Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Two Men of Influence...

Last Thursday I fulfilled a long-held ambition and took a trip to the home of David Austin and his wonderful rose empire in the Midlands....it lived up to all expectations! Above you see the Alhambra Garden...one of several that were designed to showcase the absolute magnificence and fragrance of the wonderful roses developed and grown by this far-sighted man. His ambition was to return to the old English heavily-scented blowsy heavy-headed traditional flowers from the neat & tidy standards and buttoned up bushes favoured in the 1950's, 60's & 70's...he's succeeded!





It was a beautiful but not-too hot day....peacocks strutted everywhere and I took a peek at the Austin's magnificent farmhouse...

the new William & Catherine rose was on display...a beautiful creamy white...

It was so lovely to be able to see the different types in situ...as they should be seen (& smelt!) Huge swathes and banks of rambling, tumbling beauty. It made me wish that our garden was ten times the size so I could fit more of these delights in. There really isn't much room left! But I think I've identified a couple of spots for two more....
As part of the afternoon, I had a wonderful cream tea in a marquee on the lawns...served on rose patterned china


 with a vase of yellow beauties (The Pilgrim, a sensational climber) in the centre of the table..

A beautiful way to spend an afternoon, if you love gardens as I do. I came home clutching the latest catalogue...dreaming and planning!

Our county was for many years the home of celebrated author Roald Dahl. I even met him once! When I was about 10, Esther & I took part in a village fancy dress competition. Our Mum made our costumes using lots of crepe paper and ingenuity! I was a milkmaid and my sister a daisy...and to our great surprise,(and luckily for our relationship) we won joint first prize! The great Dahl was the judge and presented us with a signed copy of his book Fantastic Mr Fox...which we still have....
There is a children's gallery dedicated to his creations in my town and on most mornings I hear the chatter of schoolchildren walking in 'crocodile' formation through the churchyard on their excited way to visit!

Last Saturday, the town held the annual Roald Dahl Festival....happily the day was a beautiful one as the children so look forward to it, and everyone goes to so much trouble...

The parade starts from the churchyard...so we have lots of excited children getting into fantastic costumes from early morning, eager to be off!




and at 11am, a procession of BFGs, Matildas,Giant Peaches, Charlies and Georges make their way into town accompanied by stiltwalkers & many other amazing characters and creatures.
Dahl died about 20 years ago now...his grave is a huge draw to visitors, who leave chocolate bars on it in tribute to the creator of The Chocolate Factory....and his books continue to give huge pleasure to each new generation of children and encourage them to read.

July has begun...I can hardly believe that we are more than halfway through the year already! I hope that your week has started well...it's raining softly as I write and the cooling air is filled with birdsong and the smell of wet grass from the freshly mown churchyard...it's a little piece of bliss xo

14 comments:

  1. This has been as charming as ever to read Rachel---the gardens are breathtaking and the story of Mr. Dahl was enchanting---how exciting to be able to say that you actually met him!!! Unbelievable! What a treasure to have his book directly from him!!!
    I too love roses---Colorado's climate is not always conducive to them; however, I've managed to get several plants that have done well. I've lost a few over the years, but the new owners of this house will have prolific blooms to gather next year....and actually this year as well until the first frost. I do hope they treasure them as much as I have....
    A wonderful post Rachel....just beautiful!!
    xo
    Joann

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  2. Your blog postings absolutely transport the reader...I was there with you, walking among the glorious scented roses...taking tea..then, I could almost hear the chatter and squeals of the school children...lovely, Rachel!! xo Laura Jenkins

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  3. Another wonderful guided tour through the magical place that is your home. What a pleasure for me to see and read all about your garden adventure in that amazing estate and the Dahl event too. Every time I read your blog I want to move to England. Maybe you should contribute to some travel magazines so more people could share in your adventures.

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  4. Heaven on Earth walking through David Austin Gardens. When I come to England I'm going to be sure to visit David Austin. Those roses you took a picture of are just so magnificent! Thank you so much for taking us on tour with you. Tea on the lawn, oh I can't even imagine, so wonderful.
    Lovely celebration of Roald Dahl in your town. I have fallen in love with England, swoon! Your mom rocks winning you 1st prize for your fancy dresses. xoxo

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  5. More traveling? Lucky you! Oh and I love cream tea (as you know) and never enjoyed it as much as in your place.

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  6. Being an admrirer of David Austin roses, I read this with such interest. Have you made your decision for the roses?
    I have a couple more spots myself, and would love something with loads of petals, maybe one varigated which I don't have. I've had terrific luck with my climbers this season, my husband has been recycling our dishwater on them and they are enormous and continue to bloom , having grown at least five feet since january (these particular two are climbers.)
    And I just read FMFox for the first time a couple of weeks ago. So wonderful, only wish it were longer. I remember reading about Gypsy House somewhere, and thinking it looked such a delight.
    xx
    julie

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  7. Dear Rachel,

    I enjoyed seeing pics and reading about your afternoon at the David Austin farm and gardens! The roses are gorgeous! I especially love the buttercup ones! Your cream tea must have been a lovely treat (and such pretty china too!). I'm so glad you fulfilled your wish.
    How wonderful that you actually met Roald Dahl! I absolutely loved reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when I was a child! Thanks so much for sharing pictures of the annual Roald Dahl festival. It must be such fun to see everyone dressed up - children and adults too! You live in such a darling corner of the world. Wishing you a happy July! We're already mid-year...can you believe it!? xoxo

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  8. I enjoyed reading your post so much, Rachel! Your area is so stunningly beautiful and lush! I adore roses that have such a lovely scent even though the modern roses are so pretty. What gorgeous estate and such fun to have tea in the garden on botanical plates, too! Some days one can experience such beauty that it transports us to another realm! I just love your writing, sweetie! Hugs, Sherry xx

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  9. I love David Austin roses. Whenever I find a gorgeous and beautiful smelling rose in the garden centre, it's always, always a DA one.

    Loved seeing his garden - thanks for sharing the pics.
    And ah, Roald Dahl, he has touched some many lives with his books hasn't he? The man was an absolutle genius.

    Had a lovely time last night, with the church bells and the rain. Heavenly. Whenever I hear the church bells now, I immediately think of you!

    x

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  10. I'm so glad I found a moment to visit this morning! Was wonderful to go on these lovely outings with you, Rachel dear. Now I want to take out some of my roses and replace them with David Austins. I worry, though, that they might meet the same fate as my sweet peas in this hot climate.

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  11. Ah yes, I remember it well! I can still see our toothy grins beaming as we held the book aloft for our photo. The roses look so beautiful and I can almost smell them. The highlight were the peacocks though. I just love them and may be the only person on the planet who actually thinks their cry is sweet music. Thanks Ray, for showing me a little piece of England xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing all of those lovely roses! I swear I could smell them through the screen. :) Up until now I have been very intimidated by roses and have never planted any. Some day, when we own a home, I will!
    Dahl was an absolute genius, and there are very few authors who have written books for children which are so interesting and charming that they are suitable for grown-ups, too. My favorite of his is The Witches.
    xoxo Dawn

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  13. dear sweet rachel and alice...this was so wonderful...i LOVE david austen roses so much...i was going to go and tell julie to get here...FAST...but see she has already been by...i knew she would LOVE this post...as do i. i have to check out the mr. fox book...and the one dawn mentions..the witches...

    you transported us...i only wish i was there having tea with you... and i can just smell the freshly cut lawn in the churchyard...all so lovely

    hugs to you and alice too
    happy to stop by today...and it's always a pleasure to see you at farmhouse, my friend

    sending love,
    kary and teddy
    xx

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  14. i was thinking of you and alice today

    xx

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