Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nafford House, A Lovely Private Garden In Worchestershire, England I

My husband and I are back home from England since about one and a half weeks now and I can't believe that I still haven't posted about one of the many private and public gardens, that we have visited during our England vacation. And oh my gosh, did we see incredible gardens this time!

I came home with wonderful memories full of the beautiful gardens that we have toured, tons of inspiration for my own garden, and literally thousands of photos. I hope, I can find the time in the following weeks and months to share at least some of them with you.

The very first garden that we visited the day after our arrival in the UK was Nafford House, located in Eckington, Worchestershire. It is a private garden, owned and cared for by Janet & John Wheatley, that opened in the context of the National Garden Scheme (NGS).

I was in heaven the moment when my husband and I walked through the garden gate and saw this beautiful white house conquered by climbing wisterias and the lovely garden beds framing the gravel path leading up to the front door.

The planting style in parts of the garden was what I would call wild romantic. Unfortunately my photos don't do these flower beds above and below justice. They look almost a bit weedy on the pictures, but in reality they were just packed densely with roses and many small plants that were allowed to spill over the edges into the gravel path. 

The abundance of late spring!

This rose caught my eye and I asked Mr Wheatley about the name. Kindly he went back into the house to ask his wife. Upon his return he said that it is 'Penelope'. The rose, a Hybrid Musk, had a very subtle intriguing coloration and a lovely, distinct scent. 

Getting a glimpse of the surrounding gardens to the left. 

Besides gardens another thing that makes my heart sing: Dogs! This one, who lived at Nafford House, greeted us and brought a toy with him to play. Doesn't he look like he is happy?

In this garden many planters and containers of different styles have been used, which I loved. With all the rain that they get in the UK, I guess it is a little bit easier to keep them watered and looking good than here in Southern California.

I found these petunias particularly pretty. As far as I can recall, they were a bit more lavender in reality than on my photo, though.

Liked the contrast between the informal flower beds in the background and the more formal planter and its circular flower bed in the foreground.

I would be interested to know what kind of tree this is with the chartreuse colored leaves. Does the leave color stay like this or is it just the case in spring? Anyways, at the time the photo was taken, it picked up the yellow hues in the flower bed to its feet perfectly.

I realized that in this garden they made great use of interesting flowering shrubs and beautifully colored trees.

This clematis was particularly pretty and looked great growing on the rustic climbing structure.

I have seen these cerise red flowering plants often in England and believe they are a kind of gladiolus.

Does anyone know the name of these beauties?

This pale pink flowering shrub was just stunning. I think it is a kind of weigelia.

Here is a close up of the blooms.

Another example of the flower beds filled to the brim. 

This burgundy colored shrub/tree is such an eye catcher. It looks really great together with the pale pink flowering shrub in the background and the chartreuse tree further to the left and the other burgundy tree to the right.

Another neat planter.

The overhang protecting the front door. So beautifully done!

Not only were the flower beds packed densely with plants and flowers, but the containers as well.

The foxgloves looked like they were allowed to grow where they had planted themselves. This informal style gave such a romantic feeling to the garden. The delicate white garden furniture go very well with this atmosphere.

A rose that I could not identify. When I asked the friendly Mrs Wheatley about the names of a couple of her roses she replied, that some have been already planted by her mother and the names have long gone lost. How wonderful must it be to take over your parents established garden and continue on to further develop and care for it.

As you can see on this photo, the garden was quite large. In one of  my next posts I intend to show you the long border in the center of this image a bit closer and also different parts of the garden, that we haven't visited, yet.

Thanks for stopping by on my blog today! I wish everyone in the US a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

See you in the garden!


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An English Afternoon Tea in Bradford on Avon, England

By now we have moved to our second cottage located in Turleigh, Wiltshire in the county of Wessex. The area belongs still to the beautiful Cotswolds.

Yesterday, after having a lot of fun exploring the pretty old town of Bradford on Avon and doing some fine hat shopping there, we treated ourselves to the first full English Afternoon Tea in this vacation at The Bridge Tea Rooms.

The cottage that houses the tea room is quite old and charming, like so many houses in England. Originally it belonged to a blacksmith and is dating from 1502. The front of the house is lovingly decorated with planters and window boxes. By the way, we had our tea behind the window to the right on the second floor.

There was a beautiful display of vintage, possibly antique blue china on the window sill. Just lovely!

In the background you can see the old town center of Bradford on Avon and the building in the middle with the round cupola I believe is the Catholic Church of Bradford on Avon.

Now we have been served tea! I chose the Guv'nors Tea and my husband had the English Breakfast Tea. Both teas had nice well balanced flavors. I was so pleased, that they served the tea in really elegant and delicate fine bone china. The maker was Duchess, England.

Tadaaa...! And here is the three tired tea stand. What a delight!

Who is able to resist an English Afternoon Tea?

This is the fireplace in the second story, very close to the table were we sat.

Attention to detail is what made this tea so enjoyable besides the edible treats. Each of us had an own tea strainer, that fit into a small metal bowl, so that it didn't leave a mess on the saucer with the little doily.

We chose the Queen Victoria Afternoon Tea to share, which contained a selection of four finger sandwiches, a scone with strawberry jam and organic clotted cream, and two small slices of cake: chocolate and lemon. Traditionally you eat the scone first, then the sandwiches and save the cake for last as a kind of desert. Let's have a closer look at the food items.

The scone was delicious and had the right texture, not too crumbly, not too moist. I loved the little bowl they served the jam in.

The cakes were also very good. The chocolate cake was rich and moist, exactly as it should be, and the lemon cake refreshing. You hardly can see it on the photo, but they were serving small wild strawberries with the cake and very small red grapes, so that the fruits were more in proportion with the small size of the cake slices. I loved their attention to detail.

The selection of sandwiches included salmon, ham, egg and cucumber. All sandwiches were very tasty, but the cucumber sandwich stood out. It was super delicious and one of the ingredients was mint, which was new to me in this context. It just gave it that extra special memorable taste that stays with you for a long time.  

The china was delicate and beautiful and I appreciated the fact that each of us had our own tea pot. If you serve an English Afternoon Tea at home, I think that would the ultimate treat for a well appreciated guest.

One extra detail that some may find over the top touristy and cheesy, but others a delight, is that the tea is served by staff dressed in Victorian costumes. Our waitresses were very friendly and one agreed that I could take a photo of her. 

The fireplace in the first story is much more elaborate than the one shown a few photos above in the second story.

Since we had read mixed review, we asked some locals about The Bridge Tea Rooms. We have been discretely told by them that the owner has changed about two years ago and that the quality has gone down a bit from really exceptional to "people still like it and go there". Hmm..., were they talking about tourists? The Bridge Tea Rooms has been awarded two times the UK's Top Tea Place by the prestigious UK Tea Guild, but maybe that was before the ownership has changed?

Well, we don't know what the quality of the English Afternoon Tea was like at The Bridge Tea Rooms before the owner changed, but we certainly did not regret our visit there. As a matter of fact we enjoyed our experience quite a bit and think it is still absolutely worth having an English Afternoon Tea in this establishment.

So when you are in the area, maybe you stop by and check it out yourself and come to your own conclusion. I hope your experience will be as pleasant as ours has been!

Warm regards,


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Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Beautiful Village of Blockley in the Cotswolds, England I

We are on vacation in England right now and I would like to take you on an early morning walk through the beautiful ancient village of Blockley. Blockley is located in the Cotswolds, an area quite famous for its outstanding beauty of the landscape, in the county of Gloucestershire in England, where we were renting a self catering cottage for a week. Usually we started the day with a healthy breakfast at our cottage but that morning we felt like having a traditional English Breakfast and decided to head out to the local village cafe and explore the village in a leisurely morning stroll by foot. The photos which are following I took on the way.

Leaving the cottage you step into a tiny but very lovingly planted cottage garden. The raised small terrace offered a very nice place to sit and enjoy the moment.

I especially liked this plant, I believe it is a Geum, which up to now I only was able to admire on photos from other garden bloggers.

Looking back through the garden gate towards 'Alice Cottage' to the right.

There was certainly no shortage of pretty cottages in Blockley.

Many of them build of the famous honey colored Cotswold stone that was quarried in the area.

Looking down the High Street of Blockley.

I love the climbing roses that were grown on many of the cottage walls. So pretty!

Here is a particular nice example of a climbing rose.

Looks like Mother Nature took over this front yard. All the rain that they have in England makes it possible that plants can thrive, even if they are not tended to by a gardener.

 I loved the beautiful detailed stone work around the door.

Many people make an effort to prettify their cottages with plants grown in containers.

The Crown Inn & Hotel looks nice from the outside, but the dinner we had there during our stay was disappointingly bland and boring.

Cottage garden charm! There is hardly any space to garden in, but British gardeners work their magic anyways!

My husband noticed the planter to the left of the door and commanded me to take a photo. So I happily obliged.

This was my favorite scene from the High Street. The pink climbing rose is just amazing and it smells very strong. Unfortunately I don't know what variety it is.

I will continue the walk through Blockley in my next post. If you want to see more scenes from this lovely village and also what our traditional English Breakfast looked like, stop by here soon.

In case you have read my last post and wonder about the Doberman puppies. Two of them have been adopted out before our trip to England. We have decided to keep one puppy, and this one is very well taken care of by our wonderful dog sitters. Still, it was a little hard to leave her behind, but we have booked this vacation six months ago and didn't had one last year, so with a little heavy heart we decided to go. We see our puppy over FaceTime almost every day though, and she seems to do very well. It looks like that we miss her more than she misses us, which is a good thing.

Wishing everyone a lovely rest of the weekend!

Warm regards,


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