Emerald Leaves…

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.Perchance I miss posting ‘Favourites’ this week, as I will be traveling on Friday, I wanted to share this little gem with you.  British designer Jasper Conran’s first book  ‘Country‘ has recently been published and it’s a gorgeous tome!  Jasper was a young ‘Enfant Terrible’ ‘ just making his debut in the fashion world when I lived in London.  Despite the formidable shadow cast by his famous father Sir Terence Conran, Jasper has managed to stand the test of time and then some, to become a well respected and talented designer in his own right. Making his mark not only in fashion but interior design, fragrance and tableware (Conran designs for Wedgewood and Designer’s Guild, amongst others) he has a beautiful new feather to put in his cap. ‘Country‘ is a rich and quirky feast of mucky wellies, village fetes, roaring pub fires and heart-stopping vistas.  This is not an interior design book by any means, but rather a loving and personal tribute to everything that makes English Country Life so unique and appealing to the rest of the world.

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Please Watch this Video for more lovely images from ‘Country’.

Slim Paley photo, Ninfa Italy

Nothing moves me more than a sun dappled allee of mature trees.

Ralph Lauren Fall 2010

Leaves of a different sort.

WallpaperSpace.co.uk

(I featured this green leaf large scale wall mural on my Chartreuse post, but I simply couldn’t resist it for this :) )

Artist unknown

Slim Paley photo  My favourite ivy leaf  bracelet

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Monique lhuillier

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Leaf Ties

How cute are these? I can think of a million ways to use them, can’t you?

Woops, lost the credit again

Walt Whitman’s First Edition “Leaves of Grass”

My Lover Gave Me Green Leaves

BY JOSEPHINE DICKINSON

My lover gave me green leaves
with the mud of the garden on them,
radishes sharp and red,
nasturtium flames.

He gave me the tender heart
of a cabbage, its glossy coat,
a loaf of bread studded deep
with seeds.

He gave me the note
the blackbird
I’d cried at the blackness of
by the river sang.

He gave me the struck fire
of the thoughts
in his mind—
flint on flint.

He gave me the taste,
direct on his tongue,
of the syllables their embers
did not destroy.

He gave me his word,
the word of an Adam—
a promise,
should he set eyes on the sun.

He gave me a drop of the dew
to hold.
To see my face in it.
To look through.

He gave me,
in the chrisomed palm
of his empty hand—
a gasp of joy.

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Born in London in 1957, poet Josephine Dickinson has been deaf since the age of six as a result of a childhood illness. She studied classics at Oxford University and went on to establish a career as a musician, composer, and poet. In her late 30s she relocated to Alston, a remote English Cumbrian town, where she met and married an elderly sheep farmer, Douglas Dickinson, who died in 2004.

Her poems, rich in natural imagery, are sometimes metered or rhymed, but always attentive to sound in their tender evocations of rural life. In a 2007 interview with the Times (London), Dickinson stated, “I do know that I found speech more difficult than music to cope with after the deafness. I came to see the written word as a liberation, which was wonderful. Very exotic and exciting.”

Dickinson continues to tend her late husband’s sheep farm.

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Appree leaf shaped post it notes

Adorable!

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Slim Paley photo

Bamboo in Kyoto

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Fulvio Bonavia.

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It’s that time again… letting my Cecille Brunner climbing roses curl into my second story office – I LOVE summer!!

I leave you (no pun intended) with this pretty song by Crowded House; English Trees


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Slim Paley photo

“Ninfa” Stealer of Hearts

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Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley photo

A garden in Italy has stolen my heart.

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Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley Photo


I’m embarrassed to admit that just 45 miles southeast of Rome lies one of the most charming gardens in the world, and yet I’d never even heard of “Ninfa“.  Set amidst the ruins of an eighth century Medieval town and traversed by the sparkling, crystal clear Ninfa river, it stands as a testament to the divine combination of English eccentricity and Italian romance.

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Ninfa gardens, outside Rome

For most of it’s history  the property has belonged to the Roman Caetani family.  The original garden was laid out in the 1920′s but it’s present incarnation was created by the English born Duchess of Sermoneta, her daughter-in-law the Princess Caetani, and the princess’ daughter Donna Leilia who amassed over 10,000 plants from all over the world to thrive in this magical place.

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The name “Ninfa” derives from a little temple built near the stream and dedicated to Nymph goddesses in Roman times.

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Ninfa gardens, Italy

Slim Paley Photo

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Gorgeous Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley photo

I’m at a loss for words to convey how crystal clear and enticing the river was…


In fact I’m quite sure I saw Water Babies peeking out from under the bridge.

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The Waterbabies

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Mushrooms and rose petals for the Faeries of Ninfa

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white lilies in Italy

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Ruins, Ninfa Gardens, ItalySlim Paley Photo

We had the garden to ourselves with only a fox and a cuckoo to scold us for loitering too long…

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climbing roses

Ciao Bella Ninfa!

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Ninfa is only open to the public on a very limited basis. If you are planning a trip to Italy do call ahead and move heaven and earth to visit this little slice of paradise.

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All photos by Slim Paley

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A million thank you’s to the incredibly talented writer, prolific journalist and gardener extraordinaire Monty Don who shared his knowledge and admiration of Ninfa with us.  I’ve been avidly reading his newest book “The Ivington Diaries” each night before I go to bed and cannot recommend it highly enough.  Based upon 18 years of his garden journals and brimming with beautiful photos all taken by Monty, anyone even remotely enamored of gardens will be utterly charmed by this book. If you’re like me, you’ll be searching Amazon for all his others.

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Available in the U.K. now and in the U.S. in July.

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OTime to sign off- We’re off to The Chelsea Flower Show tomorrow!!


 

Postcard From Rome

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Slim Paley photo……………………………….Rome

Sorry, No “Friday Favourites” this week. Instead, Warm Greetings from Rome!

I so don’t wish to over-romanticise this beautiful city, but our guide’s name is HEATHCLIFF.  I’m NOT joking…and yes, he is Italian!  It’s really quite something to enter a city via a road first built in 312 BC (The Via Appia antica)  but don’t worry- I’m not turning today’s post into a history lesson, not the least of reasons being that if I retain even a fraction of all the information Heathcliff has imparted to us the last few days it will be a miracle.  Instead, I’ll share what I have learned in Rome;

I) Don’t pack for a long trip with the assumption that you will be purchasing some things to wear because, like, you know, you are going to be in Cannes and Rome. Murphy’s Law states you’ll only find great things if you have viciously overpacked. If, on the other hand, you have brought eight belts, no sweaters, and wildly inappropriate black heels, you won’t find anything.

What I somehow pictured finding…the outfit and the weather

Chanel Cruise 2011

.…and didn’t.

But speaking of wildly inappropriate, I did manage to find the most disturbing child mannequins ever;

Slim Paley Photo…………a shop that will go unnamed in Rome, but come on-  Really??!

I happily await Slim Reader’s comments!

II) Don’t also assume, just because you are traveling in the latter part of May that the weather is sure to be good. As I agonized over packing my bags for these two weeks in Europe, never did I visualize myself sprinting through the streets of Rome during a massive thunder and lightening storm while debating whether to abandon my silver cross necklace and underwire bra in a darkened doorway.

A storm brews over the streets of Rome before things get biblical and the skies crack.

III) Do though, count on holiday rain days coinciding with getting up early to straighten your hair in a pathetic attempt to look more Italian, even though you’ve stayed up ’til all hours of the night (morning) drinking wine…in another pathetic attempt to look more Italian.

Slim Paley Photo………..Just couldn’t resist.  “The Sartorialist Lite” perhaps?

IV) Rome definitely has Paris beat in the “Sorry- this was built when???” Dept.,  but I’m afraid I have to go with Paris on the food. I realize this might not be received well,  however, Anticapesa on via Garibaldi is great, and has a fun atmosphere and a very attractive clientele.

V) It doesn’t matter how well you casually twist a scarf or how big your sunglasses are, you still …don’t look Italian.

VI) Italian gardens are GORGEOUS.  If you find yourself in Italy in Spring or Summer, even if you aren’t really the “gardening type”, please take a few hours and visit at least one of the famous gardens here- they are spectacular.

Slim Paley photo …………………Coming upon the most ethereal Pegasus in a woody glade at Bomarzo , Italy

VII)  Cobblestones and heels are Satan’s Work.  And brown wedges go with everything anyway, don’t they?  Well…they do now.

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VIII) Usually when I visit castles and stately homes, as much as I adore looking at them I almost always think ‘But I could never live here’-   But I’ve gotta confess, especially as I’m in Rome- If push came to shove, I could live in a few of these Palazzos. Wow.  Other than a distaste for chamber pots I could go full “Il Gattopardo” like nobody’s business.

Slim Paley photo………….Palazzo Farnese

.IX) I wouldn’t want to be The Pope though (and I’m not talking specifically about this Pope, or his present predicament in all seriousness) But being any Pope at any time throughout history? The wealth, the fame, the pomp and circumstance…the RESPONSIBILITY!? Can you imagine? Just going to the Vatican exhausted me. I wonder if they ever have one second, ever, to themselves. I guess that’s not a very Pope-like thought but it really took this visit to Rome  for me to comprehend, on probably only the minutest of scales what it must be like. You have to see it to believe it. Thank Goodness I’m not in there with even the vaguest chance of being asked next. Phew.

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.X) Homeopathic NO-JET-LAG pills don’t work.

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Slim Paley Photo ……..The Church in front of the Hassler Hotel  at the Spanish Steps, Rome

I will post again very soon about the amazing gardens we visited. I’m excited to share them with you, but for now, I must rest this weary sinner’s head and awaken to the church bells next door to the hotel- The Caravaggio exhibition and St. Peter’s beckon bright and early!

A Very Happy Friday to Everyone :).

Slim Paley photo

PS. Heathcliff Luchetti Zucca is the driver/guide; available through The Hassler Roma- he’s fantastic.

0039 329 220 44 76

Friday Favourites (7)

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Slim Paley photo

The roses and the snowballs have bloomed!

Compiling the various pet photos for the previous post left me in a good, but slightly wistful mood.  I drifted back through so many fond memories as I’m in the midst of transferring all our old, hard copy photos into digital and then onto DVDs (Dear Lord, please help me to be a faster, more organized person soon. Failing that, which I’m guessing will be the case, if You’re really listening- just a little more sleep would be good :)  )  I never did find the great photos of our 15 year old cat that I was looking for. She remains an enigmatic beauty, even in print.  Not so elusive however are the pack of marauding raccoons the size of sheep that have chosen our porch as their personal drag strip at night.  Oh MY God! They are bold and they are ginormous.  I’ve opened the door to find eyes just staring defiantly up at me, indeed they mock the blast of an air-horn (don’t ask). Raccoons Without A Cause.  Which leads me to late last Saturday night, sitting downstairs at my desk where I could hear them disgustingly heaving themselves up the trunks of my wisteria to the porch above.  I banged on the windows, I flicked the lights…to no avail. Finally, I went up to the porch and yelled at them.  Five minutes later they were back.  “What did you tell them?” my husband asked me (I swear to God- like perhaps I said the wrong thing) “Well, of course I told them to GO AWAY!”  I replied. The good news was that the elliptical machine is in that room so I thought- I’ll show them and make some noise myself. So on it I jumped and turned on Saturday Night Live and laughed my butt off (I hope) for 23 minutes, which for me is a miracle!  I wondered what the raccoons made of this crazy lady bobbing up and down, laughing away, through the window. Then, and this is the best part, I left the TV and the lights on in the gym all night just to piss them off.

Therefore…I’m adding SNL to my “Friday Favourites” list this week because what’s 23 minutes on an elliptical machine equate to? Like around 2.3 pounds??

For some inexplicable reason, perhaps my run-in with midnight exercise, most of my favourites this week were food or drink related,  so apologies for the next few photos to anyone dieting right now. :(

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The West-side highway for raccoons

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The roses climbing to the second story porch!

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These snacks, from Target, are SO GOOD!!  I tried to keep the bags from getting totally empty before I managed to get a photo- I barely succeeded.  Ingredients in the S’mores; white chocolate covered peanuts, pecans, graham squares, chocolate chunks and coated marshmallows.  Tex Mex; Spicy peanuts, sesame sticks, salsa corn sticks, almonds, chile bits & pepitas. Chocolate Cranberry Crunch; chocolate covered cranberries, almonds, walnuts, raisins, sweetened pineapple and soybeans. Genius!

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The “Pinks” (Dianthus) are also out like crazy.  These smaller, hardier and prettier relatives of the carnation have been around since the Middle Ages! Although not particularly glamorous, ‘Pinks’ , such as “Summertime” above are extremely easy, profusive and realiable in pots or front borders and the strong clove-scent is quite lovely in arrangements. The name probably derives rather not from the colour, but relating to the deeply serrated ages- as in “Pinking Shears”.

Photo from The Hungry Cat website..


Slim Paley photo

My Favourite place for a Lobster roll, onion rings and absolutely FANTASTIC fresh cocktails in Santa Barbara is  The Hungry Cat (Santa Barbara & Hollywood)

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Photo The Hungry Cat

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Nuvo L’Esprit de Paris “The World’s First Sparkling Liquer”

Speaking of cocktails- What girl in her right mind could resist this packaging?! A blend of premium French vodka, French sparkling wine and natural exotic fruit nectar. It says to serve on ice, but make sure it’s super cold before-hand as the ice removes the sparkle pretty quickly. $20 at Costco!

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Slim Paley Photo

 


Favourite new TV show? 9 By Design Have you seen it? It’s great!  A young couple, self-taught designers in NY with 7 children including a brand new baby, flip fabulous houses they’ve renovated.  My husband knows all the children by name already.although admittedly,  they do have rather memorable names (including the fifth boy named “Five”) and he noticed when they changed the voting paddles on “Dancing With the Stars”…but that’s another story.  The wife is beautiful and has the patience of Jobs and the husband is very …husbandy.  Check it out if you haven’t already.  Tuesday nights on Bravo.



Lastly, I leave you with a fun old song in memory of Malcolm McLaren-  His rendition of  “Madame Butterfly”


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Happy Friday!!