Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

We began our last day of this glorious tour visiting two epic stops that will necessitate me dividing this days tour into two posts. The first half was at the Chelsea Physic Garden and later that day, the Chelsea Flower Show, which you can imagine is a monster post on its own. Chelsea Physic Garden

Chelsea Physic Garden was founded in 1673, as the Apothecaries’ Garden, with the purpose of training apprentices in the identification and use of medicinal plants. The location was chosen due to its proximity to the River Thames. This allowed the Apothecaries to moor their barge, collect plants in the surrounding areas and take advantage of the river’s warm air currents, which contribute to the Garden’s unique microclimate. River access also allowed plants arriving from around the World to be introduced to the British Isles via the Garden. Its international reputation was established early on as a result of the global seed exchange scheme, known as Index Seminum, which it initiated in the 1700’s and continues to this day.
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
You can imagine our groups collective “Ooohs and aaaaaahs” when we came upon this sign outside the garden. We were all giddy with excitement on our last and most glorious day of the tour.
Chelsea Physic Garden
Our intrepid tour guide Carolyn Mullet, who is an amazing designer in her own right made sure we all felt truly spoiled on this trip and today was no exception!
Though we were all bundled up in May, it was classic London gray weather. Nothing was going to stop us from enjoying this amazing day. We had a fabulous lunch in the Physic Garden before heading out either for formal tours or independent exploration of this historic location.
I’m SUCH a foodie, I just had to show you our dessert! decadent chocolate cake with creme fraiche! A most excellent send off to the extravaganza that lay ahead of us. 🙂
This artistic garden is all about health and medicinals. I took particular note of the artistry in how they displayed and used all manner of plants here. I love the twig bundles arranged on this path that will feature a bounty of ‘Lord Nelson’ sweet peas.
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
There were an enormous number of details to take in during this short time we had to explore in this extraordinary city garden.
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
One of my favorite spots in this garden demonstrated the context of where we were standing so beautifully; right smack in a busy and dense neighborhood in London only blocks from the River Thames with both row houses and high rises all around us. And yet here we are in a garden that is hundreds of years old and still going strong.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
Take note of this garden art and the medical symbology here, you will see it again in an amazing garden at the show!

Whatever the snake and stick mean, the rod should not be confused with another snake & stick combo: the caduceus, featuring two snakes, a stick and wings, that’s often used as a symbol of medicine in the U.S. The staff is said to have been that of Hermes, the messenger of the Greek gods.

Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The ouroboros is a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life.


I was beyond shocked to see this incredible Echium not just existing, but blooming in May in cool, damp London! When they said micro-climate they weren’t kidding!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Ther must have been some significance to this bust I’m sure, but the placement was unique, down low in the geranium!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Intimate, shady paths wound through parts of this garden that featured shade plants and a fernery right behind me.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

“Rooms” in the garden were intended to feature groups of plants for varied uses in medicine, health, and wellness.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

Handsomely handcrafted waddle fences of different heights, styles, and materials confined various groupings of interests and plantings within the garden for study.

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
In a garden that has a very specific focus and intent, design with floral focus in mind was mostly understated. But, then you look at and appreciate them, even more, when you see them stand up and say “Take my picture!”

Our time was VERY limited, so we had to scoot through this garden in time enough to go stand in line for our check-in time at the Chelsea Flower Show. SQUEEEEEEE!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5

We walked just a few short blocks from the Chelsea Physic Garden to our staging spot for the Chelsea Flower Show, but what a view on our walk along the river. The photo makes it look SO peaceful when in fact it was nutty bananas with traffic and humans.

Something THIS show does that is unusual is that when you get your tickets to the show, you are assigned an entry time. So, you get in the queue and wait your turn for entry. Our time was later in the day as the light was fading and this photographer was panicking. 🙂

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 5
But, as you can now see, we made it in! Now you just have to stay tuned for the final chapter that covers this incredible one of a kind show!!!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt.2


The entry drive across the “moat” in front of the castle.

Broughton Castle is a moated and fortified manor house near Banbury in North Oxfordshire. Set in parkland and built of the rich local Hornton ironstone, it was selected by Simon Jenkins as one of only twenty to be awarded five stars in his book England’s Thousand Best Houses.

The core of the house was built in 1306 and the gatehouse in the early fifteenth century, but most of what you see today dates from the 1550’s. It was a centre of opposition to Charles I and was besieged and damaged after the Battle of Edgehill in 1642.

Broughton Castle is home to the 21st Lord and Lady Saye & Sele, whose family name is Fiennes. The ownership of the Castle has remained in the same family since 1447.
(Courtesy of

af5bf619f6640f561035a3b9f027f91fIf the name Fiennes rings a bell, you are correct. Yes, THOSE Fiennes. Ralph Fiennes, born Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes is an English actor. A noted Shakespeare interpreter, he first achieved success onstage at the Royal National Theatre. You may know him from his movies The English Patient, Schindler’s List and Harry Potter just to name a few. Ralph’s brother Joseph Fiennes Alberic Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes is an English film and stage actor known for his portrayals of William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love, for which he was nominated for numerous awards.

The history of this home is fascinating and touring this cavernous space was wonderful taste of another era. When we visited with CarexTours in spring, the gardens were just waking up for the season, so learning about the home itself was a wonderful way to spend our day and tied everything together for us, antiquity and horticulture.

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

The private family church is the first thing to greet you before you get to the gate house. This church dates all the way back to the estates beginnings somewhere between it’s original beginnings in the 1300-1400’s. For the age of the building, it is in incredible condition both inside and out and provided rich information with a cemetery full of the family headstones as well as incredible architecture.

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016Crossing the moat at the gate house was meant to be intimidating, but our fun group was not going to give in! Carolyn Mullet, one of our tour experts stopped all of her ducklings for a group photo in this huge passage way.Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Can you imagine a day when these giant intricate doors would have been closed more than open?
Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016

Back in the glory days of this castle, you best never forget who is in charge here as you pass through the entry at the gate house.
Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016
As you pass through the gate house into the gravel court entry, there is a barn/car park/cafe building where we were served a fabulous lunch and had way TOO much fun playing with and photographing this incredibly well maintained wisteria.
Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016
Broughton Castle, CarexTours 2016The view toward the castle from our lunch spot inside was magical.
The beauty herself- Broughton Castle!
After lunch we had to wait a bit for our interior tour so we walked off some of lunch and took in more of the exterior details.
A gorgeous front door to be sure, yet so small relative to the size of this place!
I bet you don’t see these in YOUR neighborhood!
Once inside, we were free to roam the incredible great room.
It was COLD inside the castle!!
The ceiling details throughout the entire castle were incredible!!
The fluted wood paneling on the walls in the dining room were exquisite!
Every window well in the house had lovely displays of all kinds. The view to the garden as we headed upstairs was a treat!
The upstairs hallway was a warm and bright treat after coming up a cold, dark stairwell.
In the Master bedroom, there was a peek-a-boo window that looked down into the mini-private chapel below.
In one of the ladies chambers, an epic relief over the fireplace. Who needs more art……..?
And then you look up at that ceiling!
The wallpaper in the bedroom extended into what would have been the “dressing room”. It was all hand painted and the close up detail was incredible!
We climbed all the way to the VERY top of the castle to a once secret room that was used for planning strategy for war and all manner of intrigue.
Which also means being THAT far up above it all, we also got the chance to climb out onto a hidden rooftop to take in the amazing views!
From a garden tourist perspective, the undisputed crown jewel on this property is of course this epic walled knot garden as seen from above.
Back downstairs and into a room FULL of history. This was a fantastic space that was used as a detailed encyclopedia holding the family history.
Maybe it’s because I’m so short, but I just couldn’t keep my camera off of the incredible ceilings in every space!
Imagine how regal you feel coming through THIS entryway into the less formal yet no less intricate and elegant living room.
Those DETAILS are unbelievable!
A welcoming and cozy room for such a grand castle!
Woodworking artisans had some serious job security working in this home for a long time!
Out into the garden! Though still emerging for spring, you could see how incredible this garden will be in summer.
Peek-a-boo view into the walled garden.
Garden close-ups and researching plants with our phones all over the expansive landscape were a common theme.
Happy CarexTour attendees!
GIANT moss basket filled with honeysuckle getting ready to bloom!
Beautiful Centaurea beginning to bloom for spring!
And rugosa roses just peeking out too!
This feminine little flower was emerging up through the barberry, I’m not quite sure what it was though. It looked resembled Lily of the Valley, but didn’t have the classic foliage to go with it. If you recognize it, leave a comment and I’ll add the plant ID to this one.
The blue tones of Monkshood are shooting up toward the sky as the temperatures warm up.
The lichen on the low border walls is SO decorative!
And back out into the English countryside to visit another garden on our tour for part three. Stay tuned, we heading to the elegant Pettifers!!

Check out CarexTours here for more information on upcoming trips to gardens like this!