After visiting Agecroft Hall, my friend and I drove on to Maymont. Like Agecroft Hall, Maymont is an estate that has been turned into an historic house museum. There are wildlife exhibits, a children’s farm, and beautiful formal gardens.

The entrance to the Italian Gardens is marked by a stone arch with the inscription “Via Florum.”

The daffodil display garden:

The entrance to the Japanese Garden:

I love photographing people, but I generally try to avoid having them in photos of landscapes. On this day, however, the gardens were so bustling that it was impossible to avoid including them in the photos. Apart from the usual garden visitors, there were high schoolers posing in their prom outfits and a gathering of “LARPers,” (Live-action role-players) dressed in fanciful costumes and wigs. (Believe me, I was dying to take their photos, but I managed to restrain myself with great difficulty…). Looking back at the photos that include people I captured unintentionally, I love the effect. I think the people, dressed in clothing as colorful as the flowers themselves, add rather than detract from the scene.

Here are two garden poems that capture the idea of people as an integral part of a gardenscape:

Amy Lowell’s “Patterns” begins with this stanza:

I walk down the garden paths,
And all the daffodils
Are blowing, and the bright blue squills.
I walk down the patterned garden paths
In my stiff, brocaded gown.
With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
I too am a rare
Pattern. As I wander down
The garden paths.

And here are the beginning and final stanzas of Adrienne Rich’s poem “Design in Living Colors.” Perhaps she had Amy Lowell’s poem in mind when she wrote this?

Embroidered in a tapestry of green
Among the textures of a threaded garden,
The gesturing lady and her paladin
Walk in a path where shade and sunlight harden
Upon the formal attitudes of trees
By no wind bent, and birds without a tune,
Against the background of a figured frieze
In an eternal summer afternoon.

And the final stanza:

The fleeing hare, the wings that brush the tree,
All images once separate and alone,
Become the creatures of a tapestry
Miraculously stirred and made our own.
We are the denizens of a living wood
Where insight blooms anew on every bough,
And every flower emerges understood
Out of a pattern unperceived till now.

Agecroft Hall

This Saturday I was very happy to catch up with a dear friend, who moved from Charlottesville to Richmond years ago. Even though Richmond is just a little over an hour away, it’s just far enough and we are both so busy that we don’t get to see each other very often.

My friend took me to Agecroft Hall, a 15th century Tudor estate originally built in Lancashire, England. By 1925 the house had become the victim of industrialization and had fallen into disrepair. The last living heirs were forced to sell it at auction. Thomas C. Williams, Jr., a wealthy entrepreneur in Richmond, bought the house for $19,000 and had it dismantled, crated, and shipped across the Atlantic. Over the course of two years and at the cost of $250,000, he had it reassembled as his own personal estate in the Windsor Farms neighborhood, on a hillock overlooking the James River. Sadly, Williams died only one year after moving into the house of his dreams.

In honor of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday this Saturday, Agecroft Hall hosted a “Bard’s Birthday Celebration” with singing, games, dancing, acrobatics, and other performances.

In the grassy lawn as you approach the house is a stone that bears the identical inscription that is on Shakespeare’s tombstone at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon:

The English gardens, designed by renowned landscape architect Charles Gillette, are a marvel. We caught the peak of tulip season:

The Knot Garden:

We were so taken with the lovely gardens, we decided to go on to Maymont…to be continued tomorrow.

Santa Monica Pier

Last California post, I promise!

We spent our last day in California at the Santa Monica Pier.

We strolled around the boardwalk…

and although it was mighty tempting, we did NOT ride any roller coasters!

We had seafood for lunch…

and then we spent an hour at the little aquarium under the boardwalk. I was mesmerized by the jellyfish. I could have watched them all day long:

This sea cucumber, aka “Dinner” was utterly grotesque and strangely beautiful at the same time:

Some of the creatures looked like space aliens:

This was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen…These Swell Shark pups were pulsating with life inside of their egg casings where they will develop for 8 to 10 months before hatching.

Korean Wedding – Paebaek

Continued from yesterday’s post…

A traditional Korean wedding ceremony, or paebaek, followed the actual ceremony.

The bride and groom bow to their elders, who are sitting at a low table covered with foods such as dried fruit and chestnuts.

They share tea and are given blessings and advice for their future.

The parents toss dates and chestnuts into a cloth the couple holds. The dates represent how many girls the couple will have and the chestnuts are for boy babies.

Other elders are honored with bows and give their blessings to the couple:

The groom carries his mother and then his wife on his back to symbolize his willingness to support both of them.

More photos tomorrow…

Pictures from the Wedding

Here’s what happens when you have a sister who is super stylish and works in the hippest hotel in DC:

1) She scopes out the coolest places in LA to stay and visit during your weekend there. (See yesterday’s post)!

2) You show up at her house with your suitcase packed with an outfit you think is suitable for the wedding you’ll be going to with her. She makes you show her what you brought. She takes one look and shakes her head. She pulls out a much better dress, shoes, jewelry, and a bag from her own closet for you to wear.

3) She tries to help you out by taking a photo of you from a flattering angle…(from waaaaaaaay above)!

4) Your pot roast shaped feet overflow right out of your sister’s sleek shoes. In the end, unable to bear the crippling, excruciating pain, you take them off and end up walking around the country club with your fat, unshod, blistered, bright red feet. Because you’re just as effortlessly classy as your sister is stylish.

The wedding was in the stunning Mountain Gate Country Club in LA. The only thing more beautiful than the setting was the gorgeous couple:

One of the best things about a wedding is that you get to have a family reunion for the happiest of reasons.

More photos tomorrow…

Santa Monica Chic

It sometimes seems like Virginia is all brick, columns, and colonial architecture and interiors. It was fun to see a totally different design vibe in Santa Monica…

Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica

I loved the art behind the reception desk. It’s the first line of this poem by American poet Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), which also happens to be perfect for Earth Day:

To feel and speak the astonishing beauty of things – earth, stone and water.
Beast, man and woman, sun, moon and stars –
The blood-shot beauty of human nature, its thoughts, frenzies and passions,
And unhuman nature its towering reality –
For man’s half dream; man, you might say, is nature dreaming, but rock
And water and sky are constant – to feel
Greatly, and understand greatly, and express greatly, the natural
Beauty, is the sole business of poetry.
The rest’s diversion: those holy or noble sentiments, the intricate ideas,
The love, lust, longing: reasons, but not the reason.

Even more spectacular was The Penthouse, the restaurant in the nearby Huntley Hotel. We met up there for brunch on Saturday with a small portion of my very large family:

The views!

The ultra-hip lobby designed by Thomas Schoos: