RHS Early Rhododendron & Camellia Flower Show

This year I went along to help with the set up of the RHS Early Rhododendron and Camellia show at Savill Garden.  Anyone can enter, the big gardens will have their many varieties on show, but if you have a camellia you are particularly pleased with, you can come along and display it too.High Beeches entered rhododendrons, having carefully transported them to Savill Garden, and came away with 'Best in Show' for Rhododendron Kesangiae, and a number of other prizes too 😊.  Although we didn't enter camellias, I always love looking at the beautiful arrangements of perfectly formed camellia flowers.  I hope you enjoy the photos below 😍.I am also particularly enjoying the cherry blossom at the moment, so 'Brayce Yourself' on Friday will be full on blossom 😘.Alice xxx 

The Flower Show

The flower show -🌺 The Spring Ornamental Plant Competition 🌸- was a very early start - I met Mummy at 8am at Wisley on Saturday morning, to help with the final set up for the exhibs from High Beeches Garden.The set up had been going on the day before, so most rhododendrons 🌸 and camellias 🌺were already looking pretty good - there was some last minute cleaning of petals and leaves and general rearrangement going on.I have been to one of these before, quite some time ago - but was excited to go again.  It's a very friendly vibe, nothing like your village fair vegetable competition 🍆🍍🌽(not that I have ever been to one of these before) but I always imagine (mainly I think from Wallace and Gromit🐶) that the other competitive competitors are giving each others marrows 🍆 furtive glances over the garden wall in the week before the show, and that there is always the potential for night time sabotage - because, you know, it is important to win.However, the flower showing bunch are a friendly sort, and there was lots of chat about gardens, and the weather, and the early start and the weather.  It has been WET 💧💧💧 this year - you may have noticed, so this upsets the balance of the growing.  The magnolias are suffering big time, there were hardly any on show, and people have had to be a bit more inventive with what they are going to show.  The big gardens such as Exbury and Savill Gardens have lots of choice, it's trickier for us smaller gardens with less choice.  My favourite, possibly, are the small private gardens - the real plant enthusiasts who dearly love their plants, and are excited to get a chance to show against some of this big name competitors.So it was a nice morning, and we tidied up our rhododendrons 🌸, had a good peer at everyone else's exhibits, and chatted plants. We decided we had done the very best we could and went for breakfast altogether ☕️.Then after the judging 📝, we came back to the show and we hadn't done too badly at all - a number of first prizes for rhododendrons AND we came third in the big class.  Next was prize giving.  What I like about plant people 🌳👦👧 is you get the tidy tweed jacket wearers, and you get the 'I have come straight from my garden with mud everywhere' types.  But really all they care about are the plants.  The lady presenting the prizes was wearing a splendid jacket with large camellia flowers 🌺 printed all over it.I enjoyed myself immensely, and took A LOT of photos.  We weren't actually exhibiting camellias 🌺, but I got excited and photographed a lot of them, I just love how perfectly formed the flowers are, and they often have superb names ...... and of course I took photos of our rhododendrons too.I also took home a number of plants that didn't make it into the exhibit, and now our house looks like a small arboretum 🌳🍃🌿🌺... possibly my flatmates are becoming worried..... there is a story somewhere, I think by Gerald Durrell, one of his early memories of visiting an elderly lady, always in her bedroom, four poster bed and dressing table with mirror, and the curtains were always closed, and in the half light he could see the whole room was just filled with flowers and plants...  I haven't got to this stage, yet..Alice xxxIMG_4955IMG_4920IMG_5043IMG_4914IMG_4912IMG_4915IMG_4916IMG_4918IMG_4922IMG_4933IMG_4935IMG_4936IMG_4939IMG_4940IMG_4941IMG_4947IMG_4948IMG_4950IMG_4990IMG_4966IMG_4983IMG_4985IMG_4962IMG_4965IMG_4957IMG_4972IMG_4944IMG_4963IMG_4982IMG_4927

Spring Time

Pip 🐶 and I had a walk around High Beeches Garden 🌳this week - and it was so sunny, and beautiful and it really feels as if spring is finally here.We discovered many wonderful camellias 🌺 and some magnolias 🌸 - the purple flowers of Magnolia Lanarth are beginning to appear, however the lives of the flowers of many have been brutally cut short, by the nasty frost.Most excitingly - Camellia Lady Vansittart 🌺, my favourite Camellia in the garden, is just starting to flower.  It is the most magnificent tree as it has red AND white flowers, some just red, some just white, some white with red stripes and some pink with white tinges.  It really is the most delightful tree, and it is worth a visit to the garden to observe just this tree with it's many coloured flowers in all their magnificence.It was such a beautiful day ☀️ - I am so excited for more spring and sunshine.Alice xxxIMG_4044IMG_4052IMG_4056IMG_4070IMG_4079IMG_4081IMG_4090IMG_4102IMG_4105IMG_4107IMG_4116IMG_4115IMG_4144IMG_4150

February Flowers - The Plant Lesson

It was rather grey and cold  ❄️❄️☔️ today (I still am not enjoying the cold weather) but Pip 🐶 and I decided to venture out.February is a good time of year as, although it feels like the cold may never go away and it is dark and dreary and freezing, the flowers are beginning to appear 🌱🌸🌺🌼.I find it very reassuring that every year, despite the cold❄️, the trees 🌳 and plants 🌱 begin to flower 🌼, it is definitely the best sign that spring is on it's way - a dash of bright colour 🌻 amongst all the dark greens and browns.So Pip 🐶 and I went to investigate, and found much to look at.Daffodils 🌼are out in force, despite the cold, and we found some lovely little Narcissus cyclamineus with their heads bowed down.  I always think these little daffodils look a bit like tiny horses 🐎 with their ears back, suspiciously investigating something on the ground - they are rather sweet!  The narcissus bulbocodium are also dotted about, their little trumpet-like 📣 petals are always so delightful - they are definitely more bossy than the cyclamineus.There are crocuses (or croci) 🌷 just starting to open their petals - I love the lilac and orange combination, they are very non-fussed flowers, they just flower where and when they feel like it, without too much worry of what anyone might think - Pip and I came across a solo crocus growing in the middle of the path..The magnolias 💐 are still tentative, they haven't opened their furry buds up to the cold yet, I always think the many huge buds make them look like some prehistoric creature lying in wait 🐉.The faithful snowdrops 🌾are sprouting up everywhere, I love their plant name 'galanthus' from the Greek gála 'milk' 🍶 and ánthos 'flower' 🌼, it sounds rather like a character from Game of Thrones 🐲.We found a very brave cherry 🍒 , Prunus okame, which is a really warm pink against the cold greens.  I love 💕💞💘 cherry 🍒blossom 🌸 a very large amount.AND most excitingly, the Camellias 🌺 are emerging, and we came across many bright pinks 🌺 and pale pinks 🌸.I really like Camellias 🌺, they are one of my favourite flowers, I prefer the ones without the bright yellow stamens.  We came across a lovely Camellia japonica 'Australis' - a very good pink indeed, magenta, with beautifully arranged petals, I also love how the just emerging buds 🌷 look, so fairy tale esque.Camellias 🌺are part of the Theaceae family and they originate from the Eastern Himalayas, Japan and Malaysia - they are happiest growing by streams 🌊 or on rocky hillsides 🗻.  They have been cultivated in China and Japan for over 1000 years (a very long time) and were first cultivated for the oil 🏮 from their seeds, then for tea ☕️ (you can actually buy tea made from English Camellias at Tregothnan- made from Camellia sinensis - they sell it is Fortnums too, if your after some in a hurry) And then just because they are pretty to look at. There are around 200 species of them and they were named after the Jesuit ⛪️ botanist 🌿 Georg Joseph Kamel.  The petals 🌺 of the flowers are exquisitely arranged and the trees 🌿have wonderful dark green leathery leaves.  They are really very splendid.We had a quick plant lesson ✏️📚 over supper, so now everything is a little clearer...Alice xxAlso I'm now on Blog Lovin' 😊 - you can follow me here  👍IMG_2745IMG_2698IMG_2705IMG_2711IMG_2743IMG_2763IMG_2718IMG_2728IMG_2734IMG_2742IMG_2802IMG_2801

A Trip to Chiswick

Good morning!David Bowie ⚡️ has died which is very sad news - Bowie is rather wonderful, I love this song, and he has only just released a new album.  I share my love of Bowie with a number of friends and last week we almost went to a Bowie night at Camden Blues Kitchen.  Nick, I am still sad we did not go, I think we are now going to have to make up for it and go dancing.So, this how I kept myself entertained this weekend...Saturday:The main excitement was a trip to Chiswick House 🏡 or Lord Burlington's villa at Chiswick - Lord Hervey described it as, 'Too small to live in, and too big to hang to a watch'⌚️.  I personally think it is the perfect size, and I would absolutely love to have a party there (a civilised one 🍸with these kind of champagne glasses), so if anyone would like to allow this to happen... 💃It was actually built to be used for entertaining 💃 and for displaying Lord Burlington's extensive art collection 🎨 and was never meant to be lived in.  It is a wonderful example of Neo-Palladian architecture 🏡 and is a charming mesh of the classical temple design of ancient Rome and Andrea Palladio's 16th century villa design.  Something I really want to do is take a trip along the Brenta Canal and go and visit many many of Palladio's villas 🏠🏠🏠.  The original plan for the villa by Colen Campbell, was actually rejected by Lord Burlington, and was subsequently used for Mereworth Castle, somewhere else that would be fascinating to have a nose around.My sisters and I decided to go on a trip there, as we like it lots - and we picked up Olivia on the way.  I seemed to be running an uber 🚕 service as I picked up people from various parts of London - and the traffic was TERRIBLE 🚙🚕🚗🚕.  This trip actually really was fairly disastrous - it took us an hour to get there, I almost had a break down when I got trapped in one of those criss-cross yellow boxes 🚧  (they are the bane of my existence driving in London) and Olivia wasn't feeling super sparky 😳.  We did eventually get to Chiswick after some appalling map 📉 reading from my middle sister, and some seriously questionable back-seat driving.  We only had 40 minutes until the grounds closed, as our trip had been delayed as Emily had 'needed' to get her nails painted 💅...Anyway we had a lovely wander about the gardens 🌳🌱 (designed by William Kent), looked at the house 🏠, observed the many many hounds 🐶🐺 frolicking about (I have never seen so many dogs roaming in one place), looked at some fun flamingoes (not real) being set up for a lantern festival 🎆, took a nice photo of a Monkey Puzzle 🙊 tree and had a peak into the conservatory.  The conservatory was a highlight as they are filled with Camellias 🌸🌺 in flower! I really love camellias very much.  So after all that it was time to go home - AND IT TOOK SO LONG.  Emily ran home (you've probably spotted she's all clad in lycra and neon trainers - 100% the best option though.)  I am never driving on Saturday in London ever again - I mean Wandsworth to Chiswick really shouldn't take that long, it really shouldn't.  And it properly poured with rain. ☔️.  Anyway we did get home eventually as Susannah was off to a ball in her super Butter by Nadia dress 💃.IMG_0868IMG_0867IMG_0871IMG_0872IMG_0874IMG_0879IMG_0883IMG_0884IMG_3905IMG_0888IMG_0889IMG_3907IMG_0902IMG_0906Sunday:Sunday was nice.  We had breakfast in Flotsam and Jetsam 🚣 on Wandsworth Parade, which is very nice indeed.  It is definitely the most hipster destination in Wandsworth (you can have a flat white ☕️ and smashed avocado 🍵) - although Wandsworth can never be hipster, it's really more Gwyneth Paltrow wannabe yummy mummies, with dachshunds 🐶, small children on scooters and pristine Hunter wellies.  But Flotsam and Jetsam is lovely and I ate this 🍓👌:IMG_0917IMG_0913IMG_0915I also visited Alex (who put up with me living with her for 3 years!) and James and it was very nice to see them both.  Alex is a very good host, and we drank lapsang ☕️ from her wonderful teapot and she fed me chocolate 🍫 (not literally).  We then had champagne 🍸, just because and Alex already had some open, and I am unemployed.  Just a glass each - as James has been learning to do this:IMG_0927He has a sword 🔪, don't you know, and he says he is happy to give lessons 😉.IMG_0923So the weekend was good - and I am excited for the week to come!Alice xxx