I spent the first hour this morning with Paul the Gardener walking round the Castle to see whether we have enough flowers in the various rooms and galleries. Many friends and visitors probably only register them in the background, yet if they are absent, I do think the house looks very bare.

We have a theoretical annual plan so that there is a series of hyacinths, narcissi, azaleas, orchids, cinerarias, geraniums, jasmines, streptocarpus, begonias, hydgrangeas, cyclamen and ferns filling bowls and planters throughout the seasons around the Castle rooms.


Whilst waiting for Paul, I realised we were minus a plant in the Smoking Room, and went to my Study to borrow one from there which I then exchanged with one in the Library to swap onto the empty table in the Smoking Room.For some reason the amaryllis in the Saloon had also been moved so I went in search only to find it in the bar and I rearranged some white flowers from a wrong vase to a better vase.We had some VIP’s coming so I had wanted to double check everything, which so far was not going very well…

Paul had no idea where the missing plants were until we found that Jorge and Luis had borrowed the Smoking Room plant for another room in the courtyard Coach House.


They then thought they had better bring that one back and so the reverse musical plants took place with men hidden behind potted plants walking round in circles. Everyone seemed to have their own plan.  It was not yet 9am and I had not really achieved very much, and I am not sure my husband would have found it all as funny as I did.


Paul and I tried again to move forwards from the status quo. Armed with a cup of coffee, we set off to see how many bowls of plants were needed on the galleries and whether I would be using the top corridor of bedrooms. The whole process takes some time and, if necessary, it may include Paul and I having to go back to the greenhouses to see what other options are available. Those in turn also rather depend on what bowls we can find, the right shape for the plants and right type for a room.


I enjoy picking and arranging flowers from the gardens for the bedrooms. It tends to start well but I too often run out of time and it takes ages to get from the flower room up the stairs and along the galleries. By now I have usually dispensed with shoes and am running barefoot round keen not to spill water.

My husband then arrives looking to see if is everything is done and asks me who is coming for dinner and whether they staying. That is why Friday evenings begin with a champagne cocktail.