An afternoon of artful promenading was in order this weekend in one of the most exquisite gardens in the south of England. Overlooking the picturesque High Weald in Sussex, the 600 acres of garden at Nymans converge on the ruined ghost of a gothic stone manor house which burned down in the 1940s.
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Home to three generations of the Messel family most notably for me, it was the childhood home of the extraordinary theatrical set, costume and interior designer Oliver Messel.
Many exotic looking plants flourish here, reflecting the original temperate plant collections grown at Nymans. The Romneya coulteri (Bottom left) took ages to photograph, her papery thin petals modestly shrouding her stamen from my lens with every gust of wind.
The south east facing wall bestowed some very exciting plants growing together. A horticuluralist's exotic feast of Amica zygomeris with gorgeous oar shaped foliage, the whip like spires of Salvia confertifolia, the Mexican sunflower Tithonia rotunifolia and the vicious beauty with dayglo orange teeth, Solanum pyracanthum, ouch!
Another favourite that we also grow was discovered waving it's large palmate leaves amongst the romantic ruins, Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Rex' or T-Rex as it is fondly known.
One of the highlights of a visit to Nymans is to walk the spectacular long summer borders overflowing with an enormous array of dazzling flora punctuated by some rather opulent yew topiary.
Now, if only I could extend our garden a few hundred feet......
Picnics play a huge part in our weekend getaways. As we have mentioned before we are big fans of Fortnum & Mason in London's Piccadilly. There's no other place to go to when you are in need of some fabulous picknickery knick knacks. In honour of the sun's late arrival this summer we have some fabulous picnic goodies to giveaway.
The Fortnum and Mason Picnic Trio to give away this month consists of.....
The Fortnum and Mason Piccadilly Hot Pack Containing a Thermos flask, two metal mugs with handles, two teaspoons and a canister.
The Fortnum and Mason Piccadilly Picnic Blanket A classic tartan rug with waterproof backing which rolls up with handle & shoulder strap.
An assortment of Fortnum Teas to make a lovely Great British cuppa
It's very simple to enter. All welcome, new and existing followers. Join up and join in. One entry per person.
To be in with a chance of winning just.......
A. Follow (Worldwide) The Magical Christmas Wreath Company Blog
B. Leave a comment below
One lucky winner will be picked at random from the comments below on 31st August 2012
On the southern edge of the Cotswolds, five acres of enchanting and intimate gardens have captured my heart. In the shade of a 12th-century benedictine abbey in Malmesbury, Abbey House Gardens have been dramatically reworked by Ian and Barbara Pollard since they took up residence in 1994. Designed with a playful formality, their devotion to the gardens is evident in every footstep.
In the front of the house a beautifully executed Celtic knot garden of Lavender, Buxus, Ilex and Berberis leads the eye to a hypnotic water cauldron that requests you to gaze meditatively into its sky blue waters.
A myriad of paths merge from one beautiful scene to another. It would be easy to imagine gossamer-clad, sylph-like figures playing hide and seek in such a place flittering to and fro in its maze of green corridors.
The gardens were once part of the Benedictine Monastery, tended by monks growing medicinal herbs. Now the impressive herbarium is bursting at the seams with beneficial aromatics. Encircled by an oak latticed arcade echoing the arches of the neighbouring abbey, upon which a botanical cocktail of diligently trained Medlar, Pear, Peach and Apple abundantly coexist with roses and clematis.
A dazzling colour wheel of roses in vibrant kaleidoscopic hues vie for your attention throughout the upper gardens urging to become bewitched by their velvet beauty.
Keep an eye out for Brutus the Leopard Spot Egyptian Tortoise...
The garden is full of twists and turns teasing you to explore further to see what you might discover.
There is an underlining magical energy at work here. I'm sure I felt those monks moving amongst us.
Contrary to the upper gardens, behind the main house a network of zig-zagging pathways leading you down to the tranquil lower water gardens. The descent to the river softened with Rhododendron, Azalea, Camelia, Acer, Hydrangea and of one of my favourite plants, Podophyllum virtually unseen in other gardens I have visited!
Known as “The Naked Gardeners” Ian and Barbara are famous for doing it all in the buff and once a month during the summer give visitors to the garden the opportunity if they so wish to also discard their attire.
Even though we chose to remain clothed, there is a sense of freedom that is evident behind the walls of Abbey House, a magical eden where you can leave your inhibitions behind, throwing caution to the wind and your pants in the air, to chase some pretty butterflies in a gorgeous garden!
Being a water baby, there were two events that I wanted to see live at the London Olympics - Canoe Slalom and Swimming. Yesterday was our day to sprint North to the new Lee Valley White Water Centre to watch the Mens Kayak K1 event.
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After an absolutely thrilling competition the charasmatic, motorcycle-mad, Itailan birthday boy Daniele 'Cali' Molmenti took Gold in his Ducati Red Kayak before blowing kisses to the swooning girls in our row.