An Extended Flowering Period

The date prompted me to begin the day by providing a link to a post from 2012:       –   well, would you? Any of it?

On another very mild morning, we continued preparations for winter. Although a considerable amount of cutting back is required, the garden is still full of colour, some from unlikely sources at this time of the year.

Snapdragons yellow

Snapdragons pink

We have snapdragons everywhere. These two examples are from the beds alongside the back drive.


Nasturtiums still festoon beds, baskets, and window boxes.

Clematis Polish Spirit

A number of clematises, like this nibbled Polish Spirit, are enjoying a resurgence.

Salvia Hot Lips

The salvia Hot Lips was The Guardian’s plant of the week on 10th May last year. Ours is bent on extending its flowering period;

Achillea Desert Eve redAchillea Desert Eve light yellow

as are these achilleas Desert Eve.


Chrysanthemums are to be expected.

Last Sunday, Aaron had discovered a wasps’ nest in one of the dead stumps along the back drive. Jackie had been delegated to buy some suitable insecticide for him to deal with it. She thought she would show it to me. This meant bashing it with a trowel. Soon the air was thick with vespas scooting everywhere. Remembering the bees, I did not hang around. Later, sitting at my p.c., I felt a tickle on my neck. I brushed it with my hand. A wasp flew from my hair to the windowsill. Refraining from photographing the creature, I squashed it.

This afternoon I mounted the Through To The Front series of photographs into the garden album, then watched the Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand.

In the early evening Jackie drove us to The First Gallery in Bitterne where I delivered my three prints for the Christmas exhibition. We went on to Elizabeth’s in West End, where Jacqueline joined us. The four of us dined at the revamped Eastern Nights at Thornhill. Under new management, the food is as good as before, and the service much more efficient. We all enjoyed the meals. My choice was Gosht Lal Mirchi with special fried rice. We shared a parata and onion bhajis. I drank Cobra. We separated outside the restaurant and Jackie drove me home.

Raindrops On Roses

I began the morning by pasting the next series of photographs into the garden album. I have now reached the end of The North Breeze Boundary section.

On another wet day we went driveabout before lunch. First trip was to the bank to make a transfer for cleaning in Sigoules. We drove on to Efford Recycling Centre to dump two bags of garden refuse that, being too big for composting but not worth burning, fell between two stools. Well, actually I tipped them over into a vast container. For the first time ever, we left the municipal dump empty-handed. This was probably because we planned to load up the car with bags of Humix Manure obtained from Otter Nurseries. This is a mixture of Horse manure, mushroom compost, and something else.

We bought seven bags of the manure, which were so heavy that, having a care for the Modus springs, we transported them in two trips. On Christchurch Road there were roadworks causing considerable hold-ups, so we made a diversion around Pennington and Everton for our final return.

Lacecap hydrangea

The lace cap hydrangea in the front garden is enjoying the rain;

Rose Margaret Merrill

Margaret Merrill is living up to her billing as one of the ten best autumn roses;

Rose Crown Princess Margareta

and Crown Princess Margareta continues making her stately way up the Ace Reclaim arch.

I had taken some photos in the restaurant on Wednesday evening, but they were rather blurred, so I didn’t post them, or send them to Becky, but she asked for them because she thought they were good enough. I e-mailed them to her. Actually, kept small, they are not too bad.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole, potatoes sauteed with onions and peppers, and crisp carrots and Brussels sprouts. The Cook drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the rioja.

In a short while I will be watching the televised third place play-off in the Rugby World Cup, between Argentina and South Africa.

Before And After: The Dead End Path

Becky’s August Birthday meal was twice postponed through illness, as was Ian’s earlier in October. Everyone was fit for Ian’s daughter Heather’s recent one. That is why we drove to Emsworth last night. As far as Becky was concerned, she was just going to Nicolino’s Italian restaurant across the road from their flat with Heather and her husband, Chris. She was open-mouthed when the other four arrived in the restaurant to see Jackie and me sitting there. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening with excellent food and service. My choice was minestrone soup followed by spaghetti Al Pescatore. I had no room for dessert. Valpolicella was my beverage.


Quay Street 25.7.15Stump 4Jackie 7.67 002 - Version 2Today was a very wet one. I began by making my final selection of three prints for The First Gallery Christmas exhibition. We need to take them to Paul for framing, and will do that in the next day or two to meet the submissions deadline.


These images have all appeared in previous posts. I have chosen them for variety. The first is of Quay Street, Lymington, this July. The walkers are Danni and Andy. The next, a stump, was from our garden on 24th January this year. Finally, we have a portrait of Jackie in July 1967, heavily cropped and converted to black and white

I continued with the production of the next sequence for the garden progress album. This is The Dead End Path.

Garden 7.5.14


This shot of the garden on 7th May 2014, shows why the path has its name. Behind the blue painted Butler sink is a low wall separating the path from the patio. In the bottom left hand corner, incidentally can be seen the start of a collection of rubbish from inside the house. This was destined for the dump.

Sinks in path

The above-mentioned sink had two companions on the path leading from the brick path behind it. We moved them on 17th May. I had to empty them before being able to move them at all. A couple of thyme plants therein now thrive on the patio.

Path to sinks

I managed to shift them as far as the low wall, but definitely needed the assistance of Jackie and a lever to lift them onto the wall.

Boundary and sinks

What on earth do you do with two hefty lumps of white stoneware covered in peeling blue paint? Disguise seemed the only option.


By 16th June, all three of the sinks were suitably clad, at least on the patio side. It is the Gazebo Path that trails away on the left hand side of the photograph.

View along dead end path

The new planting was established by 18th September 2015, but the Dead End Path side still exposes its peeling paint. The Compassion rose to the left has benefited from clearing out the undergrowth which had choked it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole, mashed potato and swede, piquant cauliflower cheese, and boiled carrots, cabbage, and mange touts. She drank sparkling water, and i quaffed Castilo San Lorenzo rioja reserva 2010.

Before And After: Disposal And Recycling


Front bed 1

Jackie had, of course, not been idle during my trip to Nottingham. She has almost completed preparing the front garden beds for winter. It fell to me this morning just to extract a few stubborn euphorbia roots and reset some of the edging stones.

Front bed 2

The Head Gardener completed the task this afternoon.

Griselinia cuttings

Aaron, too, had been busy. He has brought half the griselinia trees down to a reasonable height. By the time he has finished, the burning pile will be even larger.

This leads me to the next section of the garden story.

Derrick at cuttings heap

Disposal of cuttings and sawn limbs is a continuing problem. The first pile, here photographed on 17th June 2014, was just the tip of the iceberg. In my prime I was 6’3″. I don’t know what my height is now, but that should provide an idea of scale.

Bonfire in wheelbarrow

Bonfire on back drive


We will probably always need to be lighting fires. The first were contained, after a fashion, in a discarded wheelbarrow, which was, in that sense, recycled from its original purpose. Eventually it collapsed, and was transported to the Efford Recycling Centre. The first of these two photos was taken on 23rd June 2014, and the second on 25th February 2015.

Broken tiles

Usable stone, as has already been seen, was dug up and recycled elsewhere in the garden. We would occasionally come across pits of broken tiles and other rubble. This we bagged up and disposed of in the municipal dump. After extracting a good third of a metre’s depth of these tiles, I gave up and piled earth on top. It is not an area where we are ever likely to grow anything.

We would almost qualify for a season ticket to the dump.

Bath in gardenBath emptied




When writing of the preparation of the rose garden, I omitted to mention the bath I found buried against the south wall. This was full of earth and invasive plants, and hidden behind a box hedge, the only purpose of which seemed to be to conceal the plumbing. I had to dig into it to discover what it was, then empty it in a confined space, and carry it to the utility end of our plot.

Bath cold frame

It now sits behind the Head Gardener’s shed, where last winter it was successfully recycled into a cold frame, and will be used again as such this year. The top is a recycled sheet from ‘greenhouse unassembled’.

Soon, we will be off out, the purpose of which will be disclosed tomorrow.

The Earth

My return journey today from Nottingham was uneventful. Louisa drove me to Nottingham Station and Jackie collected me at New Milton.

I have quoted Heraclitus’s observation that ‘all is flux, nothing stays still’, in an earlier post. There is no greater example of this than the planet on which we live, which, as Richard Fortey, so eloquently describes in his ‘Earth An Intimate History’ which I finished reading this evening. I had plenty of time on trains in the last couple of days to make considerable headway in this book which I began reading a short while ago.

The John Day Fossil Beds001

The author is clearly a considerable geologist with a gift for explaining his science in a method intelligible to the layperson. His intention is to pass on his study of tectonic plates. I do not pretend that I will be able to remember what I have learned from this book, but I did find most of it understandable. His grasp of historical and prehistorical context makes it clear that human beings have come and gone in a minuscule fraction of the life of the earth. And my memory span will pale into insignificance in comparison to the lifetime of humanity.

Fortey explains how subterranean influences determine what happens both above and below sea level. He claims that ‘the face of the earth has its character scoured upon it by the elements, but they can only work on what has been set upon the surface by forces operating in the hidden depths. He has a gift for description, and uses plentiful simile such as ‘the chances of picking up a good rock sample [ with a simple dredge ] are about the same as catching a fish with a pair of tweezers at the end of a long pole’.

Beginning with volcanoes, the writer uses different well known phenomena to illustrate the various geological conditions and effects that he covers. Finally he covers the oceans and continents as a cohesive whole.

Bay of Naples001Bay of Naples002

He begins with Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples, and rounds it off neatly by finishing his summarising world tour at the same place.

A final quotation from T.S. Eliot’s ‘Little Gidding’ reinforces the point:

‘We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.’

These illustrations are taken from my Folio Society edition of 2011, the first, of The John Day Fossils Beds National Monument, Oregon, USA,  being repeated on the cover boards.

This evening Jackie and I dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips and pea fritters, with pickled onions and gherkins. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Doom Bar.


Pumpkins And Pizzas

Wollaton Hall

Wollaton Hall is an Elizabethan country house of the 1580s standing on a small but prominent hill in Wollaton Park, Nottingham, England. The house is now Nottingham Natural History Museum, with Nottingham Industrial Museum in the out-buildings. Its additional interest for us is that Noel Gervis Pearson, a great great grandfather of Louisa’s two children donated a butterfly collection to the museum sometime in the early twentieth century.

Wollaton Deer Park 1Wollaton Deer Park 2

Louisa, Jessica, Imogen, and I spent a gloriously mild and sunny morning and early afternoon wandering the deer park and visiting the house.

Louisa, Jessica, and Imogen

StagDeer (1)

Noticing the stags basking in the sunshine, and the does caring for their offspring under the trees, Louisa observed, in a telling fashion, that they were carrying out traditional male and female roles.

Louisa, Jessica, and Imogen (2)

In our attempts to approach the young cervine family, we reached a very boggy stretch. The girls thought it would be quite fun to see Grandpa clambering along the logs. Grandpa didn’t think so. He wasn’t wearing sensible footwear. He took the long way round.

Water birds

There has to be a lake in a country house garden. This one attracted many water fowl.

Photographing stagStanding stag 1Standing stag 2Standing stag 3

On the approach to the house, a large, grazing, stag attracted numerous lenses.

In the building, the girls spent a pleasant time hunting out exhibits and completing a linked Halloween quiz. I thought expecting them to work out an anagram of CAULDRON was a bit tough. Easy peasy for Mordred, of course.

Jessica and Imogen carving pumpkinsImogen carving pumpkin 1Jessica carving pumpkinJessica carving pumpkin 2Imogen's hands

After lunch, it was time to carve the pumpkins. Using templates from a book, Jessica produced a more than creditable ghost, but Imogen’s went ‘a bit wrong’. She had a most impressive stab at an ancient mummy, the most complex design of all; then recognising that she had bitten off more than she could chew, she made her own drawing for the other side of the pumpkin. This time, Louisa cut out the necessary sections.


For dinner, we travelled by bus to Pizza Express in Nottingham. This outlet has come on apace since the first one was opened in Soho’s Wardour Street in 1965. There were a number of entertaining activities for the children to complete whist waiting for their food. One of these was the creation of their own Halloween masks.

Jessica and Imogen maskedDerrick and Louisa masked

After Jessica and Imogen were photographed wearing theirs, Louisa and I had to borrow them.


My choice of pizza was American Hottest Romana.

On leaving the restaurant, we discovered there was a 25 minute wait for the next bus, so we caught a cab back. This impressed Imogen who kept saying she had never been in a taxi before.

Chocolate Surprise Pudding

Jackie drove me to New Milton today for me to begin the first stage of my journey to Nottingham to visit Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen for a couple of days.

Rose Compassion

The day dawned well, and the rose Compassion flourished aloft.

The next five and a half hours were spent travelling. The first leg was from New Milton to Waterloo. Whilst waiting for the train we were entertained by a recorded message featuring the voice of Will Greenwood, former England rugby international warning us that because of the World Cup match this afternoon the train would be very crowded.

So it was. I was probably one of the last to secure a seat. At Woking, the guard announced that the at-seat trolley service was stuck in the centre of the train because of all the standing passengers.

LuggageAfter struggling on first the Jubilee then the Victoria line tube trains, doing my best to avoid lethal wheelie bags, I found it impossible to locate my reserved seat on the Nottingham train at St Pancras. This, according to the guard, was the fault of ‘this foreign built rubbish’, whose electronic system had broken down. I did eventually track down my allocated seat which was alongside a stack of luggage that kept falling down on me.

I spent the journey stacking and re-stacking this lot as extractions and additions were made by other passengers, mostly young ladies who couldn’t lift them.

As for the various body parts that were squeezed between the heap and my face, let’s just not go there. It could have been worse. Possibly.

Imogen 1Imogen 2Imogen 3Imogen 4Jessica 1Jessica 2Errol picked me up from Nottingham railway station. As soon as I arrived at the Thompson home, the two girls dragged me into the garden, just before Louisa put a mug of coffee in my hand. This was to watch their gymnastics show, performed on the trampoline.

The garden plot that we had laid out on 16th June 2013 has matured nicely.

Rose Grace

In particular, the rose, Grace, is flourishing.

Chocolate Surprise Pudding recipeBack in 1965, after Vivien had died, I decided to make my own cook books from recipes cut out of newpapers. Jessica was to keep the book and pass it on to Louisa. One of the first entries was for Chocolate Surprise Pudding by Katie Stewart. This was to prove a great favourite with all the children in turn. After fifty years the browned paper is still legible, despite its splashes of chocolate sauce.

Jessica, aged eight, and six year old Imogen, unaided, made one of these puddings this evening. Jessica was able to read the print. I would almost have been proud of the result myself.

Chocolate Surprise PuddingErrol, aided by Louisa, had produced a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings. It was excellent. My choice of beverage was Minarete  Ribera del Duero 2014.

Before And After: The Heligan Path

Jackie gathering flowers

On our third morning in Downton, as, in order to pick spring flowers, Jackie walked through the undergrowth onto what is now the Weeping Birch Bed, little did we know that a few inches to her right we would find the remnants of a very old path. In the distance, above her head, can be seen the collapsed wooden arch that we replaced with a metal one.

This is the subject of today’s before and after section, which I began after pasting a few more prints into the album.

Path overgrown

Can you see the path? On 21st May 2014, the tree peony was growing on the edge of it.

Path clearance intermediate stage

By the end of the day the serpentine track was beginning to emerge.

Path cleared 1Path cleared 3

Further progress was made on 22nd. Note the mosquito-breeding sunken wheelbarrow pond that has been removed by 20th October 2015.

Jackie riddling

At one time this path contained gravel. By 25th, Jackie was painstakingly riddling a little out of the soil, and we bought bags more to top it up.

Jackie and Sheila 2

It was in a fit condition for Sheila to be guided along it on 9th August,

The Heligan Path

and quite established by 20th October 2015.

This afternoon I watched the televised semi-final of the Rugby World Cup between New Zealand and South Africa.

This evening we dined on smoked haddock, with Jackie’s superb piquant cauliflower cheese (recipe), carrots, cabbage, mange touts, and mashed potato and swede; followed by deep apple pie with just the right amount of cinnamon and cloves, and custard. I drank Doom Bar and The Cook drank Hoegaarden.

Before And After: The Phantom Path

Cold frames

Shrub rootToday, Jackie made up an additional, taller, cold frame. We then reorganised the strip by the side of the house at the front. This meant partially rebuilding the original, long, structure which was moved along to accommodate the new one. I was of some assistance in this process.

The Head Gardener had made good progress in removing a stubborn shrub which she proclaimed ‘didn’t do anything’ except crowd out more acceptable plants. The tap root was deep, and there were two horizontal ones stretching out. I used an axe to finish the job.

For Your Eyes Only, this is the pick of this morning’s roses:Rose For Your Eyes Only

Later I made more of the prints for the garden album, and stuck some in.

I then prepared the next section, namely The Phantom Path.

Path for clearancePath cleared

This is what it looked like before and after Jackie finished weeding it on 24th May 2014.

Mum (Jackie and Elizabeth hidden)

Here, Mum prepares to negotiate it on 6th July the same year.

Phantom Path 1Phantom Path 2

Today, its bordering beds cleared of unwanted foliage, these are the views from each end.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sublime lamb Jalfrezi and pilau rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Kingfisher.

Before And After: The Brick Path


This morning Jackie continued her winter planting, such as this hanging basket and I pruned roses.

Here are today’s offerings from the rose garden:

Rose Laura Ford

Laura Ford,

Rose Golden Showers

and the climber, Golden Showers.

Gazebo Path sign

Following yesterday’s post, Jackie has given the Gazebo Path its correct sign.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to New Milton for me to visit the bank and to buy a return ticket to Nottingham in readiness for my trip to Louisa and Errol and the girls on Sunday.

I then prepared the next section of the saga of the garden, namely the Brick Path.

Garden urn

On 15th April 2014, the cracks were full of weeds, and the urn had yet to be planted up.

Jackie clearing path

By 21st, Jackie had made considerable progress in eradicating weeds on the urn circle;

Brick radial path intermediate clearanceBrick radial path cleared

and by 30th, made her way along the composite brick section.

Brick path original being cleared

Brick path original cleared

We tackled the older, original length from opposite ends. It was then that Jackie uttered the phrase: ‘Last one to the chimney pot’s a sissy’.


Some of our visitors, such as my Mum, need sticks for walking. These original bricks had become rather uneven over the years, so we asked Aaron to reset them. On 9th August 2015, his friend Lee, the carpenter who had fitted our stair rails, made a start with him. The following week Aaron finished the task alone.

Virginia creeper corner

By this time, the overgrown foliage that had bordered the path on 31st May 2014 had been thinned somewhat.

Verbena bonarensis, clematises and geraniums

Two roses and a Virginia creeper were meant to be supported by a rickety wooden structure, most of which had fallen into the undergrowth. By 14th June that year we had  bought and installed a new Gothic Arch, retrained the existing climbers, and added a couple of clematises.

View from Brick Path

This was the south easterly view from this point by 28th September 2015,

Brick path and owl

by which time the path had mellowed, and an owl had taken up residence in the dead snake bark maple.

Agriframe arch

Beyond the Gothic Arch and nearer the house, Wedding Day, a huge rambling rose, romped confetti-like across the red-leaved Japanese maple and a mature hebe. It needed some special support. We provided this in the form of an Agriframes Gothic Arch, installed on 30th October 2014.

Wedding Day pruned

Even this is insufficient for the prolific climber. It received further heavy pruning on 2nd October 2015.

This evening we dined at the Royal China restaurant in Lymington. Taking the advice of our friendly waitress we halved our order from last time, and just about managed to finish everything. We both drank Tsingtao beer.