Last night and early this morning the only birdsong in the garden was the magpie warning call, a kind of incessant chattering. There certainly are a lot of them about. This morning, however, the mother fox and a cub, basking in the sunshine, were definitely the subject of the warning. Mum was studiously ignoring a magpie making pecking raids on her backside. Or perhaps it was de-fleaing its target. She appeared more interested in me watching from the window. This reminded me of the blackbirds at Lindum House. During magpie season they would dive-bomb the raiders, with about as little effect on them as this one had on the fox. There would be a significant decrease in the other bird population the year of their appearance. The following year, no magpies, and lots more other birds. A clear demonstration of nature’s natural balance in action.
Arriving at Elizabeth’s in West End after a beautiful drive through Surrey and Hampshire we were delighted with the blooming spring garden, showing dividends from all our hard work through the autumn and winter. New beds had been dug; they and older ones had been thoroughly composted; new lawn edges created; major projects like removing a bamboo plantation; and quite a bit of planting. Elizabeth tells us that many of her plants are looking much healthier and more profuse than ever before. It is amazing what composting can achieve. Mind you, the same goes for weeds. The house (The Firs) and garden had once been owned by Richard Barbe-Baker, a local born internationally renowned arboriculturist. One of the beds we have resuscitated lies in the centre of a large concrete ring. This is the remains of a summer house the 12 year old Richard made for his mother one year.
This summer’s tasks are rather less arduous than the last. We just have to weed, finish off a couple of beds, and carry out general maintenance. Rather fortuitous since Elizabeth is the only one getting any younger. The major task today has been retraining a rambling rose up an arch bought at the Bishop’s Waltham Garden Fair three weeks ago. This had clung precariously to the false acacia inside the concrete ring which had been blown down in the bad weather. Actually we are rather chuffed at the result, despite the rose having taken revenge on our flesh.
We were joined this evening by my other sister, Jacqueline, and enjoyed a succulent roast lamb meal prepared by Jackie, accompanied by an excellent Cote du Rhone.