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Bluebell bliss

Gardening writer Hilary Scott takes Bonnie to Coton Manor Gardens…

The late afternoon sunshine dapples through the trees at Coton Manor Gardens, illuminating a carpet of violet blue and vivid green. And there’s nothing to match the scent of an English bluebell wood in May. It makes you breathe deeper; slower. It’s therapeutic.

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For a new gardener, or even a mature specimen, a visit to Coton should ignite your enthusiasm. Even for those of us with a less grand patch of soil there are ideas everywhere. From the willow walkway to the water cascade, formal borders and herb parterre, you can see plants you love and ones you’ve never seen before. And in May the bluebell wood is at its best – especially when combined with tea and cake in the stableyard cafe after your walk.

Coton Manor has been in the same family for a century, and Susie and Ian Paisley-Tyler work tirelessly to keep their extraordinary 10-acre garden open to the public as much as possible, maning the entry gates and plant sales alongside the handful of helpful horticultural staff. It’s a lovely enterprise and worth the £7 entry fee (5-17s are £2.50) and season tickets are a bargain. Children will love the unexpected flamingoes, free range ducks and chickens and you will inevitably leave with lots of plants and plans for your plot.

Coton Manor Gardens, NN6 8RQ, is open Tues-Sat from 12 noon until September.

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