Top destinations for flower lovers

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I’ve been extremely blessed to see some beautiful places throughout the world. I like to say that I don’t like to travel, I just like beautiful places–traveling is my vehicle for getting there. I love beautiful places so much that I’ve prioritized it over other things like an amazing wardrobe, furniture, and other fun delights and securities. I took my first trip to Europe when was 12 on tour with the Orange County Junior Orchestra after joining because I heard they were going to France and England (oh yeah, and I guess I liked the music too). I had always been fascinated by the books I read as a girl that were set in beautiful places like the brooding moors in Sherlock Holmes and the floral nooks of The Secret Garden. After a few more trips to Europe, living on the East Coast, and then finally marrying a Dane and living in Denmark, I feel like I am only a bit more conversant in beautiful sites to see. I know there is so much more out there.

Beautiful places, particularly gardens and old estates, make my heart burst. I didn’t realize how much a part of me they were until I noticed that other people couldn’t go on a run without stopping at every corner to look at the flowers. (That, and I hate running so I’ll stop whenever I can). I also started to notice that I love flowers. Like, I REALLY love flowers. I love floral fabrics, silk flowers, paper flowers, flower rugs, flower pillows, real flowers. Flowers everywhere. Perhaps I have an abnormal condition?

With that flowery talk out of the way, I’d love to get a list going of the top places to go for flower lovers. I’ve asked a couple of people who I know have a similar affinity to flowers to share some of their favorites too, florist Sarah Winward and garden expert and BYU Museum of Art director, Mark Magleby. Additionally, I’d love to hear what YOU have to say. I haven’t found a comprehensive list anywhere, so I’m thinking this could be a help to all of us and help us create a bucket list.

My suggestions

  1. Monet’s Gardens at Giverny in France. As cliche as it is, Monet is my man.
  2. Tage Andersen’s residence and gardens at Gunillaberg in Sweden. You know I’ve now written about it like 5 times
  3. Carl Larsson‘s Sundborn home and garden in Sweden. He’s also one of my favorites.
  4. Karen Blixen‘s home and museum in Denmark (I went last summer and just realized I haven’t written about it yet)
  5. The lavender fields of Provence (I just missed it last year and I was devastated)
  6. Stourhead in England. I nearly died of beauty there. It’s mostly just gardens. This is also where the new Pride and Prejudice was filmed.
  7. Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC. I think this might be the loveliest place in the world. I lived a few streets from it and had a season pass. That, and the cemetery next door, are pinch-yourself-I’m-dreaming worthy in spring and fall. Here’s a little post. I also love that it was started by two women who just loved flowers and gardens. Read more about it here.
  8. Hillwood Estate in Washington DC. The gardens are delightful and the interiors are crazy ornate.

Sarah makes the loveliest arrangements. She’s got an impeccable eye.
  1. Around the end of June, purple lupin are blooming all over Iceland, they practically cover every hillside. They are up to four feet tall and the dark purple color looks amazing against the green mossy landscape.
  2. Israel has red anemone that cover lots of hillsides in the spring. I think this is so memorable for me because a red anemone isn’t the type of flower that I am used to seeing grow in the wild.
  3. Jasmine vine in New Zealand completely covers jungle areas. The smell is intoxicating and I wanted to clip entire walls of it to bring home. 
  4. Locally in Utah, I loe the Mt. Aire trail up Millcreek canyon. In the late summer there are wildflowers and butterflies all over the trailside.

Mark Magleby, Director of the BYU Museum of Art
Mark was my thesis instructor during my undergrad at BYU. I went on study abroad with him and his family to England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Italy, The Netherlands about a decade ago. He specializes in 18th century art and architecture and his scholarship focused on the gardens of Stourhead as well as the creation of a database of English garden history. You can see why I would turn to him, non?
  1. The greatest of all the English flower gardens may be Sissinghurst Castle garden with is color coordinated garden rooms. 
  2. Another would be the kitchen gardens at Rousham, which are riotous with flowers in the spring and summer. The most famous parts of the garden are designed by William Kent. 
  3. I also think that the herbaceous boarders are excellent at both Hampton Court and Kew Palace. 

    Now, what about you? What are your pics? Please write them in the comments below. I want to visit all of them!

    top image from here

    Gunillaberg part 2

    Have you put Gunillaberg on your bucket list yet? Well, prepared to do so after this post. If you love some beautiful interiors, you’re in for a treat. 
    If you’re just joining Lars now, I posted part one about our roadtrip to Gunillaberg, Sweden, summer palace of floral artist Tage Andersen (my creative hero). I showed the lovely grounds and animals in part one and today I’m showing the interior of the palace itself, which Mr. Andersen designed from the furniture to the flooring. It acts as both a house and a gallery. He exhibits artwork by a few different artists.
    This chair in the office is my favorite.
    And let’s talk about flooring. Because the painted wooden floors rocked my world.
    A sofa that he designed with triangle pillows, of course.

     A close-up of the window-paned linen bedding. How gorgeously simple is it?

    Beautiful stone bathtub.
    And a selfie in the three-way mirror.
    ROOTS ALERT! Or as we call it nowadays, ombre.

    Guys, there’s more! As you daydream about this place this weekend, be excited for the next installment, which I’ll show more of the architecture of the grounds.

    Happy weekend! 

    Gunillaberg, Sweden Part 1

    When I found out that floral designer/sculpture/magic maker Tage Andersen had a summer palace in Sweden, I knew I had to go with my mom when she came to visit me in Denmark last summer (yes, I’m THAT behind on blog posts). It’s about 4 hours from Copenhagen by car and it will blow your mind. You must go here before you die.
    It’s called Gunillaberg and it was owned by the first Swedish representative to America before America was America. Mr. Andersen bought it a few years ago and has turned it into a museum? wonderland? farm? gallery? All those magical things. This year there’s a brand new orangerie even. I’m going to walk you through. You start by entering through two topiaries. Topiaries mean that you know it’s gonna be good.
    Then you pass some cows on both sides and I didn’t get any good photos but there were then dozens of potbelly pigs. POTBELLY PIGS!
    Then, you pass this beautiful barn

     before coming to this little hut draped in burlap and checkerboard. It’s the sign-in, of course.

    Mr. Andersen has created a number of topiary courtyards. This one is complete with whiskey barrel planters, which makes me feel really good because our rental right now has a few in front so I feel better about having them in our yard.

    No Scandinavian locale is complete without chopped wood.

     or a bunch of roosters running around.

     More of those whiskey barrels.

    And here I spotted Mr. Tage Andersen. I didn’t have the guts to chat with him this time around for fear of turning into Superfan, which I had already established when I tracked him down in Copenhagen at his downtown studio.

     Swedish flag.

     And oh, the details! Nothing is basic. Stacked branches to hold the water barrels.

    “I think it’s T double E double R double R double I double F double I double C, C, C”. What movie?

     And now, we get to the palace doors.

     Just a sculpture of a tree. NBD.

     Ok, that’s all I’m going to leave you with for now. And the amazing part? It somehow gets better.

    Roussillon, France

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    I’m getting through my pictures from last year’s trip to Provence slowly but surely. A couple of weeks ago I talked about Gordes, and just 10 km away the landscape dramatically transforms into iron-rich soil and you come across Roussillon. It’s such a noticeable change in the appearance of the red cliffs and consequently, the colors of the town. Whereas Gordes feels blindingly white because of the limestone, Roussillon feels much more Mediterranean. Like a clay pot. The houses are saturated in bright, earthy colors. It’s a bit less formidable and a bit more reachable. Mom and I walked the town and discovered, like many other towns in Provence, the haphazard arrangement of the town plan, which is conducive to lots of nooks and crannies and, thus, lots of fun unexpected doors and windows. It’s a door-lover’s paradise! 

    Colors of sorbet, non? 
    I loved the iron-work detailing throughout the town. These metalsmiths had a good time.

     Watermelon house? Please and thank you.

     The view.

     Isn’t this a fantastic covering for a balcony? I note it here so that someone can use the idea for their own backyard.

     And we left at sunset. Sigh.

    I dream about this place. Where do you dream about? 
    More pictures from Provence: Gordes, our entry,  the town we stayed in Apt, walking around Apt

    Provence–Gordes

    I’ve been lucky to see what I consider some of the most beautiful places in the world. However, rarely has a place made such an impression as Provence. I’ve been having dreams about it. It’s a place that I would love to return to again and again and again. Which means that I need to get rich and buy a villa there, bien sur. When my mom came to visit me in Copenhagen in September we took a side trip (after MUCH drama including missing our flight–my fault–and thinking we could compensate by driving–nope!) to the south of France. I’ve talked about parts of the trip herehere, and here. Gordes was one of the most beautiful towns we visited. It felt more like a museum town in that it was quite pristine and glowing as the town is built of limestone. I wouldn’t say that you need to stay here if you’re visiting unless you use your holidays to lounge, swim, and walk around. My mom and I just loved soaking in all the architecture and as she said, her favorite part was looking at all the building materials. Nerd alert! But, alas, it WAS the best part. Look at the lovely shades of shutter colors! I mean, come on! 
    Some of the photos might seem a bit repetitive, but it’s because the details were so lovely. There are complicated details in the ironwork on the windows and handrails. Some I just took pictures of because I wanted to remember details for my future villa. You know.

    I must also mention the kindness of the people. The French in the South of France are kind, warm, and open. That, combined with the sun was the perfect escape from cold Denmark. 

    I love what this person did. The town attracts loads of tourists and I’m sure they made braids on their doors to keep peeping toms like me out of their house.

    A functioning water fountain! Yes, I stopped on the side of the road to quickly get this shot.
    Leading into the town of Gordes is the Lavender Museum or Le Musee de la Lavande. Provence is the lavender capital and sadly we missed it all by a month or two. BIG SAD FACE. So we had to hit the lavender museum. I’d say it’s worth it if you like factory tours and such, like Mama and me. It shows the processes of how they make it and the history. We found it quite fascinating. At the end they lead you to a boutique where you can find all sorts of lavender products including an ointment that helps alleviate aches and pains. Sign me up! 
    And, of course, it wouldn’t be a trip without pictures of doors and windows. 

     Majestic, non?

     Complete with bistro lights. Sigh.

     Here are the iron-work details. See what I mean?!

     Oh, and just a laundry rack. Covered with IVY!

     Too much for me.

     Swimming anyone?

     Have you ever been to Provence? What were your favorite places? In other words, where should I buy my villa?

    The Sound of Music tour

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    Preface: April Fool’s day is possibly my favorite holiday. But I’ve got nothin this year. FAIL! No need to read with caution.
    Melinda came to visit me in Copenhagen in August (only 8 months ago. I’m way on top of life) and she asked, “where do you want to go while I’m there?” I had only one suggestion: THE SOUND OF MUSIC TOUR in Austria. Melinda knows Vienna (here’s the Vienna review) quite well and hadn’t been to Salzburg, so she, too, was all about it. Of course, we knew we had to wear outfits appropriate for the tour, but I didn’t have time to make outfits from cut-out curtains so I had to make due with a floral skirt. Melinda had found this divine yellow two-piece ensemble at FN92, a vintage shop in Copenhagen, that reads “mixed pickles” so, obviously, that was a given.
    I grew up on The Sound of Music and I suspect a lot of you did too. I mean, did you imagine yourself running through fields singing “The hills are alive” or putting on puppet shows yodeling? I bet so. In other words, this was a dream come true.

    Fun fact: my uncle was originally cast in the film role of Frederick, the oldest boy. Sadly, they found a boy at the lats minute who had a real British accent. Blast you authenticity! 
    I had been dead set on doing the Sound of Music bus tour, but after reading the Yelp reviews, we weren’t so certain anymore. They were so across the board. We  looked into the walking tour with The Sound of Trudy, but she was all sold out for the day we were there. We decided to gamble on the bus situation and ended up on Panorama bus tour, the original. The tours are frequent and down to a science. I forget the name of our tour guide, but you can tell had had done led the tour millions of time joked after calculated joke. But I LOVED it. I ate it up. The bus takes you to the two houses that are used as the front and back facades, the gazebo of 16 going on 17, the chapel where Maria and the Captain are married, past the Red Bull headquarters (highlight!), and winding through the Alps with great views of the lake and flower-boxed houses (remember this post?). Oh, and a gladiola farm. HEAVEN (minus the Red Bull, that’s all the April Fool’s jokes you’ll get today from me).

    Was it worth it, you ask? Definitely. Would I recommend it? YUP! Again, the reviews on Yelp were so mixed up that I can imagine a bad tour guide could happen, but who cares?! You’re in Salzburg with the Von Trapps? You’ll get caught up. Oh, and did I mention at the end of the tour while you’re cruising back to Salzburg, the guide puts on the soundtrack and you sing. I mean, I sang, I couldn’t really hear anyone else. But the girl from China came up afterwards and congratulated me on my voice. All I could say was, “I know it quite well”. This was only a day trip from Vienna, a lovely 3 hour train ride, and if I were to go back I might spend the night and do more Mozart stuff, because I also love him.

    The End. 

    Two days in Austria

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    My travel posts are SO behind. I’m still catching up from August! At least it gives me the opportunity to remember what the sun felt like so long ago. *sigh*. My dear friend Melinda* hopped over to Copenhagen to spend her birthday with us and we were so so honored. She decided we also needed to hop countries and knowing that I’ve been dreaming up Austria for a long time now, we decided what better time?! Mostly, it was for the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, but more on that later. For now, it’s Vienna. House Trip was kind enough to sponsor our stay while we were there and we had a terrific experience with them. It’s a site where you can rent out your apartment/house while you are away. We selected an all-white apartment along a canal next to the Kunsthaus Museum. A kind lady met us there to give us our keys and show us around.
    I loved the view of the courtyard and looking onto the colorful tiled building in the back. And are you looking at that herringbone flooring? So lovely! Melinda knows Vienna pretty well so she took me around to some of her favorite spots. In particular she was excited to see the Klimt murals at the Kunsthistorisches Museum because for the first time they provided stairs up to the ceiling so you could take a close look. 

    Melinda took me to this wonderful confectioners, Demel (careful, music on their site!), where we loaded up on beautiful illustrated chocolate bars and of course a stop at their outside ice cream bar. Adorable right?

    We passed by the Vienna Secession building. You know, I find it so odd how a bunch of artists at the turn of the century had so much money that they could build such a lovely building. Anyone know the history of it and how they could do that? That just doesn’t seem to happen these days.

    When I travel to destinations that I’ve been dreaming about for ages I seem to forget that once upon a time they were not crawling with tourists. But crawling with tourists they are (see above).

    Our stay in Vienna was sponsored by HouseTrip, but all content and opinions are my own. Thanks House Trip!

    *Melinda’s dress is a good story. She found it here in Copenhagen at a delightful vintage dress shop, F.N.92. The pattern says “mixed pickles”. I don’t know what that means, but I love it. While she was shopping she thought she recognized Eva Mendes, but dismissed the idea because she was wearing flats and clearly Eva Mendes doesn’t wear practical sight-seeing shoes. Well, turns out she does! It WAS Eva Mendes. 

    Walking around Apt

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    Oh, I’m not nearly done talking about our trip to Provence last month. The thing about Provence is that most everything is picturesque so you can’t help but walk around with a camera to your eye. Now, I stopped dead in my tracks when I came across this little square in the village we were staying at in Apt. I felt like I was suddenly transported into a de Chirico painting. You know what I mean?

    Love doorknobs in the center of the door.
    And you know, grapevines over your door. Just in case you need to make some wine really fast.

    More pics from the trip here.

    Our apartment in Apt, France

    On Monday I talked about our arrival to Provence, Apt more specifically. The trip was just my mom and me and we had been talking about a trip to Provence for ages. You see, once upon a time Mom had a shop in Corona del Mar, CA called “En Provence” where she sold beautiful French country furniture (made by my uncle!) and gifts. But between you and me, she had never been! She’d get comments all the time, “yup, this feels just like it” and she would just smile and nod, “merci.” Most likely because of this, I grew up a French country disciple and devoured anything Provence-related like Peter Mayle’s Year in Provence. You can imagine, this was a bit of a dream come true for us.
    Knowing that Mom was coming to visit us in Denmark we just knew we had to go south for a bit and make it a reality. Then the question arose, WHERE to stay? I asked you dear Lars readers for suggestion and you were SO helpful. Thank you! If you want to go there yourself, read some of their suggestions here. I was tipped off by a friend of mine that Katy Elliot, whose blog I’ve adored for many blog years had stayed in Provence and after seeing her post about her stay in Bonnieux I KNEW that that had to be us. The apartment is owned by an architect/designer couple in Maine who also have properties and an antiques shop in New England called Marston House and other properties in Southern France. We didn’t stay in the Bonnieux location, but their 2 bedroom apartment in Apt, the town right next door. The pictures of the apartment showed a really beautiful, simple interior in neutral colors with a mix of antiques and new pieces. They later told me that they completely renovated it themselves including the statement staircase done by local craftsmen (go local!). I loved their whole vibe and their love for the area so I was sold. 
    Read more about our experience below.

    Like I said, the apartment is a mix of antiques and new pieces including the linens, which included personalized monograms from previous owners. I loved these touches, like on the window curtains.
    This is the bedroom that I stayed in, above, and I didn’t get a great photo of my mom’s room which was the bigger of the two.
    The apartment overlooked this quaint courtyard, which we could have used, but ended up leaving early in the morning and returning after sundown each day, so we gawked from afar.
    If you want to stay here, or at any of their rentals, I would HIGHLY recommend it. Their taste helps transform your experience. I wouldn’t say that Apt was my favorite town that we stayed in. There was a tinge of grittiness that I didn’t prefer, but when you’re in Provence you end up renting a car and seeing all the towns anyway so you may not spend so much time in your place. It was a great home base for us.
    Marston House rentals website here. I’ll be posting more about the markets in the area and our day trips. Guys, this trip blew my mind and I can’t wait to show it to you.
    All photos but two taken by me. The two are from the Marston House website

    Provence: Part 1

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    It’s been over a month since Mom and I popped over to Provence and looking over these photos I’m reminiscing over the beautifully warm weather, the dusty roads, and the pops of lavender. TAKE ME BACK! Once I earn my millions blogging (ahem) I plan on buying us a stone villa with robin’s egg blue shutters. We flew into Nice, rented a car and enjoyed the three hour drive through vineyards, pumpkin patches, and plum trees to our destination, Apt. Are you looking at these pumpkins? Beautiful Cinderellas. I was tempted to steal as many would fit into my suitcase (one before getting caught at customs?).
    We arrived to our destination, a town called Apt. The apartment we were staying at is situated in a square, where the weekly Saturday market is located (but more on that later). We escalated the staircase, taking note of the courtyard behind the apartment building where laundry was drying. Yes, even the laundry looks picturesque. HOW?!
    And this is the apartment. Look at that staircase! The couple who owns the apartment are an architect and designer and completely remodeled it themselves. I love the mix of modern and French country. I’ll be highlighting the apartment a bit more tomorrow so you can see some of the lovely details. 

    Iceland waterfalls

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    And three months later our Iceland trip is finally being wrapped up in photos. Goodness, I’m constantly reminded how surreal this place is. You can’t go to Iceland and not see waterfalls, so I’ve dedicated this last post to all things waterfalls. A little tip, “foss” in Icelandic means “falls” in English, which might help break down the names. Here we go! We started our waterfalls exploration by taking a little day trip out to Barnafoss with our gracious hosts.
    Then Paul and I rented a car for a few days and hit some of the major highlights around the southern rim of the island including Seljalandsfoss, Sk├│garfoss and Svartifoss. The beauty of Seljalandsfoss is the trip BEHIND the waterfall. Pretty wild. And cold. And loud.
    Svartifoss is insane. Look at these rock formations! It has the feel of cathedral organ pipes you know what I mean?
    Ok, these little rock pile ups below are a sweet story. Visitors are supposed to add a rock to the top.
    Moody!

    I’ve been enamored with pictures from other people’s trips to Iceland including Jenna’s super detailed write-ups. Mackenzie of Secret Pocket has beautiful photos of their trip to Iceland/Denmark for the holidays last year. Elaina from Fint og Deilig and her husbandMark spent their honeymoon camping in Iceland last summer. Brave souls! I’ve been following the Instagram of Andrew and Carissa as they explore Iceland right now. This shot at the Blue Lagoon is gorgeous! Elena also did an Iceland falls post. BTW, we did go to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s biggest tourist destination, but we didn’t take a single photo! Crime! Needless to say, the place is otherworldly (and expensive! especially when we went here for free!)

    Check out some more Iceland photos here

    Golden Circle

    Just two more Iceland posts to go. Isn’t this place unreal?! When you come to Iceland, the main tourist route is the Golden Circle, which consists of three main stops in a 300km loop. The first is the national park ├×ingvellir, which is important for two reasons. 1) it’s the site of the original parliament of Iceland established in 930 and 2) it’s also the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
     
    The second is the geothermal geysers consisting of Geysir and Strokkur, which are absolutely phenomenal, erupting every 10 minutes or so. 
    The last is the waterfall, Gulfoss, which, too, is pretty phenomenal. 

    More Iceland photos here.