Chelsea Flower Show



May 24 Wisley
May 25 V & A Museum
May 26 Emmetts, Chartwell and Ightham Mote.
May 27 Chelsea
May 28 Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park
May 29 Kensington Palace grounds
May 30 Scotney Castle & Sissinghurst


May 26th after breakfast we headed out of London to visit Emmetts, Chartwell and Ightham Mote.

Emmetts charming and informal garden is at the highest point in Kent and was laid out in the late 19th Century, with many exotic and rare trees and shrubs from across the world. There are glorious shows of daffodils, bluebells and azaleas in spring. In May bluebells spread like a surreal carpet of mauve under the trees and amongst the shrubs, the effect of which is nothing short of magical. The blooms of the rhododendrons and azaleas in the South Garden create yet more drama as they light up the green backdrop with flaming torches in shades of orange and carmine, magenta and cerise.

Chartwell, family home of Sir Winston Churchill from 1924 until the end of his life. The magnificent views over the Weald of Kent, the terraced and water gardens, rose walks, lake and Marlborough Pavilion were so dear to Churchill that he once declared 'I love the place - a day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.' The house contains exhibitions of Churchill's life and personal effects. Everyone agreed when we visited before that this place was so inviting, you could move right in and make this your home...and we absolutely loved the dining was in green and white and faced out onto the rolling landscape and hills.... the library with its boxes of Churchill cigars sitting on a table, one cigar balancing on an ashtray, as if the statesman has just left the room. A wonderful place to visit, so full of history ... the house is just a living memorial ... many pieces of sculpture, awards, uniforms, medals, gifts, furniture. To stand on the terrace with its sweeping views over the Weald and the garden's wide lakes; to stroll under a pergola dripping with grapes and past waterfalls splashing into secluded pools, stocked with plump golden orfe, was wonderful. Both Churchill and his wife Clementine were keen gardeners: he even built a little summer-house for his daughters, named Marycot after his youngest, Mary. You can see the garden studio - a substantial building - with its easel and chair, paints and brushes neatly laid out, with many of his paintings on display.

We then proceeded to the beautiful moated manor house of Ightham Mote, near Sevenoaks. A superb moated manor house, nestling in a sunken valley and dating from 1330. A small hump-backed stone bridge crosses the moat to the old wooden door. The house is built around three courtyards and despite many later alterations the house has kept its medieval appearance. This is mainly because additions were made using Kentish ragstone and local oak and were sympathetic to the ancient building.

In 1521 the manor house was purchased by the great courtier Sir Richard Clement. He was anxious to display his allegiance to the Tudor court and the oak bargeboards in the cobbled courtyard are carved with the Tudor rose of England, the fleur-de-lis of France and the pomegranate of Granada, the emblem of Catherine of Aragon. The window of the Great Hall has the original 16th century stained glass showing the Tudor rose and the Aragon pomegranate. Sir Richard also added the long half-timbered room on the first floor. This was originally intended to be a gallery but was later converted into a chapel. The arched wagon roof was painted with badges and emblems in vivid colours to imitate a tournament tent. There is also 16th century stained glass in the windows.

The drawing room across a landing from the chapel has a marked change of style and atmosphere. A magnificent Jacobean fireplace painted in black and gold fills one end of the room and the walls are hung with hand-painted 19th century Chinese wallpaper which gives the room an exotic feel. Ightham, like Kent itself, is renowned for its apples and orchards. One variety, Flower of Kent, is reputedly that which fell on scientist Isaac Newton's head: it has been growing here since the 17th century.



  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row