The Secret English Gardens and I Mean Secret!

Hey Chaps/Mates! :]

Well, I’m frightfully early for my flight back to the states… But, I’m sitting in a lovely little cafe at Heathrow, munching on a little fruit salad with sweet yogurt and washing it down with a spot of English Breakfast tea.

I’ve drunk a lot of tea in the last 8 days.

And, I’ve traveled hundreds of kilometres.

If I have the strength, I will make a map just now.


Oh com’on Laurel, are you for real? What’s with the trying to sound British?


I dunno. It feels jolly-well comfy here, not to mention phenomenally civilized. The road to the airport is actually attractive, not the phenomenally embarrassing abominable bastion of UGLY one is bombarded with when in New York.

And the people… are warm–very friendly. They smile.

Quite refreshing actually.

And then, there’s the beauty.

Yes, yes… America is quite beautiful too, but here, in the UK it seems to be everywhere; or at least everywhere, we were shuttled to.

And believe me; we were shuttled. ALL over southern England and five different hotels. Have to say, I didn’t mind. Every day was a new exciting adventure.

In fact, it’s a bit difficult to know where to begin.




Yes, what is it? I put on deodorant this morning… Do, I have a bugger hanging out of my nose?


What do you mean, you don’t know where to begin???


Did you go?

What’s he like?

Is he as nice as he seems?

As handsome?

Was lunch okay?

Did you need the muzzle???


Guys, guys, guys!

Blimey! I think that some of you need muzzles! ;]

Please. You MUST calm down. If I can, you can!

There will be a comprehensive report on Ben on Sunday.

Thank you for your patience.


WHAT??????? You can’t make us wait!!!


Actually, I can. ;] But fine. I know that you’re all dying to know what happened, so I will give you part of the report as we spent several hours with Ben Pentreath and not just at his A-mazing home.

But please know that it was everything I had hoped it would be multiplied by a 1,001.

Ben Pentreath is impossibly handsome, warm, boyish, charming. In short. Adorable and quite tall! And his equally darling Charlie McCormick is even taller! Such handsome chaps, they are.

The day we went there, was beyond sublime.

God fulfilled one request for the most perfect autumn day imaginable.

However, He did ignore my request for banana cream pie or the like. (Dang. God knows that it’s not really good for me.)


There was no need for banana cream pie, or any dessert whatsoever because Charlie (who definitely needs to have his own TV show– stat), whipped up the most glorious meal I’ve ever eaten.

Yes, the most scrumptious, delectable meal I’ve ever eaten.

And I reckon by now, that I’ve had approximately 67,795  meals.


Oh, do tell. What was it?


As a matter of fact, I have it right here.

I knew that you’d want to see it. Very simple, but as I said, perfect in every way.

And the lovely buffet table after 25 hungry travelers had ravaged it.

Okay, okay… did you take other pics?

Yes, I took pics. Ben, very generously said that we could take all of the photos we liked.




Ben Pentreath and Charlie McCormick.


The rest, my loves, except for a few of the garden, will have to wait until SUNDAY.


(well, the link is below for more of the house, added later, of course.)


For the house and much more,  click here to see it!


It is every bit as lovely as you think it is. :]

In fact, for me– surreal, like the sweetest dream I didn’t ever want to wake up from…

And yes, I did have a few words with Ben, but only a few.

Like I said earlier. There were 23 other people also wanting a word with him. :]


Okay, but did you at least get the paint colors?


Well, yes and no.

I did not dare ask because, well… it would’ve been highly inappropriate. Not that I think Ben would’ve minded, but it just isn’t the right thing to do, in these situations.

However, hehehe… I burned those lovelies into my brain.

I will try to come up with a Ben Pentreath paint palette. Or at least as close as possible.

Oh damn!

That reminds me…

I realize that I owe paint/palette collection owners a board and palette for September. And believe me, I had every intention of getting it off to you before I left. Obviously, that did not happen, but it will be coming very soon. Pinkie-promise.


And one other thing before I continue.


Remember my little health issue?

Can’t say that I wasn’t a little anxious about it but figured that worst case scenario, I’d have to pop a Bonine, munch on pretzels and sit it out on the bus for a time.

Well, not only did that not even come close to happening. I felt absolutely fabulous the entire time.

And except for the first night, only averaged about 5-6 hours of sleep– max.

However, I did take a melatonin every night which works beautifully for me. I think that I’m going to continue that because maybe it’s something beneficial?

Or maybe I was on such an adrenalin high for the week, that it did not matter. Nothing was going to bring me down.


One last thing.


The weather.

Largely fabulous. Sure, we dodged a bullet. Several bullets in fact.

It did rain, but not when we were out and about, except for a very light sprinkle or two and not for very long. No wash-outs whatsoever.

I am not going to talk any further about my feet. I was comfy if not fashionable.

Otherwise, I wore everything I brought. All worked out very well.

Form follows function every time.


Now, what is it with the secret English Gardens and when are you going to spill the dirt?


Well, if there’s any dirt being spilled, it’s going straight into the flower beds!

You thought I was going to kiss and tell?

Oh hahaha! No, what happens in England stays in England! lol

(Sorry, I realize upon writing that, that the saying originated in Vegas. Such madness is getting old now. My heart goes out to the victims and their families.)

However, a lot of what I’m going to share is secret in that I am not at liberty to share where it is or who might live there for privacy reasons mostly. And of course, that is understandable. And other places, I’m not allowed to share at all.

But please know that this was a very special tour. Many of the stops on the tour we were exceedingly privileged to visit are private homes. And only because of the high connections of this group did we have access.

As a matter of fact, some, but not all of the homes we visited did not allow us to take photos– especially of the interiors. But rest assured, there is a wealth of beauty, both inside and out. I promise not to disappoint.


Some of you have asked who the tour group is.


It is called Classical Excursions and is run by the delightful Lani Summerville and her equally delightful assistant for this trip Oscar Fernandez.

Classical Excursions is a separate entity, but affiliated with The Institute for Classical Architecture and Art of which I’m a member. I cannot recommend them highly enough!

And finally, we would could not have asked for a more erudite, charming, tour guide than author Clive Aslet.   His knowledge of all things classical architecture and beyond brought everything to life as we traveled through the country-side.

He made me chuckle to myself with his frequent use of the word HIDEOUS.

However,  when Clive says “hideous,” in his mellifluous upper-crust English accent, it sounds like something delicious one would smother over ice cream, not something that is in exceedingly poor taste.

Well, guess what? I am on the plane and there’s no freakin electricity for my macbook.


I began with a full-charge, but after 10 minutes am already down to 92%.


So, I better shut up and get going with the exquisite English gardens.


The first lot are of Ben and Charlie’s home in Dorset.


Charlie sells the cut flowers! Very talented lad, he is. This is all his! Please check out his insta!

I told this lovely couple in the group that I was going to crop them out, but I think the colors look so fabulous, I kept them in. shhhh… ;]

love this shot with the church.

The house is actually a rental and it was the home of the church’s parson, henceforth, its appellation, the old parsonage.

Another row in the garden. Do you see God? He posed for this one, for sure!

I borrowed a different version of this for my instagram a few months ago. It was just before I found out about the trip! And it was why I had to go. That’s what I told Ben.

He’s terribly lovely, you know.

Moving on…

I’m at 49% power. hmmmm… There is actually a power plug in the loo.

Yes, the plane loo. Do I dare? Two minutes?


Speaking of loos, you will need one here because the only reason I could tear myself away is because I was told to. Otherwise, I would’ve been there all day long.

So, please hang on onto your hat, because it’s about to be blown right off of your head!

Forgive my lameness, I did learn (a little) something about the owner (okay, I have it now, Sir Roy Strong) who had a wife who died, but before she died, they cultivated acres of this amazing place called Laskett Gardens.

Oh, they had these speaker things for us to listen to it all, but I was too busy taking photos and picking up my eyes off the ground!

Please enjoy the exquisite beauty, art and classical designs of Laskett Gardens!


It did not rain one drop, but the weather went from blindingly sunny and bright to quite over-cast and everything in between. You will see the changes of light in the images.

One of my trip-mates. Couldn’t resist his red jacket against the endless wall of green.

As you can see… It is fall in the UK. The colors are not as vivid as in the states, or maybe it’s just too early.

Believe it or not, I did nothing to the color of this image. The yellow-green IS that bright!


Next we went to an amazing garden where we were not allowed to even bring phones or cameras in.

Well, it belongs to the prince who will most likely be the next king of England.


But not being able to take photos didn’t stop me from finding a beautiful one off of the internet. High Grove Gardens they call it. And they are taking reservations for Christmas dinner. I can’t think of anything more glorious.

Prince Charles purchased this estate in 1980 and cultivated the 15 acres of English Gardens of all kinds into a lush series from formal to eccentric. Quite extraordinary!

The house was quite plain and required some embellishments like the pilasters and balustrade on top. But now I think it’s perfect! But, dang. Off the top of my head, am not positive which of the illustrious architects did the work.

I know… I know! It doesn’t look quite real, does it?

I had permission to take this image from an upstairs window in the home of legendary English classical architect Quinlan Terry. We had a fabulous tour of his home and a wonderful tea. I have a few lovely images from that visit.

The rest of the images are random uncredited images from some of the homes we visited and properties we drove past.

Sometimes less really is more. Wait until you see the house! Soon!

This actually looks frighteningly the same as northern Westchester County (where I used to live) or Fairfield County in Connecticut.

This is from the last day. That was yesterday but it feels like three days now!

From the same home, I believe.

Classic, isn’t it? We saw sheep grazing– everywhere!

Well, I’m at 32% power.

There might still be a few more gardens, but I’ll work them into another post.

I’ll see if I can edit and get this out to you guys.


Oh, before I forget.


Thank you, thank you, thank you to so many of you who voted for me for the Design Hounds Modenus contest.

First prize is a trip to Milan. WHOA!

Well, thanks to you guys, I’m in first place!

Not being even a little complacent, because there are some HUGE names out there, like Apartment Therapy! They could turn me into mincemeat if they wanted to, but they probably don’t know or care that they are in the running.

Thanks again! I’m very appreciative, but I have always felt that all of you and I are in this thing together; like a family.

And you can vote once a day through the 10th of October. And please vote for any other designers you like as well. It’s the easiest voting system ever.




PS: Oh, I have so much more to share with you. And what I love is that it echos everything this blog is about. Authenticity. Beauty. Proportion, Form, Scale and Color.


Wait until you see the English “unkitchens!”


PPS: Well, I’m back home. The people working at JFK are uniformly RUDE. Does it really have to be like that? But I had an awesome Uber driver.

It’s good to be back!

Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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