We are very proud of our Victorian gardens at Darley House, designed by Joseph Paxton. Since we are always looking for further ideas and inspiration, we love visiting other gardens and shows. So, we were eager indeed to be at the first RHS Chatsworth Show, partnered by Wedgwood.
Here are some of the show's highlights for us:
Visitors could explore the show site on both banks of the river Derwent, linked by several bridges. One was a golden opportunity for Jonathan Moseley to create his floral palladian bridge. Jonathan's exquisite floral artistry lining the sides and ceiling was breathtaking. Consequently we are now looking out for Jonathan's next floral workshops at Chatsworth which apparently get booked up very quickly.
We were mesmerised by these intricate and detailed sculptures which dominated the skyline near the floral bridge and marquees. Whilst photographing them, I randomly managed to capture a bird mid-flight imitating a loose seed head! (see photo below)
Chatsworth created a new FreeForm garden category to encourage sculptural designs and features without limits. The winner was the Brewin Dophin garden by award winning designer Jo Thompson. This combined naturalistic planting with contemporary industrial materials and a striking sculpture of cast iron railings following the curve of the river. This was our favourite - a glorious and colourful, sweeping mix of perennials that worked beautifully alongside the water.
We really liked the way that the Moveable Feast garden, designed by Tanya Batkin and sponsored by Vergette Ltd, offered a practical gardening solution for a "letting lifestyle". Designed for a couple starting out together, the modular design is transportable. Owners can reconfigure them, move them into shelter for frost protection and of course take to a new home. You can even have an edible shed roof so you can snack while you garden!
Chatsworth is a central pillar of the Peak District community. So it was only natural that people could vote online for their favourite show garden. And the people’s choice was… The Belmond Enchanted Garden designed by Butter Wakefield. A romantic and natural garden to let your imagination wander – amongst the wildflower planting, along woven, willow fences and up the dreamy spiral staircase.
Finally, the piece de résistance for us was the inflatable Great Stove in honour of Jospeph Paxton and the 6th Duke's pioneering plant explorations. Joseph Paxton was even there in person to explain the design of his giant glasshouse. Here he created the perfect conditions for the 'Dwarf Cavendish' banana to flower for the first time in 1835. The descendent of this original plant is still at Chatsworth and furthermore, this is the main variety that we eat today.
Chatsworth certainly added an innovative flair and put the Peak District stamp on the RHS Flower Show map - from the giant, well-dressing floral "RHS" letters by the banks of the Derwent, to the dry stone wall building demonstrations. It was a fabulous day out despite the weather which challenged both organisers and guests alike. But everyone donned their wellies and embraced the festival spirit. I couldn't stop thinking how wonderful it would have been in full sunshine ...but then there is always next year!
RHS Chatsworth Show is back from 6th to 10th June 2018 and Darley House, with it's rich garden history and size, is the ideal base for a large group of garden lovers to come and visit. For more information, visit our website, or call Lucy on 07719 894663. We are 20 minutes drive from Chatsworth and sleep 14.
The House Style exhibition, sponsored by Gucci, is the largest exhibition ever hosted at Chatsworth. The idea was conceived by Laura Burlington - daughter in law to the current Duke and Duchess. Whilst searching for a christening gown she discovered a treasure trove of costumes in the Chatsworth textile department.
As we had read so much publicity, we had to be among the first visitors to the House Style exhibition. It was a gloriously sunny morning and the first day of the season for Chatsworth. Whilst having a coffee at the stable cafe we met these smiley lads putting a final sign in place. Then we joined the queue where the Duke and Duchess were welcoming guests. All part of the personal and friendly approach that Chatsworth exudes.
What's so special is that the items are on display throughout the house. As a result, the juxtaposition of the displays and their surroundings is key. And, due to the artful and painstaking design of each display the result is simply stunning.
This John Galliano marquise masquee ball gown is wonderfully positioned. Perfectly at home against the soft, sea green wall paper and in front of the iconic painting of the Duchess of Fashion herself - Georgiana of Devonshire as 'Cynthia'.
Everything is beautifully off-set and co-ordinated with the exquisite Chatsworth interiors. These fashionable young things, in shades of red and pink, are ready to sit down to dinner in the crimson Chatsworth dining room.
Many famous fashion designer's outfits are on display along with some incredible hats!
We warmed to the little touches - the hand-written labels and the personal anecdotes from the friendly tour guides. These, together with the iconic outfits of their day, bring the personalities to life.
Each photo, fountain-penned description or costume tells a story - sets a scene, in a place in time, in your mind. And consequently you are given an insider's sense of belonging and a glimpse into some poignant moments in their lives - both celebrations and personal tragedies.
It is a celebration of the lives of some distinguished Devonshire women through their house style - or fashion. Cleverly covering five centuries of fashion from Bess of Hardwick, Georgiana, Deborah Mitford, Kathleen (Kick) Kennedy, Adele Astaire, Stella Tennant and the current Duchess - to name a few.
And whilst naturally, it's the women who are front of house, Andrew Devonshire's jumpers are a fun exhibit. The sixteen jumpers bear the names of mottos and racehorses and were certainly drawing the crowds.
Thank you Chatsworth for treating us to such an excellent exhibition.
The House Style exhibition at Chatsworth, Derbyshire is running until 22nd October 2017.
Free with house entry. There is a 50% refund at the door if you have an Art Fund pass.
For full details visit Chatsworth.org
Darley House shares a special connection with Chatsworth. Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth, bought Darley House for his daughter in the mid 19th century and landscaped the gardens. It is the perfect place for large family groups to stay for a visit to the House Style exhibition or the new RHS Flower Show at Chatsworth 7 - 11 June 2017 .
Luxury self catering, 15 mins drive from Chatsworth. For full information and availability visit www.darleyhouse.com
We celebrated my father's 90th birthday at Darley House in October 2016. Like most people coming to Darley House we were looking to bring family and friends together and wanted to capture the occasion. Obviously you're not 90 everyday and one of my sister's and her family live abroad, so our opportunities to get together like this are limited.
I researched photographers in the area and was recommended Graham Dunn. Graham's speciality is clear from his website, where I was instantly bewitched by stunning photographs of the Peak District, including some of our favourites walks and Dales. I had been assured that he does family photo shoots too, and so gave him a call.
Our family way of celebrating always involves music and my other sister Hannah Kieldson, musician and composer, arranged a medley of my father's favourite songs which we performed in the large living room bay window. Graham captured both formal and informal moments brilliantly.
I was so impressed that I asked Graham to come back and photograph the Darley House gardens, which are part of the Alastair Sawday's garden collection, through the seasons.
So he revisited Darley House in early November just as the heaven's opened...patience has to be a virtue for any photographer. Then there was one of those moments, which I have been told is called the 'magic hour', just before sunset. As the skies cleared, golden light poured on to the tree line creating a striking contrast against the turgid slate skies... and Graham tore around the garden with his tripod.
Gingko biloba and carpet
So we captured some wonderful memories of our three generations and friends - grandparents, grandchildren, parents, children, sisters, in October. And then some wonderful shots of the Victorian gardens, designed by Joseph Paxton in the 1860s, on that stormy day in November. And there will be more of the Darley House gardens, in winter, spring and summer, which I look forward to sharing.
When you book Darley House we can help you to create the ideal stay or celebration, whatever that might be, and if you want Graham Dunn to help capture your special moments in time, then we would be only to happy to recommend him.
I am thrilled that we now have a video of Darley House and gardens.
When my website designer, Mark Wilson (http://brilliantlittlebusiness.com), suggested producing a video based on a series of stills I was not quite sure what to expect. I sent Mark a range of photos which he suggested should aim to create a sequential flow copying the natural way one would walk around the house and gardens. I chose some photos from the website (thank you Elly, Stella and Jane) and others that I took myself over the last year, particularly of the garden.
Mark's son, Luke Wilson, did the video design and I am delighted with the result - very professional and, set to the exquisite and calming music composed and performed by my sister Hannah Keildson, really reflects the ambience of Darley House which is what I wanted to achieve. See what you think..
Luke Wilson | Luke Wilson Media
Watch this beautiful video tour of Darley House - a stunning Georgian House ideal for luxury breaks in Derbyshire, UK. Sleeps 14.