Gardens

The Gardens of Boboli, Florence, Italy

Florence 2016, The Gardens of Boboli where you really do need to be wearing walking boots, thank goodness we were.  Of course its just more then a garden, its one of the greatest open air museums in Florence….The gardens are a spectacular example of “green architecture” decorated with sculptures and the prototype which inspired many European Royal gardens, in particular, Versailles.  My husband had read about the sculptures and this was the reason we were now visiting this amazing green oasis, after the heaving city centre and a bonus…..the rain had stopped.

The building of the garden start in the 15th century, the original fields and gardens were laid out by the Borgolo family, in 1418 the property was bought by Luca Pitti.  In 1549 the gardens were greatly enlarged and became the Medici family’s new city residence.

The gardens continued to be enrich and enlarged in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, becoming a wonderful outdoor museum setting, for both Roman and Renaissance statues.

When you reach the highest point in the garden, you can rest and look out over the amazing view of Florence and the surrounding country side.  Next stop is the ‘The Museums of the Pitti Palace’.

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The Beauty of the Iris

No…..is ok, I’m not going to start taking photos of plants, I diversify too much as it is, but I do love my garden, and one of my garden favourites is the majestic Iris, and followed closely by the Day Lilly.  I have about a dozen Iris and add to their number each year.  This is achieved by visiting a beautiful Iris Nursery, just outside of Kings Lynn in Norfolk.  I could spend hours just choosing which Iris I want next.   So the last time we were there, I decided I would take some photos, so I could choose for next year, but I still can’t choose, it will have to be chosen on the visit.  I wasn’t going to post them, but they are so beautiful, and someone else, might just like to look at them 🙂

 

Valley Gardens, Harrogate, Yorkshire

In 2015, we had the chance to visit the Spa Town of Harrogate a couple of times, on one occasion, along with Eddie, my smallest dog, I spent an hour exploring ‘Valley Gardens’  We did’nt get to see the whole of the gardens, as Eddie has little tiny legs and has to walk really fast, so we just pottered along the walkways.  I could have carried him, but trying to take photos while carrying a little dog, is a complete no no, so we just ambled along while I took photos one handed.  I remembered visiting many years ago as a child, and was so glad the pavilion looked the same.

A little history…….The Valley Gardens Harrogate are English Heritage Grade II Listed gardens situated in regal Low Harrogate, which along with woodland, are known as The Pinewoods covers 17 acres.

The Valley Gardens Harrogate contain a greater number of mineral springs than any other known place – visit the area known as Bogs Field where 36 different mineral wells were discovered.

Valley Gardens was developed as an attractive walk for visitors to the Spa town, part of their health regime between taking the waters, and as a means of access to the mineral springs of Bogs Field. The waterside walk with flowers and trees became a place for promenading, socialising and taking exercise. Photographs of the gardens in the early 20th century testify to their enormous popularity with crowds around the tea room, boating lake and bandstand. The Sun Pavilion and Colonnades were built as an added attraction and facility for the spa, intended as the first phase of a covered way linking the Pump Room and Royal Bath Hospital. Visitors to the mineral springs declined but the horticultural reputation of the Gardens grew with the staging of the Northern Horticultural Society’s Spring Flower Show in the Gardens and the addition of special garden areas.

The Cherub Fountain
In 1972 a leading Harrogate Councillor was visiting the Chelsea Flower show, where he saw a sculpture created by a young Australian called John Robinson, the Councillor took it upon himself to order the piece, which was presented to the then Director of Parks, Mr Alan Ravenscroft, on the 23 May 1972, where it was installed upon a circular stone surround in the centre of the Valley Gardens.

 

Sculthorpe Mill, Sculthorpe, Norfolk

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I bought a lovely old book recently about the River Nene.  I was amazed at the detail and wonderful black and white photos between the covers.  This post is not about the river, but what was beside the river…..watermills.  There were so many mills that have now disappear, and maybe with luck there might be an early photo of what, was once a thriving mill.  I really didn’t realise how many there were, even along the River Nene which flows from before Peterborough, through Wisbech and into the Wash.  I thought in the Summer we would trace some of the villages along the route and see if anything is left.

For now though, I thought I would post about this lovely mill, that has been converted in to bed and breakfast accommodation, a pub, and a restaurant.  I took these photos of the mill in May 2013, and the cherry blossom was amazing.  On a couple of occasions we have stopped for a meal at ‘The Sculthorpe Mill’ which is a charming 18th century mill set in beautiful Norfolk countryside, with the River Wensum flowing through the large garden and then under the mill.

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The mill in 1925

There were three watermills along the river in 1225, and a new watermill was built in 1757.

Having ground corn for many years, the mill probably ceased working c.1947 and was becoming derelict by the 1950s.  It was turned into a country club in 1980’s, but was nearly destroyed by a fire in 2002.  It was reopened in 2003, after a refit and is, as you see it now.

By the way, they do very good food, and also there is a lovely garden to sit in during the summer, if you just want a drink  🙂

 

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The Sad End of Willowpool

 

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I have just learnt that my all time favourite garden centre closed in 2015 and is most probably a housing estate by now.  Willowpool Garden Centre, Lymm in Cheshire, was an experience like no other, it was like Alice in Wonderland gone mad, in a lovely English eccentric kind of way.  It was a labyrinth of a place, where crazy old antiques sat side by side with modern tacky reproductions. It had gorgeous old garden ornaments, that if we could have carried them home, would be in our garden now.  There were many different and really unusual plants, in lovely curious containers.  Buildings full of crafts to buy, wonderful little huts to have a bite to eat in, but that was back in 2012.  I am just so glad I made a record, it was winter, but the photos hopefully capture the wonderful weirdness of the place.  I hope you enjoy this visit as much as I did, and I will miss not being able to visit wonderland anymore.

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The Elms Mansion, Newport, Rhode Island, USA

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The Elms was the third Newport Mansion that we visited on our second day in Newport, Rhode Island, 2015.  By this time we were both feeling just a little bit tried, what with the heat and all the walking…..these Mansions are huge.  Again no photos allowed inside, so I have copied one from a book, just so you have an idea, of how opulent they are.

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This stunning Newport mansion was the summer home of coal magnate Edward Julius Berwind.  Mr Berwind and his wife Sarah commissioned Horace Trumbauer to build them a home modeled after the French Château d’Asnières in 1898.

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The house was completed in 1901, and remained in the family until the early 1960’s. It was purchased by the Preservation Society of Newport County in 1962, within weeks of being demolished (yes, they were really going to demolish it!). It became a National Historic Landmark in 1996.

The estate was constructed from 1899 to 1901 and cost approximately 1.5 million dollars to build. Like most Newport estates of the Gilded Age, The Elms is constructed with a steel frame with brick partitions and a limestone facade.

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In keeping with the French architecture of the house, the grounds of The Elms, were designed in French eighteenth-century taste and include a sunken garden.  We didn’t get as far as the sunken garden, due to my other half, who had sat down and totally refuse to move another inch in the heat.  I did venture a little, but I was suffering slightly, well more than that, so we decided to call it a day and head off to our hotel for a rest before dinner.  We still had two to explore before we left Newport the following day.