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Showing posts from August, 2009

Devilish Devon - The glorious Garden House

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The Garden House, near Plymouth is another magical property that's really worth making the effort to see if you're in the area and can easily be combined in a day with Coleton Fishacre (see my last entry). This is a garden for all seasons and it doesn't matter whether you visit in May to see the magnificence of spring with the wisteria in full bloom (above); summer, when every border is bursting with colour; or October to see the wonderful hues of autumn.
Although this garden is also tucked away down Devon's winding country lanes - in a village called Buckland Monachorum - it's better known than Coleton because it has received so much good publicity in recent years ... and deservedly so, because of its naturalistic planting.
The story here began in 1945 when a former Eton schoolmaster - Lionel Fortescue - moved to the 1920s vicarage that forms the central focus of much of the garden (see below) and began planting a walled garden around the ruins of the former 16th…

Devilish Devon with its garden secrets!

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This has got to be one of the most stunning gardens that I have visited this year! It's a little out of the way, but for those of us who are staying at home in Britain for holidays this summer and visiting the West Country, it's a must.
Coleton Fishacre in Devon is to die for - one of the finest examples of a garden with "Arts and Crafts" elements that I've seen yet. It's also a long way off the beaten track, at the end of a promontory with the river dart to the west and the sea on the other side, so has not yet been ravaged by garden tourism - but this is part of its charm, even if the access roads are a little daunting. My advice is: go early in the day so you don't meet a coach coming the other way!

The house (above) was designed by Oswald Milne - a pupil of Edwin Lutyens - and is quite austere. It's well worth taking a tour of the interior to see some fine examples of "art deco" living, but be warned.... don't try and take phot…

Crystals and castles in Austria

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I have never seen skies quite as blue as they were when I visited Austria last week - there may have been clouds, but the azure ceiling to the world really made my day when I went to Innsbruck in search of gardens for my blog! Just look at the colours in the photograph above and you will understand what I am wittering on about.
Austria was not a place that I expected to find gardens because I think of it more as a ski destination, but while working in Feldkirch, I checked the internet to see what was on offer nearby and thanks to the website, Garden Visit, I found two that I could get to quite easily by train. And although I wasn't sure what to expect, I had a wonderful day out and returned home with pictures and words for my readers.
The train journey took two hours but I really enjoyed the ride because of the kaleadoscopic view of Heidi-style scenes, with mountains, chalets, alpine meadows and grazing cattle. On arrival in Innsbruck, I found a helpful tourist office that told …

Last tales of the Taj - Part II

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The "lovely lake with its distant islands of palm trees and marble palaces" in Udaipur
India has long been one of my favourite destinations, as my regular readers will have realised! It has an astounding beauty and a magic that is hard to describe if you have not seen it for yourself, but it is also a harsh and unforgiving destination, as we discovered last week when my son got ill and we faced the reality of getting him better and back home!
So for the second half of "Last tales of the Taj", I thought I'd follow in the footsteps of Marianne North, the intrepid botanical painter and explorer, who visited India in 1877. She saw the Taj and wrote:
"The ground all around the city (Agra) was pure dust - one ate it, breathed it, drank it, slept in it - but the place was so glorious that one forgot the dust entirely. I went that same afternoon to the Taj, and found it bigger and grander even than I had imagined; its marble so pure and polished that no amount …

Faith and the Future and a MeMe for Me!

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I feel greatly honoured because Autumn Belle of My Nice Garden has passed on a Meme award to me. This is the first time that anyone has paid such a delightful tribute to my blog and it gives me the chance to pass on the award to some of the other really brilliant blogs that I have come across since I started writing my own.
But the most difficult part for me is revealing things about myself that will interest other people. So I shall follow Autumn Belle's lead and pick the alphabet as my focal point, but I shall concentrate on the letter "F" because there are seven really important areas of my life that start with this letter.
Family makes the first "F" because I am blessed with a truly wonderful group of relatives - particularly my husband and my son, but also my mother, my stepchildren and all my uncles, aunts and cousins. We are spread all over the world, but we are good at keeping in touch and blogging has really re-ignited some old family relationships a…

Last tales of the Taj - Part I

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Garden visits take on an altogether different meaning in Rajasthan, India, particularly at this time of year! It is monsoon season and the gardens, are for the most part, green and glorious, but the heat remains a challenge!
I have spent the last two weeks in Rajasthan, working on my hospital scheme for the village people near Udaipur - The Raven Foundation - but have also managed to fit in several garden visits, and quite a few birdwatching trips. Both the gardens and the birds in India are very different from what we find at home, either here in the UK or in the continental US, so it has been an interesting trip for me. But what is so striking about rural Rajasthan at this time of year is the unending vista of green, thanks to the monsoon.
My travels took me from Delhi to Agra and the Taj Mahal (above) and then on to Jaipur, Udaipur and Dungarpur. The first three are all on the well-trodden tourist beat, but the last is a little different and it was there that I got to see not just …

Jaipur - India's fabled pink city

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Jaipur is the state capital of Rajasthan and is known to all as the "Pink City" because of the colour of all the old buildings(above). But in reality, the Jaipur of today is two cities, with the old city at its heart and a new city that has sprung up outside. It is the old city that appeals to the visitor, and at this time of year, after the monsoon, it is lush and green and there are many gardens and green spaces to visit because Jaipur is in bloom. That said, it would be impossible to write here, without referring to some of the other majestic sights on offer.
I have been here for just two brief days, and been captivated by the Hawa Mahal (also known as the Palace of Winds, above), the glorious City Palace, Amber Fort, Jantar Mahal and the gardens; I have ridden elephants, camels, the infamous tuk-tuk and bicycle rickshaws; and shopped in the old city's bazaar, which is a maze of streets filled with colours and sights that leave you reeling - for Rajasthan is one of …