Nuffield Place

Yesterday was E’s birthday so we had a family day out to Nuffield Place, near Nettlebed in Oxfordshire.  The estate was opened to the public by the National Trust in 2011.  It is the time-capsule home of the philanthropist William Morris, Lord Nuffield, the founder of Morris Motor Cars and one of the richest men in the world during his life time.  He lived in the house from 1933 until his death in 1963.

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Nuffield Place from the Back Lawn

Lord Nuffield gave much of his wealth to good causes (about £8 billion in today’s terms) and his house reflects a relatively modest lifestyle. Lord and Lady Nuffield’s personal possessions remain as they left them with the decor and furnishings intact, making it a perfect example of a complete 1930s country home.   I was amazed by the stories of his generosity, the fact that he never had the latest car to come off the Morris production line and what a modest lifestyle the Morris’ lived.  Truly inspirational.

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Inside the house, many of the rooms are open and full of the Morris’ own furniture.  It has the feel of a warm and loving house even though they never had any children.  I particularly liked the drawing room where they would have entertained their friends, and Lady Nuffield’s sewing room which had a sweet fireplace.

Drawing Room

Drawing Room

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Items in the Sewing Room

Sewing Room

Sewing Room

Sewing Room Fireplace

Sewing Room Fireplace

Outside the gardens are lovely and there were lots of alliums in flower

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I loved the succulents growing in the dry stone walls

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the relaxed topiary

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and finally..the Morris MG parked at the front door

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I bought some wild flowers – white clover, red campion and mallow to plant in my wild flower area at home and to remind me of such a lovely place full of visual inspiration and positive values.

Studio Garden

In my blog way back in February I spoke about my plans for the garden area in front of what is going to be my new work studio. It was a mound of soil covered in black plastic and had been like that since the builders left 18 months ago.

But it is no more!!!!  The Landscapers arrived last week and in three days it went from:

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The horrible old patio in front of the studio has been made bigger and replaced with gravel. We have new steps and retaining walls:

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The slope has been retained with sleepers:

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and I have started to plant up a border:

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The poor box plants which have been sat in pots for about 2 years, particularly my peacock are waiting for large holes to be dug so that they can be planted. I particularly hope that the ball and cone will recover as they currently look a bit worse for wear:

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Next job is to get the grass seed down to join this garden with the side garden, make a wildflower meadow in the space to the side of the studio up to the retaining wall and refurbish the studio inside as it hasn’t been used for years. It also needs a new roof. So, not a lot to do then…..

Cut Flowers

It has been the warmest day of the year so far here in the Chilterns.  I have spent all day in the garden and one of the things I have done is to plant some Hardy Annual Seeds to give me some flowers later on in the summer which can be cut and brought into the house.


Around the wigwam which I made a couple of weeks ago I have planted a mixture of Sweetpeas – Old Fashioned Mixed and Painted Lady.  I also have some of these plants in the cold frame which I planted earlier in the year.

In front of the wigwam in rows moving forward are:

– Scabious Tall Double Mixed

– Sunflower Mezzulah Semi Dwarf

– Gypsophlia


Hopefully they will be producing flowers in the next couple of months if the hens leave the bed alone..




Willow Weaving

Last weekend I went on a willow weaving course run by Windrush Creative to learn how to make my own garden supports – wigwams for growing sweet peas and beans up; supports for perennials such as Delphiniums and Peonies etc.

The course took place at Cogges Manor Farm which is in Witney, Oxfordshire. Cogges is a Victorian Working Farm and is operated by a Heritage Trust who lease the farm from Oxfordshire County Council.  It is a magical place, great for a day out with children and where you can feed the animals and explore the beautiful Farm House.



Because the weather was so lovely we worked outside which gave lots of visitors to the farm an opportunity to see what we were doing. Our lovely tutor Linda gave us lots of help and guidance and started us off making a willow wigwam. This involved using 8 strong willow uprights (straight willow branches) to form a circle, before beginning to weave thinner willow in and out of the uprights.
It took me a while to get the hang of twisting the willow in and out of the uprights but once I got going I made my wigwam pretty quickly and also used Cornus to inject some red.

You can use the same techniques for making a hurdle fence

I had a lovely day and Windrush are so professional and lovely. They provided us with a gorgeous home made lunch of baked potatoes, home made salads, bread and cake and there was a selection of tea, coffee, water and biscuits available all day. The course ran from 10am until 4pm and for £69 including lunch I though it was fantastic value for money.

Kirsty x

Lancashire Lass

Last week I went ‘home’ to Lancashire to see my parents for a few days taking the 2 youngest boys along for a bit of a holiday.  I haven’t lived there for over 20 years, since I left University, but I still consider it to be home and am proud to be a Lancashire Lass who hasn’t lost her accent, or love for meat and potato pies and chips with gravy.

We spent quite a bit of time just chilling out at Mum and Dad’s, playing in the garden, swimming and doing local walks.  I went to visit my brother’s grave as it is nearly 3 years since he died.  He is in a lovely spot next to fields and it is a really peaceful place although it still upsets me to think that his life was so short; he died at the age of 37.

Towards the end of the week I took Mum and the Littlest to Sizergh Castle, a National Trust property on the edge of Kendal.  Sizergh is a medieval property set in beautiful countryside at the gateway to the Lake District.  It is still lived in by the Strickland Family and boasts a lot of ancient wood panelling some of which was in the V&A until it was returned to the house in 1999.  You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the house and although there were some interesting artefacts it wasn’t my favourite NT property.  I found it a bit dark and gloomy and it was very draughty.


In the gardens there is a lot to see, and I would definitely recommend a visit during the Summer to see the Herbaceous Borders and the walled Kitchen Garden which looked very bare when we were there, because of the time of year.  However, Littlest loved the very scary Scarecrow 🙂


He also loved pulling faces at his reflection in the water tank


We loved the hens, especially the Lemon Cuckoo Neiderrheiner Cockerel who was strutting his stuff



and generally running around to keep warm on what was a very cold day


After lunch we went into Kendal to visit Williams Wools, a lovely wool shop on the High St which is owned by Adrienne Williams


Th shop is a lovely haven of yarnie goods..there are local hand dyed yarns, as well as Rowan, Arancunia, Noro and many other brands. There is a really comfy sofa area in the middle of the shop and lots and lots of samples on display for inspiration



I bought two skeins of Botany Lace to make a striping shawl, the variegated mustard yellow/grey in the middle and the solid mustard yellow on the right


It was a lovely few days in a lovely part of the world.

Kirsty x

Greenhouse Time

It has poured down nearly all day today so apart from walking the dogs I have spent time doing housework..(yuck!!)..knitting (hurrah!!) or in the greenhouse planting seeds.

For the first time I am planting Asparagus Peas, which apparently will taste of asparagus..who would have thought that! The seeds should grow into small shrubby plants with sweet pea like maroon flowers which are then followed by small seed pods, and I am told, are delicious cooked in butter with a little salt.  The pods should be picked when they are an inch long otherwise they go tough.  I have sown the seeds in modules and left them in the greenhouse to be planted out in the vegetable garden in late May.  Because they are a member of the legume family they will fix nitrogen into the soil which will be an ideal spot for planting brassicas (cabbages, broccoli etc) next year.


Asparagus Pea Flowers and Seed Pods

I also planted some tomato seed. I am going to grow a variety of different tomatoes this year, all in the greenhouse. Some will be for cooking, some for eating. Today I have planted two cherry types. The first is a Determinate type (bushy) called Minibel which is a compact plant I will grow in pots, and will not need training up a support. It could also be grown in hanging baskets outside.


Minibel Tomato

The second is the well known Gardener’s Delight which I grow every year and can be grown outside during a good summer or under glass. It is an Indeterminate type which means it needs to be grown up a support and the side shoots removed as it grows.


Gardener’s Delight

Both lots of seed are in modules in a heated propagator as they need a constant temperature of 15-20 degrees to germinate.

Kirsty x Continue reading