Ballyrobert Gardens...

At the May-Day weekend, there, we headed to the beautiful Ballyrobert Gardens for the first time! I had followed them on facebook for a good while, but just hadn't gotten around to nipping up - but nothing like a flurry of incredible weather to make you feel like heading out and appreciating some floral beauty (not that I ever need much encouragement!)...

We spent a lovely few hours walking around the incredible gardens the family at Ballyrobert have designed and cultivated over the years. They also have a nursery selling a fantastic selection of plants, bred especially for the Northern Irish climate and soils... very much looking forward to diving in to that next Spring when we are planning our plant buy! 

We started off in the Poly-tunnels, and there was so much growing and ready to go wild with all the amazing warm weather we've been having... I was really taken with the pink Campanula (above) with their beautiful pink-paint-splattered patterning. 

There were lots of beautiful Lupins (a bloom I love!) and the flowering chives were so pretty and wild, it was great to see the honey bees out in full force, too ... I really fell for the gorgeous Candelabra Primula (below),  and there were so many beautiful colours and shades to look at. I love their cheery, hopeful little forms!

The variety of plants they have at Ballyrobert is incredible... and the planting design is both beautifully coherent - pulling the same plants and varieties through the gardens as you wind through them, punctuating your walk and making everything feel a part of the whole - and surprising, in parts, too! I loved stumbling across an amazing patch of wild cow parsley after some manicured areas, then finding a wonderful 'selfie' hedge (you would think it was made just for this purpose!) or an incredible Rhododendron bush or Azalea adding a splash of colour and perfectly framing a view for you. Just gorgeous.

I really did take an obscene number of photos, and have certainly gotten a lot of lovely material for my daily petal illustrations... I'll leave you with a few more, and thoroughly encourage anyone who is nearby to make a trip to this beautiful Garden & Nursery. There is a tea-room, too (though we didn't have any this time) so you can make a day of it!


Plant Passion...

When I was over in Hampshire, not only was I lucky enough to go down to London to visit Covent Garden Flower Market, but Jay also arranged for us to visit the wonderful Plant Passion! Claire Brown is the horticultural genius behind this lovely Flower Farm, and their tag-line is 'Seasonal, Scented & Sustainable'...

It was really incredible to see so many beautiful varieties growing... to smell the wonderful scent of damp earth in the poly-tunnels, and see so many seedlings stretching out towards the first of the Spring sunshine! I loved seeing how it was possible to grow and harvest so many different flowers on a reasonably manageable plot. It gave me serious hankerings for a little Flower Farm of my own... but for now, a few pots in the back garden will have to suffice!

Perhaps most exciting of all was being able to choose a few blooms ourselves, to design with when we got back to the Flower School... I was head over heels in love with Claire's Parrot Tulips (picked with the beautiful bulbs still attached, it was like something out of a Dutch Masters painting!) and also the Japonica Plentiflora, which I had been hankering after for a while... and was incredibly inspired to get cracking with all the gorgeous blooms we went away with! I incorporated the tulips in to my Dutch Masters inspired pedestal design (well, we couldn't not!), which you can see below. Aren't they just a little bit dreamy?!

A huge thank you to Claire for having us on the farm and allowing me to take some snaps behind the scenes... I could have wandered around all day long!