Living with Style, People, Places & Spaces, Travel Notes

My London Trilogy – Part II : The Fluorescence of London

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The beauty, fragrances and floral inspirations of Chelsea aren’t just contained within the walls of the Royal Hospital grounds. The whole of London gets in the spirit and supports this flower show which has become synonymous with an awakening English spring. I was reminded that England is a land of gardeners; it’s in their DNA. Blessedly, they simply cannot resist creating an ode to flowers at every turn of a corner, down a side lane, amidst a small park  providing equal amounts of awe and fascination. On the front steps or balcony of a handsome townhouse…





and around the entrances and in the shop windows of some of London’s chicest purveyors.








London’s retailers “do well while doing good.” Many of these efforts require a phalanx of designers, helpers, volunteers, not to mention many, many hours in addition to buckets upon buckets of flowers. Don’t be fooled! These are all fresh flowers.  Just watching the creation of the structural underpinnings (known in the trade as “mechanics”) is a worthwhile exercise on its own.


Margot Shaw, founder and publisher of Flower magazine, and our trip’s host, Charlotte Moss, got us into the  spirit Saturday morn with a flower arranging class at our hotel, The Goring. Robbie Honey (yes, that’s really his name), a new friend to the magazine and a London floral designer originally from Zimbabwe, was the perfect choice as our leader… boyish charm, tousled hair, sense of humor and most importantly a sure hand with floral art. The Goring’s garden room was a vision with its buckets of plant material straight from the flower market at Covent Garden (think Liza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady.”)


Inspired by Nancy Lancaster’s iconic  yellow room at Colefax and Fowler (where we had enjoyed cocktails earlier in the week,) Robbie selected a grouping of yellow flowers, specimens all…gloriosa lilies, double lilies, cockscomb, kangaroo paw, roses, aquilegia, physocarpus, fritallaria persica, clover trifolium. I was reminded of Charlotte Moss’s welcome counsel that “the simplicity of one flower or one color can make anyone look like a floral arranger.”




Next, it was our turn to try our hand, with a selection of scrumptious plant material that started with that fabulous peony, ‘Coral Charm’ (and the requisite turkey wire to support the flowers.)


As soon as we were finished we headed out to the garden for a “photo session”.


The proud recipient of a bouquet…one of The Goring’s stalwart bell captains.IMG_20150523_110709

Cannot wait to return to this fabulous hotel! Thank you Margot and Charlotte for such a memorable trip.



Sharing a great find from my last day of the trip… when your suitcase is just too full to put one more thing in, consider these chic pencils from the Buckingham Palace gift shop.The perfect cadeau for those Kings and Queens-in-waiting back home.

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

3 thoughts on “My London Trilogy – Part II : The Fluorescence of London

  1. Your pictures are wonderful- I would love to take this trip! REALLY love your palace pencils!!

  2. Bettie, These pictures are fantastic! I loved attending the Chelsea F.S. the 5 years we lived there. Forgot just HOW spectacular & wonderful it is. You brought back such memories….Thank you!

  3. Bettie, I’m loving your many interesting things to marvel at! Having lived in London for 7 years, I wished I had taken the flower arranging class….look forward every month to your next adventure…keep up the good work…I love what you’re doing!

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