Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt. 4


Let’s geek out on architecture for a few moments, shall we? When I travel, I am at least as motivated to capture shots of fascinating architecture as much as fantastic gardens. And on THIS portion of the trip, I was utterly stunned.

Our fantastic CarexTours guides thankfully had us staying here at the Ettington Park Hotel near Stratford-Upon-Avon in Warwickshire for two nights last spring because I think I would have thrown a fit otherwise. This grand building deserved the attention. I only wish I could see it again in summer.


We arrived in the late afternoon on a typical spring day in the UK, gray, sprinkling, chilly and windy. But, we were rewarded with such incredible drama from this Grand Dame we didn’t even notice.



The entry hall was ready for us with bikes, umbrellas and even Welly’s to borrow!


Once we were all given our rooms it was time to do a bit of exploring while dinner was being prepped. This was our private dining room where I felt SO under dressed!


Our incredible dining room even had hidden passageways of course!


The main salon just off a tiny little bar area was exquisite, my colors!!!


The view from our dining room was looking toward the remains of this once private chapel for the family who originally built this incredible property.


The hotel and recently undergone a major renovation and they did a wonderful job bringing this folly back to life. Wouldn’t it be fun to be there during an event?


My own room was AMAZING. Though I didn’t shoot pics of it because it was quite modern in contrast. My bathroom was GIANT!


Though it was still quite brisk, you could feel spring and I bet this garden get more beautiful by the day!


The color of the wisteria blooms was incredible against the warm golds of the local stone used to build this enormous building.


Hotel guests having fun goofing with this photographer while waiting for dinner service to begin!


Everywhere you looked, the details imparted by artisans of bygone era’s were sumptuous and truly a sight to behold. The hotel told us that they believe it’s haunted as staff regaled us with stories of ghostly sightings in the halls.


Can you imagine the time and level of attention to detail that each doorway took to make?
It was truly a reflection of wealth, power, and devotion to the church and state.


Visiting the ruins of the former chapel was in and of itself spiritual. Maybe it was just me, but in the quiet, all by myself, it was like you could physically feel the history all around you. I could have photographed it for days.







There was a tremendous amount of history here. This was a space where children were laid to rest.



I realize these are a bit challenging to read, but if you can, take the time to try, it will be so worth it!


Incredible details like this were everywhere inside the dark chapel area. There was a closed off portion still quite intact that a few people got a tour of, I wasn’t on the ball enough to get that tour, but I got to see other parts of the property that no one else paid attention to so it balanced out!


One of my favorite shots because you can see the hotel through the one portion of broken glass.


More details from the chapel!


Epic Cedar of Lebanon standing guard near the chapel as we look back toward the hotel and a ray of sun!


The gorgeous mature trees gave such a feeling of intimacy on this property.



Heading away from the hotel to the back of the property, we were told there were even Roman ruins here at one point too. This path I followed took me past the employee living quarters and the old tennis court behind this wall. Forget me Nots abound!


Honeysuckle takes its victim. 🙂


On top of one of the maintenance buildings….can you imagine how incredible this must have been at one time? The copper alone must have been quite something!


Then you turn to see THIS! Glowing fields of rape seed were incredibly dreamy.


These horses seemed to have a GREAT life!!!


Heading back to the hotel before dark, one last look at the scene. Sigh……


Night time fell and she lit up like a fairytale castle. Off to bed and the next incredible place we visited! Stay tuned!

If you liked this post, go to THIS link and see about taking a tour with CarexTours for yourself. I was incredibly impressed and felt it was a truly life changing experience!
Until next post, CHEERS!

Garden Designer’s Roundtable: Ideas for Adding Texture to Your Landscape

Texture is my thing. Let me say that again LOUDER so there is no doubt in your mind. TEXTURE IS MY THING!! I adore it in the garden almost above all else. I see it everywhere, it dominates my design sensibilities in every conceivable way. The fact that I tend to see almost everything through the lens of a camera whether I’m holding one or not helps me to focus my design esthetics so that I see textural vignettes everywhere.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Since all of us at The Garden Designer’s Roundtable are tackling this topic for June, you are sure to get some seriously great tips and techniques on the actual step by step of adding texture into your landscape. As is my way, I am not going to do the expected, but rather, I will give you a pictorial of what adding texture to your landscape means to me through a collection of photos. I feel strongly about learning visually on this topic, reading the actual variables is handy, but sometimes you have to just see it to know and understand it.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Bellevue Botanical Garden

I am also sprinkling in some EXCELLENT links for you to go and visit as well as referring you to my fellow Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable and their collective expertise.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

Here is the first link that I stumbled onto the other day while doing a bit of research. This is one of the very best explanations of Adding Visual Texture to the Garden that I have ever read. Writer Doug Skelton, lays out the principles of adding texture expertly.

  1. Form
  2. Space
  3. Color
  4. Balance
  5. Man-Made
  6. Combinations

FORM – Bellevue Botanical Garden

SPACE- Bellevue Botanical Garden

Margaret roach explains “underplanting” here with great expertise, but even more, look at that TEXTURE!

From Margaret Roach’s Blog Post “10 Thoughts on Successful Underplanting” from

This beautiful and simple post from LIVE PRONTO! shows the appreciation of taking a walk to admire the textures and breathe it in a bit after a long day at work.

BALANCE- Bellevue Botanical Garden


I love the glass ground cover in this link!

One of the assignments I give my clients when I am Coaching is to have them take a photo of the anything in the landscape and look at it solely in black and white. This is a fabulous exercise for designing with texture in particular because it forces the eye to look at the shapes, balance and details in a completely new way.

Adding structural plants is a focus in this blog post called “Rooting For Ideas”, very well done by Designer/Blogger Don Statham in a post about “Texture in the Garden”.

Sometimes adding visual texture to a landscape can mean adding focal points that might be rare and unusual collectors plants or literal texture too!

Distinctive and Unique

I love the idea that sometimes you need a seemingly basic plant that has a high degree of textural interest simply to set a backdrop for pure drama in the garden.

Bellevue Botanical Garden

At other times the focus can be very macro on the texture of one plant in particular as blogger Matt Mattus explains in this post from his blog “Growing with Plants” about Pulsatilla and his love of the texture when they have those fluffy seed heads.

In this shot, the take-away is the literal texture and impact of the subject matter on the container and how it’s so balanced with the amount of detail on the foliage of a fairly common Caladium. Also, note the balance of the tone in colors here as well, if the pot was the same pattern in another color, this might not work at all. This combination takes both pieces to new heights. is getting a lot of Buzz lately for their take on the “Idea Book” that people have fallen in love with lately- check out this post about adding lushness to the garden with layers, by Amy Renea.

And simply because I love these shots and ALL the texture they conjure, my beloved coleus cannot be ignored.

I love this post from “Not Another Gardening Blog”. This blogger does a masterful job of defining texture as it applies to the winter garden.

The many other talented Designers of the Garden Designer’s Roundtable await your visit, they have been working hard on their “Texture” posts for you to enjoy- so GO- ENJOY!! I left the links for you below:

Thomas Rainer : Grounded Design : Washington, D.C.

Rebecca Sweet : Gossip In The Garden : Los Altos, CA

Pam Penick : Digging : Austin, TX

Lesley Hegarty & Robert Webber : Hegarty Webber Partnership : Bristol, UK

Douglas Owens-Pike : Energyscapes : Minneapolis, MN

Deborah Silver : Dirt Simple : Detroit, MI

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Andrew Keys : Garden Smackdown : Boston, MA

Rochelle Greayer : Studio G : Boston, MA