The Chelsea Flower Show 2018

I don’t much care for the Chelsea Flower show, I remember saying once upon a time.  That is not true – I love Chelsea, it’s the rivers of visitors I find hard to navigate at times.

Since it’s inception in 1811, and current venue since 1813, Chelsea remains a landmark event in the world of Gardening. It’s huge.  It’s a must visit once in your life and has become the most popular garden event in the world.

While we wait for a week in May to indulge our gardening fantasies, to witness design gardens and mountains of blooms, what is new and what remains classic, the exhibitors and nurseries around Britain have spent months in preparation to showcase their best work.  A mammoth task.  Holding back the blooms to flower at their peak during the week, moving earth and creating designer gardens that have won the right to be there – all in search of the gold. 

Perfection.  Pure perfection.

The top favourite this year is Sarah Price’s Mediterranean, Monet inspired garden to take show design of the year.  I am particularly interested in Jonathan Snow’s debut entry, the Trailblazers: South African Wine Estate design focussing on Fynbos, from burnt earth to bliss.

The beautiful setting in London, the home to the Chelsea pensioners, allows one to glimpse into the lives of these extraordinary men, dressed in their finest red uniforms, they epitomise the traditional and respected, and one can visit the Coffee shop throughout the year (which I do) and love interacting with these individuals who have given their lives in service to their country.

The Chelsea Flower Show is the feather in the cap of the Royal Horticultural Society.  Be it your love for roses, alliums, delphiniums or whatever, you will find them at their finest – get the latest gardening tools, sip champagne as the sun sets over the many magnificent displays for it will be an excursion you will never forget.  And yes, the throngs are daunting, the multitudes of visitors at times a barrier to stand back and take it all in but nevertheless, be a garden lover or nature lover or simply a lover of beautiful things, in this case, living things, Chelsea is an event of the prettiest sort.

If you cannot be present, there will be many television programmes to highlight the beauty of Chelsea.  And did you know, just for a little extra bit of random information, gnomes are banned.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/shows-events/rhs-chelsea-flower-show/about-the-rhs-chelsea-flower-show/history-of-the-show

Images: country living, express, sporting class

Little girls being mommies …

On the bus home yesterday, two little girls were very serious about their ‘babies’ in the prams. Tut, tut they clucked, pat pat, they patted. ‘Sit still.’ they heeded the two younger, plastic, infants.

As prams go, these were the ‘ferrari’ versions of the real, expensive buggies. Handlebars that snapped up from parking positions, cup holders, even brakes – right down to the hoods with rain guards.

And I sat there smiling. How wonderful to see the care and nurturing taking place. How wonderful to see little girls playing ‘mommy’ and ‘baby’ going out for the afternoon. With all the modern day stuff going on, how refreshing to see little girls being, little girls, complete with curls and vivid imaginations.

When I was their age, I could only dream of such a beautiful pram. And I loved being ‘mommy’. Still do.

A good moment.

Image: The daily mail

 

 

Time for white.

 

 Time for white.

Your time now.  The ‘let’s decorate in white’ time.  Back in the day, when little ones were still running around with chocolate covered fingers and crayons, the thought of white couches were a no go.  White couches belonged in penthouses, magazines and hotel lobbies. Not in your home.

Now it’s time – in the Silver Street time, to take on the white.  You have earned it.  Even though the grandchildren may pop in, it’s your home and your rules and bringing in white will not only create an more elegant feel, a more dare I say it ‘grown up’ feel, but put in place a new era of how you want to live in your home.

Rover and kitty will have to learn to abide by the rules.

Always loved white linen, the pristine, classical appeal of fresh, white sheets.  Plump white duvets beneath white covers.  Crips white cushions – like sleeping in a cloud. White bath sheets, white linen bags, almost everything white except for what had to be practical in a family home.  But I am leaning towards the white everything now – right down to the appliances and wall colours.  Touches of colour in art and design pieces but I like the feeling of clean and crisp.

Can only admire the genius of The White Company as they do white so well.

Down to the exterior.  White cushions on the patio to sit in for that cool white wine.  I love the idea of being surrounded by white iceberg roses in the garden. Sunset makes them pop. Talking about gardens, its been years since I fell in love with the white garden at Sissinghurst.  White and Silver that gleans even on the dullest of days.

Be bold, even in the smallest way and make a statement for you present state of mind.  Add white to your home and your life, you will surrender to the elegance of it all.

Time to make a change and reclaim your life space. Go with white.

 

 

Images: novainteriors, pintrest and country living.

Lieflingskos – My family’s recipes …

In all the moving over the past nine years, so many treasures have taken a severe beating – including my heart, and I have cried hot tears over ruined family treasures; water damaged Coffee books, moulded photographs and of course my collection of Recipe books.

I am the avid reader and once collector of recipe books supreme.  Who would forget the essential Wedding present from my mother-in-law ‘Kook and Geniet?’ (Cook and Enjoy) No self respecting new bride would be without one and believe me,  I needed it badly.  For one who never eats eggs, boiling one or unable to boil one was embarrassingly disastrous for me.  The most patient husband ever.

As the little ones grew, my home and garden and little family were all.  I was happiest with Iceberg roses in a vase on the kitchen island  and Delia Smith’s ‘Piedmont Peppers” recipe open on the page whilst darling was barbecuing outside.  I could do this!  Ended up being rather a dab hand in the kitchen thanks to the best friend recipe books.

And then there was my mother’s recipe book. Mom may not have taught me to cook, but she sure could bake.  Every Friday in our home, and I continued the tradition, was baking day.  Day for stocking the shelves; bowls of sweets and flowers throughout the house day. 

Truth be told, my grandmother was a baker rather than a cook also.  The Croxley exercise book handed down to me contains recipes they both loved, primarily baking, but also many Dutch recipes.  Over the years I added my own, with entries from Prudence, Philomena and friends …

Few escaped the move.  Heartbroken to pry pages stuck together, mouldy and forgotten in the garage for a too small kitchen in the flat. It was as if my heritage, my history and a happy part of my life were as mouldy and water logged as my favourite books were.

Which is why I am starting a new one!  No time like the present to create for the future and my children.  It is time to stop sobbing over what is lost and cherish was was, add to it and plan for those seventy cupcakes required when grandchildren have their birthday parties.  

This will be my Lieflingskos – my collection of loved food and memories.

It will be simply.  My Grandmother, My mother, mother-in-law, my housekeepers and my friends recipes will be restored and written about. With a story to share in the future.  More than capture their recipes I am adding our cultural favourites, Dutch and Afrikaans.  Add all the others I love, that marked a special occasion, tried and tested by my family.  It will be my gift to my children, just as I received from those I love and continue to be part of who I am.

As a gesture of just how awful I was as a young bride about to cook, I will share Delia’s recipe for Piedmont Peppers.  Still a favourite, always my first attempt. Yay!

PIEDMONT ROASTED PEPPERS

This recipe is quite simply stunning: hard to imagine how something so easily prepared can taste so good.

Its history is colourful too.  It was first discovered by Elizabeth David and published in her splendid book Italian Food.  Then the Italian Chef Franco Taruschio at the Walnut Tree Inn near Abergavenny cooked it there.  Simon Hopkinson, who at it at The Walnut Tree, put it on his menu at his great London restaurant Bibendum, where I ate it – which is how it comes to be here now for you to make and enjoy.


METHOD

Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they’re not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape).

Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place three quarters in each pepper half. Watch How to Skin Tomatoes here.

After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies.

Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a sprig of basil leaves.

These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime – focaccia would be perfect.

ADDITIONAL

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).

EQUIPMENT

For this it is essential to use a good, solid, shallow roasting tray, 16 x 12 inches (40 x 30 cm). If the sides are too deep, the roasted vegetables won’t get those lovely, nutty, toasted edges.
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Do you have a memory of a favourite recipe that captures your heart? 
Image:  Delia online

Classic French Interiors Passion. Parisian style.

LE DECOR EST GRAND

Whenever I go to Paris, I pray my little room is high up.  Overlooking the rooftops, the petite balconies and at times, a view into the grand apartments separated by a narrow street. I have loved the Haussman buildings from my first walk through these streets.  French decor is grand and beautiful.  Sort of a Paris and Versailles dream for me. Stately elegance. There is a Romance about it. 

We sense History in French Decor

   History, tradition, the styles of long ago.  Often with a modern twist as only the French can do, but overall, it’s the sense of history that characterises the French Classic Style.  Rooms are spacious and ceilings high with walls often panelled in painted wood.  Shades of grey, putty and chantilly serve as some of the base interior shades whilst furniture is more often than not, stressed or gilded.  

Toile de Jouy

The distinctive Pattern of Toile, or Toile de Jouy, is characteristic of the Classic French Style.  The designs are usually those of pastoral landscapes or chennoise (chinese style). Images are repetitive and detailed.  Toile can be in the form of wallpaper, upholstered fabric for furniture and drapes, or for linen.  One can go bold or simply add hints of Toile to your interior, but I love the distinctive style, that again echoes history but creates warmth and yes, every picture tells a story. One could even design your own.

 

A tiny but essential view upon the city

Parisian balconies are positively sensuous places to relax, no matter how small.  Bygone days of wrought iron and intricate design, be it a ‘place pour deux’ or a Juliette, I believe the balconies are the trimmings on the outside of those classical interiors.  In an ideal apartment opening those tall windows to the sounds of Paris early morning would be heaven, and of course the late repose at dusk with a bottle of wine and a romantic lover would be just as nice don’t you think?

Luxury in the detail

 Textures, colours, finishes – all speak of elegance and luxury.  Think gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers.  Velvet and marble.  Satin and Granite.  Nothing in the classical French style is a chance encounter but a carefully selected piece that will enhance the overall design.  Perhaps it’s an ultra modern piece or a chaise, the overall feeling of opulence is the one that will linger, in a romantic way as is, the French way.

If you want to replicate the Classic French Style in your own home, make a mood board of images that will inspire you.  Think chic avec luxury.  Order patterns and wall furnishings.  Selected pieces of bespoke furniture.  Luxurious linen and plumb duvets. Nothing short of grand. I find many of these ideas in the foyers of the famous Parisian hotels (times I simply sit and take it all in) and of course, no Classical French style would be complete without … flowers!  

Lots and lots of Gorgeous flowers.

Images:  One King’s lane, One Fine Stay, Etsy and Pintrest

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Rose pruning in an English climate. My little English darling.

Roses. My love for them is endless.  When I used to live in South Africa, with a large garden, I must have had over a hundred rose bushes scattered throughout. Growing, pruning and watching them bloom was heaven sent.

Remember those days of my parent’s generation when a garden always had ‘a rose garden?’ A little allocated plot for cramming all the hybrids into one area, usually with a small pathway criss-crossing between them?  And of course, looming between the Papa Meillands and Double Delights were always the sturdy, dependable Queen Elizabeth roses with their pink blooms.  Remember that? My mother-in-law used to live on a farm and the local deer would love to decimate her rose garden (one stop nibbling destination) so she would spread human hair around them as a deterrent.  Some of us do love our roses!

When I started gardening in my own home, the trend was to integrate roses throughout your landscape.  Mixing hybrids with floribundas, miniatures and standards – creating swathes of complimentary, blocked colours to avoid the smarties all at the same time effect. Good old dependable, and still one of my favourites, were my icebergs.

 

I could go on and on about my gardens, three in total, that I poured my love into back then.  Inspired by Piet Oudolf with his roses and grasses combined, with David Austin, Ludwig’s roses – and of course, all the loving transferred to all the pruning, come winter.  It was a military operation, counting some days, tactics observed, sealing of stems, spraying of lime sulphur till you could not take it anymore – but I loved every second of it.

Now, of course, I live in a tiny flat in London and have but one rose.  David Austin’s Litchfield Angel.

And what a beauty she is.  Prolific bloomer, colours of cream and white, smells of cinnamon.  Since she is my first rose baby, I want to keep her alive and do the pruning just right.  A flashback comes to mind.  Many years ago, still pruning like an officer in my own garden,  I was visiting Queen Mary’s garden in Regent’s Park.  Unlike our individual operations on each stem, a tractor came along, and simply sheared all the bushes at a standard height – and off he went. No looking for this node, that angle, just woosh and it was done. Taught me something and I am inclined to feel more liberal this time, but not quite that flamboyant with the shears just yet. So, first things first – the seasons are back to front in my new life (like a lot of things) and pruning is now late February/March.  

There are many tips on how to prune roses on various websites and Youtube.  My appointment is going to be relatively simple to execute:

  • As it is an Old English Rose, gentle pruning is required.
  • Aim for a vase shape and as it is her first year, do not cut back too harshly.
  • Prune any old, diseased and inward growing stems to create an open and free space within.
  • Remove all foliage for less chance of disease.
  • If you choose, spray with Lime Sulpher (mixed with water) to protect the early growth.
  • Sealing of stems is not required in England (and don’t ask me why but this seems to be the general consensus on all rose pruning now.  Any comments and ideas on this one?)
  • Continue light watering and don’t allow the soil to dry out.

By spring the little angel should be budding and ready to bloom.

As I was chatting about cutting the Apron Strings, cutting my little Litchfield Angel will be fine. I intend to find more space to garden again, I need a garden in my life … so dreams in the making.

Images: David Austin, Pintrest

 

Find the beautiful. Inspirational makeover.

Am in love with this room.

Found this picture a while ago, and not sure about you, once in a while a picture, a moment, a quote or even a view gives a little shiver of joy to the heart. I don’t even know where it is, who took the photograph but it gives me great pleasure and spurs me into dreaming.

Spurs me into action

It has been awhile since the muse of beautiful decor has lived in my home.  The pinboard a little dated, the dust a thin layer on my life.  In our Silver Streets we have often collected and decorated and sort of remain stuck with it all, being neither inspired or willing to change.

And then a picture gets my attention

I may not have the mansion, or the country home

But I have a space that requires an update

Going shopping

Image – someone amazing took it and if you know who it is, let me know so I can give them the credit.

The Winter Garden – beauty in strength.

Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart… She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan, “Rejuvenescence,” The Ministry of Nature, 1871

It always seems strange that I spend half my life in the other half of my world so to speak.  Less than a month ago I was going into a Spring garden in South Africa, and today I sit, late Autumn, beside a fire in the Orangerie writing this to you.  The garden is dormant.  No blossoms and the smell of that intoxicating star jasmine, but a stark beauty is visible through the lead windows.

The Winter Garden is like no other time of the year.  Autumn has passed and all is stripped bare.  For me, it is a time of masculine qualities, like Michaelangelo’s ‘David’, naked, self-asserting, with a dynamic energy and confidence in self.  The bones of design and form are revealed in the Winter Garden. The Gardener’s blueprint exposed and some of these designs are more beautiful at this time of year.  Symmetry is revealed.  Textures of paths and statuary seems heightened.  If one is fortunate for snow and ice, fountains freeze, the earth turns white … lonely cries of a murder of crows screech in the silent sky.

  Trentham Gardens Staffordshire

Apart from the landscape design, what else do I love about a Winter garden?”

  • Love the winter flowers, like the Helleborus, in shades of white, cream or dusky hues of pinks and aubergine.

  • Cyclamen    – those pretty bonnets that brighten up the gloomiest of dark days.
  • Dogwood     – like fire sticks – Kew Gardens is a favourite to find them.
  • Heather        –  feathery, heath loving warriors of the wintery weather.
  • Quince          –  Red blossoms that seem more fitting for Spring but they cheer up no end.
  • Witch Hazel  –  Just love the name, all spells and wiry witchy stuff.

The grasses are a favourite, like mops of wet hair under dew and snow.  Really shaggy and yet in the summer, with full blown roses, the combination in true Oudolf style, is inspirational. I am a great fan of Piet Oudolf, have been for years and the winter landscapes have been ideas for my own gardens in the past.

  Wisley gardens

oudolf.com

The dramatic seasons in the Northern Hemisphere each have qualities akin to their own.  We all look forward to Spring and the blossoms, Summer and the halcyon days, the drama of Autumn and then … winter.  Winter in an urban city is not easy.  Winter in the garden, in nature is humbling and beautiful, to be enjoyed for the hard work done during the year.  A time of response.  Planning your garden to be enjoyed at all times of the year is the making of an excellent gardener.

My favourite for last.

The lost gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

A sleeping beauty.  Winter rest, landscaped wonder.

Gardens in the images above are part of the National Trust.  

  • Stow
  • Trentham Gardens
  • The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Wisley Gardens is part of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Hope you are inspired to create the perfect garden to be enjoyed all year round.

Embracing Autumn. Cosy up.

 

I wonder what Guy Fawkes would think of all this fuss about him today?  

Autumn time is a favourite of mine.  Could it be because I have an October birthday, or the intensity of the colour palette she presents to us?  Jewel colour time.  Auburns, russets, burgundy. Claret, mushroom and mink.  Nature is clear: orange, red and brown are grand at this time of year.  Poetry is grand with the Autumn mists and all that. 

In the midst of Autumn mist.

Nature may be falling asleep for awhile.  Tattered landscapes and musty earth conjures up thoughts of long walks and hot soup.  Bracing outdoor moments with slow indoor chilling.  If you don’t have a fireplace, not to worry, hot toast and lashing of butter have the same effect. Hot chocolate and dark red wine are called for too.

 

Think of Autumn decor in your home. Bring out the throws, the accent cushions, small accessories to warm your home.  Not much, but a change of season within your home will reflect the seasonal mood. Bring out the favourite casserole pot for hearty stews, baked apples – think thick and spicy.  Think comfort food. Mash and veggies.  Think of this.

 Nigel Slater’s Raspberry and Apple pastries.

Coat comfort.  Forget the standard black, go for a camel tone.  Be bold with red, claret and purple. Invest in statement boots, chunky scarves and textured hats and berets.  Be bold with colour at this time.

 Love this look. Strong Autumn colours, sweeping coat, funky boots.

  

Take care of yourself.  You may indulge in a little more comfort food, but this is also the time to engage in comfort pampering of the body.  Take long baths with scented oils, apply thick layers of moisturising cream whilst still wet for greater effect and nothing like a hydrating face mask when no-one is looking.  Your hair needs extra care so indulge in a hair mask.  The same applies to your hands and feet which tend to get very dry at this time.  Go natural or go bold with Autumn inspired nail polish to match that strong fashion statement you want. Sleep more, wake slowly and nestle a little longer.

  

One of Harper’s Bazaar choice colours for Autumn.

Halloween may be over, but the colour theme transcends through Autumn.

Autumn bless her, can be seen as nature taking care to prepare for a renaissance.  She will leave the dance in a blaze of colour – you should do the same.

Images: Country living. Pinterest. Harper’s Bazaar. The Guardian

 

 

 

 

Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden

Petersham-Nurseries-Shop-Covent-Garden-1 A shop to love xxx

I remember finding the ‘secret’ Petersham Nurseries many years ago.  Down that hardly seen driveway near Richmond. The sheer delight of going into this gorgeous place never wanes.

And now, it’s come to Londontown.  In the heart of Covent Garden, the shop overflows with vintage, floral and colour.  Grand Chandeliers, oversized cupboards and patterns – it is a botanical infusion.

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Fresh flowers burst from their space in the deli which will tempt you in every way possible.  A cacophony of perfume and choices.  Pale pinks, weathered woods, candles, one feels like privileged guest at a gala and the shop is true to the beautiful nursery near the banks of the river Thames.

IMG_5671

Covent Garden could not be a more fitting corner of London for this exquisite emporium of delights.  If you are visiting London, this is a must see destination.  If you live there, like I do … the giddy delight welcomes me every time I step inside the door.

Images: Covent Garden