A short ride southwest of London on the train dropped me off close to Hampton Court Palace,where I walked into a place steeped in history since 1484.
Marveling at all the architectural details and courtyards on the way, one couldn't help but imagine roaming the grounds during the height of its heyday. The palace itself was elevated to the beauty that it became in the "recent" year of 1514.
Passing through the palace I am finally greeted by the real reason I came here, the gardens, which spread out before me, created over 60 acres. The Great Fountain Garden provided a wonderful view lined with clipped Taxus baccata out towards the home park, which is comprised of just another measly 750 acres.
Taxus baccata, which could have been very imposing and dominating on the landscape, have been clipped into some very friendly shapes, softening the horizon lines with their gumdrop shapes. The bedding was a mix of annuals, and tubers, that helped add some burst of color amidst a vast open green sea of turf.
The Privy Garden, situated on the side of the palace, was created on a design from 1702. It's symmetrical pattern includes herbaceous plants, clipped shrubs, gravel and sculptures.
It is a space to wander through and view from above to fully appreciate the patterns in the layout of the garden design. Water, acting as reflecting pools, gives the eyes a chance to rest while we take in the all of the shapes that encompass this garden.
It seemed to me that there was a fair amount of space between the plants, and wishing to see it planted more lushly, I found out that this is how it was planted when the garden was created. It is important to remain true to details in a historic garden, as this is how it was done during those days.
She poses among shapes and backdrops, while color dances in front of her.
On one side of the Privy Garden is a Beech Tunnel, a living corridor that plays with dark and light.
Seen from a distance, with the aloe mimicking the sheared shrubs, you can appreciate the patterns played out in the Privy garden.
Just for the love of chimneys (38?!)... a view towards the Orangery.
The Pond Gardens are awash in color, due to successful intricate planting schemes
An Orangery never fails to impress, since we don't normally see these types of building created anymore. These architectural gems were commonly used to house tender collections of plants and trees in the colder parts of the year, while in the warmer months these were put outside to benefit from the heat and rays of the sun.
The long border, which ran across the the width of the grounds, was a feat in itself due to it's length, depth, and plant palette.
It was clearly able to hold its own, creating a flowering tapestry that anchored the impressive size of the palace to its vast grounds.
When I don't have much of a garden, I find other ways to feed my addiction of having beautiful plants around me. Usually that consists of having houseplants or by way of making arrangements. Stuffing the window box on my London terrace was one way to guarantee blooms or foliage to cut and bring inside. It is my duty to keep fresh greens on the table at all times, regardless of the time of year.
Another option was going to the Columbia Road Flower Market in East London. By getting there late one day, I found out certain stalls drastically mark down their prices, trying to get rid of their merchandise rather than having to pack it up again. For just 5 pounds I walked away with 12 individual bouquets one day, that I later used to mix and create my own arrangements. Orange roses, white carnations and cream Gerber daisies. ( I didn't even like some of these flowers! Carnations ?! Never, but I realized they last so long as a cut flower and now I respect them in a new found way..)
While doing work in other gardens I will salvage things that are heading for the compost pile and use them at home. Lichen covered Azalea branches, some moss from my terrace, and a single Galanthus nivalis bulb in bloom, just a little bit of woodland inside.
Fatsia japonica is another plant that I never really cared for, looking messy and out of place in the garden, but when I saw the fruits I felt the need to do something with them. Muscari armeniacum (from the window box), Tiarella 'Crow' (from the window box) and Fatsia japonica.
Even single arrangements grouped together of Euonymus fortunei 'Blondy' and Helleborus blooms works for me.
Another addiction is ceramics and vases, which I find anywhere, but that's another story.. When I found this one, reminiscent of a loaf of bread, in a Paris flea market, I knew this was my keepsake memory to stuff into my suitcase and take home. Thank goodness it didn't break.
For lunch with friends I filled it with a plethora of Viola blooms from the window box. They added a nice scent once brought inside and now reminded me of a 50's swimming cap.
And here was a favorite I called " The Canary and the Lion"
The yellow pom-pom like blooms and foliage of the tree Acacia dealbata and the foliage of Begonia rex, which I had as a houseplant. Don't underestimate those houseplants, make them work for their money!
An arrangement that I look forward to doing again is Dahlia 'Chat Noir' (picked up the tubers from the Columbia Road Flower Market and grown on my terrace in the window box), and mixed them with dark blue glaucous grapes (supermarket!), which sit on one very large leaf of Begonia rex. These arrangements give me such pleasure, acting as living sculptures that give off a certain sense of mood.
Viennese cafe? Apple strudel anyone?
Mexican mood? Dahlia 'Helga' and a tiny burro? Homage to Frida Kahlo? Maybe?!
Doing flowers used to intimidate me because I felt they never looked "right" and now I don't care, and that is when I started really enjoying it and it became fun.
Whether it's a color story, texture, mood, scent, it doesn't matter, it gives great pleasure from the start
To the those affected by Sandy in the U.S., you are in my thoughts.......xoxoxo
Fashion Institute of Technology for Fine Arts in NYC, Horticulture at Longwood Gardens, studied at Great Dixter in England and Jerusalem Botanical Gardens in Israel, and kitchen gardener at DeWiersse, the Netherlands. "..one needs to surround oneself with objects of poetic emotion." -Le Corbusier