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.
Dear Lady Carnarvon
The ‘musical Plants’ bit made me laugh. I think this blog would make an excellent addition to the Blog book especially if you used the stunning photo’s. I saw some lovely flowers around the Castle when I visited two weeks ago.
Thank you! we have had some rather wonderful orchids but they are just about at an end!
Always a treat to read something lighthearted and humorous like this in the morning. Thanks for sharing! The flowers are gorgeous by the way! Hoping to have the chance to see them in real life some day. Enjoy the beauty of spring!
Spring still seems slow but I have picked some daffodils for the tablet his evening, they are so cheering.
I adore flowers, and found this blog entry to be wonderful! Such a wonderful problem to have! You should invest in one of those fitbit bracelets that track how many steps you take in a day – you must walk miles keeping up with everything on a daily basis. I hope to see your magnificent home in September – starting to work on my costume for your Garden Party this week!!!! Can’t wait to view your wonderful home and gardens.
Beautiful flowers, thank you for sharing.I hope to be there in September.
Nancy Roux de LLusignan
I think the Garden party will be such fun! We re also having planning meetings each week now…
I too adore flowers, I am a local florist, Basingstoke, loved reading your blog and all about the lovely flowers that adorn your beautiful home. If you ever need a florist! ;D
Hatch Warren, Basingstoke
What a wonderful responsibility for a beautiful castle! I was just there visiting, two weeks ago. What a spectacular place to see, I was rather awestruck. So very thankful to have been able to come. Really the highlight of my 14-day visit of your country. I have to admit, I was secretly wanting to see Mary or Lady Violet there! So generous of you all to allow for visitors.
I love the picture you posted of the flowers, I am in the Middle East this spring, and I miss fresh flowers. I read that the Queen stayed with you at Highclere before her birthday. Did she stay in the castle, or in the Dower House, as said in the article. It must be really nerve-racking for you, to plan everything for the visit to go smoothly.
To me, there is nothing more rewarding than shopping for flowers in your own garden. Thankfully, I don’t have as many rooms to fill! I love the stories. Keep them coming. I can just see you running through the castle barefoot and getting things done. That made me laugh. It is so you!
Barefoot is good! I also think there is nothing better than walking barefoot across a lawn or paddling in the sea.
Guess you could say that flowers make a castle (house) a home. And all this time I thought that title “Lady” let you sit back, relax and drink tea. But as I review your post I find that you have many other titles and responsibilities such as Wife, Hostess, Florist, Gardener, Accountant, Chef, Dog Trainer, Vet, Designer, Repairman (woman) and Social Chairperson. And I’m sure I have left many out. No wonder it’s champagne instead of tea. Love your post!
I try to stay with the tea until a reasonable hour. However one girlfriend always says the first glass of champagne has simply evaporated as she holds out her glass for a speedy top up…
With all that running around, I would be having champagne cocktails for lunch rather than dinner. 🙂
Beautiful flowers and a lot of work but end result very pleasing. I think I really like the idea of a Friday night Champagne Cocktail, cheers
Smoking room?? In 2016? Time to rename it? 🙂
Flowers are amazing!
That is what it is called – none of us smoke but the fire in there used to smoke.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
You have such an amazing house! I loved Downton Abbey! Sadly the life and customs that you lead are lost to many! I hope to male the trip with my to see the castle!
It is so interesting — and humorous! (I trust your husband won’t mind!) — to have an inside look at the goings on around Highclere (I so want to say Downton Abbey!). Just the sheer magnitude of number of plants and flowers, bowls and pots is staggering — and the amount of time required getting them from here to there! And then I remember this is just one element of keeping such a house going! My hat is off to you in all that you do! Thank you so much for sharing with us, and for the wonderful photos. Someday if I am in England I hope to come and see Highclere. Such a magnificent place!
Thank you for yet another delightful peek behind the velvet rope, and the photographs really help explain the story. I fully support hustling around in bare feet – less likelihood of slipping and sliding, particularly when juggling flowers, water, the one hundred other things on the list, and Company coming. Bravo, and I shall raise my Friday evening champagne glass in your honour tonight!
Smoking room? My first thought was, ewww (place some extra flowers in that room), but it was instantly “butted out” by my desire to preserve the past — even when past times of the past are yucky. Men do, after all, still smoke cigars, and as much as I’d like it if no one still does, many smoke cigarettes. Do house guests still smoke in the smoking room?
Ooooooh, good question! I am curious about this as well. Did they wear smoking jackets? I bought my brother a beautiful set of pajamas, slippers, annd robe, which I was told is called a smoking jacket. And it was all Downton period clothing. Interesting…
Champagne makes everything better! And flowers. Cheers!
HAHAHAHAHA! all evenings bode well to start with a BOTLLE of champagne – Love your story telling – keep it coming!
Positively intrigued at the identity of the VIPs! Could it be HM…?
Love the musical flowers story!! And cheers to starting Friday evening with a champagne cocktail or two!! I am about to start my Friday pm off with a less elegant cocktail, a Corona on the screened back porch, but none the less deserved! Ha Ha! Laughing about how we call rooms by their names, i.e. smoking rooms, whether or not they are used for the original purpose. I still have a “pink room”, even though it has been completely redone in hard wood floors and au natural/khaki”ish” color walls! It will forever be the pink room! Love the stories and PHOTOS! Beautiful flowers! Thanks for sharing!
What a way to start the day…laughter and musical flowers out and about Highclere Castle! Lady C., you have us all smiling and imagining you running about barefoot. It’s true that the flowers in the various rooms at Highclere do add a great deal of warmth and “humans-living-here” atmosphere. And the Smoking Room is so lovely and rich with leather, etc…surely there is no “smoking” in there nowadays? I so enjoyed touring the Library and the beautiful Sitting Room, etc. Now I can picture a lovely array of Spring flowers adding their touches of colors and aromas to the place.
Any hint as to who might be the “VIP” you are expecting for a visit? Perhaps Geordie’s Godmother celebrating a Happy 90th Birthday weekend at Highclere???Time for another champagne cocktail!
You are a riot! Hope to visit some day to see this beautiful home!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Beautifully written and your storytelling brought me into the moment,. The flowers are fabulous.
Enjoy the weekend
I think I’ll add Friday Champagne Cocktail to my agenda!
I am going to have a Saturday champagne cocktail tonight!
So funny! I could somehow see Peter Sellers walking around, hiding behind some grand bowls of magnificient flowers! I really enjoy your story telling and I hope you have a nice week end surrounded by lovely flowers and champagne!☺️ Monday will come soon enough!
I love Peter Sellers films and two other marvellous people in a different department here are already nicknamed Clouseau and Cato.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, just as clothes make The Lord , and the Lady, so to do flowers make the home. When I was at High Clere two years ago, flowers certainly made the castle. They were truly beautiful. Both in doors and out. And when you have a hand in planning where they will be placed, and which ones to use, and see the finished product. It does I am sure make you and your guests feel very good. Keep up the great work, brilliant job. Desiree.
Never a dl moment – how humorous, I adore flowers – they are my favorite gift. I have a hard time bringing myself to cut any to bring indoors – their beauty lasts such a short time and I hate to see them wither. I would LOVE to have such an awesome greenhouse as yours. I like the idea of growing in pots for indoor use.
I visited on April 9th with my son, and I want you to know I noticed the flowers, especially the purple daisy like flowers. I thought they were beautiful, and wish I had had more time to go to the gardens.
My Trompe l’oeil book shelf in the background not l88king so bad either! Ellie Fane
How quickly Spring is fleeting, so enjoy the color, the wonderful smells of fresh flowers, and bringing ‘outside, inside’ ! Where I live, the tulips have been simply beautiful this year. Lilac bushes in the neighborhood smell sweet and tiny Violet’s bring back memories of May baskets and running from the the home of the recipricant of tiny baskets of candy and flowers. It has been wet, and cool, but I’m sure we’ll all be looking for some of that come another couple months. Gardens are going in at a record pace now. I’m sure you have a Large garden. What do you enjoy growing, or should I say, what grows best ?