Hi everyone. Beware, this blog post comes with a health warning - have your sunglasses at the ready!! As you may remember, I took voluntary redundancy about a year ago from the financial services to launch my interior decoration business. I still struggle to get my head around the fact that I no longer have the drudge of going to the office each day and sitting there from 9 to 6pm (or usually longer!) and that I have the freedom to decide if I want to take a day off during the week.
This is exactly what I did yesterday afternoon. Armed with my camera I jumped on my trusty steed, my Vespa Piaggio 55cc called 'Pearl' (she's a metallic creamy pearl colour!!) and drove to Richmond Park to see the azaleas and rhododendrons in the Isabella Plantation. Nothing quite prepares you for the intensity of colour; it's overwhelming. This blog post is full of photos and not many words as the photos speak for themselves.
The Isabella Plantation is a huge 40 acre woodland garden set within a Victorian woodland in Richmond Park. It has ponds and streams and the most incredible collection of plants. The azaleas and rhododendrons are at their peak of flower in late April early May so you have a window of only a couple of weeks to go and see them. I'd not been to the Plantation for 15 years so I had forgotten the impact all of these azaleas have on you - a veritable optical feast of colour! The plantation is a haven for birds and with so many flowers, it's a veritable feast for bees.
If you are ever afraid of introducing colour into your home, take a look around you, nature has no boundaries when it comes to colour and this spectacular display of pinks, purples, reds, yellows, oranges and every shade in between really shows you that any colour works together and can make a huge difference to a bland interior. I hope these photos inspire you as much as this amazing plantation inspired me. For any of you living in London, try and pay a visit in the next week before the flowers are past their best.
The highlight of colour in the plantation is the pond with a semi-circular backdrop of azaleas. Nothing quite prepares you for it. The reflection of the azaleas turns the water red. There was even a family of ducks with their ducklings which just added to the impact - anyone would think they had been placed there just to add to the drama! The photos don't look real do they? They look photo-shopped but I assure you the colour is genuine.
And then there are the rhododendrons which are my absolute favourite. Huge towering trees filled with enormous blooms. Bees all over the trees collecting copious amounts of nectar. They trees are quite the most spectacular sight.
After an hour of so of optical overkill I needed some respite so sought out some gladed areas where there was little or no colour. There are some beautiful soft and gentle areas with wild bluebells and the odd yellow and orange azalea . And the best find was the pond with the most stunning mix of acid greens and textures. To be honest, I preferred these areas of the plantation to the brightly coloured areas.
And no trip to Richmond Park would be complete without popping in to my favourite spot Petersham Nurseries for tea & cake (orange & almond this time) and a mandatory browse through the grounds and the glasshouses. As anyone following my blog knows, I am a frequent visitor to Petersham Nurseries. Click here to access my other blog posts on Petersham. The shop which is in the same glasshouse as the Michelin star restaurant is one of my favourite and most inspirational haunts. I can always count on finding interesting items for the home or garden for myself or my clients especially lighting. It is styled so beautifully and everything presented to maximise its impact. I challenge anyone to leave the shop empty handed; I've never managed it!
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