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Archive for the ‘Gardens’ Category

2015-05-02 11.03.23

The tile courtyard is a maze, best viewed from the upper floors.

A few months ago (seriously–when does time slow down again?) we took a day out and went to Kentwell Hall, a 16th-century manor house here in Suffolk. They were having a Tudor Day, and I’ve been missing a “traditional” USian Renaissance Faire type of thing. I think that our Ren Faires are so over the top because, well, we make them up; the history and culture that the Ren Faires celebrate come from here, so the UK doesn’t necessarily feel the need to put up fake villages and dress up in historic dress and gnaw on turkey legs. They’re *surrounded* by it. All the time. Hell, I live in it: I can walk five minutes from my front door and see a tower built in 1120 next to a cathedral from only a few hundred years later.

ANYWAY. Kentwell Hall was glorious. The kitchen (of which I have no pics) was my fave. Ian said he’d never seen me smile so much. I have a thing for historic kitchens. I like rooms that work!

 

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Near the house are several dead trees that have been carved into fanciful, Alice-in-Wonderland type creations.

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Between the Hall and the walled garden is a canal.

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The walled garden is (like the one in my novel) centuries old.

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While we were in the walled garden, a young lad in Tudor-era dress joined us. He spoke in historically accurate language the whole time, and I wondered what his 21st-century self thought of being 16th-century for a weekend, whether he missed his phone and xbox. Or whether it’s just normal to him to follow his parents every odd weekend to do this sort of thing.

2015-05-02 11.12.05

Obligatory flower close up. Forget-me-nots.

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Apple blossoms!

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Gnarly, bent, crooked, beautiful centuries-old apple trees.

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View of the back of the Hall and the topiary Pied Piper parade.

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Okay, so a gargoyle is the correct term for an animal-type sculpture that diverts water from a house, while a grotesque is just the sculpture (without the practical use). I’m not sure what this one is because it’s a human but it’s a water pipe!

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The majority of the faire that day was held in the outer buildings (the barns, etc.), but I loved the vignette of the old wooden wheelbarrow in the rough potager. It looks very much like the woodcuts in Thomas Hill’s books from the same era.

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I forgot about my birthday. I mean, I didn’t FORGET forget. I never do. But I rushed ahead in the catch-up to September, skipping my birthday.

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Went to Hatfield House. I’d been before, but not to ALL of the gardens. And I needed to go again, for research and personal reasons. Pictured is the *new* palace, built in the early 1600s.

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I’d not been in the house before. It’s a *tad bit* grand.

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Elizabeth I lived at Hatfield as a child.

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…And was there when she found out that Mary had died, leaving her the new queen.

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Serious library porn.

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Its own pipe organ, right next to its chapel. (for Joanie)

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The great hall in the old palace, built in the late 1400s.

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Hatfield is important to my research because of its re-creation Tudor-era gardens. Close to the old palace are knots; a bit farther are parterres, topiaries and pleached trees.

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John Tradescant the elder laid out the gardens in the early 1600s for Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury. If you dig back through posts here, you’ll likely see his burial place in London behind what is now the Garden Museum. Important bloke, John Tradescant: he brought exotic new trees and flowers to England from far-off lands, but didn’t have a sense of smell. Bummer.

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Behind the new palace is a giant maze. You can’t tell from this photo, but it’s sunken, so the walls look to be at least 6 or 7 feet high. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public.

me in Hatfield

Geometric topiaries, partially hidden behind the birthday girl.

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Obligatory flower close-up. Anemones.

 

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It’s nearly my birthday, which means it’s time once again to take stock and figure out what has happened during the past year. This one’s been a bit of a doozy (that’s me using a nice word instead of the one I’d rather use and that describes it much more clearly). Since August 1 2012, I’ve moved house FOUR times, three of those in the past 8 months alone. I’ve been unlucky in my choices. I’ve been lucky in my choices. I’ve figured some things out. I’m still not sure about some things. I’m learning to be careful. I’m a bit impulsive.¬†

Luckily, my latest house move has been a good one. It had to be–it couldn’t have been worse than the last one! I now live in a very nice flat with a very awesome flatmate who is calm and funny and we like a lot of the same stuff but like enough different stuff that we have cool new stuff to teach each other. Tonight we have a ‘chick date’: pizza and sewing and North & South on video (which I’ve not seen–and no, it’s not the US Civil War one. This one has a hot guy in it ūüôā I’ve found a home where I have agency and don’t live by someone else’s rules, but I live with someone I respect and who respects me.¬†

Right now I am supposed to be finishing a first draft of a new short story, but I wanted to take a break to share some cool pictures. 

Earlier this summer, friends and I took another friend to Fortnum & Mason for afternoon tea to celebrate the impending arrival of her first baby (who has since been born and is a total cutey). 

My excitement over the color of the china was only surpassed by what was served on the plates!

My excitement over the color of the china was only surpassed by what was served on the plates!

 

On the market floor of F&M. The place is like Disneyland for cool foodstuffs.

On the market floor of F&M. The place is like Disneyland for cool foodstuffs.

I also went to the Hampton Court Flower Show. The light quality in these pics is a bit off because they were all taken in a tent. Last time I attended the flower show, I had to jump over puddles and huddle inside whatever shelter I could find because of torrential rain. This summer we had a bit of a heat wave and instead of mud there was dust and lots of sun. But it was ok, because summer in the UK means Pimms!

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The main hall had a 1950s theme with exhibits made of flowers. Here it’s tea time…

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…with cakes…

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…and finger sandwiches.

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Somewhere to rest after tea…

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Not made of flowers, but too cute not to take a photo of.

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Elvis hair!

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This photo doesn’t do these shopfronts justice. Yummy pastels! (which here is pronounced ‘PAS-tul’)

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Marilyn!

Most of my shots, of course, were of the flowers themselves. 

Roses! (of course)

Roses! (duh)

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(some type of) Allium (I think)!

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Lily!

More pink roses!

More pink roses!

And (Lucia's) Fuschias!

And (Lucia’s) Fuschias!

I don’t have any words of wisdom to sum up this post, or this year, except for this: pay attention. It all goes by awful quickly, and there is so much stuff to notice.¬†

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Nope. It’s ¬†rumor. ¬†Pure gossip. I have NOT fallen down a well, off the face of the earth, or into a volcano. I’ve just been busy. And tired and lazy.

Last night I wrote a list of all the things that have happened, things I need to blog about. They are:

Stratford
Moving house & finding a cool new housemate
High tea at Fortnum & Mason
The Tudor & Stuart clothing exhibit at the Queens Gallery
Hampton Court Flower Show
Race for Life 10K
My Coach trip to see Canterbury, etc.
Going to We Will Rock You
Going to Nine Worlds Geek Fest
The Great British Bake Off inaugural viewing party

So, now that you have the list, expect to start seeing some blog posts. Yeehaw!

I went to Stratford in June on a mini-hol all by myself. TWO MONTHS AGO! So it’s high time I show you some cool pics.

The River Avon

The River Avon

Morris Dancers

Morris Dancers

Especially for mom: I came across this on a morning run along the river. Completely random! But as it was near the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, I suppose it sort of makes sense?
Especially for mom: I came across this on a morning run along the river. Completely random! But as it was near the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, I suppose it sort of makes sense?
Stratford's oldest inn...

Stratford’s oldest inn…

...and its oldest house...

…and its oldest house…

...and a row of almshouses.

…and a row of almshouses. Sometimes this country feels like a movie set, only I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not–that these places are real and have been here for hundreds of years.

But you came here to see Shakespeare stuff. So let's start with his birthplace, which is pretty much right in the middle of town.

But you came here to see Shakespeare stuff. So let’s start with his birthplace, which is pretty much right in the middle of town.

Behind the house is an extensive, and beautiful, garden where actors stage small scenes for the tourists. There is also a museum that holds original pieces from Shakespeare's life and times.

Behind the house is an extensive, and beautiful, garden where actors stage small scenes for the tourists. There is also a museum that holds original pieces from Shakespeare’s life and times.

Also in town are the site of Shakespeare's house, New Place, where he died. It was a huge house, with 10 fireplaces!, but was destroyed in the 1700s. His granddaughter lived next door as an adult, and that place is still standing.

Also in town is the site of Shakespeare’s house, New Place, where he died. It was a huge house, with 10 fireplaces!, but was destroyed in the 1700s. His granddaughter lived next door as an adult, and that place is still standing. The site of New Place has extensive gardens–this one is in the Tudor style.

 

A little way out of town is Mary Arden's Farm, where Shakespeare's mother's family lived for generations. It's a sort of living history museum now, and the day I was there schoolkids dressed in Tudor-era clothes were going from building to building, learning about how a 16th-century farm was run.

A little way out of town is Mary Arden’s Farm, where Shakespeare’s mother’s family lived for generations. It’s a sort of living history museum now, and the day I was there schoolkids dressed in Tudor-era clothes were going from building to building, learning about how a 16th-century farm was run.

This dried frog was hung in the farm's kitchen window. I don't know why.

This dried frog was hung in the farm’s kitchen window. I don’t know why.

 

The top floor of the big farmhouse.

The top floor of the big farmhouse.

 

My favorite of the Shakespeare houses was Anne Hathaway's Cottage, where his wife lived. It's a traditional thatched cottage with the most gorgeous garden.

My favorite of the Shakespeare houses was Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where his wife lived. It’s a traditional thatched cottage with the most gorgeous garden. Because the winter was so long, spring and summer happened sort of simultaneously, and the gardens were all a riot of color.¬†

obligatory flower close-up #1: Columbine.

obligatory flower close-up #1: Columbine.

 

Trinity church, back in town, is where Shakespeare is buried.

Trinity church, back in town, is where Shakespeare is buried.

William Shakespeare 1564-1616

William Shakespeare 1564-1616

While I was there, I went to two plays: All’s Well That Ends Well and Hamlet. The theatre itself was set nearly ‘in the round’ with the stage in the center of the space and seats almost all the way around. Hamlet was staged as if it were in a fencing school, with the ghost of his father in full fencing kit. All’s Well That Ends Well is a play I’d never read before, so it was fun to be swept along with it.

In all, it was a relaxing few days. I ate well, got some sleep, saw great theatre, took a zillion photos, and took in some history.

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Obligatory flower close-up #2: a dog rose, Rosa canina. These roses always make me think of Shakespeare and the Tudor era.

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They say 3 things make a good post. I’ve got about half a dozen.

Item #1:
Last month I traveled. A lot. (See Walking the Labyrinth for more on that. And, yes, the Biddulph Grange blog post is on its way. Likely today. 250+ photos to cull through make for a 2-hour stretch of blogging.) ANYWAY, I traveled lots and spent lots of time in stations. I was in Waterloo Station, waiting on a train, and realized that people around me were very dressed up. Men in tuxes and tails (morning suits?). Ladies is dresses and hats. It looked as if a large wedding party had emptied into the station.

Then I remembered: ASCOT!

I had to be careful about taking pictures of people in public, so most of them are of the back of the hats. Didn’t want to be a rude American, yannowhatimean?
Classic straw hat.

Some women were dressed to the nines, but considering the wonky weather, I’d have gone for something simple. Like, no heels. And a raincoat.
White netting, somewhere between a hat and a fascinator.

I didn’t see anything as wild & crazy as shown in the newspapers. No birdcages atop waterfalls of flowers or the like. No mini ships. No¬†sequinned¬†Union Jacks.
A vision in green and blue.

There were some *awesome* outfits and hats on display in the station, but it was difficult to get close enough for a discreet AND good photo (taken on the phone!).
This was probably the best outfit I snapped. Gorgeous grey ‘banded’ skirt and a hat with a giant grey flower up under the right side of the brim. Simultaneously classy and eye-catching.

Item #2:
Still on my quest for the perfect cupcake. Peyton & Byrne has a challenger.

I was on Portobello Road in Notting Hill and finally got to try the Hummingbird Bakery’s cake.
I’m coveting the bakery’s cook book. You know, to fill all of that free time I have. HA!

I couldn’t bring home–or afford!–the several-layer red velvet cake, so I got a vanilla with chocolate frosting cupcake instead. It wanted to fall over, it had so much frosting on it. NOM!

Item #3:
I had to do some shopping for gifts, so in the window between downpours I headed to Notting Hill and walked up Portobello Road.

Portobello Road market. Fruit & veg. Pre-made foods. Flowers. New Clothes. Antiques. Vintage clothing. STUFF!

Item #4:
The weather has been weird, to say the least. We have had two weeks, very far apart (one in May, one in late June), in which it has been summer. Other than that, it’s been like March: cold & rainy. I can count on one hand the number of times my arms have seen sunlight so far this year. Every day includes the conversation with myself: hoodie or cotton mac? Umbrella? Waterproof shopping bag? Some days the answer to all is yes. There are places here that have gotten a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours. That drought that we were warned about in early spring? Yeah, it’s been called off. But one good thing about the weather: the flowers!

I won tickets online for the Open Garden Squares weekend, in which dozens of private garden squares in the city were open to visitors. We got to see how the ‘other half’ live. They live in zillion-dollar townhouses and don’t have to do garden upkeep!

Item #5:
We city-dwellers use the train for EVERYTHING!

It made the train carriage cozy. All that was missing was a rug and a warm fire. And a pot of tea. Oh, and cookies.

Item #6:
Proof that I’m a 12-year-old boy inside.

Spied on a garden-research trip. Best street name so far.

 

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I can’t believe the calendar. Especially as a week ago it was 80 degrees out, and now it’s in the 50s and I have the heater on in my room.

I’ve been deep in PhD research, doing field studies lately. A few weeks back I went to Stowe. Read about it here:¬†http://walkingthelabyrinth.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/stowe-may-2012/

Last week was Sissinghurst (blog post at Walking the Labyrinth to come; I have 200 photos to cull through first), and next week is Biddulph Grange. Luckily my uni extended me a small grant, which has bankrolled this travel.

In other news, I’m still deep in the transfer-between-unis paperwork process. I’m stalled out at 30K words on the novel–still. But am working on other fiction, so my supervisor isn’t panicking yet. I’m trying not to, either. I’m also in the process of finding a new place to live, with the hopes of moving at the end of July. It’ll be another cross-city move, which will be a giant pain in the ass as it’s very likely going to coincide with the opening weekend of the Olympics.

This past weekend was the Jubes (aka Diamond Jubilee weekend). Saturday was the flotilla, with the Queen on a fancy barge followed by 1,000 other boats of all shapes and sizes. It poured down rain and it was reported that nearly 50 people were hospitalized with hypothermia. Last night was the Jubilee concert: 20,000 people with tickets allowed into the ‘arena’ in front of Buckingham Palace, with another estimated 250,000 on the Mall. I watched all of this on telly from the comfort of the living room. Today was the parade through town. It’s threatening rain again. To join in the¬†festivities¬†this weekend, I made scones and bought clotted cream and jam. I resisted decorating anything with bunting. (Bunting is serious business in the UK. It’s not just something crafters invented to sell on Etsy.)

That’s it. That’s all my news. I’m boring. See? Even somewhere like here, life is still full of grocery shopping, laundry, filing your nails, and putting away your shoes.

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I went the the big, bad Chelsea Flower Show a little while back. I wore a rain coat and docs, took an umbrella and a camera, and wished I’d had a canoe!

The show is separated into sections: There is a huge indoor pavilion, a few smaller indoor ‘rooms, a few ‘streets’ of booths for companies that sell garden equipment, seeds, etc., the ‘front’ garden displays, and a ‘back’ section that is in the woodsier part of the park with more themed gardens, though much more ‘quaint’.

My view for much of the day along the 'back' garden displays.

My ticket was for 3:30 until the show closed that evening. There are so many people that they have to stagger attendance! It did thin out a bit later, but that probably had more to do with the weather than the time of day.

I crammed my way into the crowds to see the small gardens along this back path.

While the ‘back’ gardens were designed more along the line of the traditional English country garden, the ‘front’ gardens were more showy.

A vertical vegetable garden.

The crazy pink thing. It was supposed to be lifted up into the air, but the weather was so bad that I never saw it 'fly'.

I think this was the Monaco garden that people so loved....

...with its glassed-in pool! Whcih probably looked better in sunshine.

Glass table and benches. With goldfish. For those who like to sit *in* an aquarium when eating bbq.

So, let’s talk about that weather.

There was actually thunder, a rare occurence in London!

The skies pretty much opened up. And when they did, everyone crowded their way into the Grand Pavilion. I was going to go inside anyway…

You can't really get the scale of this from the photo, but it was huge--vertically and horizontally. And every bit of it was made from dried flowers. It smelled like a gigantic bowl of potpourri.

Dragons, elephants, all made with dried flowers. And yes, the colors WERE that vibrant!

The pavilion housed show-stoppers like the above as well as displays of specific species: orchids, hostas, foxgloves, delphiniums, roses (and roses, and more roses. Did I mention roses?), poppies, alliums, cacti, and stands where you could buy the seeds to start your own.

Oh, and strawberries:

Detail from a 20-foot-high strawberry 'tower' display. It smelled like jam ūüôā

Lavender. Poppies. There is no more to be said.

Unfortunately, being inside the pavilion with a few thousand wet people and many, many thousand blooms did my allergies right in. Later that afternoon it started with a scratchy throat. By the next day it was a full-blown head cold.

But the rain stopped. Not after flooding out parts of the show.

Foxgloves! With rainy dew...

Have you ever seen anything so freaking BLUE?

And then there was one of those, competing with the blooms.

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