Saturday, July 30, 2011

Manor House with a View

The jewel in the Stourhead crown has to be the world-famous 18th-century landscape garden. A magnificent lake shimmering with reflections of classical temples, mystical grottoes and rare and exotic trees. Secrets of the Hoare family history are revealed at Stourhead House (orginally the family holiday home!) with the chance to discover the unique Regency library, collections of Chippendale furniture and inspirational paintings, all set amid 'picnic perfect' lawns and parkland. The lake and house are at the heart of a 1,072-hectare (2,650-acre) estate where chalk downs, ancient woods and farmland are managed for people and wildlife to enjoy - National Trust Stourhead site description.

As one meanders around the lake path the view changes at every bend. Not all of the buildings and carefully created scenes are visible at once. Thus it is a journey of sorts to navigate the grounds not knowing what will be around the next turn or grove of trees. On the above sign found at Stourhead Alexander Pope, 18th century poet and garden proponent, lyrically states the aim of the well designed landscape.

As the formal garden with its topiary figures fell out of popularity in lieu of the more natural landscape gardens, Pope published a satirical catalogue of topiary for sale.

Here's something lovely if you have a few minutes to spare.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No Horse Play in the Garden

In an obviously desperate and very transparent attempt to gain blog mention (or perhaps a restraining order) someone has left us an anonymous gift.

We spied it during our morning inspection of the yard from the stair landing window.

We are slightly amused, but Black Beauty will soon be put out to pasture. Yes, he's kind of cute, but he is seriously upsetting the gnomes, not to mention disturbing the feng shui of the ostrich fern plantation.

Thanks, though. It's the thought that counts.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Let the Cavalcade of Gardens Begin

No better place to start than Tintinhull - A seventeenth century house with a Arts and Crafts garden. The Eagle Court is thought to have been made in the eighteenth century but the other garden compartments were made in the first two decades of the twentieth century. It has a distinct 'Golden Afternoon' flavour. (Unless you visit on a grey, overcast day as we did.) Captain and Mrs Reiss bought the house in 1933 and added the Pool Garden as a memorial to a nephew who was shot down over a Malta convoy during the Second World War. Penelope Hobhouse, author of Colour in Your Garden (1984) worked here from 1980 to 1993 and the garden is described by her in Penelope Hobhouse on Gardening (1994). - from

The resume of Penelope Hobhouse is rich with gardening credentials including being a recipient of the Royal Horticultural Society Victoria Medal of Honour, the highest award given by the RHS to British Horticulturists.

We confess that before seeing her photograph we pictured Penelope in a big floppy garden hat and a filmy sundress sipping tea on the patio and browsing seed catalogs. However, reading her list of accomplishments and viewing her ruddy, suntanned visage, convinces us that she is more likely to be the one moving compost, digging holes, and shaping the yews rather than merely directing others to do so. We greatly admire a woman who is as capable of wielding a pruning shears as a pen.

Good show. Carry on Penelope.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's Hard to Find Good Help These Days

They were not the most efficient workers we have ever employed, but at least they were quiet. Silent even. Except for that crazy piano music we kept hearing we wouldn't have even known they were here. Enjoy three chaps doing a bit of yard work.

Would you like their number? Indeed, Professor Bell just invented a newfangled device he calls the telephone.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sisterhood of the Travelling Plants

Two sisters out for some fun and frivolity on a whirlwind tour of England and its Gardens. 13 glorious gardens in 13 days. How could this be possible? Well, it took alot of careful planning by experienced staff from Purdue University and the Purdue Extension Master Gardener Program. Hotel rooms were booked, coach transportation with charming driver was arranged, restaurants were warned, gardens were scouted out, good weather was prayed for, patience was stored up, and a sense of humor was brought along by two very organized instructors responsible for shepherding 26 individuals of varying levels of punctuality and attention span from Wiltshire to Kent, Wales to Somerset, and East Anglia to Suffolk. No one was left behind in a garden, no one had to use the emergencies only loo on the coach, and the only injuries suffered were from a biting wasp, some vicious blackberry brambles, a wonky staircase, and one very low Tudor era door frame. At the end of the trip participants still seemed able to laugh even as the airlines did their best to keep them from leaving the UK on time and in good spirits.

While we catch up with laundry, jet lag, weeding, and photo editing enjoy some views of and from our first stop, The Bear Hotel, in Devizes, Wiltshire, UK.

Devizes market square with backdrop of the Bear Hotel was a scene setting in the 1967 film Far from the Madding Crowd starring Julie Christie.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Skipping Over the Pond

And leaving you with more fantastic floral images created by the talented S. Plasch.

Cheerio! Back in a tick.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Backstory

Color Me Katie is one smart gal. She knows where to find the true love at a photo op.

Katie has a lot of other really good ideas too. Do take time to watch the carousel horse race. Inspired, brilliant, joyful, fun.

Photo: S. Plasch

Monday, July 4, 2011

Ooh Ah, Ooh Ah

Have you ever seen a more spectacular sight? 24 jars exploding with berry tasty summer goodness to enjoy now and all winter long.

Now that's fireworks worthy.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

I'll Just Have a Piece of Toast Thank You

Somebody had a hankerin' for some Raisin Bran and tried to help themselves from the basement pantry shelf.

Perhaps it was Rocky IV (We didn't bother to tell you about Rocky III) who was captured in the family room last week after midnight by the nightowl teen who didn't mention the incident until questioned several days later about why an afghan was thrown into the laundry. (Is it bad that this is becoming a common enough occurrence that it's not even worth mentioning anymore?) Washing the blanket seemed like a good idea after it was used to transport Rocky to the great outdoors. The nightowl is becoming a regular squirrel whisperer. Thanks kid. Good and tidy job well done!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Scarlett O'Hara

One of the best convention freebies ever, Scarlett O'Hara came in a bag-o-swag at a WIMGA conference compliments of Klehm's Song Sparrow. Each year since the big healthy root was planted about three years ago the number of blooms has at least doubled.

Photo: S. Plasch