Monday, May 21, 2012

English Garden and Architecture Design Continued...

Will this English period ever end, you ask?   Actually, when looking back now at all the books and magazines I amassed during this phase of my decorating journey, I ask myself that same question.  Admittedly, it was a long period, and we are nearing its end - just not yet.  We need to discuss another garden designer and his home.  We need to visit another beautiful London home with Colefax and Fowler connections.  And lastly, we must peek at yet another very English kitchen from the English company, Plain English.

Christopher Lloyd loved and designed gardens for most of his life.  The garden and home to which he devoted most of his time was the one in which he was born - Great Dixter, between Sussex and Kent.  Edwin Lutyens (the architect from my last post) did much of Great Dixter's restorations and additions to the house and gardens.  But, Christo, as his friends called Christopher Lloyd, was the true lover of the gardens there, and he nurtured them until his death in 2006.  He published several books and many articles on his garden endeavors.  Today, I am posting photos from Christopher Lloyd's The Year at Great Dixter, and I'm sure you will notice the hand of Edwin Lutyens in the house and garden's design.

First we see Great Dixter's topiary garden on a misty day in January.  His father started this garden, but his son got to see the mature topiaries.

In May, we glimpse Great Dixter with its wisteria in bloom.  The house was constructed around 1460, and around 1910, Lloyd's father "engaged Edwin Lutyens to make the restorations and additions and to design the garden".

Here we see lichen growing on the Lutyens-designed circular stairs.  (I keep thinking I need steps like these somewhere in my garden, but fear it will have to be in my fantasy one.)

A glimpse into a Great Dixter's interior, a room filled with June poppies (and two chairs to give your eye teeth for.)

July at Great Dixter with Christo posing in the Long Garden.  The house looks so lovely from this angle.

When the sun comes out after a summer storm, how many times have I seen skies look just this way?  Sadly, my garden does not look quite like Great Dixter's after a summer storm, just the sky.

An August view of the beautiful Great Dixter and its garden.

Love potted lilies at the entrance to the house.

Late autumn.

And this is December.

If you are a gardener and do not own this book, I recommend you rush out and buy it.  Besides containing beautiful photos of the gardens, it is chuck full of Christo's anecdotes and wonderful gardening advice.  My copy has notes and highlights on almost every page.

Remember in an earlier post when I referred to the design firm of Colefax and Fowler and one of its designers?  The following London home belongs to the head of this same design firm in 1998, David Green.  I found it in Elle Decor Italy from 1998 and had to include it sometime on my blog because it is just so pretty and so English, containing all the elements of English design.  From now on, I'm saying very little about this lovely home because I do not speak Italian, but the photos "speak a thousand words."

 I believe the fabric here is Eaton Check because amid a sea of Italian words those were in English.  (Sorry for the blur.  Another double-pager.)

Definitely fantasy home material.

Love this sitting room; it's just so darn pretty.   Eaton Check, Malabar, and Beaufort  fabrics (I think).

Such a great landing with such a great window and dog.

Perhaps great art should also be included in the English design aesthetic.  It's omnipresent in English homes.  I so loved revisiting this home even if the text was in Italian.

And now to Plain English kitchens from their website.

At the risk of offending some readers, I have to admit I am not a huge white kitchen fan.  They all seem so similar.  But this kitchen is white and I love it.  Tricia Foley's kitchens are white and I love them.  Loi Than designs white kitchens, and I love them.  OK, maybe I do like white kitchens.  This one is from Plain English's Cornish Holiday Home.

So pristine.

Love black boards in kitchens.  They seem so practical and so not-white.

Also, my daughter and my daughter-in-law both have white kitchens.  I feel like the character in Green Eggs and Ham - I do, I do, I do like white kitchens.

And lastly from Plain English, their Arts and Crafts boot room.  And it is not white!!!!

I have my next post planned out, dear reader, and it is still in England, but I promise you it is not all in white.  Till then,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Icons of English Architecture and Garden Design

Edwin Lutyens, one of England's most renown architects, Gertrude Jekyll, the garden designer  with whom Lutyens often collaborated, and Vita Sackville-West, creator of Sissinghurst, one of the most beautiful gardens in England - all three of these icons helped to create the English design aesthetic and still influence it today.  They have certainly had an effect upon me.  After exploring the work of these three a bit, I'll end today's post with two kitchens from Plain English Design a firm which, even though a contemporary one, seems to suit the style of our three earlier icons.

Edwin Lutyens lived from 1869-1944 and designed many country houses world wide.   His roots are in classicism but he breathed "new life into traditional forms."  Gertrude Jekyll met him later in her life and the two collaborated on many projects.  Sadly many of Jekyll's gardens were ephemeral as gardens will be, but many of Lutyens houses still exist as seen in Sir Edwin Lutyens, by Elizabeth Wilhide (2000).

Below is Munstead Wood in Surrey, the home Lutyens designed for Jekyll and the garden is of course her own design.

Lutyens wall at Grey Walls made of a variety of stone.

A close up of Le Bois de Moutiers, a Lutyens design in France well known for its hydrangeas.

Another view with hydrangeas.
Another view - can you tell I love this house.
A view of its boxwood gardens.
Back in England and into an interior image from Lindisfarne seen in Wilhide's book.

A rather blurry image of the Lindisfarne kitchen.  Blurry or not, I love this kitchen with its display of blue and white transfer ware, copper utensils, and very English stove with tea set out in front.

Lutyens daughter's London kitchen gives us an sample of his furniture design.

Little Thakeham's (Don't you love the name Little Thakeham?) "south facing oriel window."  Lighting was important to Lutyens and "he took particular care over the orientation of his buildings."

Does much of Lutyens's design remind you of Bobby Alpine's?  Alpine has said that he has been much influenced by Lutyens as seen below.
google images
McAlpine's window below does seem much influenced by that at Little Thakeham.
google images
And the Lutyens-designed bench is still seen in many contemporary gardens.

Now onto the two garden designers.  First we will view Lutyens's collaborator, Gertrude Jekyll.  Jekyll, when younger, was an artist on canvas.  When her eyesight began to fail her, she turned to a larger canvas -  the garden.

The image below and those following are from Judith B. Tankard's book, Gertrude Jekyll and the Country House Garden.  I highly recommend this and the other books mentioned in this post.  All are inspirational to the gardener and the lover of English design.  Here we see a door leading to Jekyll's garden.  The rose growing over the door and the soil on its bottom are equally charming.  And the hardware!  It's all so English.

Doesn't get much better than this -  a Lutyens architectural design and a Jekyll garden design.  They were such a creative duo.  This is Munstead Wood, the home Jekyll had Lutyens design and then she surrounded it with her garden design.

Different view of Munstead Wood.

The gate below reminds me a bit of Frolic Weymouth's garden gate in Pennsylvania.  (My fantasy houses will all have garden gates.)

Her woodland garden.

Jekyll's drawing room at Mustead Wood.  Wish it were in color.  Do you remember the film, The French Lieutenant's Woman?  This room, especially the staircase, reminds me of the home Meryl Streep lived in at the movie's end.  If you've never seen the film, rent it.

Now onto Vita Sackville-West who, with her husband Harold Nicholson, restored the buildings at Sissinghurst and created lovely gardens to surround them.  (Another movie, this time from the BBC, entitled Portrait of a Marriage, has footage taken from the actual Sissinghurst buildings and gardens.  A real treat.  I'm just full of recommendations today.)  Someday I will visit these gardens, and I'll bet many of you have already.  For those of us who have not been so lucky as to see it in person, the following images (unless otherwise notated) are from Jane Brown's Sissinghurst, Portrait of a Garden.

First, a view of the Long Library which is in the movie - very exciting.  I remember how the door's latch sounded when Vita entered the room.   And so English.

Another view of the library from Country Life magazine's website.

Vita's writing room in the tower.  Sadly, mine looks nothing like this.

And now to the gardens!  The first image is part of the famous white garden with the Sissinghurst tower in the back.

Roses, both pink and white, clamber quite near those leaded windows.  (Love the word "clamber" when it refers to roses, don't you?)

After Vita, died, I believe Harold lived in this cottage rather than one of the larger buildings.  The cottage, and its gardens are utterly charming and could qualify as my English fantasy house.

Another view of the cottage gleaned from google images, probably taken by someone luckier than I who has actually been to Sissinghurst in person. 

An aerial view from with the white garden very evident.

More complete view of the cottage ( 

And finally views of some very English kitchens taken from the Plain English website.  If you have not viewed their portfolio of kitchens, good - because I intend to use more of them while still in my English phase.  But seriously, it is a really good website and the homes all have wonderful names as you will see.

The Oast House kitchen in Kent.

The Merchant's House kitchen.  Such lovely cabinets in both kitchens.

Lots to see today and lots to recommend.  Hope you enjoyed the English design elements as seen in these three icons of English design and perhaps learned something along the way. Edwin Lutyens, Gertrude Jekyll, and Vita Sackville-West still have lots to teach us today.  Thanks for checking in.
Till next time-