One of the glories of belonging to any of the heritage trusts is having a card to allow you access to any of their properties that open for the purpose – at almost any time during their open season.  I have seen some truly awesome houses and their equally awe inspring gardens and parklands surrounding them, over the last 30 years.  With this privilege comes the knowledge that many families have live out their lives in these country houses and estates.  They have in turn employed hundreds of families as loyal retainers throughout the centuries too. Housekeepers, cooks, butlers, bootboy, ladies maid etc.    I just love the chance to wander round the grounds, enjoying the peace and beauty that has invariably been recreated from a historical plan and handed down. Many ideas can be gleaned from these visits.   Colour themes in the garden borders, certain types of plant grouped together, victorian greenhouse growing etc.  Fantastic inspiration.