We spent hours walking through small towns and soaking in the beauty of the landscape.
Sorry to have been out of touch for a bit, but so much seems to be happening, and it is near impossible to keep up. I haven't been able to visit blogs or answer many of your e-mails, but I am thinking of you and will get back to whatever I think of as normal as soon as we reach our home in California.
We will be on the road for two weeks, and I will be writing a post on our WONDERFUL and exciting Pumpkinfest in Damariscotta, Maine. Pumpkin lovers unite. You will not believe the creativity we've seen here. Also, I was a judge at the Pumpkinfest baking contest; we'll have photos of the winners and photos of the amazing giant pumpkins that now line Main St. and other far flung places.
Speaking of far flung places...this posting is an amalgam of different areas of England we visited. Think of it as an armchair, whirlwind tour.
We peeked inside garden gates and found magical, personal landscapes.
We visited many museums, but the Garden Museum has been a goal of mine for years and worth the wait. Darn it, we didn't get a chance to see the "Going Dutch" show or to hear the speakers. The "Dutch Wave" is sweeping through England. Perhaps you've seen the garden designs of Piet Oudolf. His influential designs are injecting the world of gardening with a shot of adrenaline. Do your homework and check out some of his gardens. You may feel a major shifting of tectonic plates in your own small garden.
Smack in the middle of the hub bub of London sits this tiny jewel of a museum and walled garden. Oh, and my friend Nancy (Lemon Verbena Lady) told us to try the restaurant in the Garden Museum, and it was fantastic. Locally sourced organic foods prepared for vegetarians.
I loved the way they utilized twigs and branches in constructing their trellises. I'm going twig hunting as soon as we get settled in California.
Am I a garden geek? I thought that these tools looked like fine sculptures.
LOVE this cat cut out to deter birds from eating fruits, but how do you deter the kitties from eating the birds? A big cut out of a hawk?
Gorgeous old watering cans. Can you ever have too many of these?
"I have been to the mountain, " I said as I stared at the desk once used by Gertrude Jekyll when designing her famous gardens and writing her books.
Onward to the Chelsea Physic Garden, a walled garden in the heart of London. It felt so good to walk in here and let the city's pressures fall away. All the beds of herbs made me feel right at home-just like my old Heart's Ease gardens.
Rhubarb forcers, a tepee, and the city looming behind the wall.
Jeff had to physically restrain me from reaching for the clippers and starting to work.
Love this mini-lobata, which is commonly called fire cracker vine. This charmer can grow 15 to 20 feet in a season. They had it growing up a tepee, which it had completely covered.
A seating area inside the garden.
This is a Victorian era PORTABLE greenhouse. It is fabulous and sat in the middle of an Anthropologie store in the Chelsea district. What a great place to start tender seedlings, and a mere 12,800.00 pounds sterling, that is.
Interior view of the portable greenhouse. Zinc work surface and the potting area slides out. Wow, wouldn't I love to have this in my garden???
The gate opens onto the gardens of Dove Cottage in the village of Grasmere. This was the home of the poet William Wordsworth during his most productive years.
Wordsworth's sister Dorothy kept this little garden flourishing. I loved the bits of slate they used to quote Dorothy Wordsworth's diary entries about the garden.
Quinces on the windowsill at Dove Cottage.
BLUE. Is there a bluer blue? Borage, the herb of courage, held court in Wordsworth's garden. This annual attracts not only honeybees, but also flower (Syrphid) flies, who deposit their eggs on the hairy stems. The flower fly larvae look like green maggots, but don't squish them. They're voracious and feed heavily on aphids. I love how the borage self sows everywhere. Is there such a thing as too much borage?
This is our friend Rachel Lucas, or, as she has been dubbed, The Queen of the Blue Angel Bakery. She is an accomplished and adored baker who is followed by legions of fans. She now sets up shop at the Aylesbury Farmers' Market, about 45 minutes from London.
Within an hour of taking this photo, Rachel's platters were empty. The dapper gentleman with the adorable dog (well, the gentleman is pretty adorable, too) is Rachel's husband Paul. The dog is Alice, who Rachel says is "the little heartbeat at my feet." Please do visit Rachel's blog.
The Aylesbury Farmers' Market.
We passed on the ostrich burgers, ostrich steak, and, darn it, the ostrich soup, too.
What does the ceiling photo have to do with anything? Those are hops flowers hanging from the beams, and I love them. These are the hops that are used for brewing beer and for stuffing dream pillows. I grew golden hops at Heart's Ease, and they're aggressive, but worth having for these elegant blooms.
A moment of reflection in Roald Dahl's writing chair where he sat as he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. The Roald Dahl Museum.
Roald's grave where children leave coins, pencils, and chocolate bars. I wanted to leave a peach, but couldn't find one.
No journey to Oxford is complete without visiting The Kilns, the home of C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia) and also a visit to the Eagle and Child where Lewis, Tolkien and others gathered for their weekly meeting of The Inklings. In this pub, they read their rough drafts, critiqued each other, and, I imagine, they tipped a few pints too.
Look closely at the writing and signatures.
And, no visit to Oxford is complete without a trip to Jamie Oliver's Italian Restaurant.
We were first in line, thus the empty restaurant, but within a few minutes, it was jammed.
Freshly made pasta on display.
A glimpse of the kitchen.
These cutting boards were scattered throughout the restaurant.
Pasta in progress. It was like watching a ballet.
Entitled "Jamie's amazing crackling chicken salad." It was amazing.
We're leaving our beloved cottage and Maine this weekend. Off to visit a dear friend in Connecticut, spend a day with my editor and publisher in New York, then onward to the Cape May Bird Observatory, and south to Little Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia.
I'll post about the Pumpkinfest before we leave Maine.
Joys to you all,