a stately visit . friday flowers and four favourite photos of the week.

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On Thursday afternoon I went with a couple of friends on a visit to Cottesbrooke Hall just over the border in Northamptonshire.  It is a very grand house built in 1702 in the Queen Anne style and reputed to be the inspiration for Jane Austens Mansfield Park. 

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At the front of the house the Park style has long vistas and beautiful views, but  the surrounding gardens are  smaller and more intimate.  There was something indefinable about the crumbling brickwork and overgrown planting that I found really pleasing.  The gardens have been restored in the Italian Renaissance style, various garden designers have been called in and their work is stunning.

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The kiss of the sun for pardon

The song of the sun for mirth

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth

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August isn’t really the best time to visit gardens, as everything is starting to go over, but there are still some interesting plants to be found.

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These Monarda were stunning – and I have to say that this was a very bee-friendly garden, they were everywhere especially on the Erygium

SDC18363 SDC18366 One thing I have learned is to put your scent-leaf geranium in containers waist high then you can bury your nose in amongst them and get drunk on their gorgeous fragrance.

 

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This border was filled with Cosmos, Nigella, plum coloured poppies and dahlias plus this lovely white flower with a blue centre (any ideas what is is – the name Spraxia comes to mind but I could just be making this up).

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This is the cafe which used to be the old Laundry Room and this is the seating area outside where we had the obligatory pot of tea and a piece of cake.

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The black pool which gives perfect reflections

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A beautiful pergola covered in vines.

 

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There was just something about Cottesbrooke that I couldn’t put my finger on, that made it really special.  The gardens weren’t over-gardened – the borders looking a bit scruffy and overgrown – but it had a lovely atmosphere – very regal and formal in some parts, but in others it was just like stepping back into the past.

On the way home we got lost as usual and found ourselves on a gated road where this herd of bullocks were taking shelter in the shade of a tree, all except one who was obviously being ostracized for some reason.

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Then we passed a flock of young pheasant who scuttled off pretty sharpish at our approach.

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We eventually found the right road and headed for home, or at least we thought we were until we came across a huge tailback of traffic caused by an accident, so we had to turn round and take a detour and home seemed even further away.  Panic was setting in and deep-breathing was required – who said women were useless at map-reading!  Whoever they were, they were right.



These are my four favourite photos from the week – synchronised swimming cygnets at Wistow Park,  so many Peacock Butterflies on the Buddleia, the view across the Mowsley Hills towards the village of Saddington and a baby Sparrow on the fence (the garden is swamped with them at the moment).

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And, finally, the Friday flowers – mostly Cosmos and Sweet Peas – but I am picking Zinnia from the cutting patch which certainly brighten up my day.

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Hope this post has brightened up your day too – have a good weekend.

Comments

  1. I love the monarda photo - it's a plant I am considering.

    I think the flower with the dark centre is an acidanthera. I've tried growing them but after planting none came up!

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    1. The Monarda looked fantastic in the borders - I have tried, not very successfully, to grow them myself - but may give them another go as they provide some great colour at this time of year.

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  2. What a beautiful place. I love gardens that are more relaxed, they have such a wonderful atmosphere. xx

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    1. I definitely have to agree with you on that one, but it was nice to see the formal and the not-so-formal in the garden, as a contrast.

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  3. I agree with the identification as acidanthera, beautiful plants but they need better drainage than we can offer here - mine flowered last year but I don't think they've reappeared this year at all, sadly!

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    1. They did look stunning in the borders but I never seem to do very well with bulbs unless they are in containers.

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  4. Thank you for identifying the Monards - I saw a bed of them at Trentham Gardens last week and wondered what they were. I love the unkempt look of the courtyard gardens at Cottesbrook Hall; it looks such a lovely place to visit. Your Friday flowers are very pretty, we planted zinnias and cosmos this year. The cosmos are doing splendidly but I'm afraid the zinnias fell foul of the slugs:)

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    1. I didn't get any Zinnia last year for the same reason, so I took extra care this year - I just love their colours, not subtle at all.

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  5. Oh my, I simply LOVED the house, gardens and cafe. Like you I enjoyed the crumbling walls and tangled borders.

    Your four favourite pics are awesome, I loved the peacock and the baby sparrow, and how wonderful that your garden has so many, especially as they are endangered now.

    Your posies are a delight, as always.xxxx

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    1. It has been a good year for sparrows round here - I love to see them even if they wake me up early in the morning.

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  6. What a posh place! Looks lovely and I really like the monarda - a plant I always mean to acquire and never have. Well done for only having one piece of cake. Dave

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    1. Yes, it was seriously posh, we could have taken a tour of the house but it was too nice to be indoors, and the gardens were worth it.

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  7. Another beautiful English house and garden. You have so many beautiful historic places. Do you know that the Acidantheras have a lovely fragrance and that these are bulbs. Your favourite photos of the week are wonderful, especially the view across Mowsley hill. When I see this scene I long to go on walking holidays again in your country.

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    1. No I didn't realise the Acidantheras were fragrant but I know they are in the Gladiolus family. It is very hilly around where we live it would give your leg muscles plenty of exercise.

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  8. You have certainly brightened my day.. what a beautiful garden you visited. I love the contrast between the structure, the lovely old walls and the pergola, and the soft planting.

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    1. That is exactly how I would have described it a garden of contrasts.

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  9. The gardens look beautiful. I'd also rather visit gardens that are less formal and relaxed; so often these grand gardens are too managed and 'cold' for me. I love the black pool and its reflections and I love the little Sparrow too, you are lucky to have so many. The flowers are lovely.

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    1. The black pool was stunning and perfectly shaped, it looked a bit scarey though as you couldn't be sure just how deep it was.

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  10. What a delightful post, and wonderful pictures.
    I like that these gardens have a decidedly lived-in look rather than being pristine, which always seems a touch artificial to me. I especially like the border with the cosmos, etc. and the white flowers with a blue centre look like Abyssinian Gladiolus (Acidanthera). Flighty xx

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    1. I liked that border too but somehow one or two orange dahlias had crept in which stood out like sore thumbs.

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  11. Cottesbrooke Hall seems to be a magnificent place with, as you say, something that makes it very special. From your pictures, I wonder if this something is not in part the formality of the setting, with hedges beautifully trimmed, which contrasts with the relaxed planting to create a special effect.
    Whatever it is, it works beautifully.

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    1. You are right Alain it was probably the contrasts which appealed and made it special.

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  12. Right, I'm looking up how far it is to Cottesbrooke Hall - it looks like just my kind of garden xx

    btw some of my scented leaf geraniums are displayed in my Auricula Theatre (old wardrobe with shelves in it) next to where we sit to eat outdoors - I can stroke the leaves and enjoy the different scent and look at the incredibly pretty flowers as I sip my G&T :-)

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    1. I love these geraniums, the flowers are understated but pretty, as you say, I cannot resist them. I have one that smells of Coca-cola. I need to raise mine up to an easier sniffing level.

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  13. Oh, I'm so enjoying your jaunts, Elaine. So many lovely summery things from gardens to wide expanses of green.

    What a smart idea to raise the height of scented geraniums! Mine grows right next to a path and quite often brushes visitors' ankles, releasing their peppery fragrance. But here in my climate, they are almost impossible to eradicate or move because they grow back too easily!

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    1. The only problem is to find a container that is high enough - not an easy task - I will be taking lots of cutting from my two plants in the hope of increasing my stocks enough to fill a large container.

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  14. I love your photos and even though things are starting to go off in places I really like this time of year. x

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    1. I like the late summer flowers that are now showing off - cosmos, rudbeckia etc. I'm always grateful I remembered to sow the seeds so that I am now reaping the benefits.

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  15. Whenever you show these classic English gardens Elaine, I find myself hoping to tour England when hubby finally retires. Won't I go crazy taking pictures! What a lot of work it must take to keep those evergreens in the first image so perfectly clipped. I like the idea of putting scent-leaf geranium in containers waist high. You miss the fragrance of the leaves when they are at ground level.
    Of the four favourite shots I like the Peacock butterflies because they are so unique looking. Butterflies in my garden are not nearly so colorful... and speaking of colorful what lovely bouquets in this post. Late summer flowers are my favourites for bouquets.

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    1. If it's one thing we do have plenty off in England it's lots of beautiful buildings with wonderful gardens - I am sure you would be in your element Jennifer and your camera-clicking finger would be on fire.

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  16. How very lovely. I miss the stately old homes and gardens of the UK and the sense of civiled peace they brought, an antidote to the pace of life. Your Friday flowers glow with wellbeing.

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    1. Hi Mise, thanks for visiting - it's hard to imagine that people actually live in these ancient old houses, and that they are willing to let the common rabble walk round their garden.

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  17. It looks like a very interesting place to visit. I mus add it to my list :-)

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