The last two months have been spent travelling in Spain, Morocco then Stephen and I travelled further in Spain through France to Paris.

We joined a small group tour in Barcelona led by Kim Woods Rabbidge who is a writer and photographer for a number of garden publications.

Kim also guides for Opulent Journeys, which is a Sydney based tour company. Having met Kim in our Blenheim garden we thought the trip would be a wonderful opportunity not just for recreation, but also for research for the way we present Blenheim Garden and Gallery. One could call the trip much needed sabbatical leave to enrich the way we present and design Blenheim Garden and Gallery.

It has taken all of this time to filter what we have seen and then decide what was special for me, looking for highlights I suppose and what things could be brought to Blenheim garden in some form.

Throughout our time away we visited many gardens both public and private with some more natural and some totally orchestrated by human intervention. The famous Alhambra on the outskirts of Granada, Spain with its espaliered banksia rose covering palace walls and bedding design including an infinite number of planted hedges throughout the historic site was a highlight.

Of course we went to the Luxembourg gardens in Paris for a brilliant display of hedge layering and espalier and an apiary with origins back to the 1830’s for plant pollination and it rates in the list of special things visited.

But the tour was not just about the grand -we also viewed lesser known small private courtyards in Cordoba as part of the Patio Festival. Gardens all potted and abundant with colourful geraniums, hydrangeas displayed in family spaces.

Fiesta de los Patios contests sponsored by the Córdoba City Hall and began in 1918 . Due to a hot, dry climate homes in Córdoba were built

Filling the central patio with plants and water features has always been a way to keep local homes cool. Now every year thousands of visitors enter these private courtyard wonders.

In Morocco having arrived in a horse drawn carriage at  Le Jardin Marjorelle in Marrakech the former home and garden of French Orientalist artist, Jacques Majorelle for over forty years, starting in 1923 and features a Cubist villa designed by French architect, Paul Sinoir in the 1930s was a treat. The property was the residence of the artist and his wife from 1923 until their divorce in the 1950s.

In the 1980s, the property was purchased by fashion designers, Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé who worked to restore it. Yves St Laurent’s startlingly vibrant and contemporary highlights of brilliant cobalt blue hit a special mark.

I have to say a private garden on the Costa Brava in Spain Jardins de Santa Clotilde probably was the most exciting for me. The setting was magical with a bright azurean sea meeting the view and the sky beyond the garden space.

The garden itself was predominantly green with hedges, Italianate cypress and strategically placed and pink flowering Judas Trees (Cercis silaquastrum) offsetting the green of the lawns and the darker green of the hedges.  A long wisteria arbour complimented one of the extensive walkways. Sculptures were placed along walkways and a most dazzling pair of bright crimson seats in a central location, whilst sounding horrible were in fact a brilliant touch.

So I have provided with this journal some photos of this garden Jardins de Santa Clotilde in particular.  I invite you to watch Blenheim garden space in the future for change and influences experienced.  We don’t have the sea or a Mediterranean climate, but we do have the wonderful Western Tiers mountain range view from the garden which is equally as startling and magical at times.