The Meteorologists Kept Their Promise

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Becky, Ian, and Scooby returned, last night, to their home in Emsworth

The wisteria, sharing its perch with a red rose, is now fully in bloom;

Acquilegias

and aquilegias (columbines in U.S.) are cropping up everywhere.

We live in a fascinating microclimate where, despite the vast improvement in the accuracy of weather forecasts, our experience is often better than we are given to expect by the meteorologists. Take today, for example. We were promised an afternoon of rain.

Our gardening was therefore done this morning.

My major task was to cut the grass, after which I reshaped the Japanese maple standing on it, so that the lower branches no longer restrict our access to the small sward, and  the chimney pot planter may be viewed from the Gazebo Path.

Jackie continued tidying and weeding. The wonderful pastel shades of the peeling eucalyptus bark lead us into the first of these pictures. Not having complete faith in the promise of rain from mid-day, the Head Gardener slaked the thirst of the drooping rhododendron beside her with several buckets of water. Naturally this ensured that the meteorologists kept their word. It rained all afternoon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, with boiled new potatoes and curly Kale. The Culinary Queen drank Peroni and I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014.

P.S. Note exchanges with Mary and Gwen, below. We have Lemon Scented Gum ( Eucalyptus citriodora ),

Canine Paralympics

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Today’s most recently bloomed clematis climbs over the arch spanning the Shady Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me out to the forest.

Strong sunlight cast long or dappled shadows across the freshly resurfaced Holmsley Passage,

and warmed the wayside woodland.

Dog on walker

A disabled dog eagerly propelled its tailored cart, clearly training for the canine Paralympics.

Bees' nest

Bees had taken up residence in the modern house, alongside its dead wisteria, beside the

footpath that was once a railway line, now a route for walkers and cyclists.

It being the start of the grockle season, many others kept to the roads.

Horse riders

On Charles Lane outside Burley, Jackie needed to stop the car beside a passing area, so three riders could squeeze their horses past us. The last one waved their thanks and they cantered on their way.

House in pink

This house, in an imposing position on a bend, looked pretty in pink.

The story of MacPenny’s garden nursery is told in my post ‘Cock Of The Walk’, of 3rd June 2013. This was our next destination.

MacPenny's plants

Masses of rows of flowers, shrubs, and trees are for sale in the huge nursery area,

MacPenny's pots

where pots, compost, and other materials are also available in profusion.

But it was the mature, stunning, NGS Garden, with its wonderful display of rhododendrons and azaleas that we came for today.

We also liked the candelabra primulas.

This evening the four of us dined on Jackie’s sublime sausage casserole, caramelised sweet potato, creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots, and spring greens. Ian drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

Regeneration

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Today I was mostly digging up brambles and pruning dead branches from a yellow Japanese maple in the Palm Bed,

seen here beyond the Cryptomeria Bed stepping stones.

The red one was looking rather splendid in the morning light.

Magnolia Vulcan

The magnolia Vulcan, one of a row of shrubs lining the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage, is about to flower for the first time. Like the others this was choked by the jungle that was the garden when we first moved in.

Rhododendron 1

Similarly a poor, spindly, little rhododendron that Jackie brought back to life, now shines its beacon in the middle of the Palm Bed. The roots of this were, like those of so many shrubs we inherited, pot-bound, and not properly planted.

Rhododendron 2

The pink rhododendron

Tree peony

and the yellow tree peony, have tied in the race to full bloom.

Iris

I am happy to say that my weeding of the Back Drive borders has freed rows of irises.

The viburnum plicatum is now brightening the West Bed shrubbery,

Weigela

and weigela drapes the south fence.

Apple blossom

Today’s final example of our efforts at regeneration has been affected by the light frosts we have been experiencing recently. The apple blossom suggested the tree has benefited from pruning, but the petals are now somewhat charred.

Hardly credible in April, the traditional month of showers, Jackie has today performed a considerable amount of watering.

The Raj is the current incarnation of the Indian restaurant constantly changing hands in Old Milton. Tonight we dined on their good quality takeaway food. My main choice was prawn Ceylon with special fried rice. We shared poppadoms, paratha, and onion bhajis. I drank Château Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

My Busy Day: Guest post from Scooby as dictated to Becky

Today was quite a busy day.  When it got light-time the Grandpa Person came down from the upstairs nests.  I looked at him but think it is better not to say anything cos sometimes he doesn’t understand.  I pretended I don’t see him and go back to sleep.  When the Mummy Person came down I did dancing and then I have to go outside to see if anyone else has been in the dark-time and then I can go.  I am very good at this.  Mummy Person says.

Door to the Outside

Then big problem.  All the People Persons accidentally went outside without me.  I wasn’t paying attention cos they confused me with a big bone and then I hear the door shut.  I watched that door really hard so they would remember me.  They didn’t.

It was lucky they did leave me on the inside because I was the only one there to make sure everyone else in the world did not come in and eat all the food.  I watched out the window for a long time – ready to shout my face off at any dinner stealers.

Flowers in the way.

It was a bit difficult to see over all the silly flowers though.

I get a better view from Green Chair but it takes a lot of jumps to get all the way up there.

Very high up Green Chair

After a very very very long time I did a tour of the kitchen and checked if the Persons had left any foods under the table.

No foods – just legs.

I thought they did but it was just a stone.

No treasure in the bin either – what’s going on?!

Then everything went a bit boring.  SELFIE TIME!  First one is most handsome but nose made wet splodge on camera.

(Note to self: need selfie-stick cos nose too long and arms too short).

IMG_1583

No poos, only shoes.

When I finished modelling I think about leaving a message for the People Persons under the Grandpa Person’s desk.  (I was quite keen to leave one).  But I don’t think they like that sort of thing – even though they didn’t notice last time.  Anyway, his slippers were in the way and they really don’t like that sort of thing in their footwear.

It was while I was at my look out, on Green Chair, that all the Persons came back from the outside.  They crept in like stealthy wolves and found me resting my eyes.  I looked up and there they all were: Mummy Person, Grandpa Person, Daddy Person and Granny Person.  IT WAS BRILLIANT!  I couldn’t stop dancing and my wagger went so fast that I nearly fell over.  It was really really really properly BRILLIANT, FAB and AMAZING!  They could have forgotten to come back inside forever but they didn’t – joy joy JOY!!

IMG_1591

This was a great relief. (Don’t like the watching things though).

Mummy Person was very quick to open the back door and I went straight to my favourite place to leave my messages – a nice step with a stoney shelf – Phew!

Back inside now they were all keeping watch again so I could get on with the lamb bone that I had been hiding in my bed all day.  No-one had stolen that and my blankets smell great again – Persons had washed them a few sleeps ago and there was hardly any stink left.

That’s all really.  Now I just waits till they all stop staring at those shiny-light-windows on theirs knees and give me some of the dinners they been out hunting for all day.  That’s gonna be BRILLIANT!

Wolf Blomfield 31st January 1929 – 19th April 2017

When he died just over a week ago, Wolf Blomfield had been my close and loyal friend for almost half a century. Jackie and I attended his funeral today at Golders Green Crematorium. Ian, accompanied by Becky, made the journey as easy as possible by driving us there and back.

Louisa, friend, and Wolf

Wolf

Here he is helping Louisa with her presents on her fourth birthday in 1986;

Derrick and Wolf c2009

with me, taken at their home by Luci in 2009;

and in 2014

Heron In Flight

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This morning I printed yesterday’s random header picture for our friend Mary. We posted it this afternoon.

After lunch Jackie and I took two orange bags of garden pruning and clippings, along with some metal and plastic rubbish, to the Efford Recycling Centre, and drove on to see how the thatching at East End was coming along.

Thatching 1

Here is a rear view which shows the L-shaped structure of the large building. The extensive scaffolding is an indication of the size of the project.

Much of the work has been completed to a very high standard. I was informed by the thatcher with whom I spoke, that the ridging that is to feature where tufts currently stand proud, will take longer than the four weeks currently expended.

We drove home via East Boldre, where, as usual, a heron was disturbed by the sight of my camera. I panned it as it took to the air, rising from a lingering, although drier, pool, past the gorse blending with its sharp beak, and up into the cloudy skies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome cottage pie, piquant cauliflower cheese, spring greens, and crisp carrots and cauliflower. with divine gravy. Ian drank Peroni, and I drank Corbieres 2015.

Scooby

Scooby, not wishing to be left out, would like readers to know that his evening repast was Tesco Tender Paté with chicken, mixed lovingly with James Wellbeloved Chicken & Turkey Kibble Complete. His dessert was the bone from our previous roast lamb dinner with generous bits of meat attached. His beverage was Adam’s ale. This information was provided by his Mummy, Becky. 15 in September, he’s quite elderly now, and needs to collapse in his bed after a meal.

The Beast Is Back

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An early morning inspection revealed that The Beast is back.

Beast hole 1

It has burrowed under the log and presumably wormed its way through the gap between metal stakes, having also chewed more of the fencing.

Beast hole 2

I filled the gap with a spare stake.

Beast hole 3

During this process I spotted another burrow at the far end of the concrete block, with distinct teeth marks on the bottom of the plank. It is as if our nocturnal visitor, having limboed under the fence, has decided to raise the entrance for easier access.

Later, Jackie bought some more stakes and added another piece of stone to the battlements. The rose stems are a bit optimistic.

Back Drive

I made more encouraging progress in weeding the Back Drive.

Robin with worm

A bustling robin was too busy feeding his family, to take any interest in my activities.

This afternoon Becky helped me customise this blog. I wonder if anyone will notice anything.

This evening we dined on pork rib rack in barbecue sauce, with omelette-topped savoury rice and runner beans, followed by profiteroles, followed by lemon tart. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and the rest of us shared Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2014.