Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gardens, the Chelsea Flower Show, and Remembering Stuart Rattle

I'm in Asia at the moment for a brief stopover en route to Europe. More and more I'm realising how fascinating this part of the world is. There are so many lush, green, untouched-by-time corners to south-east Asia, and I'm ashamed I've never taken the time to explore the region in depth before now. In a few weeks time I'll be back here again and hope to show you some more of the secret places I've found.

In the meantime, another lush, green space that's making media headlines this week is the Chelsea Flower Show, which is once again illustrating just how many of us love our gardens. It was the second-fastest-selling show in Chelsea's history, partly in response to Alan Titchmarsh, although a relatively unknown 27-year-old, Hugo Bugg (great name) became the youngest ever gold medal winner when he took out the coveted prize. I'm hoping to catch the last day of the show this Saturday, so will post pix. 

Of all the gardens, the small but glamorous Gucci garden (top two images) has been a clear favourite, showing that fashion and flowers really do go beautifully together. 

Gucci has even brought out a whimsical series of handbags to match. 

Fashion-focused gardens are very on-trend this year. The Fashion and Gardens Exhibition at the Garden Museum earlier this year was a huge success (perhaps not surprisingly considering it was curated by Nicola Shulman, sister of UK Vogue editor Alexandra). There's also a Vogue garden at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park, July 23–27.

Unable to afford the gorgeous new Ham Yard Hotel (Kit Kemp's latest venture), nor Number Sixteen, my usual favourite, I've opted to stay in the sweet Pelham Hotel in South Kensington, which is decorated in irresistibly pretty shades of pea green and peony pink. There are good specials on

While in London and Paris I can't wait to pick up some copies of this intriguing new magazine, Cabana, which everyone seems to be talking about. These covers were designed using vintage Pierre Frey fabrics. I love it when magazines do illustrated covers rather than the traditional (and somewhat cliched) model-in-a-frock ones.  

We're still working on the first issues of our new magazine but hope to include a lot of stories about illustrators – particularly garden illustrators. (I'm shooting a few stories for it in England and Paris this week.)

Speaking of gardens, it's incredibly sad to hear that Stuart Rattle's glorious country estate, Musk Farm, has gone up for sale. For those of you outside Australia, Stuart Rattle was one of our most-loved interior designers (an interview featuring him is here), and it was a shock to many of us when he was allegedly murdered by his partner last year. I won't elaborate as the details will undoubtedly come out in court in July, but if you have $1M (a surprisingly modest sum for such a beautiful place), the auction details are here.  Musk Farm is a testament to what can be achieved with a dusty country paddock, an old schoolhouse and a lot of horticultural love. No wonder the BBC decided to include the property in a documentary about outstanding international gardens. [Image is mine.}

Oh Stuart, we will miss you.


  1. Well, I'm sorry to hear that Musk Farm is up for sale. If only I had the money . . .
    I hope you have a nice time in Europe - it is rather warm in our part at the moment.

  2. Created a new powerpoint last February and research came up with Ralph Lauren, Valentino, and Gucci delving deep into the entire pollinator 'thing'. A single pic from each and I would not have picked up what they were doing. Glad of having that 'work' for the 'discovery'.

    Will forward Musk Farm.....and how I wish it were me-me-me making the purchase.

    Loving all your travels, in the most selfish way !

    Garden & Be Well, XOT

  3. Very excited that you will be discovering more of the regions of Asia…there is so much rich colour and intense beauty…as well as fascinating histories to ponder…Give me Singapore over Paris anyday….But like you, I am also ashamed to admit I have discovered so little of Asia myself…so much diversity...have forever wanted to go to Vietnam so I should stop dreaming and go book those tickets I think!


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