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Cheap (but good quality) plant sale at Coton Manor Gardens from 4/9/12

A quick message from Coton Manor Gardens, drops into our inbox, which we think is worth sharing because we know the plants are mostly ‘home-grown’ and good quality. Look for some good-sized perennials to get the best bang for your buck. We’ll be there, re-stocking NG’s disaster garden, neglected all this summer . . .

“We are holding our customary autumn plant sale which commences on Tuesday 4th September. All our plants will be discounted by 25% and because of a relatively poor season there is much more available than is normal for this time of the year.

We will look forward to seeing you during the next few weeks – our season and the plant sale end on Saturday 29th September.

With best wishes,
 Ian and Susie Pasley-Tyler”

Coton Manor Gardens are just north of Northampton, near Guilsborough, and there’s a lovely tea shop there too.

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Gardens open for the NGS in Northamptonshire in July 2012

Castle Ashby Gardens, NN7 1LQ

Open  Sun 8 July (10-5.30) Admission:Adm £5, chd £4.50 (chd U10 free)

Facilities:   Teas and plants for sale, disabled access (gravel paths in places) dogs welcome.

Location:6m E of Northampton, between Denton & Yardley Hastings.


Description:25-acres within a 10,000 acre estate of both formal and informal gardens, incl Italian gardens with orangery and arboretum with lakes, all dating back to the 1860s
Rare breed farmyard, tea-rooms and gift shop


Hostellarie, 78 Breakleys Road,  Desborough,  Northamptonshire,  NN14 2PT

Opening dates and times: Sun 8 July (1.30-5.30)

Admission:Adm £2.50, chd free

Facilities:  Teas and plants for sale

Location:6m N of Kettering. 5m S of Market Harborough.

Description:Over 180ft long town garden divided into courtyard garden, colour themed flower beds, ponds and water features, cottage gardens, fruit and vegetable areas all linked by lawns and grass paths. Long town garden, which has seen many changes since the owners moved in over 40 years ago. Lawns and grass paths draw you through ‘rooms’ of different character, from the courtyard garden by the house to the wildlife pond at the bottom. Roses, clematis, and plenty of herbaceous perennials grow in the borders. The few vegetables grown are mainly hand-me-down heritage varieties grown by local gardeners for generations. Stella’s collection of Hostas, over thirty different varieties from the small sword-like ‘Kabitan’ to the large ‘Borwick Beauty’, are the pride of the garden.


Moulton Gardens, NN3 7UX 

Opening dates and times: Sun 8 July (11-5)

Admission:Combined adm £5, chd free

Gardens in this group:
2 Eady Close
91 Park View
Quarrybank House
Sandy Hill Farm
The Grange Garden
The Hanging Garden

Facilities:   Teas and plants for sale, disabled access, Home-made teas at WI hall, dogs welcome at some gardens

Location: Just N of Northampton.  Turn L off A43 at small r’about to Overstone Rd. Follow ‘one way’ in village centre to Church car park & The Grange car park (NN3 7UF) Further parking at garden No.6 up lane off Park View & E side of Park View (NN3 7UZ) Also from A508 via Broughton to Moulton. Follow ‘one way ‘ system to car park
Description:Moulton is a typical Northamptonshire village which has a distinctive character. There are many historic and visually interesting houses built from local stone. There are 8 beautiful gardens open to the east side of the village. These gardens vary from 3½ to ¼ acre. One garden incl a relaxing 2-acre woodland walk, another has the remains of a stream mill. Two gardens have only been re-established over the last 3yrs, but still are a blaze of colour, variety and interest. Overall, there is a good range of annual perennials, shrubs and fishponds, which will make an enjoyable and interesting visit. Dogs welcome at some gardens


Ravensthorpe Gardens, NN6 8ES. Opening dates and times:Sun 15 July (1-5)

Admission:Combined adm £4, chd free

Gardens in this group:
Mill House
Quiet Ways
Ravensthorpe Nursery
The Old Forge House

Facilities:  Teas, dogs welcome, disabled access

Location: 7m NW of Northampton. Signed from A5199 and the A428. Mill House immed on R as you turn off A428 down Long Lane. 1m from village.

Description:Attractive village in Northamptonshire uplands near to Ravensthorpe reservoir and Top Ardles Wood Woodland Trust which have bird watching and picnic opportunities. 5 very different established and developing gardens set in beautiful countryside displaying a wide range of plants, many of which are available from the Nursery, offering inspirational planting, quiet contemplation, beautiful views, gardens encouraging wildlife, fruit and vegetable gardens owned by Heritage Seed Library Guardian, rose garden and woodland walk


Rookery Barn, Water Lane,  Bradden,  Towcester,  Northamptonshire,  NN12 8FG.

Opening dates and times: Thur 19, Fri 20, Sat 21 July (2-5)

Admission:Adm £3.50, chd free

Facilities:   Teas and plants for sale, dogs welcome

Location: 3m N of Towcester.  From Greens Norton take rd to Bradden. Follow signs L into Water Lane

Description:1/3 acre plantsman’s garden in picturesque village. Extensive range of plants, many unusual. Terracotta pots with rare tender perennials, gravel and courtyard garden leads to stunning herbaceous borders
Owner artist pictures on display and for sale. Specialist plant sale


The Maltings, Clipston. LE16 9RS. Opening dates and times: Sat 21 July (2-6); Sun 22 July (11-6)

Admission:Adm £3, chd free

Facilities:   Teas, disabled access

Location: 4m S of Market Harborough, 9m W of Kettering, 10m N Northampton.
From A14 take junction 2, A508 N. After 2m turn L for Clipston. 2 houses away from Old Red Lion

Description:¾ acre sloping plantsman’s garden designed for yr round interest by the present owner. Many unusual plants, shrubs, old and new trees. Over 60 different clematis, wild garden walk, spring bulb area, over 30 different species roses, 2 ponds connected by a stream, bog garden. Fruit, vegetables and greenhouse. Swing and slide for children 

Disability information:Partial wheelchair access. Gravelled drive, some narrow paths & some steps

Further details:This sloping ¾-garden is now a plantsman’s haven. Purchased by the present owners in December 1996 the garden was mostly a boggy lawn with some good specimen trees. Building stables at the top of the hill necessitated a driveway being taken through the middle of the garden meaning a complete change. Shrubs were planted around the perimeter first, then came the productive area which has grown more extensive each year. Now two raised beds contain a variety of vegetables, with a greenhouse also for vegetables and two marvellous peach trees. Outside is a large variety of fruit trees and bushes. The perimeter was cleared to make a wild garden reached by steps and a bark path. Then came two ponds connected by a running stream followed by a change in the boggy lawn to form a bog garden with a large variety of cornus and salix amongst other unusual plants and shrubs. The other side of the drive looked dull and had a bad lawn so poles linked by heavy ropes were added for climbing roses behind which there is now a winding grass path through three shrubberies planted with unusual shrubs and perennials. There are now more than sixty different clematis and twenty different species roses in the garden. Also many unusual plants & shrubs, old and new trees together with a spring bulb area and a sunny patio and herb garden. There is plenty of seating areas to enjoy the homemade cakes, scones and teas served on open days


Bulwick Gardens,  NN17 3DZ. Opening dates and times: Sun 22 July (2-5)

Admission:Combined adm £3, chd free

Gardens in this group:
19 Church Lane
Bulwick Hall
The Shambles

Facilities:    Teas and plants for sale, dogs welcome, disabled access
Location: 10m SW of Stamford.  ½m off A43

Description:Unspoilt Northamptonshire stone conservation village. Interesting C14 church and PH. Bulwick Hall is a formal terraced 8 acre walled garden leading to river and island,50 metre double herbaceous borders, topiary, walled kitchen garden. C17 wrought iron gates, C19 orangery and C17 arcade.Peacocks and rare breed hens. 19 Church Lane is a small cottage garden with courtyard and water feature.The Shambles has an original village well, lawns, hedges and stone walls


Froggery Cottage, 85 Breakleys Road,  Desborough,  Northamptonshire,  NN14 2PT. Opening dates and times:Sun 29 July (11.30-6.30)

Admission:Adm £2.50, chd free

Facilities:  Teas and plants for sale, disabled access, dogs welcome
Location: 6m N of Kettering. 5m S of Market Harborough. Signed off A6 & A14

Description:¾-acre plantsman’s garden full of rare and unusual plants. NCCPG Collection of 435 varieties of penstemons incl dwarfs and species. Artefacts on display incl old ploughs and garden implements
Workshops throughout the day

Further details:Plantsman’s garden set in the heart of Northamptonshire close to the historical Triangular Lodge and the Naseby battlefield and divided into separate rooms. Scree garden comprises hot plants such as agapanthus, yucca, phormium, watsonia, codonopsis etc. Water garden with Chinese bridge and various aquatic plants. Ornamental herb garden. 2008


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Northamptonshire Open Gardens, Sunday July 1, 2012 – Arthingworth and Finedon

Open this Sunday for the National Gardens Scheme:

Arthingworth Village Garden, just north of Kelmarsh, south of Market Harborough, LE16 8LA

Open:Sun 1 July (2-6)

Admission:Combined adm £5, chd free

Gardens in this group:

1 Church Farm Way

1 Sunnybank

10 Oxendon Road

11 Oxendon Road

2 Hall Close

3 Church Farm Way

Bosworth House

School House

Facilities: Some disabled access, Teas and plants for sale
Description:Arthingworth is a small village off the beaten track. It has a 12th century church, village hall, manor, pub and nearly 225 villagers, 16 of whom are welcoming you into their gardens. Many others will help on the day with the cakes, cream teas, coffee and parking. This year, there are 6 new gardens, all different in spirit, tended by young, and weathered gardeners, some with stunning views, some pocket gardens, some artisan, a couple of traditional with herbaceous borders, vegetable patches and orchard, and a futurist one. A day for all tastes


Finedon Gardens, two miles north east of Wellingborough, Northants, NN9 5JN :Sun 1 July (2-6)

Admission:Combined adm £3, chd free

Gardens in this group:

11 Thrapston Road

24 Albert Road

29 Eastfield Crescent

67-69 High Street


Facilities: Disabled access, teas and plants for sale

Description:The village has a varied history dating from Roman times and evolving through farming, ironstone mining, shoe and leather manufacturing. An ancient parish church with a collection of ‘green men’ and many other historical buildings. All three gardens are very different – everything from vegetables to flowers on show. 24 Albert Road has an array of pots, containers and border plants and many cacti, boasting a period dolls house, gypsy caravan, patio and summerhouse. 67-69 High Street  is an ever evolving rear garden of1/3 acre of C17 cottage (not open). Mixed borders, many obelisks and containers. Planting for varied interest Spring to Autumn [see separate entry at 67-69 High Street]. 29 Eastfield Crescent This is a garden in 4 sections. Lawn with mixed borders and pond leading to paved area with containers, water feature and arbour seat. Fruit and vegetable garden with 2 greenhouses. Shady end section with borders and summerhouse. Front garden with varied hanging baskets and containers. 11 Thrapston Road  has a super cottage garden with mixed vegetable plot, soft fruit and apple trees, summer house and tree house.                    Large selection of home-raised plants for sale – all proceeds to the NGS

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Easton Walled Gardens – a forgotten gem brought back to life

A garden is always a labour of love, but what if your garden is 400 years old, covers 12-acres and is completely overgrown by brambles, elder and sycamore trees up to 25 feet high?

This is what faced Ursula Cholmeley in 2000. A young mother with a toddler and a new baby, she decided (and persuaded husband Fred) that the once magnificent gardens at the ancient family seat at Easton in Lincolnshire deserved to be brought back to life. And two years later they started work, having to bring two nine tonne tractors in just to remove the top growth.

Easton Park’s story is rather sad. In 1901 an imposing manor house, Easton Hall, stood proudly above the steep tiered steps down to an immaculate terrace and huge walled garden, split by an imposing 106 metre line of clipped yew, planted in 1852. Franklin D Roosevelt honeymooned there, and David Niven was a later guest.

But the hall was requisitioned by the army during World War II and the soldiers based there – from the parachute regiment – are said to have literally trashed the place, letting off live rounds in the house and throwing hand grenades into the greenhouses. Later the lead was stolen from the roof and the entire building was demolished in 1951. It was only the fact that the bulldozer broke down that the gatehouse and stables remain today. In one part of the garden, there’s a steep spoil heap where you can still see the debris from where the bulldozers simply tipped hundreds of years of British history down the hill.

After ten years of hard graft with a small team and no corporate budget, the Cholmeleys have performed a minor miracle. A hidden garden has been coaxed out from the undergrowth. There are cutting gardens with hundreds of sweet peas, billowing summer borders, lawns and steps, clipped hedging and smart pathways, leading to hidden walkways. Some of it, as you expect, is still work-in-progress and you can see the scale of the task that still faces the team.

However it is a fabulous place to visit for gardeners, or families who want a day out with room to roam and a treasure around every corner. I even found giraffes. Yes giraffes. And unlike many historic houses, children are positively encouraged to stay ON the grass: there are containers with an assortment of footballs to borrow.

The once derelict buildings that remain (you have to get your head around where the actual house once stood by reading the helpful information boards dotted around various vantage points) are now transformed into pleasant tea rooms, and you can sit on a sunny patio overlooking scented gardens. There’s even a viewing platform for great views and at the moment, a ‘swallow cam’ where you can see the feathered visitors nesting in the potting shed roof. The History Room has photographs which show the astonishing task taken on over the last decade.

It took me just over an hour to get there from Northampton, up the A43 and the A1. Entry is £6.25 or £2 for 5-15s.

You can visit the garden’s website here

All photographs and text © NorthamptonshireGardens

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Cottesbrooke Gardener’s Fair celebrates fifth anniversary in June 2012

Cottesbrooke Gardeners’ Fair (formerly the Plant Finder’s fair) is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year offering lots of plants for sale from some of the country’s most prestigious nurseries.

The Fair, held in the stunning grounds of Cottesbrooke Hall in Northamptonshire, takes place from 22-24 June and is open daily from 10:00am – 5:30pm.

Parking is promised to be better this year although visitors may have to expect some queueing seeing as it is located in a lovely rural village. Ignore the satnav and follow the signs.

Speakers are always a highlight at Cottesbrooke – and this year you can catch Helen Yemm, Chris Beardshaw, Cleve West, James Alexander Sinclair and River Cottage’s Mark Diacono sharing their wisdom. Talks are £5, bookable in advance when you buy tickets , or first come, first served on the day.  Top topiary snipper Jake Hobson will be offering wisdom for free.

In the Skills Tent will be a free rolling programme of practical, drop-in/drop-out, hands-on talks and demonstrations given by horticultural experts from Northamptonshire’s Moulton College. Subjects range from sustainable water use, allotment gardening, pests and pruning to general gardening advice. It is not necessary to book – first come, first served.

In the Inspire Tent, hosted by James Alexander-Sinclair, you can have a free 20-minute, one-to-one session with a garden designer to help you with your own garden design challenges. These are bookable on the day on a first come/first served basis.

There are over 70 hand-picked exhibitors including some of Britain’s leading specialist nurseries and growers.

There will be extra food stalls this year too, or you might want to bring a picnic to enjoy in the grounds. There’s also a chance to have a posh tea on the lawn with full china, tea and cakes.

The ticket price is £12 on the door Friday and Saturday and £10 on Sunday (it’s £9.60 or £8 in advance by calling 0845 130 7778) and children 14 and under are free. (The website booking seems to change a £2 fee, which seems to defeat the object of buying in advance).

This includes free entry to the gardens, plant shuttle, parking and Plant Swap. There is also a NGS Plant Creche for visitors, and additional car parking in place for this year.

Upon arrival to the event please do not use satnav, but follow directional signage.  If you have pre-paid tickets follow signs for the HALL CAR PARK and please have tickets ready and display rear-view mirror hanger.  Visitors who wish to buy tickets on the day must follow signs for the AVENUE CAR PARK.

It’s a lovely day out if you love your plants. We’d recommend taking plenty of cash for your purchases. And perhaps a brolly, although we hope you won’t need it.

Here’s a link to pictures from last year’s Cottesbrooke Plant Finder’s Fair

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Diarmuid Does it Again: Show stealing pyramid dominates press day at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Diarmuid Gavin’s big slide

IT’S that time again, garden designers and plantsmen are in a state of panic as Chelsea Flower Show press day arrives.

An strangely subdued air to this year’s build-up – there are 16 large show gardens and Main Avenue seems somewhat empty.

Brewin Dolphin

But what is there is pretty spectacular. On the first corner as you come in from Garden Gate past the Royal Hospital is Cleve West’s Brewin Dolphin (that’s a company by the way) garden.

Next is Joe Swift’s Homebase Teenage Cancer Trust garden. The designer was banned from presenting the BBC’s usual nightly coverage this year, as were all the presenters who are exhibiting, on the grounds of impartiality. (They are probably quite busy and knackered too.)

Thomas Hoblyn’s Arthritis Research Garden has some impressively tall skinny cypress trees as its backdrop.

Joe Swift for Homebase

Andy Sturgeon’s M&G garden comes next, with its copper rings coming out of the water feature. Lovely planting though.

Arne Maynard has returned to Chelsea this year after a 12 year absence for Laurent-Perrier, and although the pink punctuation is gorgeous, it was looking a little floppy on Monday morning.

Sarah Price’s Telegraph Garden next door is quite muted, but again the plants are the star.

Across the path is the RBC Blue Water Garden (which I read as the BBC Blue Peter Garden on first glance), by Olympic Park designer Professor Nigel Dunnett, with a distinctive conical-roofed seating area.

Joe Swift, in there somewhere

Don’t miss Jo Thompson’s gorgeous Celebration of Caravanning garden on the opposite side of the run, with so much delicious planting crammed into the space it seems Doris the caravan might never actually hit the road.

Across from Jo is Adam Frost’s Land’s End: a Rural Muse, which apparently draws inspiration from Northamptonshire’s own 19th century wandering poet John Clare.

Coming down to the end of Main Avenue all eyes shoot upwards. You simply cannot avoid the ridiculously huge and rather scary-looking pyramid offering from the ever-adventurous Diarmuid Gavin. Which has a slide from the top. It simply has to be seen to be believed, the scale of it is so enormous. I feel slightly sorry for the Quiet Time:

DMZ Forbidden Garden which is simply dwarfed on what is usually the key site.

Thomas Hoblyn for Arthritis Research


All words and pictures © Northamptonshire Gardens

Jo Thompson for the Caravan Club

Telegraph Garden

Arne Maynard Laurent-Perrier

M&G garden by Andy Sturgeon

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New opening for the NGS at Collingtree, August 21

A new opening for the National Gardens Scheme charity this weekend as Jenny and Jim Redmond open Karell House, Collingtree Park, Northamptonshire, NN4 0PB on Sunday between 12noon and 5pm.

A large garden next to Collingtree golf course and the brook, the well-loved garden has manicured lawns, tree peonies, herbaceous borders and many shrubs and unusual plants. There are teas and cakes for sale and there is access for wheelchairs except for by the river bank.

Follow sign to Collingtree Park Golf Course, left onto winding Brook Lane, third right onto Turnberry Lane, first right onto Belfrey Lane

AS the gardening season comes to an end there are still a handful of openings in September, and most of the big homes and gardens stay open to the public until October to show off the autumnal colours.

One up and coming event worth marking in your diary is being held on September 3-4.

Althorp’s Garden Art Weekend, includes talks by garden experts Nick Hamilton from Barnsdale and local boy James Alexander Sinclair. There will also be ‘live’ wood carving by chainsaw artists Peter Schwartz and Carrie Yeun. More info to come.


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No NGS gardens open this week, but look out for Hollowell and the new opening of Wrest Park near Bedford

Apologies for Northamptonshire Gardens’s absence in recent days – school holidays and a lack of openings to talk about to blame.

There are no openings this week for the NGS, but diary Sunday August 14 as it sees the new summer opening of Hollowell Gardens just north of Northampton, NN6 8RR (for those sat navs).

The three gardens are open between 11am-3pm, and feature a plantsman’s garden, orchards and vegetables, a model railway and a traditional garden with a lily pond dating back to the 1930s. There will be plants for sale and of course, delicious tea and cake.

The gardens are:

Ivy Cottage


Wrest Park Gardens now open.

Also now open for those who enjoy a stroll around a country estate is the magnificent Wrest Park near Bedford (MK45 4HR).

This amazing garden is being lovingly restored in several styles by English Heritage and there’s plenty to see for all the family. It’s not been open to the public for many years and is a welcome addition to the magnificent collection of gardens in the Midlands. Open Thursday-Monday, 10-6 until October. Visit Wrest Park for further information.

Northamptonshire Gardens will be posting more about the renovation project soon.

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Coton Manor holds special evening opening for British Red Cross

Coton Manor Gardens will be opening the garden on the evening of Tuesday, 2nd August from 6.30 – 8.30 pm in aid of the Northamptonshire Branch of the British Red Cross.

The entrance price of £10 will include a glass of wine and light refreshments …. and hopefully the opportunity to enjoy the garden in the early evening light.

The gardens are also open to the public noon-5.30, Tuesday to Saturday.



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Open gardens in Northants, July 10, 2011

If you didn’t get Grand Prix tickets and fancy something a little quieter, open for the NGS charity this Sunday are the historic gardens at Castle Ashby Gardens, Northampton, Northamptonshire, NN7 1LQ, between 10am and 5.30pm.

Castle Ashby has 25 acres within its 10,000 acre estate just off the Bedford Road, with formal and informal gardens including an orangery, lakes and arboretum, dating back 150 years. Teas and plants for sale!

Also open are the lovely private gardens at Ravensthorpe Gardens, Ravensthorpe, Northamptonshire, NN6 8ES, open on Sunday between 1-5pm.

There are five interesting gardens open in Ravensthorpe including a plant nursery, woodland walks, vegetable and fruit gardens, roses and wonderful views.

Ravensthorpe Nursery
Mill House
The Old Forge House
Quiet Ways

Home-made teas at the village hall.

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