England Summer 2016

I have lived in Auburn for the majority of my life, and I always knew I would go to Auburn University to continue my education. I decided to major in Horticulture in the Nursery Greenhouse track because it encompasses my passion for people and nature, allowing me to cultivate life and share that new life with others. I have pushed myself to take advantage of every opportunity afforded me by the department and its professors. Last year I was selected to attend the Henry P Orr Study Tour in Japan and I have also been heavily involved with Horticulture Club since my freshman year. I have become president for the current year and have learned invaluable insight to what goes into being a successful leader. I have also had the pleasure of having continued support through honors and scholarships throughout my college career including a recent nomination to attend a luncheon for the Successful Women in the College of Agriculture.

It has been a goal of mine to attend the Pershore Study Abroad Program since I was first introduced to it in my first horticulture class, Intro to Horticulture. I hope to become a more well-rounded student and young adult as I finally attend the program this summer. My main hopes for this trip other than keeping up my academic standards and my personal safety are that I am provided with the means to become more mature and better prepared for the world as an adult. This trip will be my longest time away from home and I hope to become better prepared to live on my own and manage my own budget. I have already begun to learn the value of money by having to save up money to pay for my expenses while I am on the trip. I have also already learned to appreciate the financial help I have been given through scholarships and my parents and family. I also expect to learn how to be more confident navigating unfamiliar places and situations by making my way through new places with the help of my professors and peers. I hope to continue learning how valuable these resources are and become a well prepared, experienced student ready to face future obstacles.

Week 1: Entry 1-

Our first week was a whirlwind of activity. I quickly began to remember the rush of entering a new country from my past experiences abroad. Everything is different, everything is a learning experience. We flew into London and everyone was groggy from lack of sleep on the plane, because who can sleep well on a plane? We dropped our luggage at the hotel, and headed out, eager to explore what London had to offer. We saw every sight that our feet could carry us to see. We saw Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the Millennium Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, the Tower Bridge and Parliament among other sights. On Saturday we walked twelve miles sight-seeing! We also rode the overground to Kew Botanical Gardens. On Sunday George came and picked us up to make the journey to Pershore.

At a telephone box in front of Big Ben

Arriving at Kew

The gang plus some geese

The Tower Bridge

Week 1: Entry 2

We arrived in Pershore and unloaded our baggage into our rooms. The others in the group were restless to go explore the town that was going to be our home for the next six weeks. We walked into Pershore and saw the Pershore Abbey, found out the location of the Tesco and ASDA and Brett and I found where the Catholic church in town was. On the way back to the college, we decided to slip into the field of rape and the adjacent field of sheep that was right off the public walking trail. We took photos in the bright yellow flowers and baa’d at the sheep.

On Wednesday, Brian took a few of us to Stratford Upon Avon for an afternoon. We walked around the shops and viewed a memorial for Shakespeare before heading back. On that Friday we took our first official garden visit with Tony to Snowshill Garden! There was a naturalistic part of the garden, rolling hills dotted in white sheep, orchards of fruit trees, and a cafe and garden center. Closer to the house was the formal garden, and the dove house. A large golden statue stood as the focal point in the main room of the garden, surrounded by a fountain that doubled as water for the doves, and a pond with a miniature village by the edge. The house itself served as a display for the owners collection of pieces from around the world. There was clothing, jewelry, armor, furniture, art, anything you could think of!

Saturday was our first weekend garden visit, and we visited the garden I anticipated the most: Chatsworth. The grounds were expansive, the house was grand. I personally think all of Chatsworth cannot be fully appreciated in a single day. The tour started through the house, we wound back and forth through rooms with luxurious sets of furniture, art, and a miniature of the house. There was an entire room completely dedicated to marble statues. The grounds took hours for me to cover; I wandered through the greenhouses, up around the kitchen garden, across the boulder garden, past the maze, down the naturalistic part of the garden and up the carriage-way to the pond and green space. Chatsworth did not disappoint.

Ashley donning some chain mail

A wee lamb at Snowshill

The incredible ceiling at Chatsworth

Me in front of the green space at Chatsworth

Week 2: Entry 1

This week we got a tour of the Pershore College juicing venture! One of the staff brought us around the orchards, showing us the modern and old-fashioned orchard techniques. The two newest orchards were donated to the College and are used for making the juice. We learned how the juice is processed and bottled, and of course we got to try a sample!

We also took a trip to a local nursery called Bransford Webb, which is quite large scale. We were toured around the whole property and saw the different techniques they used for keeping their plants at top quality. They used a sand bed irrigation technique that I had never seen before. The pads in the greenhouse were filled with sand and leveled out, and inundated with water and nutrients. The potted plants just absorb what they need from the sand! They had many herbaceous ornamentals that were released and made popular by Bransford. They work with plant breeders directly to always have the newest cultivars.

Strawberry troughs

Bransford Webb Greenhouse sand bed system

Week 2: Entry 2

This weekend was our long weekend to Dublin! We loaded up in a rental and drove through Wales to catch a ferry to Ireland. We toured around the city and saw the sight of the Easter Rising, a statue of Oscar Wilde, and the monument for the Irish Potato Famine, among many other things. We shopped, and ate at different restaurants, and we toured the Guinness factory. The tour started at the bottom floor and worked up to the top level of the building, where it culminated in a glass of Guinness. We learned the technique for pouring the perfect pint of Guinness, and then took our drinks up to the to the top floor which had a view of the entire city.

We also went to a city on the coast called Howth, and hiked up the side of a cliff to view the sea crashing against the rocks. After we finished taking in the scenery and taking group photographs, we drove to a town with the castle that was used in the film Braveheart, called Trim castle.

Guinness Storehouse

Me and Oscar Wilde

View over the cliff

Trim Castle

Week 3: Entry 1

We visited Croome Park this week, which is an English Style garden with open rolling landscapes and minimal plantings. I thought this garden would be my least favorite because usually I enjoy beautiful plants in the landscape, but with Tony explaining each aspect of the design and its purpose, I gained an appreciation for this style. He explained it to be all about views and placing focal points to enhance these views. The walk around Croome Park proved to be a very relaxing and informative experience.

Views to the church

Unobstructed view of the main house with the ha-ha

Goslings on the move

Week 3: Entry 2

This has been my favorite excursion so far! We went to Oxford this weekend on the train! Oxford has extensive history and culture with the vibrant, inviting atmosphere of a college town. We went to the University Botanical Garden, and then we stopped for lunch at a sandwich shop. The sandwich I bought was the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. I almost cried, this sandwich was so good…

Oxford also afforded the most breathtaking view from the top of University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. The staircase was extremely narrow and corkscrewed upwards, so I had to make sure to keep my bearings to get to the top!

We also got to visit the Natural History Museum, which was my favorite part of the visit. There was an educational program going on in front of the building. There were hands on activities, educational displays, and arts and crafts! Once we went inside, there was an extensive collection on display. I was most interested in the dinosaurs and the insects. Adjoined to the back of the museum was the Pitts Rivers Museum which was more based on anthropology. It had several floors with displays on medical traditions, rituals, and weaponry.

View from the top of St Mary’s

Adam and his twin at the botanical garden

Specimens in the museum’s collection

Week 4: Entry 1

This week was the much anticipated (by Tony) visit to Hidcote, the arts and crafts style house and garden, which was designed by an American landscaper. Hidcote was Tony’s favorite garden, and he was very excited to take us on a tour around the property. Most of the grounds were divided into rooms with different themes. There was a white room, and a red border, and long flat expanses of turf bordered in a hedge. There was even a room that was almost entirely taken up by a pool of water and fountain, with two bird topiaries guarding the entrance. The cake and ice cream were especially good on this day because the temperature was so comparatively high.

Bird topiaries

Silly Maggie on the green

Cuties on the bench under wisteria

Week 4: Entry 2

Spetchley Park was our second garden this week, and it was very different from Hidcote. It was a smaller scale, and much less meticulously managed, but it was pleasant nonetheless. Tony gave us the preliminary tour and let us explore the grounds. I traveled around and photographed my favorite focal points of each room, and headed for the naturalistic walk near the pond. I walked around each side of the pond and watched the swans and ducks go happily about their business. I even had time to do some sketching in my notebook in the shade by the pond!

This weekend I also got to return to London to spend time with my sister and mother! We went to the London Natural History Museum and then to a beautiful church to have Mass on Saturday night. We also relaxed and had cake and coffee several times. I was finally able to go at my own pace, and recharge with my family.

Spetchley Swans

Favorite fountain in Spetchley Park


Week 5: Entry 1

We started this week visiting my favorite garden of the trip so far, Bourton House Garden. It is the smallest property we have seen and also a privately owned garden, but it was as amazing as all the others. I think that Bourton House had the best plantings, the borders seemed to mesh in a way that I hadn’t seen in other gardens. The colors and textures all had excellent variation. There was also an extensive boxwood topiary that Adam really appreciated. We all love when Adam gets giddy over a boxwood. I also bought adorable woolen animals for my family and myself. We had lunch and a hike at Batsford Arboretum and garden center across the street.

Bourton House

Boxwood topiary

Exquisite parterre

Week 5: Entry 2

We also went to Sezincote house and garden, the only Indian style garden we saw. The grounds were very attentive to detail, although not very expansive. There was an official tour in this house, and the guide led us through each room, explaining its significance to the family. There was a great turret at the peak of the house, and excellent statues of elephants and snake fountains. The whole garden gave an air of grandeur. My mom and sister came to Pershore this week and I was able to show them around and celebrate my mother’s birthday while they were in town.

Views of Sezincote House

Sezincote with view of turret

Week 6: Entry 1

Hestercombe was our garden this week, also a favorite of mine. The grounds were large, with the majority being made up of nature trails. There were focal points along the walks like a waterfall, a swan pond, and gazebos that can be viewed among several different points of the walk. Closer to the house, the design was very formal. The different parts of the landscape were elegant. A limited color and textural palette that made me think of a painting. The shapes used in the hardscapes were echoed throughout the design, pulling it together. There were also many points in the garden that would inspire a sense of mystery and allow the viewer to use their curiosity to pull them from point to point throughout the design.

This weekend was also the Pershore Garden Tour, so we got to see every participant’s lovely little garden in Pershore. It was lovely to get to see the gardens behind the cute little houses.

The local swan

The lovely borders focused on varying texture

This was my favorite water feature: a rill to a pond

Week 6: Entry 2

This is the final week. We are wrapping up all of our assignments, taking final exams, and beginning to pack up for home. My garden design is finally complete; I used watercolor paints to render it, which turned out very well. I spent several long nights continuing to work on mine until the due date. We got to have dinner with several of our professors. It was enjoyable to be able to see them outside of the classroom, even though they were very relaxed in the classroom as well.

We also returned to Broadway one final time to shop and to visit the Broadway Lavender fields. This was absolutely gorgeous, the rolling fields of fragrant purple, interspersed with wildflowers. The weather was perfect for an outing, and the rain held off until we could escape into the cafe for our afternoon tea. We fly out tomorrow. I cannot wait to get back home, but I will always remember this trip with my real Auburn family.

My garden design

My Auburn family picture