I have been experiencing the twin miseries of house hunting and a heavy cold, my mum came down to help with the latter, but to brighten the day we also visited the Camellia show at Chiswick Gardens in west London.
Chiswick House is a neo-Palladian villa built by the third Earl of Burlington in 1729. The conservatory was originally built for growing fruit but was then given over to Camellias which were new arrivals from plant explorers in China. Some of these plants are still here, but were nearly lost when the conservatory fell into disrepair. A £12.1 million project to restore the gardens was unveiled in June 2010.
The Conservatory collection has 33 different varieties of Camellia, including many of the earliest varieties introduced to Britain in 1828. Among them is ‘Middlemist’s red’, originally brought from China in 1804 and one of only two in the world known to still exist.
The gardens at Chiswick House comprise 65 acres and are one of the earliest examples of the English Landscape Movement, when the formality of the renaissance-style gardens gave way to a more naturalistic look, with open vistas and winding paths among informal planting.
Entry to the gardens is free and well worth a look if you are in the area and want a break from the city.
Now back to house-hunting, *sigh*.