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I don’t think a lot of people realise just how many beautiful gardens lie hidden around the Cheshire countryside. I often mention to friends that I have visited a particular garden and nine times out of ten they are oblivious to its existence, even when it lies only a few miles away. Occasionally someone will claim to “have seen the signpost” but have never diverted from their route to investigate. I am shocked at their “ignorance” and try to persuade them to go and have a look. I want to convince them that they are missing out on a lovely experience. Unsurprisingly I haven’t had many converts – my strange enthusiasm probably scares them off, but more than that I think I am guilty of forgetting everything my years in marketing have taught me about target markets. The majority of my friends just simply don’t seem to be the primary target consumers for gardens. When I visit gardens, particularly the less commercialised ones, I usually encounter lots of retired couples who are spending their well deserved leisure time strolling around, looking for inspiration for their own gardens, or just simply enjoying being there, in the fresh air, surrounded by nature’s bounty. The exceptions to this would be people like myself who are mad about garden and flower photography, and any keen young gardeners.
Bluebell Cottage Gardens is a beautiful garden that I have visited many times and feel everyone should know about. It’s a great “starter” garden if you’re a virgin garden visitor. It’s small enough to go round in half an hour and can be tied in with visits to other nearby attractions. It falls into the category of a smaller, non-commercialised garden although it does have a lovely, well stocked nursery – Lodge Lane Nursery – from which you can buy some of the plants you’ve seen in the garden and you will often find Sue Beesley, the owner, on hand to answer any questions you might have. You can’t miss Sue on account of her battered and well worn leather wide brimmed hat – I’m not sure I would recognise her without it!
I have been to the gardens several times over the last three years, both as a visitor and in a professional capacity and have had the pleasure of seeing it in different stages of maturity. I love seeing it in the springtime, partly for the bluebell woods (see earlier blog,) but also because it looks all neat – like a fresh short hair cut on my son – and you just know that it’s waiting to burst forth at the first sign of warm sunshine. I am always struck by the marked contrast when I visit later in the middle of summer, as I did on Sunday. The crisp, neat edges of the flower beds are softened and hidden in a profusion of colour and texture. Grasses which were just a few inches high now bob gracefully in the breeze at waist height and the trees in the orchard are laden with plums and apples. This year Sue has sown wildflower seeds beneath the trees and the effect is wonderful as you look up or down the gardens through the orchards.
I particularly like the fact that despite its relatively small size, there still feels like there’s a lot to explore and see. On Sunday I went to the gardens with my niece, great nephew (doesn’t that make me sound and feel old!) and daughter. Abigail loved walking across the lawns, holding hands with Joe Jack and leading him through into the different areas. They spent a lot of time rolling around on the grass and trying out all the different seats around the garden. I was left free to watch them from a distance and get some lovely portraits of them. It’s when I look at the photographs later that I wonder why more “non-core” target consumers don’t know what they are missing out on! Surely playing and exploring in such beautiful surroundings would appeal to almost anyone? There’s the added bonus that it’s a really cheap day out and there are usually tea rooms too! At the weekends you can partake in home baked cakes, locally made ice cream and of course a pot of tea in the basic but charming tea rooms at Bluebell Cottage Gardens. It’s a refreshing alternative to a soft play centre or MacDonalds and yet I bet the kids would have just as much fun, if not more!
By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!