01 September 2007

Diana


If you, like me, admired the beauty of the person that was Diana, the once Princess of Wales, this weekend you are probably thinking of Diana and of your own special memories of her. Everyone that knows me, in real life, is keenly aware of how much I adored Diana. There was a point in time where books on Diana and the Royal Family dominated my library. I have scores of these books, books about Diana's outfits, books about the Royal Jewels, books about the Royal castles, and books about their private lives written by fired or disgruntled past employees. The one book I own about the royals that I think would be of interest to design bloggers is The Garden at Highgrove, written by The Prince of Wales.


It is a beautiful garden book, somewhat similar in tone to David Hick's garden book, My Kind of Garden. It chronicles how Prince Charles bought a rather plain country home and turned it's barren land, save for one magnificent, aged cedar of Lebanon, into a magnificent parkland, filled with secret gardens, wildflower pastures, and garden paths, all the while using a environmentally sensitive approach to gardening. It details the help Charles received in designing his gardens, and how special care was taken to how the garden would look from inside the home, not just from the outside. It is a wonderful book, and is a companion to another book by the Prince written a year prior titled Highgrove, Portrait of an Estate. Filled with glorious pictures of wildflower fields, garden sculpture and pottery, garden gates and pathways, one does not have to be a horticulturist to enjoy it.


Aerial view of Highgrove. Note the cedar of Lebanon behind the home. Over 200 years old, the tree is now overtaken by fungus and other nasty things and is being dismantled.

A garden walk of yews, with another picture of the cedar.

From inside the home, a view of the yew walk. Doors are held open with the help of blue and white garden stools.

A garden walk through an arched wall.

A touch of whimsy in a garden.

A wildflower field at the front of Highgrove.

A dewy morning shot of Highgrove.

Cows grazing at Highgrove.


A door covered with climbing roses leads to a secret garden.


In the ten years since Diana's death, the Royal family has gone high tech. Prince Charles' own web site is top rate and if you are interested in visiting any of his homes or learning of their history, I highly recommend a perusal of it. Most interesting, is the fact that you can actually stay as a vacationer on his land. In cottages owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, a huge land holding that is the Prince of Wales' birthright and his main source of income, you can rent out these rather fashionable vacation homes. The information is on the Duchy's web site, along with pictures of the cottages that apparently are rated a 5 star by the English travel bureau.


One of the charming cottages available for holiday rental on the Prince's land. Interior shots of a few of the cottages are below:

With all this talk of Prince Charles, you may, like me, still have trouble believing that Charles would give up a wife like this:



To marry a wife like this:


If so, perhaps you are better off siding with the Spencers, Diana's own blood family. The Spencers home base is at Althorp, where Diana once lived. Althorp also has a wonderful web site. Her brother, the Earl of Spencer, currently lives at Althorp and opens it each summer to visitors. You must have a ticket prior to going though, don't expect to show up and visit without one. Diana is buried on an island in the middle of a small lake at Althorp and there is a wonderful exhibit of her childhood, life as the Princess, her wedding dress, and her charity work in the former horse stables. Another book I highly recommend was written by the Earl of Spencer and it chronicles the history of Diana's ancestral home:

The small lake which surrounds the island where Diana is buried at Althorp.

The monument at her grave.

Diana's handsome brother, Charles, has cashed in on all the fame as her only brother and heir to the estate of Althorp. He currently sells reproductions of the antiques at Althorp. Theodore Alexander is the company that markets this very expensive line of furniture.



Charles, the Earl of Spencer is ruggedly handsome and single, though it is reported he has a new girlfriend following his second divorce. But, if you want to try to catch his eye and become his new Countess, the Earl will be in Houston at Louis Shanks, of all places, on September 7 from 10 to 12 noon. Good luck!