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Friday, June 7, 2013

From my English Country Diary: Hidcote Manor Garden.

*This is not an informative post about Hidcote Gardens- lots of infos can be found online should you fancy. It is more of an inspirational post about living and exploring from an artist's perspective.*

I was about to start this post telling you that part of my life as an artist and a photographer is to go out and look for inspiration for my work.  Yes, that is fundamentally true, but mostly, as both a strong introvert and an artist, alone time is vital to my well- being, my sanity and also for my job.
When I am alone, I am able to connect with the abundant flux of ideas, and definitely recharge my batteries. I become inebriatingly happy, calm and serene, full of energy, and in the zone for all kind of creative activities.

One of the things that I love the most here in the Cotswolds, is going on a solo drive around the glorious English countryside (something I was not able to do in Italy because of the general chaos and crazy-ness of traffic, my continued migraines that have gone here, and yes, lack of my own will to do that in a place that I didn't feel as "kindred"), driving on the "wrong" side of the road as I had always did that before. It's just so natural to me, and I feel so in my element in these places at a profound level,  that I have been confirmed, day after day, that I was truly meant to live here. Everything happens for a reason, and I am sure that I am here for a precise reason, which will eventually unfold as I walk along my path.

When on Tuesday morning I awoke to a blue blue, cloudless sky and pleasant summer breeze, I decided out of the blue that it was the perfect day to visit Hidcote Manor Gardens, where I'd never been before. I had tried once last year with my hubby, but the weather was so horrible that in the end we gave up.
When you are your own boss, you can decide how you organize your time, and I love this aspect of my job, the freedom I have (which however, needs to be paired with strong discipline to have your work done on time!).

And following my own advice to always savor the journey instead of merely thinking of the destination, I enjoyed a most beautful drive along winding, narrow, country roads, all dotted in stone cottages and (mostly) yellow flowers. Beauty and Abundance were so easily perceivable that I could barely breathe and just had to give thanks at every turn of the road.

The roads became more and more narrow as I proceeded up and down the hills of Oxfordhire, across Warwickshire and entering Gloucestershire. When I finally arrived, stepping into Hidcote, you could easily hear me bubbling and giggling inside, full of thrill and anticipation...

... and ooh-ing and sighing at all of the beauty (I may have done it also not that silently and innerly more than once, I fear ;)).

There is such a special thrill when you explore new places, uh? And I didn't want to miss a single bit of inspiration along the way. So while everyone was rushing through this door to see the gardens with no further delay, I just stopped and let them go ahead, and fully enjoyed the simple, amazing beauty and peacefulness of this door open on to the woods.

The gardens themselves are such an awesome collection of "rooms", beautifully and cleverly designed by Lawrence Johnston in the 20th- century, and the National Trust (which now owns the property) did a very good job trying to preserve the original feel of a private garden (for example, by not adding plant labels).

But I confess, what really made me love this place were the unexpected views, the hidden corners...

... the purple, bold beauty of Allium at its peak...

... the unusual perspectives from which you can admire an object...

... the interesting mix of colors that could easily be those on a painter's palette (even if the tulips were already fading)...

... trying different angles to capture a scene...

... the hidden and scarcely noticed, the less traveled paths, the gardening tools left unattended here and there...

... the signs of animal life...

... the shades of blue...

... and the things that no one else was paying attention to.
When all of the crowd is looking in one direction, just turn 180° and look there instead! You can be tremendously surprised by what you can see.

This is the interior of two twin gazebos from which a stunning view of the gardens could be admired. But the gazebos themselves had such a voice to my ears, and no one was caring about them! About their faded colors contrasting with the bold, colored vaults, the cracks, the textures created by the passing of the years... the light that caressed the details, revealing love, care and exquisite taste and design.

The fading flowers that captured my attention with their beautiful imperfection...

... and the two friends happily chatting sitting on a bench, and catching up the wonderful sunshine like lizards, spoke to me of friendship, shared secrets, laughter and simple pleasures...

The gardeners at work under midday sunshine did not receive but questions about gardening, instead of heartfelt thank- yous for all of their hard work, sweat and tears to make that place so fabulous for all of us to enjoy! This shot reminds me to not take anything for granted.

And this one, that there is beauty and grace and value even in the things that the world considers without value. Look at the fantastic color combination of these bulbs that will end up in the compost bin- the shapes so neatly perceivable in this stage of their life, and the visual composition in the green rubber trug.

And this room just outside the kitchen garden... look, no one entered it during the half- an-hour time I spent in there, and when they did, just a few quick looks and then off they went, almost disappointed. And it shields such treasures, instead!

I was so charmed by all of the gardening tools and objects with memories attached, and carefully preserved to be admired by future generations.

The restaurant/ tea room decor was nothing short of beautiful. I loved the artsy writings on the wall and the stunning flower decorations- again, taken for granted by so many, and barely noticed.

People looked surprised by seeing me taking pictures of this cool and lovingly arranged corner. Didn't they have their eyes open?

In the end, may this post be just a little reminder to always look where no one else is looking, to move from a fixed point of view, change your own perspective, to notice the little things that others believe not to be worthy, to look for beauty and inspiration in the most unlikely places. They're right there if you only take a little time to stop and open. your. eyes.!!

That's me in the gardens- with a smiling heart! :)

Monica x


  1. We are the recipients of beautiful photos because you took the time to look where no one else looked. Thank you.

  2. Such a lovely, lovely post, Monica. I enjoy visiting gardens and historical places on my own, too. One can wander at an individual pace, stopping to poke into corners and possibly be alone, away from other visitors.
    I'm so glad you shared your visit with us, and your views on creativity and solitude. I sometimes wonder if there's something wrong with me because I like being alone so much. I love being with my family, too, but it's in the solitude that creativity blossoms.

  3. You are so beautiful too:-)
    Dreamy post..

  4. Una favola... come il tuo cappello!
    A fabulous place...like your hat!
    Have a nice weekend,Monica

  5. so lovely to spend the day at your own leisure just taking what you want to. Of course living in Gloucestershire too I have the leaflet but have not yet made the visit! It does look lovely. Enjoy the summer days, Heather x

  6. I love your post!! What wonderful images you have captured! Doorways, flowers, pathways,,,,all my favorite things!! Loved the stroll through!!

  7. That post was simply AMAZING. INSPIRING. EYE OPENING. Thank you for sharing all of this beauty and sensational thoughts and introspect. I need to print this out and hang it on my studio wall!

  8. I have never visited Hidcote. It looks soooo beautiful. What a lovely day x

  9. Monica, I have to thank you for taking us along with you on your trip to Hidcote. The tour through your eyes was magical.

  10. What a glorious post Monica!
    fabulous photos, I have never visited Hidcote although have long wanted to, and it looks amazing through your eyes. The gardens and house look so gracious, and the little room you had to yourself full of vintage treasures and hints of a anothers life.
    Thank you for sharing these lovely photos - just seeing that brilliant blue sky cheered me up on this grey spring day in Kent.
    Gill xx

  11. Thank you to share your thoughts and the tour of Hidcote manor. A wonderful place to dream and very inspiring.


  12. I think this is my favourite post of yours ever. My takeaway, is the idea to turn 180 degrees from what others are looking at... I dislike crowds, and line-ups and tend to avoid things where I have to put up with them.
    Two years ago we were in Giverny and I couldn't bear the line-up of 150+ people waiting to go into Monet's house and yard so instead, we talked the street up to the hotel he painted and coffee in the yard by ourselves. It was amazing, and we enjoyed a peaceful reflection on what it would have been like for him to live there, in the town. I was just as happy to do that, as fight for a small piece of real estate while trying to see the house and gardens.
    You have captured that thinking so well Monica, and I so love this post!


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