macro

West Dean Gardens through my macro lens

I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful West Dean Gardens (near Chichester, West Sussex) with my family last weekend. Luckily for me, we are all keen photographers, so dawdling along at a snails pace to allow hundreds of photos to be taken was permitted without (much) complaining! The site is huge (90 acres) - there is so much to see and explore. I'm already planning my return visit!

I was particularly enthralled by the cutting garden and the 13 victorian glasshouses, which have been beautifully restored. I fell in love with a new (to me) flower - Larkspur - and am already hatching plans to plant a swathe of these in our garden. Larkspur is essentially an annual Delphinium and comes in blue/purple, pink and white (the ones pictured are Larkspur Sublime I think). Apparently it is easy to grow as it self seeds - finger's crossed!

The Larkspur had been planted next to some Cosmos, another firm favourite of mine. All that frothy foliage provides the perfect backdrop.

There was colour across the spectrum in the cutting garden, but I always gravitate to purples/pinks and whites (sorry to the yellow lovers amongst you!). There were butterflies and bees everywhere, including clouds of Cabbage Whites - so pretty to watch!

I absolutely loved the wild meadow bed at the end of the garden, tucked away behind the glasshouses - I much prefer my gardens wild and rambling. Must try and introduce some poppies next year!

The beautiful victorian glass houses offered incredible variety, from temperate to tropical, ferns to flowers, fruit to vegetables.

I was fascinated by these climbing ferns...

And I loved the potting shed, filled with vintage gardening paraphernalia... 

And then we have the chillies - 250 varieties of them! I had no idea there were so many... All the different shapes and sizes were laid out and labelled for visitors to look at and there were several glasshouses full of them, along with other vegetables. Very inspiring to see what is possible. 

I loved being able to see the lifecycle of vegetables growing and discovering new varieties - I might even have to have a go myself next year! And a beautiful glass house is of course now on my wish list ;)

The fruit was amazing too. The walled fruit garden housed many, many apple and pear trees, shaped in different ways. And the glass houses were filled with figs and melons and grapes - the vines were quite incredible. It was hard to believe we were in the UK!

And flowers mixed with fruit, is always a good thing. There were beds bursting with flowers throughout the walled fruit garden (with a surprisingly lovely purple and yellow colour theme) and even in the entrance.

And now onto the kitchen gardens. A mighty fine display of vegetables in prime condition. I love my greens and was very tempted to take some of these home with me!

Red Chard West Dean Gardens.jpg
Yellow_Chard_West_Dean_Gardens.jpg

The grounds at West Dean are very extensive and perfect for a picnic lunch. We found an empty table and chairs on the picturesque picnic lawn and ate our lunch under a giant willow tree overlooking parkland with grazing sheep (no decent pictures I'm afraid as I was too busy eating at this point!). They also have a lovely restaurant with seasonal dishes.

After spending most of our time in the cutting, fruit & vegetable gardens and the glasshouses, we thought we should explore a little of the rest of the grounds....

We were serenaded in the sunken garden by a couple of talented musicians, before wandering through a rather spectacular 300 foot long pergola, wrapped in the loveliest selection of climbing plants.

Pergola_West_Dean_Gardens.jpg

It made a lovely backdrop for some portraits. Thanks to my brother-in-law, I even managed to get a rare photo of my husband and I without camera rucksacks or cameras dangling from our necks!

After the pergola, we had a lovely walk through the spring garden, but rather ran out of time and energy to explore the rest of the grounds. I'll have to see the Arboretum on my next visit... Dogs are welcomed on short leads, so when we finally manage to get our furry friend, this would be a perfect place to come.

I'll leave you with a few shots of the Echinaceas from what I think was the spring garden.

Echinacea_West_Dean_Gardens.jpg

Apologies for a rather picture heavy post - but believe me, I barely even scratched the surface of the gardens! I can highly recommend a visit if you're anywhere near West Sussex - find out more on the West Dean Gardens website.


I've add a few of my favourite floral images to my Red Bubble Shop in case you are interested - they make rather lovely greeting cards and postcards. Also available as fine art prints, phone cases, bags, pouches, notebooks and more :)


Summer lovin'

I took a very welcome break from all the DIY in late May and headed to my favourite little sanctuary in Oxford, the University Botanic Garden, for my summer floral fix. It's such a peaceful space, as oasis of calm, tucked away right in the City centre. And right now it's just bursting with colour. I spent a happy hour wandering and snapping with my camera before meeting a lovely friend for lunch.

There was just so much to see, from the country garden borders above to beds of beautiful Irises of many varieties to the wild summer meadow to big blousy peonies....

All that colour really is tonic for the soul, especially when coupled with birdsong :)

I spent a long time in the large bed of Poppies, watching them dancing gracefully in the breeze. Such a beautiful, elegant flower....

I love the little details my macro lens brings out - nature really is pretty amazing.

A thoroughly lovely and restorative visit - I will be back soon! I hope you are all enjoying some summer colour, wherever you are. xxx

It's the simple things

For me, there really is so much joy to be found in the simple things in life. Like a glorious sunny spring walk around the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford. Last Sunday Al and I packed up a picnic and headed out on foot with our cameras in search of spring. I'm pleased to say we found it in abundance, looking most glorious, basking in the beautiful sunshine.

There is a beautiful circular walk around the College grounds, with paths lined with daffodils and clusters of beautiful crocuses. I don't think anything lifts the spirits quite as much as golden daffodils aglow in the sunshine - yellow for me is the colour of happy. The perfect tonic after a winter of cold and grey.

We even found a Fritillary or two, which had popped up early, encouraged by all the lovely sunshine and warmth.

I love the randomness of where the crocuses pop up - little clusters of happiness all lit up, nestling amongst the daffodils and the pretty purple Scilla Siberica flowers. Of course it meant getting low down with my camera to get the best angles - I'm very good at getting in the zone when I have a vision of what I want to capture - but unfortunately this often means that I'm not really thinking about what I'm asking my poor body to do to capture said shot. I was limping around for a few days after this beautiful walk - a mild case of spring flower strain ;)

The beautiful sunshine created some beautiful shadows and patterns with the Magdalen College architecture too.

A day of warmth and joy. It really is the simple things :)

Spring has sprung in Oxford, oh yes!

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see longer, sunny days, trees dusted in beautiful blossom and flowers poking up through the ground. Oh yes, spring is most definitely here and is most welcome indeed!

There is an absolutely gorgeous cherry blossom tree on the High Street in Oxford outside the University Church of St. Mary's. It's my spring barometer and is usually one of the first things to bloom, often in early February. I photograph it every year - it's my spring ritual and I never get bored of it! I caught it a bit late this year, as the blossom is already falling and making a very pretty carpet....

I was very happy to win the lovely Emily Quinton's Floral Friday competition last Friday with an iPhone shot of this beautiful tree :)

I also spent a most wonderful afternoon pottering around the University's Botanic Garden - another one of my favourite haunts. I'm always itching to get out my macro lens once the spring flowers start poking through, so I was a bit trigger happy - but who could blame me? I also had a lovely picnic lunch OUTSIDE in the sunshine with a lovely friend :)

I stepped inside one of the beautiful glass houses to be greeted by the most divine scent of Jasmine - and so many floral and ferny delights. It was so warm too. I felt like a happy cat in a window :)

I also braved some of the hotter glass houses - really didn't need my feather down coat and woolly hat that's for sure! The beautiful, delicate (and tiny) crocuses below were in the Alpine House.

I hope you're not bored of springy images yet, as there are lots more coming! I had the most delicious walk last Sunday amongst daffodils and crocuses galore....watch this space! And enjoy this gorgeous spring sunshine when it appears :)

Oh flutterby!

We had a lovely wander around Waterperry Gardens last week on our staycation - so much colour everywhere - and so many butterflies! There were clouds of Cabbage Whites on the Buddleia.....

Oh flutterby
Oh flutterby
Oh flutterby

...and Peacock butterflies all over the Echinacea...and lots of other butterflies I didn't recognise. Anyone know what the orange and brown one below is?

Peacock butterfly
Butterfly mecca
Summer visitor

I couldn't help myself snapping away to capture some of that gorgeous colour - I know it won't be long before it all disappears - not ready for that to happen yet! I especially love Cosmos - such a happy flower :)

Cosmos loveliness
Cosmos loveliness
Cosmos
Pinks
Summer pastels

There's just so much variety on display in August - a real feast for the eyes. Isn't that Dahlia just perfect? I love the symmetry.

Perfect Dahlia
Yellow haze

So it's back to work on Monday - hope these flowers help to brighten your Sunday afternoon and lead you into a cheery week. Z x

Buddha
Oh flutterby
A cloud of white