Sunday, 27 February 2011

End of February

Today was the last sunny day of the month. I went on a walk around Hampstead Heath, and came across these lovely spring scenes in Golders Hill Park and Kenwood. Rhododendrons and daffodils are on the rise now; many more will be in bloom in the upcoming weeks, adding bright splashes of colour to London's parks and gardens.

Golders Hill Park
A pink rhododendron overlooking sunny Golders Hill Park, February 2011

Daffodils in Hampstead Heath
The first daffodils in Hampstead Heath, near Kenwood House, February 2011

Friday, 25 February 2011

The Camellias at Chiswick House and Gardens

I visited Chiswick House and Gardens yesterday, to see the camellias that are currently in bloom in the conservatory. They are absolutely beautiful, and the restored conservatory is looking great as well.

The conservatory at Chiswick House was built 200 years ago, in 1813, and has been housing camellias for almost just as long. Its camellia collection is believed to be the oldest and largest collection of its kind in the western world, with some of the camellias having been at the conservatory since the 1820s.
However, the conservatory has also seen some not-so-splendid days; it was neglected over the years, and even suffered bomb damage during World War II, losing all its glass. By the end of the last century, it had fallen into bad disrepair, and the building and its camellia collection were in danger of being lost forever. They were saved thanks to the help of members of the International Camellia Society and a major restoration by English Heritage, which was completed last year.

A new annual Camellia Festival has been launched to celebrate the restoration of the gardens; it's the first time the blooming camellias can be enjoyed in the restored conservatory. The festival is now on, until 20 March. More information is available on the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust's website.

The Camellia Conservatory at Chiswick House and Gardens
Camellias in the garden, with the conservatory in the background

Camellia Conservatory
Inside the camellia conservatory

Camellia Japonica "Middlemist's Red"
The rare "camellia japonica 'Middlemist's Red'"

Camellia Japonica "Alba Plena"
A white camellia, "camellia japonica 'Alba Plena'"

A mix of pale and bright pink camellia blossoms

More photos are available on my Flickr.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Crocuses at Kew Gardens

Crocuses at Kew Gardens
Purple crocuses at Kew Gardens, February 2011

Today was the first sunny day in a week, and these crocuses were loving the sun. Lots of crocuses are out now at Kew Gardens--there's a carpet of Dutch crocuses between the Palm House and the Temperate House, and lovely "Whitewell Purple" crocuses along the Princess Walk. These purple crocuses are growing near the magnolia trees.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Spring Bulbs and Blossoms at Kew Gardens

Snowdrops at the Temple of Aeolus, Kew Gardens
Snowdrops at the Temple of Aeolus in Kew Gardens, February 2011

Last week I visited Kew Gardens for the first time this year, to see the first signs of spring at the gardens. The snowdrops are now out, the crocuses have started to bloom and there are even already some daffodils.

Kew Gardens' Bulb Watch map has now been updated, and shows what is blooming where and when.
Up next: The crocus carpet near the Palm House, glory of the snow opposite Kew Palace, snake's head fritillary, and of course more daffodils!

I'm collecting my photos of this year's spring flowers at Kew and other London parks and gardens in this Flickr set: Spring 2011

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Red House

The National Trust's Red House is currently closed for the winter but reopens soon, on 2 March. The garden will be open from 11am to 5pm, Wednesday to Sunday (for more information, see the National Trust's website).
I first visited Red House and its garden last year in April and am planning on going there again this year; it's a beautiful place in spring!

Red House
About Red House:

Red House, so named because of the red brick from which it is built, was the home of the English poet and Arts and Crafts artist William Morris.
The house was designed in 1859 by Morris and his friend, the architect Philip Webb, and completed a year later. It is considered a key building in the history of the Arts and Crafts movement, featuring wall paintings by Morris and stained and painted glass by Edward Burne-Jones.

The garden as well was designed in the Arts and Crafts style, making it an important early example of this garden design style that became popular in England in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Morris wanted the garden to be part of the house, through the use of a series of so-called "garden rooms" that complement the rooms inside the house. The "garden rooms" at Red House consisted of a herb garden, a vegetable garden, and two areas with old-fashioned flowers and fruit trees.

The Garden at Red House
When it was built, the house was set within a rural area in the village of Upton, which is now suburban Bexleyheath in south-east London. Morris and his family only lived in Red House for five years, until 1865. The house was lived in as a family house for nearly 150 years.

In 2002 the house was acquired by the National Trust, who are working to restore the house to its original condition as well as possible. Red House is a grade 1 listed building.

How to get there:

Take the train to Bexleyheath; upon leaving the station, turn left and walk along Avenue Road. When you get to the main road, turn left, cross the road, then walk down Upton Road until you get to Red House Lane, where Red House is situated just past the Hogs Hole Cottages.

The address of Red House is Red House Lane, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA6 8JF.

Links to other websites:

Photos of Red House and the garden:

Red House in Summer
Red House in summer, June 2010

Red House, seen from the Garden
The house seen from the garden, June 2010

The Garden Red House in Summer
The garden in summer, June 2010

See more: My Red House set on Flickr

The Garden at Fenton House

Fenton House in Hampstead is closed over the winter and will reopen in two weeks' time, on 5 March. Its garden has just woken up at this time of the year--there's a lovely spring meadow of glory of the snow, daffodils, snake's head fritillary and other flowers blooming beneath the apple trees in the orchard. Don't miss this when visiting Hampstead in the spring!

About Fenton House:

Fenton House is a National Trust property, a former 17th century merchant's house on Windmill Hill. The house itself is well worth a visit, but its main attraction is the perfect English garden it is set in: A walled garden that features a formal lawn, a sunken rose garden, a kitchen garden and a 300 years old apple orchard.

The garden isn't just beautiful in spring, but also in June when the roses are in bloom, and another great time to visit Fenton House is when the apples are ripe later in the summer. Each year in September, Apple Day is held in the garden, which gives visitors the opportunity to discover all the different apple varieties that grow in the orchard and purchase home-made produce.

How to get there:

Fenton House is situated on Windmill Hill. From Hampstead Tube station, walk up Heath Street, then follow the steps that lead up to Holly Hill; Windmill Hill is just around the corner.

The garden will close again for the winter in the end of October this year (for opening times, see the National Trust's website); the admission fee is £1.

Links to other websites:

Photos of Fenton House and the garden in summer:

Fenton House Garden, Hampstead
Fenton House seen from the garden, June 2010

Fenton House Garden, Hampstead
The sunken rose garden, June 2010

Fenton House Garden, Hampstead
A bench in the garden at Fenton House, June 2010

See more: My Fenton House Garden set on Flickr

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Crocuses in Cannizaro Park

Hello spring! The crocuses are out and in bloom now in Cannizaro Park. There's a stunning display of these first heralds of spring in the aptly named Crocus Walk area, cheering up the park after the winter.

Crocus Walk, Cannizaro Park
Crocus Walk in Cannizaro Park - 16 February 2011

Crocus Walk, Cannizaro Park
Crocuses in Cannizaro Park, at the entrance to the Rose Garden - 16 February 2011

Crocus Walk, Cannizaro Park
Crocuses and snowdrops in Cannizaro Park - 16 February 2011

Crocus Walk, Cannizaro Park
Crocus Walk in Cannizaro Park - 16 February 2011

Witch Hazel, Cannizaro Park
Witch Hazel in Cannizaro Park - 16 February 2011

More photos from my trip to Cannizaro Park today can be seen here on Flickr.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Pergola and Hill Garden

The Pergola and Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath
The Pergola and Hill Garden is one of my favourite places in London. It's a beautiful garden with a tranquil, secretive feel to it, hidden away in the western part of Hampstead Heath, between Hampstead and Golders Green. Golders Hill Park is close-by.

The Pergola is a large Edwardian structure built in the early 20th century: A raised terraced and colonnaded walkway, constructed to connect the two gardens belonging to a house then known as The Hill, which were separated by a footpath with public right-of-way.
The Hill Garden, a little park with a formal pond, gently sloping lawns and many benches to sit, is the garden that is farther away from the house; it is, like the Pergola, open to the public. The house, now called Inverforth House, and its adjoining garden are privatly owned.

The Pergola, Hampstead Heath
The Pergola is particularly beautiful in early summer, when the many climbing plants which are overgrowing it--such as jasmine, honeysuckle, rambling roses and wisteria--are in bloom. It also offers a stunning sight in autumn when the colours of all these plants and the trees in the Hill Garden are changing.
At the Hill Garden end of the walkway, there is a summer house from where you have a good view over the trees of West Heath towards Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Approach the Pergola from North End Way; there's a path to left of Inverforth House, follow it down until you come to a gate on the right-hand side. Enter this gate, you're now at the Pergola. Enter it through the wooden door, then go up the spiral staircase. This is the southern end of the Pergola. As you walk along the walkway, you'll see Inverforth House and its private garden to the left and the kitchen garden down to the right.
When you cross the stone bridge spanning over the public footpath, you'll enter the colonnade with the summer house at its end. To the right is the Hill Garden. You can leave the Hill Garden through the gate at its northern end and either go back to North End Way, or follow the path ahead to Golders Hill Park.

The Hill Garden
How to get there:

There's a bus stop called Inverforth House where numbers 210 and 268 are stopping; take either of the two busses from Golders Hill Station, or in the opposite direction, 268 when you are in Hampstead or 210 when you are at Kenwood House.
You can also walk to the Pergola through West Heath, or from Golders Hill Park; there are some signposts leading the way.

The Pergola and Hill Garden usually opens at 8:30 in the morning and close one hour before sunset.

Links to other websites:

Photos of the Pergola and Hill Garden:

These photos were taken last year in May and June, which is is when the garden probably is the most beautiful. I've got many more photos from other times of the year on Flickr.

The Hill Garden
Bench and path in the lower part of the Hill Garden, May 2010

The Hill Garden
Spring flowers in the Hill Garden, May 2010

The Hill Garden
Yellow azalea in the Hill Garden, May 2010

The Hill Garden
Bright orange azalea in the Hill Garden, May 2010

The Hill Garden
The Hill Garden's formal pond with the Pergola in the background, May 2010

The Hill Garden
The Hill Garden seen from the Pergola, May 2010

The Pergola and Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath
Red rose climbing over the Pergola, June 2010

The Pergola and Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath
Honeysuckle climbing over the Pergola, June 2010

The Pergola and Hill Garden, Hampstead Heath
Pink rose with the Pergola in the background, June 2010

See more: My Pergola & Hill Garden set on Flickr

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Church Farmhouse Museum

Church Farmhouse Museum, Hendon
The farmhouse building in the winter sun, December 2009

Hendon's little Church Farmhouse Museum has been getting some attention lately; sadly, because it is feared it may be closed down. Barnet Council announced not very long ago that it proposes to stop all funding for the museum from 1 April.
No decision has been made yet, a final recommendation is expected this month. More information is available on Barnet Council's website. The friends of the museum are running an online petition to present to the council, which can be signed here.

I've been to Church Farmhouse Museum several times over the last years, and would find it sad to see it go.

Here's something I wrote about the museum a while ago:

The building, originally Church Farm, is one of the oldest surviving dwelling houses in the borough of Barnet, dating from about 1660. Church Farm, which got its name from the close-by St Mary’s church, was a dairy and hay making farm until the first half of the previous century. In 1955 it was opened as a museum by the local council.

The museum is furnished as a Middlesex farmhouse, featuring three period rooms – the kitchen, the scullery and the dining room, which are furnished as they would have been in the early to mid-19th century. Each December, the dining room is decorated for a Victorian Christmas.

In addition, the museum has regular, unique exhibitions throughout the year as well as an ongoing exhibition of 20th century toys and games. It also has a small shop, which is selling local history publications, cards and toys.

Most recently, I visited the museum to see an exhibition on the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, and would now like to go back to see the new exhibition on Harry Beck and the London tube map, which is scheduled to run until the end of March... after which the museum's future currently is unclear.

How to get there:

The museum is situated in Greyhound Hill, Hendon, NW4 4JR; walk there from Hendon tube in 10 to 15 minutes, or take a bus from there to Church End.

Admission is free; the museum is closed on Fridays.

Links to other websites:

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Discovering Cannizaro Park

The Maple Avenue in Spring, Cannizaro Park
Cannizaro Park was one of my favourite discoveries last year. I'd read about it a few times, but not ventured there before. Wimbledon isn't my neck of the woods, and I must admit that I didn't find the odd Italian name very intriguing--if it had been "The Lost Gardens of Wimbledon Common", I probably would have visited this place right away!
This was a judgement Cannizaro Park surely didn't deserve, it is a beautiful place that alone is worth a trip to the area; I've been back there several times over the last year.

The odd Italian name comes from a house with the name Cannizaro House, which stands adjacent to the park--its former gardens--and is now a hotel. The house got its name from a Duke of Cannizzaro (a locality in Sicily), who lived there in the 19th century.
Cannizaro Park has been open to the public since the late 1940s, when the house and gardens were sold to the local borough council.

Bluebells, Cannizaro Park
There's something to see in Cannizaro Park at any time of the year, as it features a great display of seasonal flowers, shrubs and trees.
Early in the year, there are snowdrops and crocuses, soon followed by camellias. There are daffodils and bluebells in spring, as well as rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias. There are roses in summer, and maples and other trees make the park a blaze of reds, oranges and yellows in autumn.

Many of these plants have their own area within the park: Snowdrop Glade, Daffodil Walk, Rhododendron Walk, Azalea Tunnel and Azalea Dell, Laburnum Walk, Maple Avenue.
Besides, there's the Sunken Garden, which is next to Cannizaro House, and the Dutch Garden nearby; there is the hidden Rose Garden, the Italian Garden (where the kitchen garden used to be), and more.
(See the map below for more details.)

I always find that visiting Cannizaro Park is like exploring a secret garden, with its open lawns, woodlands and secluded gardens, and as it is a bit off the beaten track, I've never seen it that busy.

How to get there:

The easiest way to get to Cannizaro Park is to get to Wimbledon and then take the 93 bus to Wimbledon War Memorial. Walk to Westside Common and there's an entrance next to Cannizaro House.
Alternatively, you can access the park through a back gate, down of a path off Camp Road, if you're coming from Wimbledon Common.

Here's Google map I made, showing the individual parts of the gardens and what plants there are:

View Cannizaro Park in a larger map

Links to other websites:

Photos of Cannizaro Park:

The Birch Grove,Cannizaro Park, in Spring
The Birch Grove in spring, May 2010

Cannizaro Park in Spring
Azalea Dell and Rhododendron Walk in spring, May 2010

The Dutch Garden, Cannizaro Park, in Summer
The Dutch Garden in summer, June 2010

The Sunken Garden, Cannizaro Park, in Summer
The Sunken Garden in summer, June 2010

See more: My Cannizaro Park set on Flickr