Seeking 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.
Trudging back and forth to the pile awaiting combustion, I was able to view the rest of the garden, where
Apple Blossom diascas, magenta geraniums, and clematis Margaret Hunt embellish the entrance to the back drive;
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.
Hoverflies, like this one casting its shadow on an unidentified clematis, give the photographer a fighting chance to catch them in flight;
Not so bees, which make you really work for it.
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.
Derived 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.