10 In Life in London

A Rhododendron Walk: The Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park – London

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

The English summer is stereotyped by months like these. Days slip by that we haven’t unbuttoned our coats outdoors. Clouds seldom shift across the sun. Sidewalks glisten beneath our feet and our umbrellas are up then down then up then down in a matter of minutes and we walk to work with the pitter-patter of gentle rain dancing on the taut fabric above our heads. Double-deckers slip down the streets, flicking water from their tyres. We sit, sipping tea, under café awnings dreaming of holidays in warmer climes.

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

And then, out of nowhere, comes one (almost) proper summer afternoon. Vibrant ink-blue skies dotted by a bright white puffy cloud or two, sun warming our bare arms, our faces, our minds. And we wonder where we left last year’s half-finished sunscreen. But we head out anyway, and soak it up, forgetting how quickly winter skin can burn. We make the most of it, and this city, when it happens.

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

There was one day, not long ago, that was nearly like this. The sky was clear enough and the weather was warm enough to head out in a light jumper, daring to leave our coats at home. My parents were here and we headed to Richmond with Jorge, first to Petersham Nurseries (which I wrote about earlier) and then, over to the park. I shared photos of the Richmond Park deer last summer, but this time I want to show you around the lovely Isabella Plantation.

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

The rhododendrons and azaleas were in full bloom, and the whole 40-acre garden was streaked with colour. We wound through the flower-lined pathways of this old Victorian woodland plantation, passing grimy ponds where ducklings paddled through the green algae around the edges and various species of water birds hid in the reed beds along the banks. Birds squawked and sang and soared overhead.

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Apart from the other people walking around, the Isabella Plantation felt a bit like walking through the pages of The Secret Garden, which was one of my favourite books while I was growing up. I could spend hours there, exploring, taking pictures, sitting on one of the secluded benches with a book or a travel magazine, watching the ducks.

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist(BUY PRINT)

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Isabella Plantation by Stephanie Sadler, Little Observationist

Yes, more summer days, please London… because you have so many beautiful places that are best explored in the sunshine!

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Kristin Sadler
    July 6, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    This was such a lovely day! And I’d send you a day of our sunshine ( we are in a drought) if you send us a day of English rain. But just the one 🙂

  • Reply
    colleenwelsch
    July 10, 2016 at 7:10 am

    Wow it’s just so GREEN there! I guess all that British rain pays off. I’ve never seen so many colors of rhododendrons before. It’s so cool that the deer were so tame…were you really as close as it seems in these pictures?

    COLLEENWELSCH.COM | An LA Lifestyle Blog

    • Reply
      littleobservationist
      July 10, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      Yes, I guess the rain pays off in some ways, though I wouldn’t mind a few more sunny days than we seem to have this summer! And yes, the deer are really pretty tame and used to people. You can walk within a few metres of them, slowly, and they won’t run off. Wouldn’t recommend creeping much closer than that though. 🙂 Here’s a post I wrote last summer with more deer pics from the same park! http://www.littleobservationist.com/wild-deer-fresh-air-richmond-park/

  • Reply
    Kim M
    July 11, 2016 at 9:29 pm

    So much color and beauty! I am smiling ear to ear! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      littleobservationist
      July 12, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Aw, yay! I’m glad when my posts bring smiles. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    Jilliann
    July 11, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    I love exploring gardens when I am in new places! Very beautiful.

    • Reply
      littleobservationist
      July 12, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Me too! And yes, it definitely was. Do you have a fave?

      • Reply
        Jilliann
        July 13, 2016 at 2:05 pm

        Off the top of my head, I loved the Portland Rose Gardens in Portland, OR!

        • Reply
          littleobservationist
          July 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

          Sounds lovely. I haven’t been but next time I’m out that way, I’ll swing by. I’m past due a west coast visit! 🙂

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