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Cindy’s Spring Trip to the UK, Part 1

We started our trip in London, visiting Hampton Court Palace, the Sky Garden, Westminster Abbey, Eltham Palace, and the Chelsea Flower Show. From there we rented a car at Heathrow and travelled southeast to visit the first of our week of garden touring.

Savill Garden

Savill garden was created in the 1930’s by former owner Eric Savill. It is now run as a part of the the Crown Estates. The rose garden is a relatively recent addition, planted in 2010. This garden is divided into different area including a Bog garden with enormous Gunnera, an Azalea walk, the summer gardens which include the rose garden a herbaceous borders, and more.


Painshill is an 18th century landscape garden created by Charles Hamilton. This is a large garden in a man-made landscape, there are meandering paths around a lake, that was dug out and engineered to be fed by an adjoining river. Hamilton had an image of creating living painting in his landscape. He designed a number of follies to visit along the route including a grotto tiled with crystals.

Munstead Wood

Munstead Wood is the home and business garden of Gertrude Jekyll. This garden is held in private hands and as such is available to tour by appointment with the head gardener. This is a garden that is lucky to be in existence at all. It was sold in three parcels after her death, the gardens were grassed in the 1950’s by a subsequent owner. The most recent owners have recovered the original gardens along with their neighbors. From the tour we discovered the garden functioned very much as a show garden for Jekyll’s clients, she had a trial garden area, and she sold plants and seeds from the potting shed. Almost ironically the garden looks similar to how it would have been in her lifetime because of the effects of man.

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July 5

I totally missed the month of July. I was in the garden. My passion for gardening is at least as strong as my passion for spinning, knitting and designing so at this time of the year I take a break from the fiber. The clematis is Betty Anne Corning. It’s a favorite. As the weather begins to heat up it’s less fun to work in the garden and I begin to return to the fiber. I’m just up from knitting in the garden in a small shaded stone patio down the steps and and to the left.  I’m working on a new sample of Hedgie’s socks in our new hand dyed commercially spun yarn. The journey from handspun yarn to commercial yarn in our samples and in the yarns we sell has been interesting and educational.  I am a hand spinner.  I love the process from raw fleece to finished garment.  I love my handspun and that has had an effect on the commercial yarns I find acceptable. To start with as a team (Sarah and I) have agreed that we want wool that is raised in the US and spun in the US.  It goes beyond that in that I prefer yarns that are two ply and not overly processed while still being soft.  This means the wool is probably from a finer breed of sheep like Cormo, Merino or Rambouillet. It’s not right, wrong or the best it’s just what I like and imagine in my designs. At this point we’ve sampled a lot of yarns and settled on three that will allow us to support our current designs with yarn sourced and dyed by us. As I mentioned several posts ago the yarn so important in achieving the finished garment that you want.

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May 27

The garden is captivating this year.  Above is a photo of clematis Montana Odorata putting on quite a show. It’s fragrant and smells like vanilla to add to its appeal. Right now I’m spending all my time in the garden.  We’ve finished our shows until September. I’ll get back to designing in a few weeks time when the June garden peak has passed, but right now it’s hard to get me out of the garden!

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April 30

I have almost missed April altogether.  It’s that time of year when my interests turn to gardening.  So when the sun has been out and the weather is warm I’ve been outside mulching and poking and planning.  I’ve also been doing fibery things on all those rainy days.  I finished another sweater from handspun.  A lovely grey Merino/Romney cross and a stunning black Romney yearling fleece. And last week we vended at Gore Place and had a great but very cool and windy day.  We’re looking forward to vending at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival this weekend. We are very excited to be vending there for the first time!

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September 10

Flax has been harvested!

I pulled all the flax from the flax patch yesterday. I’m kind of winging this whole flax thing. My flax patch was kind of weedy.  There were a wide variety of heights of flax but I do thing I’ll have enough to process and hopefully get enough to spin. The flax is drying on my dining room table right now. And then it will be on to retting, the tricky part.

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August 5

It is a difficult time of year to to keep things blooming in the garden. Lots of things have gone by until next year. The garden phlox in the background are going strong and there’s still a bit of bee balm left and a daylily or two but you can kind of see autumn coming.  Albert is a great gardening companion.

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April 18

If you’re in the area of metro-west Boston and want to participate in our community flax to linen project stop in to the Carlisle Artisans in Carlisle, MA and pick up your free seed available for planting now. Participants will grow and harvest and dry their flax. In late summer we’ll come back together at the Carlisle Historical Society’s Heald House. During several of their open houses we’ll process the dried flax. This will include retting, braking, scutching, spinning and weaving. All are welcome.