Petunias 1Petunias 2Sawn branchSeeking to provide The Head Gardener with a pleasant surprise when she returned from an early morning trip to Ferndene Farm shop, allegedly to buy more compost, I decided to take down more of the tree which, in our gusting winds, is wrecking the red rose on the pergola outside the stable door. Jackie has been mentioning the need for this for a while now. Evidence of how windy it was today is provided by these two photographs of the same basket of petunias, taken from the same spot in rapid succession.

When we arrived in Downton last April the main trunk of the offending tree had been so torn and twisted that I had been obliged to cut off the dangling remainder. After a further year of frequent whirling winds we have noticed that this particular corner always bears the brunt, with stricken branches bending and crashing against the wisteria pergola. That is why further pruning was necessary. Still in my dressing gown, I proudly displayed my work. The Head Gardener observed that I had ‘made a start’. Unless dealing with BT, I’m not normally one for invective. I must admit to having muttered one at that. The question is often asked, ‘is there any pleasing a woman?’ It is actually very easy to please Jackie, but The Head Gardener, bless her, tends towards the exacting. She is never demanding, but, if you volunteer, you have to reckon with her desire for perfection. Two more branches had to come off. Branches to be prunedFurther pruningSpace cleared over pergola

Trudging back and forth to the pile awaiting combustion, I was able to view the rest of the garden, where

Fuchsia Paula Jane, colibrachoas, petuniaspretty pink fuchsia, Paula Jane, atop the urn, is flanked by calibrachoas and petunias;

Diascas Apple Blossom, geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt

Apple Blossom diascas, magenta geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt embellish the entrance to the back drive;

Pansies, succulent and cineraria

and, turning from that point, looking towards the rose garden, a yellow theme is provided by pansies, succulents; and the flowers of lanky cineraria, otherwise known as Dusty Miller.

Hoverfly over clematis

Hoverflies, like this one casting its shadow on an unidentified clematis, give the photographer a fighting chance to catch them in flight;

Bee landing on poppy

Not so bees, which make you really work for it.

Whisky barrel

The generous Dave Fergusson, yesterday, gave Jackie a cut glass whisky barrel for just £5. It hasn’t taken her long to position it.

Wimbledon’s weather smiled on me today. Accompanying Jackie on a three hour trip to Nuffield Hospital and back, including her physiotherapy, could have meant that I didn’t see much of Andy Murray’s three set victory over Vasek Pospisil. However. Rain had disrupted the first set; I watched the rest of that and the second in the reception area; and rain caused further stoppage just as we left for home. I, therefore, was able to see the end of the match, and, far more importantly, witness a wonderful example of Colemanballs.

1634747-34692779-310-310Derived from the surname of BBC sports presenter David Coleman, Colemanballs is a term coined by the satirical magazine, Private Eye, to describe verbal gaffes by sports commentators. Today’s was an ace, admirably returned by the tennis player.

‘Is there any more pressure because of Royal spectators? David Beckham was here today,’ without the slightest pause, asked Garry Richardson, who must have forgotten the names of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. ‘He isn’t a royal, is he?’ replied Murray, with a twinkle in his eye and a wide smile. Richardson responded with: ‘I’ll let you decide.’ ‘It’s great that they came along to support,’ observed Murray with immaculate diplomacy.

The next Centre Court match was between Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic. The former won in straight sets.


For some reason best known to herself and Bruce Goodman, Jackie wishes it to go on record that some of the flowers she bought this morning, including the lavenders that she planted in the rose garden, were blue.


It will be no surprise to anyone that Jackie has also somewhat embellished the outside of her shed.

This evening we dined on flavoursome mushroom and onion omelette, and bubble and squeak topped with fried bacon. This was followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Teroldego Rotaliano.




  1. The shed is really coming along nicely – a feature in its own right soon!
    The garden really is looking wonderful (no comment on pleasing women – or head gardeners!) 🙂
    Another lovely full post and a delicious meal to end it. Ah! Good times Derrick, good times. Thank you for sharing.

  2. 😀 Yee-Haw! One can of course get pink lavender – but it’s not as sturdy as the wondrous blue! And, says me not eating a flavoursome mushroom and onion omelette but humble pie, the shed is looking great!

  3. If Jackie’s not building a new rose garden I would declare your garden ready for opening. I wish I can visit but I may not be able to resist getting a cutting or two so it’s just as well that we’re oceans apart 🙂

  4. I would love to visit your garden – it is one of the nicest and joyously happy gardens I have seen for a while.
    The shed looks great with it’s new embellishments!

  5. How long have the two of you been putting this garden together? When you purchased your home, was the garden already in residence? And (forgive so many questions!) how many hours a week do you spend in maintaining it? It seems such a wondrous, lovely place to me. I would love to possess it.

    Truly lovely.

    1. We moved in just over a year ago, (1st of April) It was a month or two before we could tackle the garden in earnest. The previous owners were elderly and had done their best but altho’ the basic landscaping was in place it had been left pretty much to it’s own devices for some years, the result was that it was overrun with nettles brambles and convulvulus etc, some paths were totally overgrown, (hence the ‘Heligan’ path (referral to the TV programme here about a garden in Cornwall that had been abandoned called ‘The Lost Gardens of Heligan’). Most of the shrubs were in desperate need of hard pruning, in a sort of ‘kill or cure kind of way! (only managed to kill one, all the others have bounced back). The back drive had been turned into some sort of veg patch and the new rose garden was also an abandoned fruit and veg area full of concrete blocks?! These blocks were dug out by an enthusiastic Derrick and transported by me to a corner of the concrete patio to form the ‘New Bed’ Since the initial big push to find the garden and to get back some form to it, we have cleared and created the Dragon bed with the ‘Head Gardeners walk’ running through it and of course reclaimed the back drive with its flower beds running down each side, and now the rose garden is our latest project, (ably assisted by our lovely Aaron who has laid out the brick paths for us.). As for time spent in the garden, well now you have made me think! I guess I spend at least an hour or two each day just watering the various planters and hanging baskets, I am usually out there weeding and ‘pottering’ from 9am ish to 9pm ish with breaks to prepare lunch and watch ‘Bargain Hunt’ on TV, and to come in for our dinner in the evening(Big D clears away afterwards!) So there you have it Kate, a true labour of love for us both. So pleased you like it. J

      1. It is like a beautiful painting only brought to life. You should have Derrick explore shooting a small video so we can enjoy the little nooks and passages through movement. I love the mix of bright colored flowers with dense greenery, lovely brick pathways that draw the viewer onward, and then wooden structures like a fence or the new shed. I like the whimsy of the glass jug placed in just the right place. A lovely garden soothes and delights, and feeds the soul and the imagination. I am so glad Derrick shares your beautiful garden with us!

  6. Re the ‘exacting’ tendency of The Head Gardener – I’d just like to remind us all – that this is why the garden looks as it does! But good on you for making a start in your dressing gown – that shows enthusiasm! 🙂 I’m loving what has been done to the new shed – it’s looking good enough to live in – better than a ‘dog box’ for sure!

    1. He is very enthusiastic, A little forgetful, (when it comes to carrying out tasks that he has offed to do!) and a tad more interested in photographing the garden than pulling up; weeds, but I consider myself very lucky for his endless interest in what happens in the garden. Oh and his very thoughtful birthday gift to me.

  7. I’m glued to the tennis too and it’s nice to see how Murray is maturing well with age. I didn’t used to like him much at all but am definitely warming to him both as a player and a person. His semi final will probably be the match of these championships.
    Jackie – the shed’s looking amazing already. Do you have your own set of keys yet?

  8. A blog filled with diplomacy, congratulations on the hard work of the tree, Andy will sympathise with the blood sweat and tears. Jackies potting shed is clearly being Jackie’d beautifully. Also question for Jackie, I was at Mums recently talking about some plants I’d just bought including a clematis called Polish Spirit, Mum couldn’t remember if that was one you were looking for or one you got when you were looking for something else. If you want one let me know and I’ll see if there’s any left.

    1. Thank you Danni, for your thoughtful comment. Jackie says ‘Bless her.’ We actually have quite a few Polish Spirit, and your Mum’s was one I found. Good choice

  9. I agree with Mary Tang – if I was there, I couldn’t resist taking a clipping or two! Everything is going so well!

  10. Your gardens are a showcase Derrick – from every angle there is an abundance of color and texture that for me is total pleasure. Have a wonderful weekend.

  11. Is there one inch of earth there that is not coveted by something blooming? It’s all amazing. A job well done ! What a delightful garden shed! Have you seen the trend towards ‘Tiny Houses?’ Not for me I’m afraid but they should all deck them out with baskets, very homey looking. I don’t know what Bubbles and squeek might be, but I’d have mine with a nice cool glass of Pinot please, LOL.

    1. Thank you Boomdee. Bubble and Squeak is left over veg chopped up together and fried. apparently its name comes from the noise it makes in the cooking.

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