Poppy heads and tentative sweet peas

We’re staying in Yorkshire for today’s post, and it’s the first Flowers on Friday for a week or two. When I was sorting through photos of Castle Howard for yesterday’s Brideshead Revisited post, the poppies and their seedheads stood out. I”m not sure if it’s the insect on one, how they’re all standing to attention or the contrast with the dark background, which is actually a yew hedge. Or the delicate pinkness of the flowers. Or the sun, which has been mostly missing this week hasn’t it?

poppies in the walled garden at castle howard

It’s not been cold though. Just wet. Very wet.

Maybe it’s the sun as this sweet pea making its way up the obelisk also appealed. Sigh.

a tentative sweet pea

Just a short post today, but one full of sunshine. A girl can dream hey?

Or, we could all combine our sun dancing skills, it seems we’ve perfected our rain dancing ones!


Topiary in the Potager at Helmingham Hall

It’s been a while since I’ve shared some topiary, so when I stumbled across these photos from our visit to Helmingham Hall back in 2017, I couldn’t wait to share them. I think my favourite is the sombrero, mainly because, why wouldn’t you love a topiary mexican hat? The Japanese anemones dancing against the brick wall help too.



And I suspect you’re already realising this isn’t just any topiary. With Helmingham in the background, with its chimneys-to-die-for, I present a snowman. Surrounded by acorns. Just imagine the work keeping this garden tidy and in shape.



The topiary is part of the Potager, which is always an area of a garden I’ll head to and one which MOH struggles to get me out of. I think here he was just resigned to his fate. I mean, a walled potager and topiary, he stood no chance!





The frog, or is it a prince above, is why there was some hesitation about claiming the sombrero as my favourite. There’s so much work in all of these, and for them to be instantly recognisable as the shapes they were intended, is a real skill. The frog, as you can see is starting to grow, and with so many sculptures in the garden, I’m sure whoever manages these must walk around the garden with their topiary tools in their pockets, at the very least.

Which is your favourite?

The parterre at Helmingham Hall

We’re getting about a bit this week with the posts I’m sharing, so in between quick visits to Lisbon on Tuesday and Italy tomorrow, today we’re somewhere a little closer to home and have landed in Suffolk. In the parterre at Helmingham Hall to be precise. It’s a great garden to visit, another independent garden where you’re never quite sure what you’re going to find.

We visited during our Suffolk break, and I was surprised to see I’ve only shared a single post from our visit so far, and if you’re a fan of knot gardens, then this is worth a visit if you’re in the area. I originally planned to share photos from the Potager, but somehow my fingers had other ideas, but who am I to argue?

formal lines provide a relaxing space at Helmington Hall in Suffolk

While first off this garden might look very traditional, and its choice of plants - box hedging and santolina, it’s not quite as traditional as you’d expect. It’s in good company as that’s the combination used in the formal gardens of Chenonceau too, though the santolina (the light coloured plant) was more densely planted in Suffolk, which brought a bolder ‘stripe’ to the parterre.

great lines that you just want to follow

The other less traditional thing, but gorgeously so, are these pink cosmos which on our visit were used in the central bed.

cosmos fill the central bed

From a distance, I assumed they were roses, so it was quite a discovery when I got close enough. While I’m converting to roses, i think because these weren’t roses, it was even more of an exciting discovery. It’s quirks like this, or the plant you don’t expect to see that makes a garden a garden and not a forumaic reproduction of what we know works.

the symmetry is reasuring
box topiary in the parterre at helmington hall in Suffolk

It’s a great space, calming and viewable from the house across the moat - which if I’ve not mentioned before is pretty and fascinating, though sadly not open, but I mean, it has a moat. And surely that means you can imagine anything you like about the place and the reality would never match up to it.

The other thing this garden has, which appeals to me, is those gates which lead to the Potager. So soon, I’ll share more of what’s behind them as I’m rather partial to those too, as i discovered at Cheverny.