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

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.


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.


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

Is your decor keeping you in the past, or time to make a little change?

9c736a03dbe8c442d8347aab57d0567b--french-apartment-parisian-apartment-decor Balancing the treasured with the new.

Are you stuck in the past with your Interiors? 

Many of us are.  The past decades have been all about the collecting, the gathering of home and hearth and you love it right?  But have you been living in the same set designs for the past few years?  Does it still give you a thrill, or lost the lustre of that special own space?  Are you decor dull?

Tell you a little story …

When we first moved, and moved again to where  I am now living, not in a large home, but a tiny apartment, I still tried to bring along every piece of furniture, Christmas decoration, cookbook and children’s memory I could. to recreate.

Packed them all in there, the lot, in every available bit of storage as if letting go were tantamount to betrayal, to murder.  My family were manifest in all the things we shifted around the world.


And it is great – I was the curator of all my family memories.  Still am.  Things change and children move away, the grey divorce happens or you find yourself on your own, still living in everyone else’s boxes of things.  And this is very important – to begin again, to hit the ‘refresh’ button once you have wiped a tear over the past, is to keep the symbolic and start again – this time with new things and by that I mean, ask yourself, as I did myself:

  • When last did you buy something new for your home?
  • Do you still get excited about Interiors other than in the magazines?
  • Do you find that you tell yourself you have no space for anything else?
  • Has the viewpoint of your Interior space changed in anyway or are you looking at the same things in the same place from the same time ago?

I was.


And then I realised …

Time for a change.  If we have spent our lives collecting things to the point where we have no more room, we have no more interest. It gets boring, and dated.  Narrow it down, keep the treasures that you want to see everyday, the photographs and souvenirs of the past, and begin with a new palette.

So I am making a few changes, within and without, starting with my home.

Watch this space.

Images: Pintrest and Disney


Flutter those eyelashes, you nutter!

54205ffb1019a3955fea3715_image ‘Flutter and forget the faux pas (silent z)

Haven’t written for a while for a few reasons:

  • too busy thinking
  • too busy doing
  • experiencing ‘the shift’

Today was a wake up call.  In my thinking and doing and numbness and happy to be so, I let the days slip by.  Times it is necessary not to think the world will end if you don’t perform, create, meet, achieve etc, but just appreciate the waking of the birds and the glorious sunsets.  I should have been at the beach doing this but for lack of beach in London, I just did in in my own little world. 

Today was a wake up call.  My darling neighbour, of whom I spoke, is back in hospital, and not coming home with talk of care homes and such.  She is not present, as my visits have proved and in my worst ‘you have seen this scene in a movie’ I find her propped in chair, facing a wall, sleeping, always sleeping.  The opening of her eyes is a monumental task and she fails at it 100%.  So we just sit and she holds my hand tightly and it is my mother all over again. Her lids no longer flutter.  And I am going to flutter mine like a propeller.

In the thinking of how suddenly life always seems to come and grab us by the scruff, I realised that the good of just thinking and being is great for part of the time, but using my time here in a valuable way is a promise we should all make to the maker of us. In fact, so lost in the sadness of the visit, I found myself throwing my underwear, not in the laundry basket, but in the bin.  And I know what you’re thinking: nutter with a flutter.  Not quite.  Dilly with a dancing step I would phrase it.

I have been flat lining.  My heart, broken and battered is pumping a pace to make glaciers seem like marathon sprinters. It’s not unusual, we Silver Streeters are more at the downhill part of the mountain than the climb, but letting ourselves slide into a numbness and acceptance will make of me my neighbour before I know it.  I think that’s why we become so obsessed with grand-children, they spark things up again, give us another purpose – some take it more seriously than others and the photographs prove it, but hey, it’s good. A long way off, I chose to flutter life back into my business, my daily pursuits … you get the picture.

Whilst standing over the dustbin, retrieving the bra, I thought how much my neighbour would want one more opportunity, at anything.  I have a zillion methinks, and you, so as I sit here with the clay face mask on (careful not to be on the balcony though Matt and Simon would simply giggle and let it go, the other neighbours may seem more concerned with the brick red tribal look), I have to, in a weird way, thank my neighbour for reminding me that I still have aplenty of fluttering to do.  

You know when they say ‘ the heart is fluttering, there is a pulse, doctor, I think she’s coming back.?  When the patient comes round and the eyes flutter at the light? Oh yeah …

Time for the pretty making up of those eyes for someone is going to flutter them.

Also did about 30 squats today – it was a horrible picture.

Image Vogue

Disappointment is the devil’s child, never for your own.


 One of the most inspiring young bloggers I follow wrote a heartfelt entry that simply broke my heart.

Her blogs are usually hugely inspirational, filled with the love of life, flowers and particularly Paris – her photography is my daily high.


We both love Paris without ending.  images-39

But unexpectadly, she decided to write from the heart – and her father’s disappointment in her choice of lifestyle and career.  For someone who makes so many happy, wish for some of her experiences, it is still not enough to bring stars to her father’s eyes.  Which got me thinking:

  • Are we as adults expecting too much from our children? We all raise them with dreams of what we want them to become one day … lay the proverbial path down, sometimes with sacrifice, but more with joy and hope, and when they choose another path, do we show our disappointment too openly?
  • I know I am guilty, one hundred percent.  Which is why this post resonated so much with me.  Though my children are all strong and doing well, I riled at a career choice and let it be known.  How on earth would they want to … throwing away your education blah blah blah and it still stings, but I have realised that I come to the edge of the lake as the helicopter mother and must let them sail … with all my support, despite my reservations.  The foundations are strong.
  • Perhaps we are the one’s out of touch with the real world.  Not every child grows to be a CEO, a Scientist or a lawyer – driven with ambition and dollars in their eyes.  The world needs dreamers, creative artists, educationalists, carers … so many other vocations that may not bring the big house, but will bring immense satisfaction.
  • God knows that we have disappointed our children on all too many occasions, even if they stay silent about it, so why do we still feel the right to comment on how they may have disappointed us?  Have we been true to their visions of the kind of parents they want us to be?
  • When it comes to a lifestyle, or career choice, are we so happy with the one we chose?  Too often we complain and berate our choices and those words stick.
  • I remember when my eldest was in Junior School, being told that nearly 60% of career choices available to her when she finished school had not even been thought of yet.  At the time I thought, mmm, and look at the world now.  Do we, the elders, stick to what we know and fail to embrace these ‘new’ options because we cannot understand them.  It’s quite exciting actually, so why do we cling to the past like we do when it comes to our children’s choice of career?

All I know is that I wish her father saw her potential and allowed herself to be.  All I know is that it is a lesson to me too, that although I have born and raised my children, hopefully to the best of it all, they should and need to be supported in their own choices from now on. We have had our turns, now just relax knowing they will be fine. 

Disappointment is the devils child – ours are there for the future – let them live it their way.

Images Rebecca Plotnick – Everyday Parisian



And then there is that. Those that sort of turn the day into a struggle again.

f731f3b04e88d2c6e3817d0b54ce1c64 It happens.  Always seems to happen.  Human it is.

One wakes up, new morning and all that, plans made, new beginnings like:

  • Today is the day I am going to get active. No more sweeties, less wine.
  • Today earnestly doing to get the plan into action.
  • Absolutely going to get to all those emails and outstanding accounts and admin stuff.
  • Throwing out the old, focussing on the new.
  • Postive thoughts, optimism for sure and drive, plenty of drive.

And it is good, for awhile.  Shower, make-up, a little plank on the floor for added kudos, and up to this point, you have neither had a conversation, looked at the mobile or the computer.  Opened the mail, that sort of thing.

Boom! It only takes one simple … and the person that you hoped for, expected more from, tried to negotiate with or dreamed would really care, dashes the day into armageddon like woe.  Hate that!  Hate that someone has become the single focus of every thought and emotion to the point where one can think of nothing else.  Literally, nothing else.  

Remember when you were infatuated and the day shone with the glow of it?  Everything seemed magical and fairy like – well, this is the opposite. The day becomes cloudy, smudged with fog.  Of course you will never admit to it, how can someone get you so unglued, it’s stupid, it’s not who you are.

Advice to self.

  • Put the music on, right now!  
  • Tell yourself they did not realise the impact of their words, actions etc had on you and there is no point in being upset, letting it ruin your day.
  • Breathe and make a plan to get one thing in the diary done – even if you have to force yourself.
  • Get the diary and plan a good event, even if it ain’t going to happen, imagine yourself in Paris, or on skydiving in the Andes – just remove your mind to another ‘good’ place.
  • Tell no-one, it will perpetuate the mood.
  • Don’t dwell and go back to that place.  It’s difficult.
  • Remind yourself that you are better than being put down.

The positive day may have turned into a struggle – like yesterday and the day before, but remember the feeling when waking?  Hold onto that. And tell yourself:

Rising above is better than sinking below. You are your own pair of water wings.

It’s not about the tips, but the Masterchef you meet in an apron x

 dcc718178f908c47baa96e437af87e9a There are two vivid memories of meeting a celebrity.  Both times, I appeared much in need of ‘ I don’t always look like this, promise’, but of course one cannot say that.  It happened today, the second time.

First time I was entering the sauna at the local gym. The activity required a seriously non-sexy full costume, the black throwback ones to school galas in the Convent. avec slipslops and the obligatory blue cap.  I looked like a blue headed something to be exact. Not glamourous.  Once the steam had lifted, I was the but one in the wooden box, the other, a Wimbledon tennis champion.  He left within seconds. C’est la vie.

Today. Today was the waitron morning. Am loving this stint, although practicality demands a sturdy pair of shoes (and I have only one pair for I am not practical) which are the Converse takkies my daughter received as part of an ad campaign. Comfort is all so imagine me, beginning at the feet, with black and white Converse, ankle socks (not the trendy ones but the fold over school types) and a summer dress.  I was Maria, the novice nun. Julie Andrews without the guitar, or the voice, or the Austrian alps.

7bcb6f0d3b4e943b726a3129a0ac7c05 Hair hastily pulled back in a bun, and the most unglamorous denim apron to boot. Prancing around I was, undeterred by the vision presented as anyone doing a straight up six hour shift tends to be, when I … you know when that feeling descends, stop in your tracks and slowly turn your head towards the table from which an all too familiar voice emanates. 

Is it? Could it be, am I dreaming.? It was. Mr. Masterchef from Down under. You would be proud of how cool I was, despite being literally the only on on the staff who knew this person. Legend in my eyes, relaxed, with family and simply chilling in the London burbs.

Same gorgeous person actually, yes actually came over to the counter to chat to moi.  The accent you see, recognised the accent and an amiable chat of familiar things. The ordinary of it was lovely.  And I was just thrilled to have met him.  Not thrilled that he spied me in my garb (would have been so much better in designer heels and looking less like I lurched from bed this morning), but as they say, C’est la vie. Perhaps he wondered at this Silver Streeter in her apron serving lattes? Perhaps one day, we will meet again and laugh about the lady in the apron.

The day became lovelier. Waiting on a elegant French lady, who spoke no English, I, perhaps for the first time, forgot the nerves and tried to parlez in French. My utterly broken, Duolingo, maybe one day french.

Sel ou poivre?’  I asked.  Oh my word, I got it right!  She smiled and rattling gun replied. 

Whoa!’ I thought, but smiled instead, nodded and showed the thumbs up, grinning profusely and hoping the game would not be up with a shudder of disappointment. But Non! the gracious lady embraced my feeble attempts and soon we were talking of the Luberon, Cote d’ Azur, Avignon and my love of France in general.  Bolstered I asked:

L’addition?’ (pardon my french) I asked.

The elegant French lady threw her hands in the air and uttered, in a few words I captured, that the way I said it, was charming, simply charming.

Cheshire cat happy.  Before she left, at her insistence, she proceeded to pencil on a till ripped piece of paper, all the special, unknown spots she loved in the french area she lived in.  In French she explained each place, each little restaurant, favoured hotel and church I should visit in the future.  Got a few words, but what was more important, is that she said I made her feel special, trying to speak in her language, made her feel welcome. I pray to visit these places, paper tucked firmly in the apron pocket.

images-62 Okay, were we NOT at the Cafe de Flore.  Would love to have been, but it felt like it.

For those six hours, working hard, the hard work paid off.  In a little café in Parsons Green, that I love so much, at St. Clements, I met the most amazing people today.

La vie est belle today. Coffee shops bring the most wonderful people together. The feet are still sore, the back still aching, but the heart is full.

As a dear friend would say, goodnight and good luck.

Images Peintres, trippy drawings