Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Saturday, June 3, 2017

JUNE IN BLOOM: Books, Bouquets, Fashion, and Hideaways


June is traditionally the garden lover's favourite month. It's the time when most gardens, certainly those in the northern hemisphere, are in full floraison. I love this time of year in England, Europe and the US; the roses are in blousy, full-petalled bloom, the days begin early and end late -- usually in a glorious golden light; there are countless private gardens that have graciously opened their gates for charity days, and there are floral borders galore to explore. Even if you're ensconced in winter in the southern hemisphere, there is something uplifting about seeing all the gardenalia on Instagram and in magazines. Gardens take us places. Even if we can't experience them in person, their beauty transports us to a place of grace, away from the pressures and stresses of everyday.

I'm actually on a 'botanical break' at present -- I had to take a few weeks off social media in order to focus on some pressing projects, including a big garden book (above), which has been a joy to work on, despite the logistical difficulties.  I hope you'll love the gardens that we've featured in it, including the stunning country estates of Carolyne Roehm, Jeffrey Bilhuber, and many other celebrated design names.

But I will be back on Instagram in a week or two with some beautiful pix of gardens, grand and small. After a crazy year of deadlines, more deadlines, endless nights of writing and endless days of all work and little exercise, it has been wonderful to get out of the office finally; to go for long walks with my partner and our dogs again, and to catch up with friends over Champagne and laughter and stories galore. (I caught up with so many of them last month, during various events for the biography -- seeing everyone was the best part of the publicity tour.) 

There's nothing like flowers and friendships to make a person appreciate life, I think. I'm deeply grateful for my friends, new and old; for the books we exchange, the cakes they bake (see our 'feast' of an afternoon tea at Picardy garden last month; I didn't contribute to these vegan fantasies but I did make Picardy wrapping paper and bought gifts of books), for the wonderful and often funny stories that are told, and for all the the memories that linger long after everyone has departed.

So here's to June. To travel, flowers, laughter, friends, family, books, and botanica. 
May it be a beautiful month for you, too. 

(All pix above by me, excluding the beautiful image of the glorious iris garden in Carolyne Roehm's country home, which Carolyne has kindly supplied for our new garden book.)



If you're in New York or New England in June, there are four magnificent private gardens opening their gates to the public on June 17 and 18 as part of the wonderful Garden Conservancy organization.

Bunny Williams' beautiful garden is one, Michael Trapp's another. Both are in Litchfield County, Connecticut. (I will be visiting both of these, so will post pix on Instagram.)

Across the border in Duchess County, in upstate New York, there are two more gorgeous garden that are well worth the drive. Christopher Spitzmiller's idyllic garden (two images above of Christopher's interior and garden above from Christopher's website, shot by Archi Digest) is as pretty as his lamps, while Katie Ridder and Peter Pennoyer's garden has become known the world over thanks to their bestselling book, A House in the Country. (Top image; house with red door).

More details:


If you happen to be in England in June, there are two gardens that are well worth visiting. 

Amanda Lack Clark's garden at Seend Manor (interior and garden shown above) is a sublime country estate in Wiltshire that is so beautiful, many of us follow her Instagram just to catch glimpses of it among the other delightful pix of her life. Seend is having a rare Open Garden event on June 17 and 18; details are on various sites -- Google "Seend Manor" for more. 

Amanda's Instagram (from which came these images) is also worth following -- LINK HERE.

 And down in Kent, Old Bladbead Stud (see the three garden images above) is another magnificent private garden that only is open several times a year, with the next days being June 11 and 25. Details are HERE. Owner Carol also posts photos of the garden on her website (usually weekly in summer), so you can see what's flowering. It's a little-known garden that deserves to be better known. Many gardeners I know say it's one of the prettiest flower gardens in England.


I missed the Chelsea Flower Show this year, for the first time in many years, because of publicity commitments for a new biography. However, I loved seeing everyone's pix on Instagram. If you're heading to London this year and need a few travel tips on where to go (shameless plug!) there is a lovely book out called LONDON SECRETS -- link here. It is now in bookshops in London, as well as in the US and elsewhere, and is starting to show up in bookstores in Australia too. (It's also available online.) So if you're going to London this year, I hope you'll consider it -- whether for yourself or as a gift for a UK-bound friend. 



I adore the look of this new Paris hotel. It's feminine, sophisticated, witty and whimsical, and doesn't seem to have cut the budget on interior design, either. It's called Hotel de Jobo, and it's been receiving lots of well-deserved press for its stunning design. Designed by Bambi Sloan, (who calls herself "part designer, part storyteller"; what a great line to put on your business card), the hotel was inspired by Josephine Bonaparte, Napoleon's first wife and, briefly, Empress of France. Like her husband, Josephine was a bit of a leader, particularly in style and design. She was one of the first to make leopard fashionable, and her love for roses created a craze for them that has not abated since. This hotel has all of her passions and more. It's pretty and witty, and Josephine would have probably adored it!



Do you follow British fashion designer Alice Temperley on Instagram? No? Well, if you love fashion and flowers, she is one to add to your list. Her account is full of floaty, romantic dresses but where she differs slightly from most fashion designers is that she often posts scenes from her atelier, too: the detailed shots of the embroidery being done are some of the most beautiful  dressmaking images I've ever seen.

Alice Temperley has already produced a book, which was a bestseller (I gave it to my sister-in-law, who loved it), and is now finishing a second one, called Myths and Legends. While the first was all about Alice's life and career, and the challenges she faced, the second gives a more intimate view of the world that Alice inhabits, revealing both practical and sentimental sides of the artist’s creative process. (Images from Temperley's Instagram feed. Alice has her own Instagram, which is worth following too, but the Temperley official Instagram shows more of the designs and collections.)

BOOK DETAILS HERE: Myths & Legends


I first spotted the whimsically named I Love Pero fashion label in Scarlett Jones' store several years ago. Since then, I've seen its fame grow. Stylist Sibella Court also loves it. Designed by Delhi fashion designer, Aneeth Arora, it's distributed in both the US and Australia (I'm not sure about Europe), and it stands apart from many other fashion labels for its intricate use of embroidery, which India is a leader in. if you love textiles, fashion, and particularly embroidery, you will love Pero's collections. (Images left and centre are mine; image on right is from I Love Pero's Instagram.)



Have you noticed there is a return to femininity in both fashion and interiors? Flowers too. And much of it seems to be driven by the new love affair with a colour that hasn't been seen for years: palest pink.  Or what's been dubbed 'millennial pink'.

I first noticed this pretty shade of pink in The Ivy in Santa Monica (see my image of The Ivy restaurant; first image above), where it was the perfect backdrop to the bright, beachy upholstery and stunning fresh flowers that are always a feature of this place. 

Then  I saw it at Sketch in London, and then at the new Playa Grande hideaway in the Dominican Republic last year (see my images above), where Celerie Kemble has used it sparingly but beautifully (it is the exact shade of the beach in front of the estate), painting shutters and floors, and dressing pillows and cushions and select pieces of furniture. It doesn't look too pink because there are acres of white and aquamarine to offset the sugariness. And of course the lush green of the tropical garden and the blue sky above to offer visual reprieve. But take all the other shades away and it still works, I think. It's tropical, but not over the top. Elegant, but understated.

Then pale pink, or Millennial pink, showed up on the UK Harper's Bazaar's May cover (above; four image from top), which was a sublime design featuring rosebuds entwined into the masthead. (I loved this cover so much, I used it as inspiration for mini chocolates for our biography launch last month; the blues and pinks perfectly matched the colour of the biogaphy.) 

And now I've started seeing this pink in stores, too, including The Rose Street Trading Co (above; second image), which now stocks exquisite vases and boxes, as well as on Instagram, which seems to be showing more and more pink houses -- and pink pieces to go in them. (I can't find where this lovely lantern came from, above. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can credit -- and buy it!)

But perhaps my favourite pink moments have been this gelato flower (above), which is part of a new global ice cream trend that's seeing ice cream sculptured to look like roses (this gelato consists of citrus, stracciatella, mango and raspberry), and this pink wallpaper by de Gourney at Paris D├ęco Off. Both are utterly sublime.

Let's hope this elegant, enticing, ultra-feminine colour stays around for a little while longer.


Have you noticed there's a new genre of garden book? It's all about flower farms! 

There are several flower farm books out at the moment but one of the best is by Erin Benzakein, the founder of Floret Flower Farm, and one of the leaders of the locally grown flower movement in America.

Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden has equal parts instruction and inspiration, but what you'll really be doing is gazing at all the images, particularly the fields of dahlias. It's a sumptuous book with beautiful photographs that really show the beauty of this heavenly space on the American West Coast.

Her instagram is glorious, too.



Have you noticed how beautiful the UK edition of Harper's Bazaar has become over the past year or so? Ever since Justine Picardie took the reigns, it has blossomed (forgive the pun) into an elegant, sophisticated, surprisingly interesting read. The May and June issues are always my favourite for their garden-focused stories. Even the covers, above, are creative, and daring, and have become, not surprisingly, collector's pieces.

Wishing you all a lovely June, whatever you may be doing, and wherever you may be. 

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