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

Amberley Castle

When I first started my blog, I did a series of posts of me dressed in rather wonderful dresses 👗, in a number of different gardens.  I never really explained the reason for these - and really is just because I love dresses - proper dresses and because it is fun photographing in gardens and outside country houses.  Mummy very kindly took all the photos for these 'shoots' and we have had a really very fun time exploring a number of gardens and houses, and I am looking forward to doing more 😊.  Although I am not always the easiest model - I make funny faces by accident, and sometimes I get embarrassed about being photographed in public so we have minor Mother / daughter heated discussions - however mostly we have come away with some really excellent photos and have greatly enjoyed ourselves.Here is a lovely photo shoot, shot at Amberley Castle 🏰in Sussex.  I am wearing a vintage dress 👗, it really is a proper princess 👸dress, and sometimes I can't quite believe people actually went to parties in dresses such as these (actually I really wish we still did).  The dress in the bright blue looks wonderful against the castle backdrop, and we had a really good sunny day ☀️ for photographing.  Amberley Castle was built by the Bishops of Chichester, and there has been a structure there since 1103 - the fortifications, walls and gatehouse arrived around 1377.  It really is a rather whimsical place, with ruins still inside the walls, they are now a rather stunning feature of the garden.  Really the best part is that it is a hotel, so you can go and stay within the castle walls.  The drive slopes down hill away from the castle entrance and it really does feel as though a prince might gallop 🐎 up any moment and sweep you away....Happy Easter!!Alice xxxPhotos taken by Sarah BrayIMG_1429IMG_1421 IMG_1399IMG_1439IMG_1443 IMG_1444 IMG_1452 IMG_1457 IMG_1461

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

Point-to-Pointing

This weekend we went to the Crawley and Horsham Hunt point-to-point 🏇 at Parham House.I have never actually known exactly what a point-to-point is (I know it's a horse race, but that's about it).  I looked it up and it turns out a point-to-point is a horse race for hunting horses and amateur riders.  The name 'point-to-point' originates from the first of such races, run in Country Cork.  A Mr Blake 🏇 challenged his neighbour Mr O'Callaghan 🏇 to race across country from Buttevant church ⛪️ to Doneraile church ⛪️, jumping anything that got in the way - stone walls, ditches and hedges.  They kept the steeple of the church at the finish in sight and this is where we get both 'steeplechase' and 'point-to-point' from, as they were chasing from 'steeple-to-steeple' or 'point-to-point'.  Nowadays they race around a purpose built race track - those pesky motorways, barbed wire fences and proud landowners don't really allow to horses races between church steeples.  But there is still one left in the UK that is run under the original conditions - the New Forest Boxing Day Point-to-Point, which gives you a start and a finish point, but allows you to chose your route - and sounds really rather fun.It was a lovely day out, with a few Sat Nav mishaps (there is a place called Parham in Suffolk, not helpful) and a quick stop at Mcdonalds on the way (we had a few hungover participants), we arrived to enjoy a glorious day watching the horses.There is something so reassuring about turning up to a proper countryside event - horses, barbours, tweed, muddy wells, dogs galore, every landrover in the county parked precariously in the mud and a slightly comical commentator.  And the nicest thing is, it's not too showy.  Yes there are some red trousers, and the prosecco clutching young man wearing a white designer jumper possibly got the wrong memo (this is pony club, not a flashy polo match), and there were some slightly obnoxiously shiny landrovers.  But really most people seemed very content pottering about in their non-designer tweed, wellies and flat caps, with their spaniels and terriers on leads, just enjoying the sunshine and the races.It was a glorious day.Alice xxxIMG_3978IMG_3991IMG_3993IMG_4158IMG_4160IMG_4020IMG_4021

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

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 

The Walled Garden at Charleston in a Catherine Walker Dress

Charleston farmhouse is situated in the South Downs in Sussex and was the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant from 1916 until 1978, as well as being the country meeting place of the Bloomsbury group.The walled garden at Charleston was created by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant to the designs of the artist Roger Fry.  The small garden slopes down from the side of the house, and as you enter, you become quickly immersed in the dense planting of the garden.  At every turn of the narrow gravel path, there is something to delight the senses, a small classical sculpture, a mosaic pavement, a vibrant bed of Dahlias, a tile edged pool, a fruiting apple tree, each drawing you further into the garden.What I love most about this garden is the combination of colours and and the discovery of the unexpected as you wander through.  It really does feel as though it has been created by artists, with every element carefully planned, and each vista a work of art in itself.Charleston AppleCharleston 2Charleston 4Charleston DahCharleston BenchCharleston 7Dress: Vintage Catherine Walker; Shoes: Vintage Carvela at Kurt GeigerPhotographed at CharlestonPhotography: Sarah Bray     

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.

The Garden at Gravetye

IMG_4203IMG_4191Gravtye Manor is the former home of the gardener William Robinson, author of The English Flower Garden and The Wild Garden.  Robinson introduced the idea of naturalised planting – the concept of allowing nature to flow in the garden, challenging the usual practice of planting formal gardens with set borders.Robinson, who bought the manor in 1884, put his wild gardening theories into practice in the garden and many of his naturalised bulbs can still be seen today.  The more formally arranged flower garden surrounds the manor, with the wild garden spreading out from the edges, including the orchard and meadow.  Since 2010 the aim has been to both conserve and re-create Robinson’s work as well as progressing the garden, in homage to his style.At this time of year the contrast of the burnt orange helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ sitting alongside the white romneya coulteri ‘Californian Tree Poppy’ is really charming.  The Kitchen Garden is a wonderful sight, with all sorts of exciting fruit, vegetables and herbs being grown, which are all used in the kitchen and served in the restaurant.The garden has such character and whether you are sitting in the formal garden having afternoon tea, or taking a stroll further afield after lunch, it is a really special experience.IMG_5902IMG_5908IMG_5921Green dress: Vintage Gina Fratini; Shoes: Office.Pink dress: Topshop; Shoes: Elia B.Photography: Sarah BrayPhotographed at Gravetye Manor

The Frog King

IMG_5630'With that she became bitterly angry and threw him against the wall with all her might. "Now you will have your peace, you disgusting frog!"But when he fell down, he was not a frog, but a prince with beautiful friendly eyes. And he was now, according to her father's will, her dear companion and husband. He told her how he had been enchanted by a wicked witch, and that she alone could have rescued him from the well, and that tomorrow they would go together to his kingdom.' - Jacob and Wilhelm GrimmThe Gunnera plant is incredibly distincitive due to it's enormous dark green leaves. Densely clustered together and bearing down from their great height, the leaves can be rather foreboding. The perfect setting for a fairy-tale scene, whose original story from the brothers Grimm is not quite as enchanting as we are always led to believe.Dress: Vintage AnnabelindaPhotography: Sarah BrayPhotographed at High Beeches Garden

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