Thursday, August 16, 2012


Friday June 29th Heading to Lincoln and the wedding.

This is the weekend of the wedding of our nephew, the main reason for our trip to England this year. We leave my cousin's house on the Friday morning with no plans for visits to gardens. I couldn't find anything in the area. However, my cousin suggests we should visit the workhouse on our way to the family event in Lincoln.


It was something I heard my grandma say on several occasions. "You'll have us in the workhouse" Did I ever ask her what she was talking about. Never. Later on, when researching my family history, I was to learn about the workhouse. It was a place for the poor and destitute people to go where they would receive shelter, clothing, medical attention and food. In return they would work. It was considered to be a place for able bodied people but eventually became a place for the old and sick. It was a harsh life.

Lucky were those who got to work in the garden which seemed to me to be a pleasant retreat from the cold austerity of life in the building.

It all came to an end when the Labor party took office and the 'Welfare State' was created. See how quickly they were able to do it. The workhouse was to be a thing of the past.

We now pressed on towards Lincoln and our hotel close by the magnificent cathedral. Once registered we took the opportunity to visit the Joseph Banks Conservatory, which is dedicated to his work. ( If you haven't realized already, from my former postings,  I have quite a soft spot for Sir Joseph). What a disappointment. Clearly there is no money to fund the upkeep of the building and plants and all are in terrible shape. Enough said.

We turned out attention to the Cathedral. In the words of John Ruskin, "I have always held... that the cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have."

The main door.

A tribute to Sir Joseph Banks, erected by the British Australian Society.

The nave.

The sun shone brightly on the Saturday of the wedding and photographs were taken beside the statue of Tennyson outside the cathedral. Lots of celebrations all weekend and a wonderful opportunity to meet up with all the family until we left on our way on the Sunday morning.

Sunday July 1 2012
We were headed for Yorkshire and Nostell Priory. My GG grandfather hunted here in the 1820s. Our stop for the night was in Carlton and dinner at the local pub was the typical Sunday carvery. Roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

Then it was back to the B&B to relax in the leather recliner for some soccer. We leave for York in the morning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I wish I could share photos of my garden with you today but I haven't seen it for over 3 weeks! I wonder how it is doing on its 'ownyo'. However, I do have a few things to share and will enjoy reading about my friend's gardens on this August Bloom Day thanks to Carol at Maydreams.

As usual I brought along some of my garden on this camping trip to the Sawtooths in Idaho. The bamboo planter with 3 haworthia. How they love the cool evenings. Cut sprigs of basil put into a jar of water over 3 weeks ago have rooted and still are looking healthy. No moldy old leaves like happens at home.
Added to my traveling garden a ceramic pot of wayside grasses. I just took a fancy to this rather peculiar shaped, wobbly vase in a thrift shop and the $3 price tag won me over. I knew the colors would go very well with dried grasses and I know there will be plenty of that in Texas this year.

Monday, August 13, 2012


The hike up to Norton Lakes, the scramble up the scree on the far side of the lake, a hike past another lake and then scramble down the rocky slope. Where are they I am thinking and then I see them..

My heart leaps at this wonderful display of Rock fringe, Epilobium obcordatum. Growing in the sub-alpine scree from 8-10000'
This is the only place I have seen them growing. This small area on this south facing inhospitable scree above Great Lost Lake, and this year it is the best.

I just had to share the beauty.

Saturday, August 11, 2012



Thursday June 27th 2012

As we walk from our parked car towards Lyveden New Bield a roofless structure comes into view. I am wondering why the National Trust hasn’t restored what appears to be a burnt out shell. I am soon to learn about this grand garden lodge or summer house. After all the beautiful and colorful gardens we have seen in England this certainly comes as a surprise. Not a flower in sight. And yet here is an important part of garden history; a relic of the Elizabethan age.

Sir Thomas Tresham began work on this grand garden lodge in 1595. From his manor house in the valley below he planned to build an elaborate Elizabethan garden where visiting guests would pass though orchards, terraces and parterres. They would view the gardens from pleasure mounds, cross moats, walk around labryinths and end up at his magnificent garden lodge. Here they would be entertained in the grandest manner. It was not to be. In 1605 Sir Thomas died leaving his estate to his son Francis. Two months later Francis was implicated in the Gunpowder Plot, was incarcerated and shortly thereafter died in the Tower of London. Of natural causes they say! This once wealthy and powerful Catholic family was disgraced and left with massive debt.

Nothing is left today of the manor house in which they lived but the garden lodge still remains as it was left 400 years ago. A testament to its craftsmen builders. The outside walls of the garden lodge are richly carved with the religious symbols of their Catholic faith for which they had been persecuted for years. The property was donated to the National Trust in 1922 after the local residents purchased the property for £1000. Work began on restoring the Elizabethan gardens in 1995.

Attributed to National Trust 
It was not  uncommon for grand houses to have labyrinths and evidence of one existing here came to light when the Trust examined this aerial photograph taken by the Luftwaffe in the 1940s. Invisible at ground level but clearly visible from the air are 10 concentric rings. Details of a possible planting are to be found in the papers of Sir Thomas and included 400 raspberry and rose bushes. Religious symbolism abounds in the garden lodge and this would be yet another example. The raspberries representing the passion of Christ and the roses Christ's mother. The maze the one true path of faith.

The fields are full of the flowers of my childhood but more importantly this has become an oasis of for wildlife. Of greater interest is the research that has been done into Elizabethan plantings. Core samples from the pond have revealed seeds and pollen from roses, pinks, burr marigold, coriander, parsley and fennel. A veritable time capsule of the Elizabethan garden and another step back in time for this garden traveler.
We drive on towards our destination in Nottingham with a plan to make a stop at Belton Gardens. As we pull up the long driveway into the parking area it is clear by the number of car, coaches, girl and boy scouts that something is going on here. We guess correctly. The Olympic torch is about to arrive. We must make haste to leave before its arrival as the roads in and out will soon be closed.


If you were to guess that these gardens were Italian you would be correct. They were designed by Sit Jeffry Wyatville around 1820. This site is that of the former kitchen garden.

The Orangery

Directly opposite the Orangery the Lion Exedra water feature.

The Dutch garden c 1879 is planted with seasonal plantings.

The clock tells us that it is time to leave hurriedly, not only because of the torch but also because there is very threatening weather; thunder, lightening. We literally end up running back to the car only just making it before the heavens opened.

I can tell you that living in Texas we are accustomed to torrential downpours. Several inches within a few minutes. But the likes of rain like that in England must surely be unusual. It rained so hard as we drove through the town that we could not see in front of us and then the hail started and I am busy thinking. 'OK, we have had to replace a broken window on the car and now we are going to get hail damage'. Oh, and the poor torch runners and spectators who lined the streets. Luckily we got though unscathed and managed to arrive at my cousin's house to bright sunshine. The vagaries of British weather!  Time enough to retreat to another garden with a glass of wine.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012



Wednesday June 27th 2012

We knew that Felbrigg closed at 5pm and we were hoping that the gate to the garden would still be open. We parked the car and walked towards the house. By a stroke of good fortune I happened to be talking about the walled garden as we passed someone who was leaving. They told us the walled garden was back near the car park. At this point we started to run to be met with disappointment at the gate which was closed and said 'closed'! Not quite 5pm we begged the lady who was in attendance to let us have a few minutes in the garden. She kindly opened the gate. And so I rushed around like a crazy person taking photos of the best walled garden I have ever visited.

Of course the walled garden was far away from the house. We had already learnt that during the landskip movement nothing must impede the natural look of the countryside when viewed from the house. So the walled gardens, which had previously been much closer to the house for practical purposes, were moved well out of sight. The center piece of this walled garden is the working dovecote seen here. I believe it is the only one in Britain.

These gardens still produce all the fruit and vegetables for the restaurant at the house but they also have stunning ornamental plantings.

As we walked down the lavender lined pathway we disturbed the doves who were pecking away among the stones.

Fruit trees are espaliered along all the walls for additional warmth.

Although I like neat pathways there is nothing prettier in my eyes than plants spilling over and softening the paths. It seems every plant under the sun will grow in England the climate is so hospitable, even in their drought and poor summer.

Billowing Crambe cordifolia, so airy and light. We saw this last year in Seattle but never in Austin!

Yes, we can grow this in Austin but then they can grow it here too!!

Always the walls and archways adorned with flowering vines. A perfect combination.

I know that the owners of East Ruston talked about their sandy neutral pH soil and we had the same where I grew up. We also had these mesembryanthemums in our garden too. Incredible Thai silk, jewel-box colors. Native to South Africa they like Norfolk too.

Surely they would like to grow in Austin.

Greenhouses, once again built against the wall but this time the wall extended t give extra height.

I just don't want to leave this gorgeous place. I am giddy with all the breathtaking color, the warm stillness of the late afternoon and bees buzzing among the flowers.
But we must be on our way, find a pub for dinner and then find our B&B.

First things first. Dinner at the Crown Inn, East Rudham. Fully booked later, but this early they could fit us in at exactly the table we would have chosen to sit at.

Then on to Kenilworth Small Holding. Our accommodation was a purpose built extension to the house with its own little patio and looking out over their gardens.

We immediately went outside to explore.

A grotto in the greenhouse.

A green man on the wall.

And an Oriental inspired garden. Our hostess, who happened to have grown up in our home town, teaches Tai Chi.

Every little nook and cranny filled with plants.

In the vegetable garden the inevitable broad bean plants with their striking flowers.

A home for bees and butterflies.

Thursday June 28th 2012,

 In the morning we enjoy a Continental breakfast on the patio.

With this view.

A new day has arrived and I have quite a lot on the schedule before we end up at my cousin's house near Nottingham.