The Eryngium, or Sea Holly, is one of the plants I would love to grow in my garden but cannot. Since it needs excellent drainage and full sunshine it cannot cope with my heavy clay soil and the abundance of trees that block the howling winds. However, this plant was one of many growing very happily at Haddon Hall in Derbyshire, its striking metallic blue stems and flowers blending effortlessly in the vibrant borders.




These gorgeous floor tiles are still in situ at Byland Abbey. Although they are now out in the open and exposed to the elements they would once have been under the vast canopy of the Abbey buildings and walked on by the monks who lived and worshipped there. I have never seen so many Medieval floor tiles in one place outdoors (this is not the only area of the Abbey with tiles) although they can often been seen in our cathedrals.

Byland Abbey in is North Yorkshire and looked after by English Heritage. (And there is a wonderful pub/inn across the road serving fantastic cakes!)