The Garden

So I live in London in a house with a GARDEN 🏡.  It's really quite amazing, I've never lived anywhere before with a garden (apart from home) and I am really excited for summer and being able to spend time in it.  At the moment we have some foliage and trees growing on one side 🌳🌿, but that's about it.So Max and I decided to plant some things !  We went to Neal's Nurseries again, my new favourite place and found some things to plant.  I went to Arundel Castle 🏰 gardens recently, and love their borders - so we tried to find some english herbaceous perennials - flowering ones.  I like the idea of creating an 'english' garden, and flowers are always good, I rather like the wild look, with the plants spilling out from their borders onto the paths.  And perennials are important as they live for more than one year, hopefully flowering again and again.Max was very keen on herbs, so we found lots of nice lavender , thyme, rosemary, mint, fennel 🌱, some chives which should have some pretty purple flowers 🌷 on them and a strawberry plant 🍓 I am so excited for.  Then we found some creepers - jasmine and sweet peas  🌿 which hopefully, with careful encouragement will grow up the back wall.  And then the flowering perennials - lupins, salvias, a geranium, phlox and nepeta 🌸🌺.  I added some poppy seeds too, which I hope will not get frightened off by the cold.So with some digging, adding topsoil and careful planting they have all gone in, and I am so excited that they might actually grow.  Max was keen for a linear approach to the planting, I may have made it a little more spontaneous 😉.It is such a fun and exciting thing, planting your own plants, and I feel rather attached to them already.  I am also planning on planting some vegetables 🍎🍋 soon - I really do want a tomato plant 🍎, and I also, at some point, and I think I need a greenhouse, want to cultivate some dahlias, as they are just so wonderful when they flower 😊🌺.I will keep you updated with the growing.Alice xxxIMG_4285IMG_4363IMG_4364IMG_4365IMG_4380

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

Alice Visits a Palace

Yesterday I got up really very early 😠 for a Saturday morning and took myself off to to Alexandra Palace 🏤.  I have been there once before and I can tell you it is VERY FAR from Wandsworth.  I walked 🚶, got a train 🚂, got the tube 🚅 and then a bus 🚌 and finally made it.  However my journey wasn't over - some very suspicious security people 😎😎 finally let me into the Palace 🏤 (I'm an exhibitor, I promise 😇) and trekked to the other side of the Great Hall 🚶🚶, to discover my Mother 🙎standing on a table amongst a number of canvases 🎨 and a lovely vase of daffodils, witch hazel and camellias 🌼🌾🌺.  There was a reason for the table standing - she was setting up for a day of tourism trade excitement, as High Beeches Gardens was exhibiting at Excursions Exhibition 2016.The exhibition interestingly shows all sorts of attractions based in the south east - so big names such as the Tate Galleries 🎨 and Royal Collection were there, along with small independent people like us, and even some magicians (although I am still confused by their presence).  It's a odd mix of exhibitors - landed gentry (who have an 'attraction' on their estate) pottering about it tweed jackets, the rather aloof RHS organisers wandering about in zipped up fleeces, the travel company owners in crumpled shirts and ties, and the odd Roman soldier...Anyway we were sharing the stand with Bolney Wine Estate 🍷🌳 for the day, and we had a lovely time on stand SE23, with only a few small confusions  'so you are a vineyard and a garden...'  No - for the record - High Beeches is just a garden, Bolney are just a vineyard - but we are 15 minutes down the road from each other, so please do come and visit both in one day, you can have lunch at either.I have spent a number of days on stands at trade fairs before - mainly at Kensington Olympia with Gabs handbags  👜and Elia B shoes 👠 and once in Milan.  Milan was one of the most amazing and overwhelming experiences ever - there was many, many halls the size of Kensington Olympia next to each other and just filled with shoes👠.  So many shoes 👠👠👠.  It was truly wonderful.  David who I worked with at these fairs is an absolute stickler for 'stand etiquette' - the stand must be tidy at all times, no sitting down, and always a keen eye 😳 for any passing potential handbag 👜👜buyers.  I think I did you justice David, I did keep the stand tidy (removing the endless empty tea cups) and I did accost a number of potential garden visitors, although they are certainly a very different sort....The visitors to the fair appeared to be fairly officious retired older ladies 👵 (members of U3A are the most terrifying, the WI are kinder), flogging tours to other older ladies 👵 who need entertainment.  'Ohhh we do love your garden 🌳but it's a bit too hilly 🗻 for our ladies', 'What a lovely garden, can we fit you in with another attraction as a nice day out' (Yes we've already told you Bolney Vineyard 🍷 is down the road...) 'Oh we do love coming to you, such a good cream tea ☕️🍰'.Anyway is was a super day, I met an owl called Twiglet 🐦 (he was quite sleepy), had a delicious Bombay Sapphire gin cocktail with the Mad Hatter 🎩and Harry Potter 🔮(apparently they do tours of Oxford), and learnt quite a lot about wine 🍷 from the lovely Charlotte of Bolney Vineyard.  If you grow the grapes in England - it has to be called English wine not British wine.   British wine is when they buy the grapes from another country but make it in England.  AND very kindly Goodnestone Park gave us a little pot of their honey to take home 🐝☺️Today:Today I went cycling 🚴in Richmond Park 🌳which was great - I haven't done that much proper exercise for quite sometime, and my fellow cyclist certainly put me through my paces.  I dug out my Sweaty Betty trackie bums and looked sort of athletic (the glittery Bimba and Lola trainers were maybe a little overkill - but there is something very satisfying about overtaking lycra clad cyclists whilst wearing glitter) It was a wonderful day out and we sat in the park and had a coffee ☕️ and then cycled up 'just a small hill' - it was really very steep 🗻 and I may not be able to walk tomorrow.  But it really was a super nice day.This evening I have been editing some copy of a website 💻which has yet to be launched, which I have enjoyed immensely ☺️.  I spend rather a lot of time 'thesaurusing' words and it makes me realise I need to read more 📕.  Lots more📕📘.  I think I need to set myself a reading goal - so will report back when that is in place.Tomorrow we are having a Burns 🔥 dinner, which is super - and I am very excited 😊😊.  We have given all the guests one verse of the 'Address to the Haggis' to learnt off by heart to be recited tomorrow evening - you better all be practicing your best Scottish accents!! 😉Alice xxxIMG_1655IMG_1669IMG_1672IMG_1679IMG_1740IMG_1728IMG_1720IMG_1712IMG_1759IMG_1743IMG_1768IMG_1804IMG_1780IMG_1779 

A Day in the Real Countryside and a Trip to Selfridges

So I have been asked what the word 'edgy' means from a confused reader (my father) - so I thought to make it clear to all I would give you the definition according to the internet:

edgy
adjective
 
1. tense, nervous, or irritable.
"he became edgy and defensive"
synonyms: tense, nervous, on edge, highly strung, anxious, apprehensive, uneasy, ill at ease, unsettled, unstable; 
 
2. informal
at the forefront of a trend; experimental or avant-garde.
"their songs combine good music and smart, edgy ideas"

 No. 2 is the important one.So the day before yesterday I went to the countryside 🌳🍃.  National Rail 🚂 also seem to think Wandsworth is not in London - I despair.    Anyway I spent the day with Pip and Barney - who are excellent companions, and really don't mind at all that I am unemployed.  We went for a walk in the sunshine ☀️ - it was a beautiful frosty day.  Pip is feeling quite over enthusiastic about life at the moment - (I would say 'edgy' definition No. 1 would apply to his current disposition) and I think the walk 🚶 did us all good - the only destruction that took place, whilst I was in charge, was the tearing apart of an out of print Hillier's Trees and Shrubs book 📗....  we think perhaps it's a teenage thing.The three of us also visited Granny 👵- and we spoke at length about Dolly Pentreath, the last woman to speak the cornish language apparently, and about my Great Grandmother, who was the youngest but one of her father's 15 children - can you imagine...  her mother had 6 daughters 👭👭👭.  She must have had real Mrs Bennett Syndrome...  Granny also thinks Barney is 'obstinate' which I think is very unfair - he just isn't.IMG_1640IMG_1536IMG_1560IMG_1571IMG_1548IMG_1551IMG_1538IMG_1574Yesterday I got on my bicycle and took myself over to Selfridges👗🎀👠.  I really like Selfridges, particularly floor 2 where all the good things are.  I like it because they have all the designers in one place, and because you are allowed to actually touch the clothes and even try them on.  You can roam to your hearts 💗 content, with only a few 'can I help yous' and see all the new collections in one place.  I never try things on (except shoes) and I really should.  I have a friend who was once convinced by an Alexander McQueen sales assistant that she must try a dress on - and it ripped 👗💔.  I mean, I just don't know what you do in that situation - it's not like TK Maxx where you tell sales assistant in the cloakroom that 'you really love it, but it's not for you' (whilst making sure the damaged item is well hidden) and then scarper from the shop at a fast pace and pray the next time you come back it's not the same person on duty.... (Ok I'm really not that bad, I do usually confess...)I really do love wandering about Selfridges - there is such an excitement about seeing so many beautiful designs 👗💘 in one place all so carefully displayed - I get really quite elated 😍 once I arrive on the second floor  (it's not quite how Holly Golightly 🚬 feels about Tiffany's, but I imagine a similar vibe).  I also like that they play upbeat almost club like music 🎶 - it's quite fun.  This time I found some real delights:IMG_1634IMG_1616My first discovery were some Simone Rocha dresses that looked like they were made out of candy floss (not sticky) and clouds.  I would probably only ever where such a thing if I happened to end up at a party in an Art Deco house in Palm Springs 🌴 - that would be great:IMG_1593I enjoyed these Dries Van Noten shorts immensely, and a fun necklace - I love overstated jewellery like this, the kind that your Barbie would wear - but actually you just wished it was in your size:IMG_1594IMG_1595Then a peak at these fantastic Alaia dresses - waisted dresses are the best, and look at the way they hang -  they do them in black too:IMG_1602IMG_1603A nice Pucci dress (I don't always get on with Pucci that well) but I do love a good pink and orange combo:IMG_1607I adore what Alessandro Michele is doing with Gucci - I really like the touch of the traditional, that green and red signature stripe with things like this - particularly the silver jacket 💙💙💙:IMG_1608IMG_1611Roksanda is great - because she does geometric patterns in bright colours, and because she makes skirts like below.  And this gem of  a shirt (I don't get on with buttons very well, so the use of shirt studs on a crisp white shirt, combined with the coloured stripes on the cuffs really is magical):IMG_1599IMG_1601IMG_1604And then Miu Miu.  I wish I had the opportunity and the resources to wear head-to-toe Miu Miu one day a week.  Just because.  It is always so different and so fun and I love the daring of the designs - such as these snakeskin and glitter shoes (these are not my thing) but they fact that they exist is just so good.  I loved the jewels, and I quite want the scent.  I think for Miu Miu I would become the consumer who buys the perfume or the sunglasses - just to own a touch of the magic.  An almost, but not really affordable, very own piece of Miu Miu 💘:IMG_1618IMG_1598IMG_1617IMG_1596I spotted a few other things - Givenchy sequin skirt ⭐️⭐️🌟 (so many twinkles), a superb dress by Toni Maticevski, Moncler ski jacket in bright orange, a beautiful blue suede Loewe handbag (I once saw someone in Milan with the Loewe Amazona bag in tan with magenta pink handles, and have never seen it since - it was so wonderful, and I really do want it) and the Chanel quilted bag in shiny bright pink and bright blue - YES Chanel.  Oh and the most hideous Christopher Kane duo - a full length red dress made of hearts and a jacket made of rubber (seriously?).IMG_1626IMG_1613IMG_1633 IMG_1636IMG_1629IMG_1606I had a quick whip around the shoes - I like the heels on these Sophia Webster shoes - I think excellent if you want a little bit of jazz to your wedding shoes:IMG_1620IMG_1621But really everything was looking quite beige, in colour and in attitude.  Except some silly Stella McCartney flatforms - I also got overexcited by the fur coat the lady in the background is wearing (probably should stop taking creepy sneaky photos of people I don't know) - fun fur coat though....IMG_1624It was a lovely excursion - perhaps I will go back soon and try some things on.Alice xxx

Do Be a Darling amongst the Cyclamen

The Darling

A recent trip to Amsterdam took me to 'De Negen Straatjes' or 'The Nine Streets', actually three streets, intersected by two canals, which are lined with charming independent boutiques.  The idea of the 'concept store' has really taken off in Amsterdam, and each clothing store is carefully curated like a gallery, but with the added bonus of the visitor being allowed to play with the items on display.My favourite was The Darling, a delightful shop on Runstraat 4.  Walking into The Darling made me feel as though I was entering the enviable walk-in-wardrobe of a good friend.  The clothes are beautifully displayed, the walls are covered in small prints and there are hydrangeas in vases.  Best of all, you can order a cupcake and cup of coffee and sit on their upstairs balcony, if you need need a break from browsing.The Darling sell a range of simple pieces in elegant fabrics - new, vintage and own brand items.  Their underwear particularly caught my eye, but the item I had to buy was the 'Darling' jumper.  I don't know if it was the connotation of the word 'darling' in English - it always seems to me slightly tongue in cheek, and makes me delightedly think of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, in which everyone she meets is 'Darling' - 'Step on it darling....'.I wanted to do a photo with the Cyclamen flowers, as they are looking wonderful at the moment in white and purple.  These perennial flowering plants are so dainty, and also strong.  This species, Cyclamen hederifolium is native to the UK and pushes it's way up through the soil during the Autumn.  The nose of the flower faces downwards, the five upright petals look almost like little wings and they have dark green, patterned ivy-esque leaves.  Coming across clusters of these little flowers at High Beeches garden, growing under the dark cedar tree (cedrus atlantica glauca) you might almost think you had wandered into an enchanted forest.  A perfect setting for a photograph with my new The Darling jumper <3.Alice xIMG_4190 The-DarlingIMG_4191         Top image:Photographed at High Beeches Garden sitting under the Cedrus atlantica Glauca tree among the Cyclamen flowers.Jumper: The Darling; Trousers: Zara; Shoes: Elia B; Unicorn clutch bag: The White Pepper; Ribbon: MacCulloch & Wallis.Photographer: Sarah Bray @SarahBray50Bottom images:Photographs of The Darling in Amsterdam, taken by Alice Bray 

Battersea Park

???????????????????????????????There are many different gardens hidden away in Battersea Park, each with it's own particular history.  The recently developed Winter Garden has a wide variety of trees, shrubs and perennials, the Old English Garden tucked away by the cricket pavilion, the charming Rose Garden, the restored Russell Page Garden and the Sub-Tropical Garden.  The Park has over 4,000 trees, many of which date back to the original layout in 1858 - Tom Maxwell has created an informative guide to the trees.   It is a lovely place for an afternoon roam away from the city bustle, and there is much to discover.

 Russell Page Garden

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The landscape designer Russell Page's original Festival Gardens were designed for the 1951 Festival of Britain.  A green lawn and colourful flower beds were surrounded by a children's zoo, model railway and a funfair. Twenty thousand yellow tulips along with raised beds of crimson and pink floribunda roses were planted and regularly changed from spring bulbs to summer bedding.  The Festival Gardens were restored in 2004.

 

Sub Tropical Garden

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The Sub-Tropical Garden was originally created by John Gibson in 1863 and were the first of this kind in the country.  Gibson had been sent to India by the Duke of Devonshire to hunt for orchids and his journey took him via Madeira and South Africa.  Using the plants he brought back from this trip, he created a unique garden at Battersea, made up of exotic plants and colourful 'carpet' bedding.  During World War II much of the park became allotments to help feed local people, however in 1992 a palm tree was once again planted in this area, and they were restored to the original plans in 1992.

Dress: French Connection; Handbag: Lauren by Ralph Lauren; Shoes: Elia B.

Photography: Rhiannon Ryder

Photographed at Battersea Park, London.

Ox-Eye Daisy

IMG_5304The naturalised wildflower meadow at High Beeches Garden in Sussex boasts 46 species of wildflower and 13 species of grasses, my particular favourite is the ox-eye daisy which is in flower right now.The ox-eye daisy or leucanthemum vulgare, is a perennial (a plant that lives for longer than two years), and is the largest native daisy to Britain. It is a member of the Asteraceae family, from the Greek word ‘ἀστήρ’ meaning ‘star’, referring to the shape of the flower which appears as a star surrounded by rays. It can reach to 3 feet high, and when in full bloom the meadow becomes a sea of white, creating a really enchanting sight.Top: Topshop; Skirt: American Apparel; Shoes: Keds; Sunglasses: Accessorize.Photography: Sarah BrayPhotographed at High Beeches GardenPlant Life: 7 Great Gardens to see Wildflowers