My daughter lives the East end of London, much more ‘happening’ she says and thinks the South West too suburban. Until the summer arrives and the city wilts, then getting out to parks and gardens are the number one priority.
My regular volunteering for the National Trust at Ham House in Richmond, takes me through Richmond park and past Petersham nursery. Not just any nursery, Petersham was derelict not so long ago, rescued by Gael & Francesco Boglione in 2000 and not only restored, but became a place everyone thought was ‘the best kept secret in the world.’ Not for long.
The arrival of Skye Gyngell to open the café and restaurant, turned Petersham into a charming venue for all to enjoy. The old conservatories, overhung with vines and decked out with french park chairs is the perfect place for lunch or an afternoon tea. In fact, so popular the venue became, that traffic was a nightmare (most people miss the hidden driveway) and soon a Michelin star was awarded – the pressure on Skye was too much and she is sorely missed, but the restaurant is still a brilliant option.
Though I tend to avoid Petersham on the busy weekends, my drive back from Ham on a gorgeous summer’s afternoon called for a quick stop to take in the ambiance, the amazing layout and since the death of Mermaid, our only crab apple tree on the balcony, to buy a replacement for the large pewter container. Petersham church is where the Murray family, who lived at Ham, are buried, so the whole area is connected.
This is no ordinary garden centre. Think vintage french gardens, rustic splendour, bygone days of balls of string, terracotta pots, litchen covered statues and heritage plants. Think orange trees, blue ceanothus, lime and acid colours. Vivid pinks and berry reds. Wandering through this verdant dream, is a dream, even I feel pretty!
The idea was to buy a lemon tree, but my eyes fell upon the Litchfield Angel, a rose by David Austin. I could not resist and tucked under my arm, I entered the shop.
Along with the rose, could not resist the old fashioned broom (like the ones we used back in South Africa but obviously cost a lot less) and a cute green bottled vase for those rose blooms to rest in.
This is the joy of living here. A major, cultural city and the countryside – with the most beautiful river running through it.