Rest assured at Wrest Park

Bedfordshire?  Never given it much thought beyond gritting my teeth over the drive to Luton airport.  A prejudice I don’t mind defending as many have never heard of Suffolk, where I’m from, at all. This non view got swept into a cocked hat or french drain two days back when travels along a beaded necklace…

If you go into the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise

Serried timber trees, broad trunked with fly agaric mushrooms poking through dead leaves.  Why is this the popular image  of a wood?  Should we blame Racey Helps or Beatrix Potter?  Apparently not.  According to  Oliver Rackham,  (the historian of the English countryside)  this woodland askew view is to be blamed on the  “scientists and savants…

St Catherine’s Hill and St Cross

The top of the hill was an Iron Age fort.  Stand there and look around.  The beech woods slide down the earthworks and delve you down into the valley of the river Itchen.  Tributaries of chalk streams of the tickled brown trout and some of the best fly-fishing in England.  Behind the hill the traffic…

A quick gallop through some garden history

The first gardens that archeology uncovers are those made by the Egyptians.  Walled cool courtyards carved out of the arid desert and based round water, the formal planting of date palms, papyrus and figs in rows.   Since the making of the earliest gardens, there has  been a certain tension between the garden as a…

Do not throw stones: a love affair with Palm Houses

In a new city, the beeline I make is to the Botanic Gardens.  Once there the homing in is on the palm house. A building that smacks of such self confidence and an era when we were on the march upwards.  In the 21st century with all the advances in construction technique and glass science,…

Pattern of the DAY

Scissor-braced, seven-canted roof constructed round about 1330 at Westhall church, Suffolk.

An unusual way to wean a pup

but the formula works.  Take a three day walk out of your door and into the landscape.  The dog goes too.  Leave the puppy behind in good hands. This is the east coast of England – it is falling into the sea, quite literally and makes small wave and local newspaper headlines on a regular…

Victorianarama at Chelsea

Victorian influences will converge at the Chelsea Flower Show next week.  The Royal Horticultural Society was given its charter by Prince Albert in 1861.  The forerunner of Chelsea,  the Great Spring Show, was held that year  in Kensington Gardens.  Shows and exhibitions were massively popular and the public flocked to gaze at the latest wonder…

My old house

is the really yellow one.  I stayed with friends on Thursday night and drove through Lavenham yesterday morning. This place was fabulously wealthy in the 15th century on the back of the wool trade.  It then became an economic backwater –  nobody could afford to knock down and improve.  There are about 400 listed timber-framed…