Victoria’s Leap Of Faith


Would you offer to drive total strangers several hours to your home? People that you did not know at all, other than reading their blogs and a few comments on your own blog? They could be axe murderers or worse!


Even if you were a burly built rugby player type, picking up hitchhikers of the universe could prove to be a bad decision. If you are a petite soft spoken musically inclined journalist who may or may not know martial arts, it is probably unwise to do so.


Offering them lodging in your private residence, with your children there no less is simply ludicrous.


Ah, but the strangers were gardeners, ones who blog about their own gardens, just like you do. And we all know that gardeners are lovely gentle people who pose no danger. You hope.


Besides, you have just pressure washed your patio.


Seeing as how they love gardens, and each year you open your garden to the public to raise funds for deserving charity, and the pond looks amazing…


…In the hidden seating area, newly purchased at the Malvern Show, Japanese Maple ‘Orange Dream’ looking like a gleaming beacon on the table looks so inviting…


…From all angles and perspectives.


Gardeners can be counted on to see that this garden is about foliage, size and shape…


…color…


…and form, not to mention specimen’s surpassing botanical garden quality.


And you are a kind hearted soul who cares about others, even the smallest robin, making sure the bird feeders are filled at all times.


So please accept our unfailing gratitude, dear Victoria, for inviting us into your beautiful home with such a generous leap of faith.


It was a relaxing oasis in between the mad dashing of garden visiting, truly five star accommodations. (The hearts in the bowl came from the gift shop at the Batsford Arboretum where we stopped on the way to London from Malvern.)


No tour of Victoria’s Backyard can be considered complete without a shout out to the regal Pushkin, lord of the manor. Thank you, your grace for allowing us to view your tricks and stroke your sleek coat and even pour food into your dish from which you so thoughtfully dined, to our delightful pleasure.

(I wanted to tell you, Victoria, that upon returning home to Tennessee there was a Mother’s Day present waiting for me from the kids, a Japanese Maple ‘Orange Dream’. Similarly eerie to the Phillipa experience.)

There are a couple more garden visits that will be featured, both large and famous spots, in sunshine. To view all of the England trip posts see the links below. (There is a permanent page on the sidebar containing the links to the England posts as well. Click England Trip-Two Innocents Abroad to view it.)

Living A Dream-Meeting In Malvern

Touring With Friends-Ledbury And Hampton Court Castle, Herefordshire

An English Country Garden-Stockton Bury

Batsford Arboretum With Victoria

Sissinghurst Part One

Sissinghurst Part Two

Great Dixter-Finale

Frances

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32 Responses to Victoria’s Leap Of Faith

  1. Victoria says:

    Oh, Frances, I’m so touched by your post. It was absolutely delightful to have you and Gail to stay – I enjoyed every single second. Come back soon! (And you’ve made my garden look so gorgeous – thank you.)
    Love, Victoria xx

    Thank you again, dear Victoria for making our journey even more wonderful after leaving the Malvern Hills. You are the most generous of hostesses and your home, garden and most of all family are delightful. πŸ™‚
    xxxooo,
    Frances

  2. VP says:

    Helen and I stayed with Victoria on Monday prior to Chelsea, so this post is a lovely reminder of our wonderful stay as well as yours and Gail’s.

    Victoria is a most accomplished hostess, isn’t she VP? We are all so lucky to know and love her. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, it is lovely to see Victoria’s garden though your camera. Slightly different shots but all lovely. Victoria’s garden is very different from your own but I can imagine that you loved it. Victoria, thank you for inviting Frances and Gail, I am so glad that you all had a lovely time. I am looking forward to the posts about Great Dixter -1 garden I really want to visit.

    Best wishes Sylvia

    Thanks Sylvia. Victoria’s garden was quite different from any other that we saw in England, so tropical-esque as she calls it. It was a haven for wildlife and humans, peaceful and relaxing inside the big city, totally beautiful in every way. I do love seeing people’s gardens from different perspectives of visitors, including my own. All eyes are unique in the way they view things. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You all were mightly blessed on this trip Frances. What a beautiful Lady Victoria is to take you all in, entertain you, and bring you into her heart and home.

    Things fell into place for us, Lisa, in a way that made this trip a once in a lifetime event. The generosity of all the UK bloggers, especially VP, Helen and Victoria was above and beyond anything we have ever experienced. To think that they did not know us at all and offered their services sight unseen reinforces my faith in humanity. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  5. Darla says:

    You are so blessed to have visited such beautiful gardens…Victoria’s is just over the top gorgeous from every angle!

    We are and it is, Darla! You have said it well, thanks! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. What a wonderful garden and such generous hospitality extended for your visit. Gardeners are such lovely folks and I’m so glad you and Gail met another in Victoria.

    Thanks Cameron. Gardening (and blogging) is such a common bond, it makes all of us family. We were so fortunate to have met all the UK bloggers that we did, and meeting and staying with Victoria was pure gravy. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. Les says:

    How very nice of Victoria to open her home and wonderfully lush garden to you. I really like comtemporary gardens (if they are not too minimal). Is that a New Zealand Flax by the olive jar/urn?

    Victoria and her garden are both simply the best. You would love her garden, so well done with a tropical vibe, not too minimal or not a jungle either, just perfect. She had a couple of giant Phormiums that were there when she bought the property, another even larger one takes up most of her front yard. She seems to be the equivalent to our zone 8.
    Frances

  8. gittan says:

    Her garden looks fabulous through your eyes! Isn’t it amazing as well that we’re visiting “strangers” in there homes the way you did. I meen we’re really don’t know much about those people eather =) GArden people have something special / kram gittan

    Thanks Gittan, this garden would be fabulous through any lens for it is well proportioned and beautifully planted and maintained. When we began blogging, there was no idea about where that endeavor would lead, it would not have been believed if someone had said what would result from it. Gardeners and garden bloggers in particular are a cut above the rest, including you my dear friend. May we meet in person some day!:-)
    Kram,
    Frances

  9. Barbara H. says:

    Gardeners – gotta love ’em – all!

    Thanks for this lovely ode to graciousness and generosity, Frances.

    Yes to that, Barbara! Victoria is the personification of those traits. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. Oh Frances, what a lovely post is this πŸ™‚ mentioning perspective of mad hitchhikers – made me laugh loud – sorry, can’t imagine you, nor Gail in such role πŸ™‚
    I love different view to Vic’s garden – love the seating place and wooden thick borders.
    Victoria, you are so kind to take the girls with you πŸ™‚

    Hi dear Ewa, I can imagine your delightful laughter, thanks! While Gail and I are the extreme opposite of threatening, no one knew us from a bar of soap as Yolanda mentioned. I am not sure I would have been as trusting with strangers, but would rethink that position now. Victoria’s garden was spectacular, I wish you, and the others had been there as well. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, Another delightful post that has me back in the UK and laughing with you and Victoria. She is a gracious and generous hostess and I am delighted to know her. We are two fortunate innocents; we had a wonderful time, saw fantastic gardens, made new friends and solidified our friendship…We did survive coach (twice) and laughed our heads off at the giraffe comforters on the twin beds. I miss the Sorority and you bunches! xoxogail

    Thank you my friend. Isn’t it fun to return there in our minds, Gail? We are so lucky to have been able to go, against all odds! Our time with Victoria was so wonderful, the laughter and gardens and mustn’t forget the Sorority House shenanigans! I miss it too, but the memories are still fresh and the posts and photos will help keep them that way.
    xxxooo,
    Frances

  12. I enjoyed this view of Victoria’s garden even more than the posts about Malvern show or the public gardens you visited. I’ve been a fan of Victoria’s blog for a while now, so seeing her garden through your lens is such a treat.

    Thanks MMD. Being a guest at Victoria’s was a highlight of the England trip for so many reasons. She is a most lovely lady in every way, as is her garden. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. Tatyana says:

    I love Victoria’s garden and consider it a treat to see it again, with your help Frances! Thank you!

    Thank you for such kind words, Tatyana. Victoria and her garden are both exquisite. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. nancybond says:

    Victoria’s garden is among my favourites of those I follow through our blogs — to have met Victoria herself must have been a wonderful treat.

    Mine too, Nancy. When we heard that she was taking us back to London and putting us up, we were squealing like schoolgirls at the thought of it. She is a gem and her garden and home are superb. We are so lucky to have this experience. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. TC Conner says:

    What a lovely garden! Thanks for sharing Ms. Frances!

    Thanks for visiting, TC. Glad you enjoyed Victoria’s backyard along with us. It was such a treat. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. Joanne says:

    What a lovely post on Victoria’s garden seen with different eyes. You clearly enjoyed your trip to the UK.

    Thanks Joanne. Seeing Victoria’s home and garden was such a treat, she is a lovely lady in every way. We did so love the UK and plan on returning. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. Jenny B says:

    It is a wonderful feeling to know our connection through gardening knows no boundaries. Lovely garden, handsome Pushkin kittykins, gorgeous pottery! What more could you ask for?

    How true, Jenny. Gardening and garden blogging are certainly worthwhile endeavors. The garden and Pushkin and everything were wonderful. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Frances, thank you for sharing Victoria’s garden with us! And thank you, Victoria, for sharing it with Frances and Gail so we could enjoy it!

    Hi Cindy, so nice to see you. I am glad you enjoyed seeing Victoria’s garden, it actually had something of a Texas vibe to it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. Pam/Digging says:

    Victoria’s garden is stunning. I love all that big, bold foliage. Lucky you to have been invited to see it and stay in her house.

    Lucky is the word, Pam, for sure! You would have fallen in love with Victoria’s garden, the tropical foliage was so well done and those mature Phormiums were stupendous. She is the equivalent of our zone 8 so you would have lots in common. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. lynn says:

    Hi Frances! One of my favorite perks of blogging is meeting other passionate gardeners…how wonderful to see you make such a connection, from soo far away! πŸ™‚ Have missed coming by…hope to catch up with your garden this summer, Frances! Hugs, Lynn

    Hi Lynn, so nice to see you. We agree about meeting other garden bloggers, they are all so nice, instant friends! Hugs back at ya! πŸ™‚
    Frances

    • I love her garden. The foliage is impressive. I like all the variety too. Beware of those nurturing gardeners, they will steal your heart away.

      Hi Donna, thanks for stopping by. Victoria has indeed stolen our hearts, we are glad of it too. πŸ™‚
      Frances

  21. Lola says:

    What a magnificent hostess with the care of a loving person. Her gardens were out of this world.

    Hi Lola, thanks for visiting. Victoria is a lovely lady with gardens to match. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Very impressive, Victoria’s garden and her kindness to American strangers.

    You are so right about that Christopher, both the garden and her extraordinary generosity will never be forgotten. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  23. Beautiful garden views through the patio doors. Wandsworth looks positively tropical.

    It was quite a view, Rob, sitting at the dining table looking out those doors with a cuppa tea, we could have spent a good deal of time there if there weren’t those gardens to visit. It was so tropical, it seemed like a different planet, or plantet. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. Charlotte says:

    Victoria is just the greatest lady!! Met her just after you had been staying … en route to lunch with Alice of Bay Area Tendrils, who was staying with me recently. Wish I’d met you two too!!

    Agreed, Charlotte! Victoria mentioned that she was meeting you two, a couple of my favorite bloggers and we wished there could have been a meet up in the agenda. Someday! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  25. Rose says:

    You are so right, Frances, that gardeners are gentle souls, and fellow garden bloggers are kindred spirits–there are no strangers here. Still, it was so gracious and generous of Victoria to open up her home to you. Thank you for this wonderful tour of her garden–it’s gorgeous!

    Hi Rose, thanks. No strangers, what a lovely phrase and thought. Victoria went above and beyond in hospitality, a very special and lovely lady. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. Alice Joyce says:

    Frances,
    What an incredibly incisive visit you’ve shared here!
    How unfortunate that we were not able to encounter each other in our travels, while I was galloping round with Charlotte. Seems we just missed each other here or there.
    I’m envious that Charlotte was able to meet Victoria and see her garden and beautiful home, when our lunch together did not work out.
    Still, another time I’ll hope to meet you, Gail, and Victoria.

    Charlotte and I will certainly meet up again!

    And should Northern California call… be sure to look me up. My house is too tiny, sad to say, to welcome guests, but I know fab B&Bs nearby that would be a great base for Wine Country visits, Bay Area gardens (of course) and the natural wonders that seem to be everywhere in this beautiful part of the country.
    Look forward to reading more and more about your adventures in England, and garden-hopping with blogger buddies. Isn’t it fantastic that we can connect in virtual space, and then experience meaningful connections in the ‘real world.’
    xo Alice

    Hi Alice, thanks so much. It was sad that we were not able to meet up, so close to the same spots at the same time. Someday! I have been to Northern CA a few times and hope to return in the future. It is indeed a lovely place filled with lovely people. There are a few more garden visits to share before wrapping up the trip of a lifetime. Meeting the bloggers was a high point, for sure. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  27. chuck b. says:

    From those pictures I thought you were in California at first. I was prepared to be upset you didn’t risk your life (or my life?) visiting me too.

    Oh you would have loved this garden, Chuck, similar to yours in size and shape, maybe a bit wider. Lots of tropicals and excellent use of foliage. I would not come to SF without contacting you! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Ibrahim says:

    Amazing landscaping really. Love the textures , colours , natural but clean look ,intimacy but really words aren’t enough to describe it’s loveliness.

    I am moving into a new home in 3 months hopefully & that’s the look I will definitely aim for.

    Thanks a lot for sharing.
    All the best

    Thanks, it really was, Ibrahim, all that you say and more. And so unusual considering it was in London. Good luck with your new place, and this garden is certainly full of ideas for places where these types of plants are hardy. I would love to be able to grow Phormiums like that. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. Lisa says:

    Goodness, what a perfect reflection about the community of gardeners and gardening. Aren’t gardeners the best sort of people? Sounds like a perfectly delightful time…

    Hi Lisa, thanks. You are right about the hearts of gardeners, they are the best. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. I’m both delighted and envious, dear Frances. Delighted that you got to visit Victoria for real, and envious that you got to visit Victoria–and Michelle, and Helen, and others–for real. Okay, only slightly envious, because mostly I’m just so happy that you all had such fun that it supplants any envy that I can’t do such things too. Must. win. lottery. πŸ™‚

    It’s really fun to see another blogger’s garden through someone else’s eyes–we see Victoria’s garden (and Pushkin) through her blog posts, but to witness all through your eyes and writing makes it that much more real to us. What an extraordinary network of friends, across the miles, we share, we garden blogging peeps.

    Thanks Jodi.. Victoria and the other UK bloggers were so welcoming and everything there was just like all the books and photos we have drooled over all our lives. Things fell in place for us to be able to afford it, just this once. We are so lucky. Onward to Buffa10, to meet yet more peeps! Wish you were coming. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  31. Thanks for sharing you’re visit with Victoria, you failed axe murderer you. πŸ˜‰ It’s clear you and Gail had a fab time and it’s great fun to see V’s garden thru your eyes.

    Pushkin is adorable, but hey, he’s a Russian Blue so what else could he be?

    XXX

    Yolanda

    HA, Yolanda, thanks for getting the joke. But really, it was above and beyond for Victoria to offer to have us there, not having ever seen us or anything besides reading blog posts. Wish you and Ewa could have joined us, we had so much fun together! Pushkin was positively regal, we bowed low before his majesty. πŸ™‚
    Frances

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