive gardens had made a lot of progress since our visit in April. Gooseberries were fruiting and rows of vegetable plants were now established. The sunshine brought out the colours in the borders along the walls.

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We just had to stop to admire these beautifully pollarded willows, now regrowing strongly. The Cirsium rivulare was in full bloom and looked good against the old garden buildings.

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Along the fourth side of the walled garden the light was so bright that colours seemed extra vibrant and exciting.

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For the first time this year there was interest in the Rose Garden with groundcover beneath the roses in flower and indeed the first roses were open and giving the gift of their scent to anyone passing by.

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After leaving the walled garden we wandered around castle itself where we enjoyed tempting views over the meadows to the lake and countryside beyond.

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The open gate into the meadows was just too tempting for us. We followed a mown path through the wildflowers.

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Croft is well-known for its ancient Sweet Chestnut trees. We were fascinated by the texture of the bark on this group.

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Our next visit in June will be the half way mark through our year of visiting Croft Castle gardens.



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A Garden of Roses

The Renaissance Garden

Today we visited the display gardens at David Austin Roses for an assault on our senses. The mixed scent of hundreds of roses hits you as you enter the garden from the nursery and shop. To begin with we lift each bloom to be smelt, each one delicious in its own way – some fruity, citrus in particular, some myrrh, some hinting at vanilla. Before long too much olfactory sensation means numbness of the nose!

But we just carry on letting our eyes take in the hugely varied colours and shapes of the blooms and foliage.
The display gardens feature a Renaissance Garden, a Victorian Garden and the Lion Garden all leading off from the Long Garden.
As we wander we notice most visitors have catalogues and are making lists of their desires, just as we did when we first moved to Avocet. Next step for them will be a tea break when they can get the list to manageable proportions. Today was a perfect day for choosing roses as there was a level of warmth and humidity under overcast skies that enhance the aromas and enrich colours.
When we were rose buying for our newly acquired garden at Plealey we bought mostly climbing versions of the New English Roses such as Falstaff, Shropshire Lad and  Wenlock as we were trying to add the dimension of height to our back garden.
Lady of Shalott

Today we went with a different agenda and a David Austin Voucher to spend. We were seeking a bright zingy rose to plant in the Hot Garden which currently seems too yellow. We decided on the rose, the Lady of Shalott, having been tempted by her orange-red buds which when open reveal a golden orange flower and a scent described as a blend of cloves and spiced apple.

All told a wonderful afternoon out – a good cup of coffee and a good rose to accompany us home.