Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Trip to England -- Travels Near and Far

For my post for Travels Near and Far, a brand new blogging meme hosted by Beth at Beyond the Garden Gate, I thought I would go far, not only in space but also back in time, to a trip I made to Leicestershire, England several years ago -- in late June, 2005, to be exact. My mother-in-law (who has since passed on) invited me to visit her (without my husband, her son), for a week. Some of you may remember I posted previously about her influence on my life and about her garden here.

One of the treats MIL planned for me that week was a trip to see the University of Leicester Botanic Garden. I apologize for my poor photography skills. My photography and the primitive point-and-shoot camera that I was using at the time can not do justice to the beauty of the garden. Despite that, I hope you can get the flavor of the place.

MIL (in the green skirt) and her neighbor, who accompanied us, admire a perennial border.

Contorted Filbert/Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

Gunneras get huge there too!

On another day, MIL and a friend took me to a local, very posh hotel restaurant called The Orangery at Kilworth House. We had an excellent meal, although I can't remember now what I ate. I wish I had pulled my camera out to photograph the meal and the interior of the restaurant, because it was quite amazing. I think MIL might have been appalled if I had photographed my food.

Kilworth House

The Orangery from outside

After our meal, we strolled the landscaped grounds.

And on yet another day, we took a trip to an amazing nursery, Woodlands Nursery and Garden Centre. This was the first time I ever saw a nursery with a restaurant/cafe inside. In England, just like in Washington state, the nurseries are open year-round, and so it is cost-effective to have a cafe inside where you can take a break from shopping and have a bite to eat. At the time of this visit I was living in Massachusetts, where the nurseries close for a good 5 months of the year.

This little faux ruin was for sale at the nursery. I'd love to find something like this here!

They had a wire frame to make a chicken topiary

They had some marvelous roses.

I'd like to make a bubbler like this for my back porch.

They also had some lovely statues.

As well as a selection of Tillandsias in tipped-over pots with little ceramic figurines.

And others in saucers planted in fine gravel.

At the time I loved these, but now they are just a little "twee" for my taste.

Except for maybe this fairy.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this trip to England with me! Check out Beyond the Garden Gate and see where others are waiting to take you!


  1. Hi Alison! I did so enjoy visiting England with you. You saw some beautiful gardens: Leicester Botanic Garden is fabulous, and there's so much to see and enjoy. I loved the formal beds and water features. I'm glad you had the opportunity to take this trip - how fabulous!
    Thanks for linking up, Alison.
    Blessings, Beth

  2. Alison, that was a lovely trip to England. Great shots, really do show the 'flavour' of the gardens.

    I would have had to have bought the little kitty in the tea cup!


  3. I remember your trip very well. I treasure your MIL's milkmaid pitcher and did not know she had passed on. The dog thought the Beatrice Potter figurines in tipped pots were twee, too and ate some of them. I have a fairy that I put out of her reach that can go in a pot saucer this winter.

  4. Sometimes I really miss England. There's just something comforting about the seeing the effective use of stone and brick in a garden, and all those neatly clipped yews and boxwoods. The knot garden is outstanding. The Orangery though, oh my! If I ever had the misfortune of being obscenely wealthy, I would simply HAVE to build one. I've seen a few over the years of similar construction, and always think they're just beautiful. Can you imaging being inside one while is blustery and snowy outside? It will certainly make our impending greenhouse installation look a little 'rustic' ;)

  5. Alison, thank you for taking me to England! I'd never get there on my own. This truly is the home of the gardener extraordinaire's isn't it? They really know what they're doing. I cannot imagine all the clipping and trimming that has to go on with those trees and shrubs, I thought I had it bad just pulling weeds.

    And this is a wonderful remembrance of your MIL even if the relationship wasn't exactly warm and fuzzy. We always hear so much about the British 'stiff upper lip', apparently it's true and not just a stereotype? I admire you; I've never spent more than a few hours alone with my MIL and she lives a mile away.

    Twee---love the word!

  6. This was so much fun! The faux ruin was also something that would have caught my attention. Loved the look of The Orangery! Had to chuckle when you mentioned the likely reaction of MIL to photographing your meal ;) The gardens were gorgeous but a lot of work must go into maintaining them. I loved the stonework, pond and water features in particular. The chandelier in the homestead is beautiful!

  7. What a great post, so many wonderful photos! Love the statues. Pinning and tweeting this.

  8. What a fun trip it must have been for you. I'm sure the fond memories you established with your MIL are priceless. Love that Orangery. The architecture is just stunning.

  9. Although I am English and have always lived in England, I'm afraid I have never visited this beautiful garden. Now I have been shown exactly what I am missing... I will take myself there at the first opportunity. Thank you, Alison, for pointing me towards what is on my very doorstep - 90 miles and under 2 hours away!
    Jane Gray

  10. Hi Alison... this post is wonderful and I appreciate having the opportunity to visit!

    You also mentioned developing an interest in conifers in your comment on my latest post. I am not by any means an expert, but I do have seven posts in my archives on the right... just go to the 'C's and click on conifers and you will be able to access all seven... I have a great many conifers in the gardens and you might find some info that would help you.

    If you want to visit a true expert, check out
    which are a whole lot of wonderful posts by Ed Remsrola... anyone interested in getting to know conifers would certainly find checking out his archives immensely beneficial!

    Finally... you are from Washington state I believe... I do think you live in conifer heaven, depending on what part of Washington you call home!!

    Have a great day! Larry at Oak Lawn Cheese Factory in Wisconsin

  11. Breathtaking gardens and a place I would love to visit. I am in awe of the relationship you have with your MIL, doesn't surprise me to see her in a skirt. She must be quite the lady.

  12. What beautiful gardens, love the formal ones especially (probably because none of mine are that well-mannered!). And as Grace mentioned, the architecture is stunning as well. Thank you for sharing this special trip with your MIL in England with us!


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.