April 2016 Cherry Blossom update

Alexandra Palace cherry blossomHere we are, nearly half way through April, the weather’s getting better and the cherry trees are coming into bloom, so it’s time for an update on the current state of the blossom. This update focuses on two of the top five places in my guide to the best cherry blossom viewing spots in LondonContinue reading

Two hundred years of Camellias at Chiswick House

Chiswick House CamelliaLast summer, Yannick and I visited Chiswick House, a neo-Palladian villa built by the third Earl of Burlington in 1729. The gardens, restored in a two year, twelve million pound project and reopened in 2010, were glorious, but there was one thing we missed seeing – the camellias, which bloom in February/March. I vowed then to come back for the annual camellia festival in the amazing two hundred year old conservatory, so last week saw us on the train to Chiswick once again. Continue reading

Amazing Orchids at Kew

IMG_2284Every year, in February, Kew Gardens puts on its famous orchids display in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. It’s wonderful to visit and spend some time in the damp warmth of a tropical rain forest while outside the glass it’s bone-freezingly cold, and let the vivid colours and fantastic shapes of the orchids take you to a different world. Continue reading

Plum Blossom or Cherry Blossom – which is it?

Plum BlossomOkay, I plead guilty to this one. Sometimes, especially at this time of year when I’m waiting for the first cherry blossom to bloom, I might have got my plum blossom and my cherry blossom mixed up. But it’s not going to happen any more, no sirree. I’ve done my research and now I know how to spot the difference. I bet you want to know too, so I’m going to share with you my handy three point guide to telling them apart. Continue reading

White Magic – Snowdrop Days at the Chelsea Physic Garden

Snowdrop DaysThe snowdrops are early this year. So early that the Chelsea Physic Garden had to rearrange its snowdrop days to take place sooner than usual, which explains why Yannick and I found ourself venturing out in the middle of last week’s cold snap to see them. And nearly freezing our fingers off taking photos for you. You’re welcome. Continue reading

Winter in the Sky Garden

Sky GardenI was a bit dubious when Yannick suggested going to see the Sky Garden at the top of the Walkie Talkie building on a rather grey December day. I’d seen all those lovely sunny photos people had taken back in the summer and I couldn’t help feeling we just weren’t going to get the right light. But you know what? We got something just as interesting – an atmospheric smoky glow with a charm all its own. Plus a bonus as the early sunset showed us the garden after dark as well. Continue reading

Keep warm in the Barbican’s secret conservatory

Bird of Paradise Flower, Barbican ConservatoryThe weather has finally turned against us with temperatures in single figures. Suddenly staying in begins to seem like a good idea. But not staying home – what you need is somewhere in central London that’s warm where you can wander round looking at the flowers just as though it was still summer. You need the Barbican conservatory. Continue reading

Famous for flamingoes – Kensington Roof Gardens

Kensington Roof GardensEver since they were first opened in 1938 the Kensington Roof Gardens, on the roof of what used to be Derry and Toms, has been a haven of calm above busy Kensington High St. Built at a cost of £25,000 and boasting more than five hundred species of plants and shrubs, they’re now Grade II listed as a place of specific historical interest by English Heritage. Continue reading

A bijou neo-Palladian villa – Chiswick House

Chiswick HouseYannick and I are on a roll at the moment, ticking off historic houses at a rate of knots. This week we got the train to Chiswick to visit the perfect bijou neo-Palladian villa, Chiswick House. And not just the house; it’s set in acres of manicured park dotted with statues and with a garden café where Yannick had his first encounter with rock cakes.  Continue reading

Finding the hidden hydrangeas at Kew

hydrangea

It’s hydrangea season, and practically every suburban garden worth its name has a bush covered in big pink pompoms. Along with roses, it’s the flower of the English summer. Down at Kew Gardens they have a different approach. Their hydrangeas grow in secret, tucked away beneath the trees in the woodland glade. You have to seek them out, but at this time of year it’s worth the effort. Continue reading