The Garden Wept

Hanging its head, the garden wept early this morning;

to brighten later;

albeit with less than entirely dry cheeks. Bees basked on sunlit blooms;

as did butterflies like this Red Admiral on the lobelia.

Jackie’s planting

of phlox in the West Bed

brought her little robin, Nugget, out in search of goodies. “Where’s Nugget?” (6)

Here we lost internet connection, so I am sending this from The Royal Oak.

Sweeping Up

Today Jackie was mostly refurbishing and tidying pots and hanging basket plantings.

She has completed the Shady Path where all is now well, except for

windburn on this white lobelia;

and on this yellow tree peony whose healthy seed pods offer optimism for next year.

Beyond this small triangular bed before the wisteria arbour

Mrs Knight continued her work on the greenhouse area.

The life of the sweet peas on the kitchen corner could not be extended, but the tomato plant over which the force of the winds had flung them, has survived.

It remains be seen whether this hydrangea in the patio will recover from its blisters.

After lunch the Head Gardener applied herself to stripping out dead parts of the patio’s potted plants and tidying the rest.

Nugget assisted her in sweeping up – the disturbed insects, that is. For those readers new to the “Where’s Nugget?” feature or whose robins are different from ours, notably lacking the distinguishing red breast, there follows

a selection of portraits of our little gardener’s friend.

Now, can you see “Where’s Nugget?” (5), from when he joined us later on the patio for drinks.

Soon after I had begun to draft this post, Jackie came inside complaining that her little companion was not letting her get anything done.

This evening we dined on coriander and garlic coated chicken kebabs; Jackie’s spicy omelette-topped savoury rice; and moist ratatouille with our own runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

I will now wait half an hour for the TV Channel 5 broadcast of the cricket highlights to finish so that I can watch my own recording advertisement-free.

Bisterne Scarecrow Festival Trail 2019

With the rain hammering down and leaking through the Velux window onto the kitchen table; and with a boiler that isn’t working I consoled myself with drafting this post. Just to recap, Jackie had taken me around the trail yesterday afternoon so that I would have something to work on during these expected conditions today.

As usual we bought a map and list of entrants to the competition at Tyrells Ford Country Inn whose exhibit, “One Giant Leap”, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, as did

“One Small Step” at Garden Cottage.

“Clowning Around” seems an apt title to front the old schoolmistress’s house on which we had put an offer before we bought our current home. No sooner had we done so than the owner removed it from the market. We understood that this was not the first time.

It would have been our “Retirement Home”. This one at Kingston even has its own

bench for those who may wish to sit and contemplate it: and

a comely receptionist ready to welcome prospective residents.

Down a track nearby is found The Hungry Caterpillar eating a melon to make his “Vegan Protest”.

Our paths have often crossed those of Catherine and Michelle who make visiting these scarecrows an annual trip. This time we first met them outside “Kingston Retirement Home”, and again when we approached

“Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” where

Catherine was photographing Michelle among the straw men at the table. By the time I had disembarked they had finished. Naturally I asked them to repeat the exercise.

Almost opposite “Clowning Around” we find “Woodland Fairies” and their neighbours

“The Flower Fairies”.

“SpongeBob StrawPants” pays homage to an American animated cartoon of a slightly similar name. He stands opposite the entrance to Dragon Lane where we find

“Aliens Love Underpants”, referencing Claire Freedman’s colouring and activity book with stickers.

In the grounds of St Paul’s church we find “St Paul Shipwrecked in Malta”. https://malta.intercontinental.com/2016/02/09/the-shipwreck/ tells us that

‘According to the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ Paul was being taken to Rome to be tried as a political rebel, however, the ship carrying him and some 274 others were caught in a violent storm only to be wrecked two weeks later on the Maltese coast, all aboard swam safely to land. Even though the actual site of the wreck is a mystery by tradition the event took place in and around St. Paul’s Bay and St. Paul’s Island, today a statue sits in commemoration of the event.’

“Hoopy Loopy” is a game designed for children and parents.

While I was reading the rules for “Jeepers Creepers”, I noticed a small boy emerging from a car and asked him if he had parental supervision. Even though I smiled nicely the joke fell flat because he didn’t speak English. He returned to the vehicle and returned with his father. This was good because his Dad spoke excellent English. The boy climbed over the five barred gate to which the legend was fixed, and

photographed

the scary character on the cross.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe” certainly had

many children, and she did know what to do. She let them amuse themselves while

she sat indoors with her dog.

On Charles’s Lane stand “Scarecrow FC take on Bisterne Best” and “The Blue Abyss”.

“Lest We Forget” remembers two world wars.

The hat fell off the scarecrow as we arrived, and continued to wobble after I replaced it.

The 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings was commemorated by D-Day Dan and by the thorough

D-Day 75 at Rose Cottage, Bagnum. This was the work of the engaging Terrie (?sp) with whom I had a pleasant conversation, and her mother who had knitted all the poppies. They were so pleased that the strings of planes and the parachutes in the bushes survived last weekend’s gales.

Terrie’s mother had found a suitable object for a the cigarette drooping from the wounded soldier’s lips.

Note the rifleman

and the details on the beams.

At Lower Bisterne Farm Lay-by we find “Woody and Forky” and

“Resting scarecrow (on a tea break)”.

“Penguin Prom” has been adjudged champion.

I understand that penguin fathers take care of

the children.

On the opposite side of Christchurch Road we witness a “Puuurrfect Rescue” from a first floor window,

while Elliot takes ET for a bike ride.

“Stargazing” takes place on the green at Hampshire Hatches.

Finally, beware of “The Wonky Workforce”

whose supervisor takes a break

while mayhem ensues. Fatal accidents abound, while those who have tipped out the gravel

remain fixed, horrified, in their cab.

I was grateful that this marathon was interrupted by Jackie serving up chicken kebabs in herbs and garlic on a bed of her delicious savoury rice with which I imbibed El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, completing the post with the aid of a second glass.

Later I watched the brief recorded cricket highlights.

Variations On A Game

Today winds were fresh; rain was absent; and the temperatures were cool.

The verbena bonarensis attracted butterflies like this Comma;

and this Small White,

examples of which flitted everywhere, seeming to use white blooms as camouflage. Can you spot any one of these which will benefit from enlargement on accessing their gallery with a click?

Jackie continued her care work on these cosmoses and clematis on the back drive;

these, elsewhere, needed rather less attention.

This somewhat rusty duck had allowed the recent rain to roll off its back.

These bidens are some of many self seeded from last year.

Jackie has successfully tied up Margery’s hollyhocks

with string.

It was quite a stretch for the Head Gardener to tidy the white everlasting sweet peas.

In the process she pointed to a glass robin, crying “there’s Nugget”.

So, now you’ve been given a clue can you answer where’s Jackie?

The real Nugget had come out to play the game. In order to help newer readers who may not be aware of what they are looking for, and to give others a bonus we have today, in order of difficulty:

Where’s Nugget? – 4a;

Where’s Nugget? – 4b:

and Where’s Nugget? – 4c.

Not far from our little friend the stumpery is bedding down nicely.

Late this afternoon, realising that this was expected to be our last dry, sunny day for some time, Jackie drove me round the Bisterne Scarecrow Trail. I have the makings of a photo story which I will save for tomorrow. This is because rain is expected all day then; because I will require considerable time to work on the post; and because I am knackered now.

While I focussed on one of the exhibits Jackie photographed a couple of chickens scratching in the gravel.

Their flamboyant male companion flexed his muscles on my return to the car.

This evening I watched the recorded highlights of what rain has made the first day of the second Ashes Test Match between England and Australia, before we dined on minty lamb burgers, new potatoes, cabbage and carrots with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank Doom Bar.

Not For The Birds

This was a day of wind, rain, colder temperatures, coats, and central heating. A bit like Dunedin’s winter.

During a brief period of lessening rain Jackie continued her work on securing sweet peas and other climbing plants; rehanging baskets; and setting other planters back on their perches.

Here are some of the finished projects. The begonias in the penultimate image lost a few broken stems from which Jackie is attempting to produce roots. She is doing the same with a proliferation of pelargoniums.

These ginger lilies happily survived.

Most flowers were bejewelled with raindrops.

This was not a day for little birds to come out and play.

We dined this evening on a second sitting of Hordle Chinese Take Away’ excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Ancient And Modern

Today it was mostly raining.

Nugget, however was determined to keep playing the game. Where is Nugget?

Following our trip this afternoon to Otter Nurseries to buy a couple of replacement pots for those damaged in the storm, the precipitation lessened so we drove into the forest.

Just outside Minstead, along the road between Emery Down and Stoney Cross that leads onto the A31

there is a sloping bank leading to an ancient hedgerow.

Clambering over the debris of recently fallen and sawn up trees,

I focussed on a group of ponies at the top of the bank.

One poor creature whose white blaze seemed a magnet for flies bashed her head on a lichen covered branch and shook herself distractedly in an unsuccessful effort to dislodge the pests.

As I made my way back to the car, speculating, as had Jackie, about the juxtaposition of these ancient hedgerows with fenced off modern forestry, she mentioned the three ponies that, with no warning, had suddenly thudded down the bank and clattered at great speed across the road. Any vehicle travelling round the bend in that first picture of the road at the permitted 40 m.p.h. would certainly have been involved in a collision. I had heard them when my back was to them on my return.

I was grateful to a young woman running with a terrier for, with her red sweater, adding a focal point to my landscapes from Picket Post.

This branch from high in an oak tree alongside Holmsley Passage was another victim of the recent storms.

A careful and competent riding group crossed the road outside The Rising Sun at Bashley.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

“Turncoat”

The air this morning when we set about further post-storm garden recovery work hung humid and eerily still.

Concentrating on the patio area and the sweet peas corner of the kitchen wall, Jackie trimmed the Lathyrus odoratus and extricated the strangled tomato plant. From less than polite expressions of intense disappointment yesterday when discovering broken geranium stems, her exclamations have been the more optimistic “ah, another cutting”. The greenhouse is going to be pretty full this winter.

Naturally Nugget kept her company.

Where’s Nugget? An easier puzzle today.

Elsewhere pelargoniums, petunias, rudbeckias, and hoverflies sharing a poppy enjoyed the early sunshine.

My task was dead-heading roses in the Rose Garden where

heavy bees clambered over the tiny blooms of the verbena bonarensis;

Lady Emma Hamilton laid her head on the block;

Jacqueline du Pré played on;

a hoverfly flew to the Blue Moon;

Crown Princess Margareta bustled voluminously;

Summer Wine was drunk with joy;

and Absolutely Fabulous certainly was.

Eventually leaden skies and heavy rain brought us inside. When Jackie heard that Nugget, whom she had missed, had come to join me, she uttered “turncoat”.

By mid-afternoon the skies had cleared and the weather brightened. We drove to Ringwood for Jackie to buy some new garments from M & Co. and returned home via the forest.

At first we progressed north along Avon Way and turned right into sun-dappled Sky Lane.

A severed string of ponies spanning the road at Ibsley left space for one passing vehicle or a young neophyte equestrian to thread a way through.

Several donkey families were stationed outside Hyde School. One couple seemed to be waiting to register their foal in advance of its reaching the age of admission;

another little one enjoyed a scratch on the road junction. An alarming driver turning the corner blasted his horn at the unperturbed animal which took no notice. I might have heard it borrowing Catherine Tate’s line: “Do I look bothered?” as, peeking over its flanks, it nonchalantly nibbled its hide.

The loud blast of a foghorn behind me alerted me to an agitated mother ushering her infant across the road at quite a rate.

As we returned through Ibsley the ponies, now on the move, tails twitching, like sensible walkers faced the oncoming traffic.

This evening Elizabeth visited because her phones weren’t working and she needed to phone Mum, which she did from my mobile which was coincidentally being charged up. Naturally, beginning with drinks on the patio, she stayed for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s tasty tender beef and mushroom pie; crunchy cauliflower, carrots, and cabbage; and new potatoes. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserva Shiraz 2017.