Not a day goes by that I don’t miss California but the colder season makes me even more nostalgic than usual. So I’ve been pinning gardens and blooms, flowers and potted topiaries and lots of flowering shrubs lately as a way of coping with the cold weather outside. Hydrangeas and roses always make me smile, I hope they will make you smile too. Happy Tuesday!

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I’ve had this glorious English estate on my mind for quite some time so I embarked on a virtual tour… One of the finest castles in the Lake District, Levens Hall dates back to the late 14th-century and has the oldest and most beautiful topiary garden in the world. Trims and hair cuts can take as “little” as six months but it is all worth it. Abstract geometric shapes, lavender, pansies and delphinium borders make these gardens an unforgettable experience, if only a virtual one. Come join me!

THE HOUSE

“The first dwelling at Levens was a medieval pele tower, built by the de Redman family of Yealand Redmayne. The Bellingham family, who were wealthy landowners, chose Levens as their main residence in the 1590s and incorporated the fortified tower into a gentleman’s residence. They employed local craftsmen to carve the oak panelling, incorporated elaborate Italian plasterwork, including Elizabeth the First’s coat of arms and stained glass – all of which can be seen today.

The historic house became the property of Colonel James Grahme in 1688 after his career at Court in the service of King James II. He brought with him a young French gardener, Guillaume Beaumont, a pupil of le Notre at Versailles, to plan a fashionable garden at Levens. This family home contains fine furniture, paintings, one of the best examples in Europe of Spanish leather wall coverings, the earliest English patchwork, Wellingtoniana, clocks and miniatures, and has become one of the finest stately homes in south Cumbria.”

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I discovered Clove Brook farm through a 2015 article in Architectural Digest and have been obsessed with this property ever since! Over the course of seven years, Christopher Spitzmiller has undertaken a careful restoration of an 18th century Greek Revival property in Millbrook, New York infusing it with color and charm. Spitzmiller is a student of the renowned Parish-Hadley design firm and had been mentored by the late Albert Hadley. In fact, Hadley’s presence can be felt throughout the property, from the attention to architectural details to the zebra rug that came from Hadley’s Manhattan apartment, to wallpaper patterns created by the design legend.

A full tour of the house is available on AD’s website but what I enjoy most is following the evolution of its gardens. Spitzmiller frequently shares updates on his captivating Instagram account and one can actually follow the entire process -the initial garden plans, the fence design inspired by Southern architecture, the inception of flower beds and other plantings, all the way to the latest addition- the dovecote.

I must confess I lost myself checking Spitzmiller’s Instagram. I found so many wonderful shots of the gardens as well as mid-reno rooms and though you’d like to come along on a visit to Clove Brook farm!

Cafe Design The Magic of Clove Brook Farm 2

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I love strong, smart and ambitious women, and I love Oprah! She’s accomplished more than most of us only dream of creating in a lifetime, and she did it all despite humble beginnings and numerous obstacles. She’s beautiful, kind and incredibly business savvy and I was thrilled to see that the September / October issue of Veranda features a tour of her Montecito rose garden – it is spectacular!

I do not know much about roses, not being a gardener myself, but I can certainly appreciate a beautiful garden and the effort that goes into creating one.

Oprah purchased the 65-acres Montecito estate back in 2001 and was at first intimidated by the estate’s allotted rose garden. Alas, it was empty and so Oprah reached out to master rosarian Dan Bifano who had previously worked for the likes of Tom Ford and Barbara Streisand. Together they have created over the years a sanctuary filled with prized roses, neatly clipped boxwood, dahlias, lilies, daffodils and irises. To fill the garden with color year long, Bifano planted a mix of blooming perennials and annuals, and kept the beds contained within borders of boxwood and myrtle topiaries. Arbors overlooking the Pacific offer shelter and discovery. Paradise found! Now I’m ready to see the interiors, please!

Cafe Design | Oprah's Gardens 3

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A little over a year ago I joined Instagram and my life has never been the same… Facebook and Pinterest are great ways to keep in touch with friends and get inspired, but Instagram does both! I’ve met wonderful people, made lovely Insta pals, visited exotic far away places and had quite a few good laughs – all from the comfort of my phone. There’s really nothing like it for creatives and the good news is there’s something for everyone. Puppies, baking, art, pizza, gardens, more baking, travel – whatever floats your boat there’s at least a dozen great Instagram accounts to get you inspired daily. One of my great passions is everything home and gardens related (shocking, I know!) and discovering new accounts on Insta makes me giddy. One such account, that I came across accidentally, is @cowparsley_and_foxgloves. Nothing fancy, just a home that is beyond my wildest dreams. Set in a small beach village, somewhere in England, a thatched-roof cottage with crisp white interiors is my new definition of beautiful living. Flocks of geese, two adorable pups, plump chickens, roses and herb gardens – the whole package. I highly recommend you check it out, it will be an Instant escape…

Cafe Design Instant Escape 2

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