Saturday, 27 February 2016

Gardens to Visit: Calke Abbey

In fact you would not visit Calke Abbey in Derbyshire for the gardens.
There has been a building here since the 12th century but the present house was built in 1808 and taken over by the National Trust in lieu of death duties. 
And the Harper-Crewe family who owned the property since 1622 famously never threw anything away. So there are rooms filled with mismatched chairs, and cupboards full of watering cans.
There are drawing rooms full of stuffed birds, and collections of minerals... and masses of books and paintings.
It's a sad house in many ways but a most interesting visit.

The small walled-garden is on a hill at the front of the house. It's quite a steep climb.
it really isn't very large but the garden buildings, though plain, are built of beautiful brick and for some reason I was really taken with them.

This was a gloriously sunny October day in 2010.

Of course it would be very nice to go back in the summer. But that's the story of my life. I can't seem to visit anywhere without wanting to go back and see it again.

This lovely old brick house was for the Head Gardener. 

This is the stable block.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Gardens to Visit: Great Dixter

In November 2010 we went on a work visit to Great Dixter in East Sussex. We were there for a seminar on Lutyens so inside the house for most of the day but here are some photographs of the lovely gardens. I would really like to go back in summer to see the long borders in full flower, and the famous wild flower meadow too.

The house dates from the mid 15th century but was substantially altered for the Lloyd family in 1910 - 1910 by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Christopher Lloyd, who became a celebrated gardener and gardening writer, lived there all his life and the house and gardens are now managed as a Trust in his memory.

There was lots of Cotoneaster on show. The birds don't really like the bright red berries so they usually brighten the garden until well into February. 

The gardens at Great Dixter are divided into a series of rooms by great walls of closely clipped yew. And there is plenty of handsome yew topiary to admire.

Spindle and Guelder Rose berries (above) and (below) I think this is Arbutus or Strawberry Tree.

Very handsome Houseleeks and Moss on the low roof of an outhouse.

You can see that you would get quite a different series of photographs if you visited Great Dixter at a different time of year. But the paths and the yew hedges give the garden a wonderful structure all year round. 

Definitely worth a visit, and don't forget to go round the house too if you can as it is lovely. Of course there is a shop, and the nursery sells all sorts of interesting plants. 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Exotic Packaging: Sammy the Seal Soap

Yes, this soap produced by the Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation, was seal-shaped.
And why not?
I don't remember this bar of soap and suspect my mother bought it simply for the packaging.
It's something she would do. It's something I would do!

Friday, 19 February 2016

A Little Bit of Chocolate Does You Good: Lindt & Spr√ľngli Caramel & Fleur de Sel Noir

Dark chocolate with caramel & sea salt.
Sounds pretty good doesn't it?
Unfortunately someone else ate this bar of Swiss chocolate and I didn't get to try. 
Maybe next time.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Wrapping Paper: elephants

Beautiful heavy duty paper simply printed with gold elephants.
I was lucky that one of my Christmas presents was wrapped in this lovely paper.