Translations, Ham House, and Petersham Nurseries

What to do in London in the middle of October? The weather’s not great, certainly not reliable. All the gardens are past their peak. But the theatre season has begun!

So pop down to the National Theatre to see Translations, a play about language and identity and British-Irish relations and history. There was a costume exhibit on in the foyer, and a giant moon rising over the dome of St Paul’s.

Next morning I got my truty National Trust card out and went to one of the few sites in London. Well, more like Richmond, but close enough.

Ham House, named for the nearby village, is a 16th Century stately home that has apparently been left largely untouched in the centuries since it was built. I roamed the halls, got the friendly docent to tell me all about the long gallery with its portraits (apparently walking up and down it was about as much exercise as the ladies of the day got), and irritated a slightly less friendly docent by calling the fireplace in the state apartments “small”.

I hadn’t expected much of the gardens, and indeed they were all down for the winter, but I was interested to learn that they are one of the rare examples of the formal style that Lancelot Capability Brown and his friends all tore up a century later when the English Landscape style became all the rage.

Since I has schlepped all the way out to Richmond, I wasn’t super anxious to hurry back to London. After I was done visiting the house, I remembered having seen signs for Petersham Nurseries not far up the road. So I trudged through wet grass and muddy banks along the Thames and soon found myself surrounded by plants and a cafe that offered a hot bowl of pumpkin soup and hearty bread.

I picked out a few choice specimens and brought them home to update my window boxes out the kitchen window.

Surprisingly, last year’s plantings have survived quite nicely, with the ivy trying to take over the world and the cyclamen having come back after dying away over the summer. Only the hebes and heathers didn’t survive, so I thought it would be nice to freshen up with a few red flowering things.

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