A Wander Around Old Amsterdam


Tonight is a whirlwind of activity as I have decided at the last minute to take a long weekend trip with my husband to France. This will be the final finale of the summer break this year!

We are heading to the French Alps where we ski in the winter, so as I know I will have no internet connection whilst I am away I thought, as promised, that I would take you on a quick wander around the old streets of Amsterdam before I leave.

Travelling to Amsterdam last week could not have been easier. We flew from London City Airport – a short flight (under an hour) and we had landed at Schiphol airport. A quick train journey took us to Amsterdam Central and a taxi to our hotel. We unpacked quickly and hit the streets in search of a late lunch. Just around the corner from our hotel we found the restaurant/winebar Dante, which was just what we needed. A lovely salad, delicious soup, a few fries and a glass of crisp white wine started our holiday off in style!

Restaurant-Dante-Amsterdam Restaurant-Dante-Amsterdam

We then took to the streets for a stroll to get our bearings. Although I knew that Amsterdam was very old I was still amazed to see that many of the canal houses were dated in the 1600’s.


We quickly learnt that bikes rule the roads in Amsterdam – cars and pedestrians must proceed with great care in the narrow cobbled areas around the canals.


The canals were lined with boats and the streets with parked bicycles.We were amazed that the cars parked right up to the canals without any form of safety barrier – no room for any driver misjudgements here.


Many of the boats on the canals are houseboats – often with gardens on top.


The cobbled streets were home to many small individual shops and eateries.


After getting our bearings we headed back to our hotel in search of a pot of a tea. We were staying at the Hotel Ambassade, which is situated on the beautiful canal called The Herengracht. Imagine how delighted we were to be shown to this beautiful salon to enjoy our tea  – an afternoon ritual was immediately established for our break!

Hotel-Ambassade-Amsterdam Hotel-Ambassade-Amsterdam Hotel-Ambassade-Amsterdam

The next morning we up bright and early for a delicious breakfast and then out to find the Rijk’s Musuem. On our way we encountered this quaint button shop:


And noticed some of the more unusual road signage:


We went to the museum via the floating flower market which I showed you on Sunday. Our first stop when we arrived at the Rijk’s Museum was the excellent cafe, which served lovely food and fresh mint tea – London museums could learn a lot from this cafe! What looks like a little egg in the photo is actually a macaroon.


The museum was very busy so I only took a few photos – hopefully this gives you a flavour of the newly refurbished building.

Rijk's Museum Amsterdam Rijk's-Museum-Amsterdam Rijk's-Museum-Amsterdam Rijk's-Museum-Amsterdam

After many hours enjoying the exhibits we had another wander around the streets and then went back to the hotel for our afternoon tea followed by dinner at an excellent local Italian restaurant.


On our third and final day we got up extra early to eat breakfast and join the queue for the Anne Frank museum. I would advise anyone planning a visit to pre book tickets as there was a very long wait time. I have read Anne Frank’s Diary and visited Auschwitz, so I knew what to expect. The reality, however, of being inside the building where that family went into hiding and subsequently were discovered and sent to their deaths in the concentration camps was very hard. We left the museum in a somber mood. After a visit to the Tulip Museum across the road our moods had lightened and we spent our last afternoon enjoying the historic streets once more.

Amsterdam Amsterdam



Dinner that night was the food highlight of the week. We ate at a very trendy venue called Envy, indulging in the chef’s delicious tasting menu and sampling a variety of gins.

Restaurant-Envy-Amsterdam Restaurant-Envy-Amsterdam Restaurant-Envy-Amsterdam

The weather had cleared as we walked back to our hotel, so we enjoyed the night time charm of the streets before returning for our last time to our hotel.

Amsterdam Amsterdam Amsterdam Amsterdam

Despite the cool temperatures and frequent showers Amsterdam was a joy. I am already planning a return trip to see the tulips at the Keukenhof gardens in the spring.

Sadly I will have to miss my usual Flowers On Sunday and In A Vase On Monday posts,  but I should be back to a normal routine after that. Hopefully I will find some lovely flowers in the Alps to share with you next week!



In A Vase On Monday – Cafe Au Lait


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Welcome to ‘In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to share a vase of flowers picked from my garden every Monday.

Today has been a truly awful day for picking flowers! As torrential rain was predicted for the whole day I have been on a shopping trip to Cambridge with my son to ‘refresh his wardrobe’ before he starts at his new college next week. The dogs and I just made it to the Cutting Garden this morning before the rain became more than a shower and I grabbed a handful of flowers which I left drying in the kitchen whilst we were out.

I had intended to make a hand tied bouquet out of these blooms for tonight’s post but, feeling jaded from the shopping, I have decided that they look fine as they are! At this time of the year the flowers do their own talking!


My bunch today includes my very first flower from dahlia Cafe Au Lait. Cafe Au Lait is to dahlias what Kate Moss is to the catwalk. She must be the most talked about, desired and photographed dahlia of the summer – a star of many a wedding bouquet. This is the first time I have tried to grow Cafe Au Lait and, as I had read that she is shy to flower, I have not been concerned by her late appearance. I generally find that the first flower on a dahlia tends to be quite small so I expect she will get bigger and more blowsy as she gets into her stride. I am so proud to have my very own Cafe Au Lait that I had to show her off immediately!


Along with Cafe Au Lait I have picked a few blooms of the David Austin rose Gentle Hermione, quite a few blooms of my current favourite aster the pale peach Tower Chamois, cosmos Purity and a few white snapdragons.


Gentle Hermione is a new rose to me, planted in the Cutting Garden early in the spring. Despite this being her first year she has flowered well repeatedly throughout the summer. The blooms seem to be quite weather resistant which is always a plus in a cutting garden rose.


Above is the lovely dahlia Cafe Au Lait again. This pale coffee colour is very unusual – although the asters are peach coloured they appear slightly pink against Cafe Au Lait.


My cosmos is really getting going now. I grow both single and double whites and the zingy orange ‘Bright Lights’. I plant cosmos anywhere in the garden where I see a gap, as it seems to thrive in all kinds of conditions and can be relied upon to fill a space with its light airy stems from August until the first frosts.


Finally a close up of the pale peach aster Tower Chamois. Annual asters do not seem to feature in the flower wish list very often but I love them. They can be grown in all shades and with these incurved petals they look so much like a chrysanthemum. They are the flowers most often commented upon when I use them in a bouquet. These have come from a late sowing in May, but seed started under cover in February will be in flower in June and they repeat well as long as you dead head regularly.

On this, the last Monday of the summer holidays, my thoughts are now turning to September with the promise of a new gardening year to plan for. With a sharpened pencil and a new notebook the first job on my list is to finalise my bulb plans and get the order placed. I will start planting narcissi and bulbs for indoor pots in the second half of September. Next on the list is to order some early flowering sweet pea seeds and to review my stock of annual seeds and fill any gaps. I will be sowing hardy annuals direct in the Cutting Garden and in the greenhouse later in September and sowing sweet peas to grow in the greenhouse in October. I also have lots of biennials sown in June which are ready to plant out as space becomes available.

My aim is to try and have flowers to cut for as many months of the year as possible. At the moment the Cutting garden is producing buckets of blooms and this should continue until well into October. I will be bringing my chrysanthemum cuttings into the greenhouse soon and hope to have these in flower for October and November. If I plan my bulb planting correctly the first batch of Paperwhites should be flowering in December to follow on from the last chrysanthemums. I am also busy drying hydrangea heads and collecting poppy seed heads and alliums to store for winter vases.

Before you head off to make lists of all the jobs needed in your gardens I hope you will find the time to pop over to Cathy’s blog and see what she and the others have produced this week.


Flowers On Sunday – Tulips In Amsterdam


Following my lovely week in Amsterdam ‘Flowers On Sunday’ is focusing on the flowers I found whilst wandering around the old cobbled streets and canals of this beautiful city.

The first stop for flowers in Amsterdam has to be the floating flower market, a daily event which last week seemed to be primarily selling bulbs for flowers next spring. We came across the flower market on our walk to the Rijk’s Museum. As it is the start of the bulb season, every shop was full of spring bulbs designed to tempt the tourist!


In amongst the many bulbs I did find a few suppliers with fresh flowers for sale. The winter jacket, scarf and boots you can see on the flower seller below formed the usual mode of dress for the locals whilst I was in Amsterdam (we tourists had to make do with our August holiday attire, which was not really suitable at all!).


It seemed odd to see fresh tulips on sale with gladioli.


There were plenty of beautiful hydrangeas – I found to very hard to walk around the flower market purely as a spectator!



These beautiful sunflowers would be perfect for the wedding I am helping with in September – I hope my own are flowering in time.


Another of my autumn favourites are these white japanese anemones – I grow both the single Honorine Jobert and the double Whirlwind. After the heat of the summer I love to see the crisp fresh look they bring to my shady borders.

Amsterdam Flowers

I am not a huge fan of succulents, but I loved the way these were displayed.


Here you can see all the different flowers jostling for attention.


There were also a lot of dried flowers available – this seller had a stunning display hanging from his ceiling.


On the second day we followed a trip to Ann Frank’s house with a visit to the Tulip Museum, which was opposite Ann Frank’s on the other side of a canal. It was lovely to see baskets of fresh tulips growing outside the museum – I am reminded that it is time to finalise my bulb order for the year, so that I will be ready to start planting narcissi and indoor forced bulbs in September.


All over Amsterdam I saw versions of the traditional tulip vase for sale. These beautiful old Delft vases were on display at the Rijk’s museum. Whilst generally I would rather display tulips massed in a large vase, I could be persuaded by this traditional route if I owned a pair of vases like these!

Traditional-Tulip-Vase Traditional-Tulip-Vase

All over Amsterdam the bridges crossing the canals were decorated with flowers.


I even came across this floating vegetable garden.


I am planning to share some of my more general photos from our trip later in the week. We were very lucky to stay in a beautiful hotel and to find some really great restaurants to eat in. I managed to fight my way through the crowds at the Rijk’s Museum to see the Vermeer’s (which I love) and we queued for 2 hours to tour the very moving Anne Frank Museum. In between cultural visits we wandered the streets enjoying the shopping and sights. Every afternoon ended with afternoon tea at our hotel, whilst we gathered our energy to hit the streets in search of dinner.

I will be back tomorrow with some flowers from my Cutting Garden for ‘In A Vase On Monday’ and later in the week with more on Amsterdam. If anyone has been to Amsterdam I would love to hear about your impressions of the city!


Flowers On Sunday – In The Cutting Garden


Today I am rushing about getting ready for my trip to Amsterdam – sadly it seems I must pack a raincoat and proper shoes as rain is predicted for the whole trip. Hopefully the poor weather will add some natural romantic blur to my photographs!

Wthout the time or need to make any arrangements for the house today, I have managed to dodge the showers and pop out to the Cutting Garden with my camera. The dahlias, annuals and half hardy annuals are all in full flow now – I have enough flowers for my own flower shop!

To make this quick I am just sharing images today – if you have any questions about any of the flowers, please leave a comment and I will get back to you next weekend.

David-Austin-Old-Wollerton-Hall Cosmos-Bright-Lights Dahlia-Canary-Fubuki Dahlia-Chat-Noir Dahlia-Black-Touch Dahlia-Jescot-Julie Dahlia-Preference Peach-Aster Green-AmaranthusCoreopsis

Zinnias Blue-Cornflowers

I hope you have enjoyed this brief look at some of the many flowers which are decorating my Cutting Garden at the moment.

I will be switching over to Instagram for the next few days whilst I am in Amsterdam, where I will be looking out for flowers and other beautiful images to share with you. So for this week you can find me on Instagram at @peoniesandposies – I will be back here with more flowers next weekend.

George’s Bouquet


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Last week I was the lucky recipient of not one, but two gifts of flowers. The first, a lovely bunch of dahlias, I shared as my ‘In A Vase On Monday‘ contribution last week.

The next day, as I was cleaning the kitchen, the postman arrived with a very large box. Expecting it to be parts for my son’s BMX ( a common parcel in our house), I was delighted to see that the parcel was addressed to my husband and I and contained not just a very beautiful bouquet, but also a delicious box of chocolate truffles.


The bouquet was a stunning hand tied of white roses and lilies with accents of blue delphiniums and pale purple coloured fuchsia, all highlighted with plenty of greenery.


The gift came from my daughter’s boyfriend George and was a gratefully received thank you for inviting him to join our Florida family holiday this summer.

White-Rose-Lily-Bouquet White-Rose-Lily-Bouquet White-Rose-Lily-Bouquet White-Rose-Lily-Bouquet White-Rose-Lily-Bouquet

Above you can see the bouquet in its final home in our bedroom – a lovely sight and scent to wake up to.

George is not only a very clever university physics student, he is also a very talented pianist. He fills our house with music whenever he visits and accompanies our daughter as she sings. Not only is George a beautiful pianist, he also writes all his own music and has an album of his pieces called Time which is available on iTunes and Spotify.

The music George writes has a beautiful reflective quality which, I sense, comes straight from his heart.


Whilst on the subject of George, I am also including a photo of the lovely couple on my daughter’s graduation day. We were very proud parents on that beautiful early July day!


I have to say a big thank you to George for our lovely gift and hope that he will be back to keep our piano well used in the very near future.


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