Ready For Spring

In bright, warm, sunshine this morning Martin cleared more of last year’s dead garden material.

Here he works around the patio and Dead End Path;

The Pond Bed is now ready for new growth,

such as the tree peony in the Palm Bed, to emerge.

Daffodils, for example the tête-à-têtes, are really proliferating.

Summer and Autumn seasonal statues continue to gather lichen,

while Florence casts her shadow across the Shady Path.

Hellebores are beginning to hold up their heads; berberis, sometimes somewhat nibbled lingers on; and a hyacinth which began life in a gift pot returns year after year.

This afternoon, I facilitated enlargement and provided header pictures for the following posts:

Essentially what I am doing with these Classic Edits is converting them to Blocks.

Elizabeth visited this afternoon toting a large bag of very good clothes for Ellie which had once served Ella or Jack. She stayed for cups of tea and conversation including swapping recommendations of TV programmes.

Later the rest of us dined on flavoursome pork bangers and creamy mash with tender cabbage, crunchy carrots, fried onions, and meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

The White Feathers

I don’t think the fact that it was a dull overcast morning today when we made continuing slow progress on the work of clearing the edges of the back drive, was really the reason I am beginning to find it very boring. Perhaps you are too.

I brought bolt cutters into play to assist in disentangling the chain link fence from the trees. The task took a further two hours, and I still left parts of links protruding from the trunks of trees that had grown round them. The metal was so deeply embedded in the example shown here that, some way into its cut, my saw struck it and I needed to employ an axe.

Having, for the second month running, missed the home bottle collection, this afternoon Jackie drove us down to the bottle bank at Milford on Sea, where we unloaded our bottles and jars, and I walked back home via the footpath alongside the stream and through the Nature Reserve. This time, instead of arriving at Shorefield, I diverted into the Woodland Walk and across a paddock which brought me out, via Westminster Road, to the cliff top.

At regular intervals on the shrubbery along the footpath, small white feathers were neatly laid on leaves. It was as if the birds who had eaten Hansel’s breadcrumbs, taking pity on the lad, had replaced them with scraps of plumage.

Molehills also appeared at regular intervals along the way. The solitary creatures who make these, beset at this time of the year by the urge to mate, blindly shuffle along their dark tunnels until they find their object of desire, do the necessary, and return to their lonely existence. Every so often, the head gardener informs me, rather similarly to the activity of escapees from a prisoner of war camp, the earth has to be cleared from the tunnel, and is consequently pushed up to the surface.
As I approached one of the bridges I watched an excited family playing Pooh Sticks.

By the time I reached them they had moved on, and were now, as they said, engaged in a hunt for the poo possibly left in the undergrowth by their dog. It was the grandfather who told me about the route across the paddock.
Once on the cliff top, hoping to find a path emerging near the bottom of Downton Lane, I walked further along in the direction of Barton on Sea. I was disappointed in this, since all the stiles bore a Private notice, so I backtracked at took my usual route back through Shorefield via West Road.

Windborne crows chased each other across the skies.

Clouds loomed over Hengistbury Head, as a weak sun glinted on the sea, and a yacht sailed against the backdrop of The Needles.

The hedge to the garden of The Wilderness on the approach to Shorefield glowed brightly with vibrant honeysuckle and rose hips.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and pilau rice, followed by profiteroles. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Pinsapo rioja 2011.

The Golden Touch

On the way through the garden this morning, to continue working on the back drive, I paused to admire Jackie’s two new planters, originally candle-holders from Redcliffe Nursery. They display her usual flair. Turning into the drive, I encountered the trail made by a mole. As this stopped at the site of the bonfire, perhaps last night’s embers were still warm enough to deter it from popping its head out.

Jackie soon joined me and she made good progress pruning the conifers along the side of the fence between us and 5 Downton Lane.

Hampered by wire netting through which grew thick brambles and anumber of trees, I, however, taking the whole morning, covered about two yards. Three hours and a couple of feet separate these two photographs. After that we stopped for lunch.

A little further down, some fine hardy fuchsias form a splendid hedge. They blend well with the blackberries, which we are picking as we go along. Butterflies are enjoying our long summer.

A Red Admiral seemed particularly partial to the blackberries, while the broad shiny leaves of trees we cannot identify bore a Comma and a Speckled Wood.
For variety, I took the longer Downton Lane/coast road route to the shingle beneath Hordle cliff, and returned via Shorefield.

A jelly babies wrapper, linaria vulgaris, lichen, and dandelions, one of which attracted a small cricket, lent golden touches to the hedgerows.

Variations on this hue were provided by rust stains running down from the iron hinge of a beach hut, and by

the tennis ball being held up by a gentleman encouraging four spaniels to pose for their photograph.

It was a day for spaniels, one of whom frolicked with a group of four young women.
This evening we dined at Daniel’s in Highcliffe. We each enjoyed haddock and chips, mushy peas, and onion rings. I drank tea, and Jackie drank coffee.

Hidden Treasures

Apparently septic tanks need pumping out twice a year. For anyone fortunate enough to be ignorant of these sewage dispensing systems they are installed for houses which are not linked to water mains drainage. Without these you would have to dig your own hole as in primitive camping. Laraine, next door, had advised us to open up the lid of ours to inspect the level. We did. It was frighteningly high. A phone call will be required in the morning.
After this Jackie went back to her curtains and I set about planting.
The biggest problem of location is for the maidenhair or ginkgo tree. Although it is currently contained in a pot it can grow to 40 metres, which is quite high.

The only possible place for this is in the corner of our back drive. When inspecting the site I found a daunting number of brambles, nettles, old bits of wood and iron, and a good wooden compost bin completely obscured by the aforementioned plants. ‘Nah’, I thought, ‘I’ll do that another day.
As it was, in clearing spaces for the other items I did manage to put to bed, I probably cleared as much bramble, ivy, catch weed, and detritus as I would have done in the drive. But I did manage to re-home a peony, a fern, two hellebores, a weigela, three different succulents, and a rose.

I began with the rose. I thought. In fact I had to remove an enormous, no doubt ornamental thistle in order to replace it with this plant. Because every single new home for whatever species needed a similar clearance and more, the rose was actually the last planting I made at the end of the day. You could hardly see the little rose in the bed, but the maple that had been swamped by the spiky plant looked mightily relieved to have its space back.
I did have a break for lunch and sat in a chair by the window playing on-line Lexulous. A faint, intermittent, buzzing attracted my attention.

This proved to be a fly attempting to do back somersaults. I had noticed the sound earlier in the morning, but not identified its source. The creature had therefore spent some hours at this manoeuvre.
I took advice from the head gardener on positioning of specimens and placed them in their pots at the requisite sites. Unfortunately, I forgot two, which I will need to take care of tomorrow. Also unfortunately, this meant she came into the shrubbery under a large evergreen tree that I was clearing of brambles, and spotted a second shattered branch that had to come off. I then proceeded to teeter on top of a stepladder she held firmly, whilst I amputated the stricken arboreal limb.
The clearing of that particular area revealed some hidden treasures, such as a different camellia now in bloom,

and another splendid blue clematis that we think is ‘Beauty of Worcester’. Further along on that side of the garden lies a decking

platform close to which a magnificent red rose is now in bloom.
This evening Jackie provided a marvellous vegetable rice (recipe) to accompany her chilli con carne (recipe). She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the rioja.

I have no idea why the header picture is this one which rightly belongs on

except that it was a hidden treasure. Although it is still on the Black and White Discoveries post I have left it here because of the comments below.

The Final Stage

1st April 2014
Ian stayed over again last night in order to help us today. Some of what had not been fitted into the van spent the night in our prospective son-ion-law’s car. The rest stayed in the Castle Malwood Lodge garage for collection this morning when we let the cleaners in.
I was up first and, with mist moisture dripping onto me from the splendidly ornamental garden trees, began emptying Ian’s car.

Our new garden has a wonderful range of plants. Although they were somewhat veiled by the said mist, I photographed a sample, including daffodils, blue and white scillas, euphorbia, camellias, and grape hyacinths. It will be exciting, as the year unfolds, discovering what we have through the changing seasons.
The three of us then drove to Minstead where we loaded the two cars with the final contents of our rented garage, and drove back to Downton, after which we all travelled to the Needles Eye cafe and enjoyed all-day breakfasts, Ian and mine being the maxed-up version that signifies two of everything.
Ian followed us back to Minstead where we bade our farewells to an indispensable support and helper.
The two young women who were CME, the cleaning company’s operatives spent six hours doing a marvellous job on the end of tenancy clean, so Jackie and I had quite a wait in the sunshine before we could lock up.
The final stage of the departure from Minstead was the return of the keys to Penyards in Winchester. We did this at 7.30 p.m. and drove back to Milford on Sea and the Zaika restaurant’s Tuesday Banquet Night. This was clearly, rightly, very popular.
Staggering back to our new home, all we had to remember was whether to turn left or right at the top of the stairs to our bedroom.
Our broadband home hub will not be activated until 4th. In the meantime we have been told we can use BT WiFi. There is, however, no reception for this in Downton. A WiFi search is for another day.