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!

Chelsea Flower Show, London & Country Gardens with CarexTours Pt.1


Broughton Grange, Carex Tours 2016

Carolyn Mullet is a top-level landscape designer based in Maryland and I was the BLESSED photographer she invited along to document her tour through England earlier this year via her tour company Carex Garden Tours. This blog is one in a series that will take YOU along with us on a visual tour of what we saw in the gardens and a glimpse into the fun that was had by the group along the way. So join me and our fun group for visits to some of the world’s top British gardens as well as the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show!

Our first stop on the tour was Broughton Grange Gardens  where we were all SO excited to get going we could hardly wait for that big old gate to open!




Once we were through the gate it was like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. We were all ready for adventure and did we ever get it! Though it was a cool and mildly damp morning as you would expect the english countryside to be, not one of us intrepid garden enthusiasts would be deterred.


Immediately in the garden, there was a lovely tea and biscuit ready and waiting for us while we learned about this wonderfully complicated garden and all of its many facets that we were about to explore!
Here is an excerpt from Broughton Grange that describes a bit about the gardens:

Prior to purchase by the present owner in 1992, Broughton Grange was owned for 200 years by the Morrell family. The gardens are beautifully set in 350 acres of parkland, farmland and open meadow, with planting that owes its origins to the Victorian era. In the early 20th century and under the ownership of Lady Ottoline and Philip Morrell, figures such as Bertrand Russell and Lytton Strachey were entertained on the estate. Although not ultimately fond of Broughton, Lady Ottoline wrote to Russell “I think the country looks very charming, very secluded; the trees and air and stillness are so delightful”. Broughton Grange now represents one of the most significant private contemporary gardens in Britain.
The gardens’ development accelerated in 2001, when leading landscape designer Tom Stuart-Smith was commissioned to transform a six acre south facing field into a walled garden. This impressive new garden, walled on two sides only, features three individually themed terraces and has been designed in strong relation to the surrounding rural landscape. Since the late 1990s, other parts of the gardens have been beautifully developed and from 2003 onwards, a significant arboretum has been planted. Further development of the arboretum will remain an ongoing project over the coming years. The tree collection at Broughton includes a wide range of interesting species and cultivars, covering an area of approximately 80 acres.
Over the past decade, the gardens have received a large amount of media attention and have opened for visitors since 2004 under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS). Overall, this diverse and interesting horticultural collection demonstrates all the potential for being a landscape of much significance in the future.


The gardens greet you immediately with a small but wonderful little jewel of a nursery that begs you to examine all of those wonderful plants you may not get to see back home!


Emerging hosta meet you as you pass through the first gate into the upper part of the formal walled garden. This peek gives you an idea of what’s ahead.


Foliage on these espaliered trees tells you that we are here just as spring is really springing and its beginning to warm up in this handsome landscape.


I find it very important to make a point of always looking back and see what lay behind you in the garden as you meander. It’s often quite as revealing as what lay further along the garden walk!


Glowing hillsides of rape seed are a flowing blanket of sunshine in the distance on this gray day. In the foreground, the structured and angular water feature is made for exploring the garden. Walkways and steps are in just the perfect spots to invite you to puddle jump across for another view of the garden.



The large water feature houses hungry koi. Across from the spectacular pond, there is a stand of espaliered trees. This time in a full circle, enveloping you as you stand at the wall that leads out to another section of the garden. 20160517-cs_img_0202

The rill viewed from down low with a garden that is full of deceptively casual perennials may seem scattered about in haphazard fashion, but are skillfully snuggled up on both sides.


The rill spills down into the lower portion of the garden. If you follow the flow back up, this shot takes you to the greenhouse still full with plants waiting for their turn in the sunshine.


Looking across the waterway from a bugs eye view gives you a great idea of what it felt like to pass through the walled garden via this crown of trees. 

One of the features that this garden is well-known for is this delicate, undulating boxwood hedge. The very last of the tulips bloom triumphantly within the random pattern of sheared boxwood. As we look down the path and through the tall hedge that borders the young arboretum filled with hundreds of incredible trees, I’m confident that it’s going to be quite the incredible sight for generations to come when those trees are large enough to have a presence.


Impeccably pruned shrubs anchor the garden in a way that only a proper English garden can demonstrate. In the distance, you can see the larger shrubs lovingly pruned to perfection, another one of this gardens treasures.


Spring veggies were literally being planted the day we visited. And we all loved those classy metal plant supports, hard to capture for me though! 🙂


Can you envision how long these peony/poppy supports have been in use? These are going to be monster sized blooms on the oriental poppy’s, no wonder they need support!


The sun came out long enough for our tour mate from Italy to put on sunglasses while she sketched and took notes of this meticulously kept garden. Oh happy day! 🙂 


THIS is where you know that serious plantsman, horticulturists and the like have been lovingly designing and refining a garden for years. When perennials, shrubs, trees, edibles and annuals all appear to mingle together effortlessly, yet it takes years and years of skill and effort to make it look SO easy. This is the sure sign.


When I am giving my clients Personal Garden Coaching advice, one thing we talk about frequently is that adding a bench or seating in an area that no one will ever sit on is wasted effort and money. This bench IS getting used! The elegant piece is placed to view the garden from many angles and this shot gives you a very small peek to the garden and young arboretum in the distance.


This beech tunnel must be a cool and calming place to hide on hot summer days!


Garden art was integral to this garden in MANY forms!!!


The owners of Broughton Grange built this fanciful tree house for their grandchildren.


Well placed statuary gave the gardens a sense of “place” as well as providing focal points for the eye to rest in such an expansive space.


Emerging spring perennials graced the traditional double borders nearest the house.


This particular statue was fabulous coming and going! 🙂


The formal garden just below the house featured beautiful blue obelisks that draw your eye up and out of the garden to the field beyond effortlessly.


Wrapping up our tour brought us around to the back side of the house and up toward the side of the garden leading us on up to our bus for the next stop. Stay tuned….we visit Broughton Castle next!

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A Summer Summary Garden Tour

Except for one freeze that lasted two days this last winter, here in the greater Seattle area you could safely say that ours was the winter that never happened. Consequently, between the release of Fine Foliage in the spring, my own business and my nursery work, there was no real need for me to update much of my garden for spring and summer this year, it was looking pretty darn good.

Then, in the waning days of August, I received a call from a magazine wanting to come and shoot in my teeny-tiny garden and my containers in 10 days! Scurry, scurry, scurry, rally the troops, plant, plant, plant, clean, clean, clean!

It turned out better than I ever imagined and we celebrated with an impromptu party on a lovely August evening that coincided with my birthday. It couldn’t have been a more perfect gift!

Now as autumn has placed its boot firmly in the rain and mud, this short burst of wild activity, color and enjoyment of the garden is now at its end and I trudge damply toward the clean up and pre-winterization of the garden and containers.

The one thing I did promise myself however, was that I would post a summer wrap-up of the finished (When is it ever finished?) garden for this season to share all of the hard work my friends and I put it in, in such a short time frame.

My special thanks go to Heather Little Bradley and Ryan LaPointe for their invaluable contributions in such a mad-cap few days!

Now, as it fades into the cool, low light of the shorter, wetter days of fall, I can move on to appreciating it in a whole new way. At least until chaos reigns again this spring. Plans are already brewing! 🙂

Enjoy the wrap-up! Click on photos to enlarge.





































I hope this end of summer garden wrap-up tour inspired you to plan for spring and summer in your own garden for 2014. Unfortunately there are just too many plants here to list them all by name, but if you want any specifics, I am happy to oblige.

If you would like to look at more photos like these, join me on my Facebook page by clicking here.  We have fun there learning all kinds of stuff!

Garden Designers Roundtable – Celebrating Trees

The definition of Dendrolatry: Tree worship, refers to the tendency of many societies throughout history to worship or otherwise mythologize trees.

If that is true, then yes, I am hopelessly guilty. I admit it, I have had a close relationship with trees from a very young age. Trees have had a significant place in my life spiritually as well. But, then again, so has most of man for as long as we’ve been around. Here is a great link to learn more.


Whether it is because of their inherent elegance, grace and majestic beauty…



Or their winter interest….



Or Autumn color against a blue sky…

January 2012 iPhone Dump 025

Or magnificent flower…..


Foliage that can’t be denied…..





A conifer of striking color and dimension…..






Or simply a sacred place to rest and contemplate the world…

July 2011 Chanticleer 195

July 2011 Chanticleer 194

Trees are magical, mystical and ever present beauties that we dare not take for granted. They are the life blood of this amazing planet that give us the oxygen to fill our lungs, paint our hearts with color and shade and heat our homes.

Planting a tree is the ultimate act of positivity about the future.

Tattoo 2013

To see more fabulous blog posts from the other Lords and Ladies of the Roundtable please follow these links below:

Jocelyn Chilvers : The Art Garden : Denver, CO

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

Debbie Roberts : A Garden of Possibilities : Stamford, CT

David Cristiani : The Desert Edge : Albuquerque, NM

Susan Cohan : Miss Rumphius’ Rules : Chatham, NJ

Scott Hokunson : Blue Heron Landscapes : Granby, CT

Douglas Owens-Pike: EnergyScapes Inc. : Minneapolis. MN.

Winter Math in the Landscape

December  2011 Foliage and Blooms (Some edited) 001 copy

January in the landscape is about math. Yes, you read that correctly, I wrote math. Not like the kind of garden math in The Garden of Cosmic Speculation. And not in the lovely “Fractaliscious” way either. I mean in the more relatively mundane, yet none the less important way that we’re all calculating what happened in the garden and what’s about to happen.

The addition is normally where I start in the dark days of winter. Right after the holidays, I’m already thinking, plotting, and strategizing my purchases. I want more shrubs this year, I added lots of trees last year, so shrubs are next….adding. How many packets of seeds do I want to order this year? How many yards of compost do I want to spread this spring? Some of my tools are getting old and in need of replacement or maybe I’ll FINALLY buy one of the tools I’ve had my eye on for SO long…adding.

February 2011 Seeds 001

The subtraction is at the forefront too. That perennial I have loved for ten years but have grown bored with, is SO yesterday, subtract. The super sale plant that was 50% doesn’t look like it’s going to make it…subtract. I bought and planted 24 tomatoes last year and 22 of them got tomato blight…subtracting. The matching pair of containers sitting at my front door are no longer a pair now that one has succumbed to a crack, subtracting (and maybe adding too.)

It’s too early for division yet. But soon… 🙂

FINE FOLIAGE due out in March of 2013


“Fine Foliage” Book Preview Debuts in Fine Form

Lush, rich, textured, bold, detailed, soft, feathery, spiky, romantic, elegant, sophisticated, dazzling, artistic, and dramatic are just a few of the many adjectives for the leaf. Or was that the needle? Or the blade? Or the branch? Foliage has a multitude of facets that I could NEVER be tired of it. I find it more technically alluring than most flowers. I think that’s the A-type in me though. It’s just the rich diversity of combinations that seems to be a design an itch I can never fully scratch.

In order to scratch that itch just a bit, I am thrilled present Fine Foliage published by our beloved St. Lynns Press.

The book that I am so proud to Co-Author with Karen Chapman of Le Jardinet is packed with the most stunning photography by our Principal Photographer, Ashley DeLatour of One thousand Words Photography. Our goal is to give you a book that you want to curl up with in winter and drool over pictures that give you ideas to day- dream over and a tool to use in spring to help you choose how to make that dream a reality.

When we first sat down and brainstormed this book, one of the very first thoughts that I had was to be able to explain “Why This Works” on every one of our 60 colorful combinations. I wanted to take the dreamy, artistic photos and make them an achievable risk for any level of gardener to take when armed with enough good information. We’ve taken extreme care to cover many areas of the country in different Hardiness Zones as well as design esthetics. As well as including annuals, perennials , shrubs and trees too in a simple and sophisticated format.

So who are these “Foliage-a-Holics” in Fine Foliage? I will quote Karen Chapman from her own blog here because I can’t write this any better 🙂 “I’m a container garden and landscape designer, serious plant-aholic, garden writer and public speaker for all things gardening. In other words I’m usually covered in a layer or two of soil, I drive everywhere with a large tarp for impromptu plant purchases and I’m truly passionate about sharing the joys of gardening.”

As for me, I would say that if you have read any of my posts you might have a fairly good idea for who I am The Personal Garden Coach, but here is the thumbnail: I’m a container designer, garden coach, garden writer, speaker and foliage-a-holic who loves to teach and see the light bulb go on when a gardener suddenly “get’s it”. I adore the entire Horticulture Industry and revel in helping others feel the same passion that I do about plants.

We have been so fortunate and honored to have the support of such respected authors  “Fine Foliage is a visual treat that will inspire you with dazzling combinations for containers and gardens. This is a great user-friendly design resource as Karen Chapman and Christina Salwitz explain why each combination works, bringing artistic design within easy reach of all gardeners”. – Debra Prinzing, author of the 50-Mile Bouquet  This just makes it all the sweeter.

So where can YOU buy the book you ask? 🙂 St. Lynn’s Press have listed the release date for Fine Foliage as March 1st 2013, but it will be available in time for the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, Seattle in February. At the show you’ll have the opportunity to hear Karen and I present a fun seminar based on our love of designing with foliage which will be followed by a book signing.

If you simply can’t wait until February and want to save a few $$’s then be sure to pre-order Fine Foliage through these fine booksellers.


Barnes & Noble – coming soon!

Powell’s Books

Indie Bound

For the daily action though, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We will endeavor to post THE most luscious and yummy photos and information that we can muster to hold you until your copy is available!