Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Spring is coming...

The first of the spring bulbs are coming out at Willowbrook...

Above and Below: Some 'Carlton' Daffodils starting to bring a golden glow to the drive...

Below: The Almonds are starting to blossom. It shouldn't be too long until the Cherries and Hazels follow suit...

Whilst the Silver Birch of the Bluebell Walk are still looking decidedly wintery, the Hyacinths below have pushed their way through. The Bluebells should only be a couple of weeks behind them...

  Below: A group of ducklings taking an early morning walk...
Above: Magnolia 'Cleopatra' starting to bud.

Below: Hyacinth 'Pink Surprise' 
Above and Below: Narcissus 'Erlicheer' in the Limewalk

We managed to get the pruning done in the orchard a couple of weeks ago before the rising of the sap. The plums have already started to blossom. By the end of September the orchard should be transformed from its sleepy skeletal appearance to a mass of blossoms on bushy green trees.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Bright Ideas...

Recently we have invested in a lot of landscape lighting, as well as having coloured LEDs installed above the cornicing in the ballroom, which can be set to any colour on the spectrum (from subtle to not so subtle!).

Here are some photos:
Below: The Sphinxes lit with Duracell solar lights...

Above and Below: The Super-bright 60 lumen spotlights available from Duracell USA, which are a big advance upon traditional solar garden lights (which are usually about 5 - 8 lumens).


As you can see, they are plenty powerful for our needs, and have let us light up many of the garden features around the 30 acres, without us having to run cabling around that sized area...


Two of them powerful enough to light up the folly by night too...

We did a lot of research about LED lighting when we bought the bulbs for the inside of the manor. It was a compromise between efficiency and longevity; and ambiance. Even with the warmest colour available on the market (2800K), they still do not create the same ambiance as a good old fashioned incandescent Tungsten bulb (but running over 400 of these in a house would not be a sensible idea). Here is an indicator as to the colour warmth of different lights...


With yellow filters on the outdoor lights one can almost achieve the right colour...

Here is a little video clip of the different glows we can achieve in the ballroom. If there is a colour theme to your wedding or event we can match it perfectly, or let the lights cycle through colours if you wish to use the ballroom as a dance floor.



Note: The flickering is only due to recording on a digital camera, and is not visible in real life.


Monday, June 20, 2016

The China Room...

Finally I have some photos to share with you of The China Room! For those who have waited patiently here they are...

Above: A view from foyer towards fireplace. The blue and white was inspired by Wedgwood Jasperware. The background of the fireplace will be painted blue eventually to highlight the classical motifs embossed on it.

Below: View south towards front of house. The curtains should be finished next week. They are being made from a backed silk, slightly darker than the wall colour.

Below: Some of the Wedgwood collection... 

I like this cheeky little putto on one of the vases...


Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Inaugural Supper Club - Smashing Success!

Both Peter and I would like to thank all the guests who came to our inaugural degustation dinner. We are glad you had such a good time, and we can't wait for the next one. Here are some pictures of the night...

Above: The invitations.

Below: Chef Phil and Sous Chef Yai Yee from Kerr & Ladbrook, at work in the Willowbrook kitchen...
Above: Our sommelier, Dan, from Mills Reef winery, with Manager Lisa, and Tyler from Kerr & Ladbrook.

Below: Dan lining up the degustation wines in the Billiard room...

The Menu...

The dining room set for dinner, with thanks to Trevor Gibbs for the floristry...

The first of our guests arriving, courtesy of John and Fiona Carrington of Carrington Limousines...

Soprano Evelyn Bourton kicking off the night's entertainment.... 

And continuing in between courses...

Myself with Evelyn, who is actually a very old friend (we went to school together and have kept in touch as our careers took us in different directions).

Thus endeth a wonderful night. A big thank you to all the crew from Kerr & Ladrbook, and Dan from Mills Reef, who worked to hard to produce a flawless evening for everyone.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hedge Archways...


Having been very taken with the shaped hedges at Highgrove, we decided when we planted our leiland hedges, we would add some interest by having archways and castellations in them.

Above and below: The shaped hedges at Highgrove. 

The archways line up with vistas inside the house, so that from certain French windows you can see through the hedges to focal points, such as a bench under the copse of Oaks in Spencer's corner...


The hedge has made reasonable progress since a year ago...


In time the arch will become higher and acuter, resembling more the sort of arch below...


The arch above looks as if it is fashioned out of a Hornbeam or Beech hedge, whereas the more traditional choice for a clipped hedge would be Yew, like the arch below...


There are many things that you can do with hedges to add interest (other than clip them into waves). Here are some more examples I found on Pinterest, which I rather like...


I really like these topiary obelisks which 'book-end' the hedge nicely and again frame a vista in the garden. 


More hedged pillars...

Niches in a hedge with recessed busts are also a dramatic way to add interest to an otherwise green wall, and give people the joy of discovering things as they journey through the grounds...


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