Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden

Topiary, tree fern and summer flowers in Cothay Manor's courtyard garden

Flowers spilled from a stone planter in the courtyard

One of the nicest things about blogging is the ability to share a peek into a magical place. I’d not be surprised to hear that even some of the people who have visited Cothay Manor have left without experiencing the courtyard garden. I happened upon it as if by mistake on my second or third circuit of the garden. It seemed such an intimate space that I asked the lady quietly gardening there whether visitors were welcome.

Path through topiary, rock stack, seating to Cothay Manor

Accessories included pieces of stone balanced on a wooden pillar

She assured me I was welcome and we talked a little about roses. The walls of the manor are clothed with roses and other vines, including Rosa mutabilis trained as a magnificent climber which I had not seen done before. We’d missed seeing most of the roses in full flower, but there was plenty more to admire.

The courtyard garden was so amply accessorised and planted that only a narrow path led through to the manor house. It was hard to know where to tread. An artful combination of Verbascum with love-in-a-mist foliage and seed heads appeared to grow out of the gravel and pavement; Erigeron actually did.  Topiary lent a little formality, in an Alice Through The Looking Glass fashion, while a tree fern and other tender plants paid tribute to the shelter that walls and a thoughtful gardener can provide.

The garden feels romantic, idyllic, yet ridiculously domestic, despite the splendour of its setting and its status as a visitor attraction. I can imagine that the planting might seem very informal to some people, but I loved it. I believe the whole garden had been ‘relaxed’ a little, to meet the brief for a film set: I could be wrong. Either way, it suited my imagination from the rooftops down to the ground.

Verbena bonariensis at Cothay Manor

Verbena bonariensis looked up to a huge Echium but looked down on Erigeron karvinskianus: the Erigeron knew its place.

Cothay Manor’s website notes that in medieval times, the rent for the land surrounding the manor was a rose and a pair of silver spurs, payable at Christmas and mid-summer’s day. It must be wonderful to wake in the morning and look out from one of the many windows over the courtyard, and relax in the sun on the bench or under the parasol, but a little less wonderful, perhaps, to be responsible for the estate’s upkeep today.

Table of potted plants in Cothay Manor's courtyard garden

Potted plants were clustered together on a table to raise them above (most of) the plants.

In tempting people to visit by sharing these pictures, it is only fair to mention that it takes a bold spirit to navigate the winding, tall-hedged, rabbit run lanes around the garden – make sure you know how to find the car park before setting off!

Cothay Manor is in Greenham, Wellington, Somerset, England TA21 0JR

52 thoughts on “Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden

      • Heyjude says:

        Is it really difficult to reach? I’m used to single track roads here, but still hate having to reverse when coming face to face with another vehicle, especially a tractor!

        • susurrus says:

          I learned to reverse in narrow lanes when I worked for DAR, although you have to be a bit of a masochist to like doing it. The last mile or so to Cothay is bad and the place in general is not well signed. I didn’t help myself by getting very lost after we reached the gates to the house, which is not the same thing as the car park. I followed the signs that were probably out for a country run or bike ride or something.

          • Heyjude says:

            Thanks, sounds a bit hairy! I remember using the SatNav to get to Helligan, the first time. When the lanes became no wider than my car I started to panic.

    • susurrus says:

      There is a stone unicorn nearby in an walk of clipped Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Umbraculifera’ underplanted with Nepeta ’Six Hills Giant’ conjuring up the times when it was thought maidens needed somewhere to exercise the creatures only they could tame.

    • susurrus says:

      It is. I got horribly lost getting there and was overwrought by the time we arrived – in no state of mind to enjoy any garden, or so I thought, but the garden gradually worked its spell.

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