The Palace Gardens of Versailles. #MyGloriousGardens

My sister, daughter and I took my mother to Versailles for her 70th birthday as a surprise. I won’t be blogging about that but I would love to share with you a post about the gardens and grounds. The Palace itself is huge and does not disappoint! It is a true palace with gold and marble, restored to it’s former glory since the French revolution. It is not until you see the grounds and gardens however, that you realise quite how much opulence and decadence there was from a time when France was THE superpower in the world at that time. Versailles is valued at over £50 Billion now so try to imagine the scale and size! A Russian Oligarch’s dream! It is over 500 hectares in size and is beautifully manicured and formal in design.

The Palace of Versailles from the front -this is what you see first. Well, apart from the cues of people!
This is the view down towards The Grand canal!
versailles 1
It was a very wet weekend but it was still a stunning place!

It was such a rainy weekend so the photos are not quite as clear as I would have liked.

The beginning of the formal gardens
More formal gardens planted with annuals such as cosmos between formal Box Hedging.
The planting near the palace.

Louis XIV or the sun king as he was known, commissioned the designer, André Le Nôtre, to redesign the grounds of the palace as originally, it was a mere hunting lodge. Under the title Controller General of the King’s Garden, Le Nôtre began revamping the grounds of Versailles in 1662. His design formed a crucifix shape to which he added two parterres closest to the palace. These parterres were designed to reflect light into the windows of the Hall of Mirrors and have pools of water with statues of nymphs, men and children.

The parterres

There is a large canal which is over a mile long. This is called the Grand Canal after the one in Venice and Louis sailed gondolas on it. They also skated on it when it froze in Winter.

The view towards the Grand Canal and yes, we hired a golf buggy! What else to do in the rain?


There are 11 main, famous fountains. They have statues from Roman and Greek mythology surrounding them and various sprays and jets. Apparently, they were more spectacular during Louis XIV’s reign but couldn’t all be cascading at the same time so they would work when the royal family were passing! The largest is called The Apollo fountain.

One of the smaller fountains
The Mother of Apollo surrounds the fountain nearest the palace.
The Apollo fountain depicting the god on a chariot pulled by four horses and three men blowing horns.
One of the pools
The ballroom fountains.

As part of our ticket, you can stop and listen to the music that accompanies the fountain show.

The king enjoyed his morning breakfast and an Orangery was constructed to house orange, lemon and pomegranate trees. Many of the trees today are over 200 years old! The orangery was my favourite part; it is over 7.5 acres and is mind blowing! As we were visiting during the summer (!) the trees were outside.

The view of the orangery gardens.
All the trees were outside the Orangery for the summer months (together with a visitors stand for the evening fountain and firework show)
The huge Orangery is tucked under the balustrade.
Now, that is what you call a door! The door to the Orangery.
Photo trickery fun in the rain!

I hope you have enjoyed this post!

I have more…..

We also visited Le Trianon and Le Petit Trianon….


Mission Mindfulness

My Glorious Gardens series: Tyntesfield on a beautiful Spring day.


On a beautiful spring day we decided to make the most of the lovely weather and take a trip to Tyntesfield, near Bristol. We went to look at the gardens but you can’t go somewhere like Tyntesfield without visiting the house too!

Tyntesfield was bought by the National Trust in 2001 with help from the local community. It was extended as a family home in the 1860’s by William Gibbs who, at that time, was the richest commoner in England, having made his fortune from the sale of guano which was used as fertiliser. When it was sold, the owner of the time, Richard Gibbs was living in just 3 rooms as it needed so much work doing to it. The work that the National Trust has done is clear yet impressive. The house is a Victorian Gothic Revival House of wonder with over 50,000 pieces of interest. I was chatting to one of the guides who said that nothing was ever thrown away meaning that this unique property and it’s contents have been preserved in their entirety. It certainly feels as if you are stepping into a bygone age at Tyntesfield and it an absolute joy!

Tyntesfield was used by Clifton College in the second World War-can you imagine going to school here?

As you walk towards the house, you can take the route through the Rose Garden. I was really interested to see this as we want to try to create something similar in the old house garden. It was stunning, built on a slight hill with lovely views.

The rose archway leading to a raised terrace.
Me walking through the rose arch.
The view from the terrace was amazing!
I loved the Box hedging; unfortunately some had blight so was cordoned off.
Gothic statues at the bottom of the steps leading to the Rose Garden
In each corner were small gazebos and beautiful Acers

We arrived quite early so missed the crowds but there were many people enjoying the classic car collection for Fathers Day.

The main entrance with the classic car collection
More classic cars!
The gothic turrets and features were beautiful
The main front entrance

We were lucky to get to see the house. They restrict the number of visitors so you do need to get here early. The house opened at 11am and we went in before the crowds!

Inside is truly a masterpiece of Gothic craftsmanship. The interiors are not to my taste but you can not fail to be impressed by all the detail. The ceilings are ornately carved and the fire places are large stone affairs. From the Billiard room, a masculine space designed for leisurely pursuits to the grand dining room with it’s table laid for dinner, it’s a beautiful place to wander.

The ornate staircase
Wow! What a fireplace!
The Sitting Room

The grand Dining Room with original wallpaper
I was amazed to see so many pieces still in the house such as this picnic set and travelling luggage in the kitchen.
The detail of the roof in the Billiard Room.
The family also added a grand and frankly, enormous Chapel. It was completed in the 1870’s just after William Gibbs died. It is larger than most village churches and has all the original chairs and altar furniture.

The chapel at Tyntesfield

The Chapel on the outside
The Altar
We then wandered to the Kitchen garden which was huge! The garden produced enough for the entire estate and the family even had produce brought to them weekly when they were at their London residence.

The walled kitchen garden
The walled kitchen garden at Tyntesfield
The herbaceous borders near the extensive greenhouses
The orangery.
Inside the orangery

By this time we were boiling hot and had to get back to collect our son. We stayed about 3 hours but this is definitely a place that you could stay all day. I feel I need to go back to see it all again as I expect we missed quite a lot! Being National Trust members means we can easily go back whenever we wish.

Tyntesfield has got to be the most impressive house I have visited recently. It deserves more attention and I’m so glad the National Trust have done such a great job in preserving it.

I will leave you with some more beautiful photographs of a fabulous few hours!

The Rose Garden
Fab gothic bench!

View from the Master Bedroom
Formal planting at the front of the house

Part of #MyGloriousGardens series.


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My Glorious Gardens series: Lacock Abbey Gardens in June.

Lacock Abbey is a National Trust property that started life as a nunnery and was last lived in by the Talbot family. It is also the birthplace of photography. Many films have been filmed here including Harry Potter, The other Boleyn girl and Wolf Hall. We have visited the Abbey many times but haven’t really wandered around the gardens so that’s what we did on this visit. We did wander into the Cloisters as they are particularly beautiful and interesting.

The view of the Abbey as you enter to go in.
This beautiful Gothic arch leads you into towards the Abbey.

The outside is absolutely stunning and you can see the history of the building in the different windows and architecture. As this is the place where William Henry Fox Talbot took the first ever photographic negative, there are lots of frames around the grounds for you to take photographs of you own. A fun idea for children I thought.

If you have seen Harry Potter, you will know this corridor!
The beautiful Cloisters
Some of this part of the Abbey are 800 years old.
This is the Sacristy, dating back to the 1230’s.

The gardens are laid out as parkland with rolling hills and fields. The house itself is surrounded by a Ha-Ha wall. We wandered into the Botanical Gardens and took some lovely photos here.

Cottage style planting
Beautiful delphiniums!
I love the shades of blue of the different delphiniums.
The bees were loving them!
My delphiniums always get eaten by slugs…….
I love the black centre to these delphiniums.
In the greenhouse there was this huge vine and bougainvillea

We walked through the orchard and sat for a while before visiting the new rose garden.

The orchard.
The new rose garden.
We sat for a while in this fabulous gothic seat.
Beautiful, mature trees

Lacock Abbey can be combined to a visit to the village of Lacock. The whole estate, including the village, were gifted to The National Trust in 1944. It is a ridiculously pretty and unspoilt village with no overhead power lines giving it a timeless quality. There are a couple of great pubs and places to buy ice-creams. It also has a delightful “Stall on the wall”, a place to buy home-made cakes, meringues and jams all made by a local resident.


My Glorious Gardens: Iford Manor and the Peto Garden.

During half term, my teenagers and I went to to Iford Manor to see the gardens of Harold Peto. I think my children were humoring me but it was so nice to have their company!

Outside the entrance.

Iford Manor is near the Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon and is very, very beautiful. There has been a settlement here since Roman Times and the Manor is from the 14th Century. The Gardens are Grade 1 listed which means they are of national importance. They were designed in the early part of the twentieth century by Harold Peto who also lived in the Manor but have recently been restored. Harold Peto was clearly inspired by Italian style garden structure with columns, board walks and statues. There is also an oriental themed pond area.

I will leave you with lots of photos which will help you to envisage the garden.

The entrance to the garden.
The stunning stone steps that lead to the Italianate garden.
The grotto
The broad walk with columns.
There are lots of paths through the Cypress.
Beautiful box hedging and silly teenagers!
The broad walk with statues.
At the end of the Broad walk was this lovely Loggia.

The planting is simple but effective with sways of Nepeta, lilies, Salvia and Allium. Some of the original Wisteria also remains.

Nepeta with lots of bees!
Original Wisteria climbs the walls.
Modern, yet simple planting.
Astrantia, how I love you.

The pond area was lovely and it was full of tadpoles!

The pond
The pond was full of tadpoles!
The irises growing around the pond.
Harold Peto collected from his travels; here is a Buddha we found near the pond.
The beautiful cloisters in the centre of the garden holds operas throughout the summer.
It’s amazing what photos capture the day (and what you can do with an umbrella to your silly brother!)

It was a lovely way to spend a few hours. It’s not a place for children particularly but there were children there who seemed to be playing hide and seek and loving it!

A link to the website can be found here




The old house garden: a weekly round up.

I have an old tin bath that I found in the old house garden when we moved in.

During the spring it was filled with some gorgeous tulips that I had planted in the Autumn.

Tulips planted in an old tin bath

The tulips have now died back so I have taken those out and put them in the greenhouse to dry out. I haven’t cut off any of the green leaves that are still attached as this will allow the bulb to gain any remaining nutrients in order to flower next year.

The unplanted old tin bath

I went to B&Q and they had 20% off all plants at the moment so I bought lots of bedding plants to fill the bath. I bought:

  • Petunias -the upright double-flowered ones in purple.
  • Trailing Fuchsias in white, purple and pink.
  • Nemesia in purple.
  • Dahlias in a beautiful pink mix.
The planted old tin bath with summer bedding plants.

It looks rather lovely, especially with the other arrangement I worked on a few weeks ago. The patio looks a little happier. I also took out the enormous Euphorbia that had fallen over in all the rain last week. When I went to tie it back, I saw that it was rotten at the roots so it had to come out sadly.


Dottie loved the sunshine today!

The old tin bath only took an hour to plant up but will hopefully look lovely all summer long. I also moved a clematis into a new pot with a trellis. This clematis was one I bought last year but didn’t do well in the heat at the back of the patio so hopefully will fare better here where it has a little more shade. They like to be planted deep in the soil and I always add a stone across the roots as they like to be slightly shaded. I can’t remember which Clematis this is so we shall see!

Here are some other photos I took in the garden today.

The blue bed
The lupins are beginning to flower
I planted a Solanum crispum last year and it died (or so I thought!). It is not flowering and looks fabulous.
The glory of the Peonies out in full bloom.
A purple anemone
The Alliums are flowering too.

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My Glorious Garden series: Hazelbury Manor Charity Open Day.

This week, I ventured to one of the Open Days for the National Garden Scheme. This is where local gardens are open to the public. Hazelbury Manor is near where I live in Wiltshire and is only open to the public on these days so I decided to go. Unfortunately, it was absolutely pouring with rain and everyone was busy so it was just me and my country boots and very large, umbrella! Even Dottie stayed at home as I wasn’t sure if she would be allowed in.

Hazelbury Manor
Hazelbury Manor

Hazelbury Manor is a Grade I listed privately owned property near the town of Box in Wiltshire. The manor house were not open to the public so I couldn’t go in! What a shame as it looked so inviting! The next Garden Open Day is on Sunday June 11th in the afternoon. I paid £5 to go inside.

The 8 acres of landscaped gardens are Edwardian in design having been laid out by George Kidston in the early 1920’s. The main attraction of these gardens is the beautiful Laburnum walkway and pleached Lime tree avenue.

The Laburnum tunnel at Hazelbury Manor Gardens
A close up of the Laburnum at Hazelbury Manor gardens

The pleached lime trees are an inspiration…I would love to add some to the old house garden…

Pleached trees at Hazelbury Manor Gardens
I felt like I was in The Shining movie!

The gardens were just beautiful but as it was pouring with rain I was all alone! It was a bit spooky to be honest….I can imagine the history of this place and as it was so dark in places so I walked quite quickly!

Hazelbury Manor Gardens
Lots of nooks and hidey places at Hazelbury Manor Gardens

This is not a place to take children particularly although on a warm day it would be a great place to play hide and seek! There is no shop or cafe but it is a stunning garden to roam (alone) on a wet morning! I’m glad I’ve been as I always wondered what was “over the wall.” Now I know!

Cascading pond at Hazelbury Manor Garden

Part of My Glorious Gardens series.

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