Sweet Summer Wine

Today was even hotter than yesterday, so we began gardening early once more.

The sweet smelling rose Summer Wine shares the entrance arch to the Rose Garden with the white Madame Alfred Carriere.

One of the casualties of the recent gales was that a number of stems of the sturdy climber were ripped from their ties, and fell across the bed beneath it, seeming to form part of Festive Jewel. Although it then enhanced the bed, our task today was to prise it from its resting place and encourage it to rejoin its thornless French partner.

I was, of course, definitely the under-gardener in this project, essentially employed to hold the ladder and keep stems in place until secured. Not only that – someone had to record the event.

This is the final result. The Head Gardener assures me that all will soon fall into the proper place.

Naturally I took the opportunity to photograph other blooms such as Mum in a Million, gladioli Byzantium, feverfew, foxgloves, and Erigeron in the first of these images; bright red Love Knot and more muted Alan Titchmarsh in the second. The rose named for our popular gardening expert also appears in the final picture in the gallery.

Here is another foxglove for which species it has been a good year. Lidl name their plants quite simply – the second picture is called a white climber.

Special Anniversary appears in the background behind Absolutely Fabulous and a few aquilegias.

Other white roses include Jacqueline du Pré and Winchester Cathedral.

We inherited this pink climber towering above the Rose Garden Arbour, and Paul’s Scarlet which shares the Wisteria Arbour. Jackie planted the blue solanum.

Peach Abundance is in the Oval Bed just outside the Rose Garden.

A wood pigeon silently lurked in the shadows,

while the buzzing bee’s activities somewhat impeded the pruning operation.

The healthy buds of stems either broken or sacrificed to the secateurs found their way to the accident pot.

I had intended to continue weeding the brick paving later, but decided it was too hot and watch England’s football match against Croatia instead.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips with onion rings and peas, to which Jackie added a pickled onion and I, cornichons with chillis. We both drank Salento Rosato 2019.

I Hoped Not

Given the forecast (accurate) of the very hot day we gardened in the morning.

My contribution was weeding the central brick paving of the Rose Garden,

where, later, Jackie took a break sitting in the shade.

This afternoon my Chauffeuse drove me into the forest. A parliament of rooks was held beneath a dead tree alongside

Mill Lane, where walkers, cyclists, and motorists were to be seen. In fact many visitors were about this afternoon, so we kept away from the more popular areas.

A cricket match was under way at Burley. Jackie opined that one of the bowlers reminded her of me in my youth, which she described as tall and skinny. Having watched his action, I replied that I hoped not.

The only livestock out in the sunshine today appeared on Wootton Common.

A small Highland cow nibbled at the verge, with its crop of

buttercups, daisies, and ferns.

A while ago I had photographed a heron beside birches in the middle distance. Today I spotted

a bovine trio in the same place.

Remembering the heron and realising that there was concave dip beside the tree, I wondered whether I might find cattle in a pool. My reflection was rewarded.

A pony mare grazed on the sward, hoping to build herself up enough to satisfy her nearby foal.

The usual two little Shetlands accompanied a group of their larger equine cousins.

Early this evening we continued emergency watering which Jackie had been doing on and off all day.

We then dined on spicy meat feast pizza with plentiful fresh salad. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

The Rebellion

Having now completed my reading of Charles Dickens’s “Nicholas Nickleby”, I scanned the last four of the dramatic and insightful Charles Keeping’s illustrations from my Folio Society edition of 1986.

‘They pressed forward to see’

‘ ‘Come,’ said Tim, ‘let’s be a comfortable couple’

‘The rebellion had just broken out’

‘One grey-haired, quiet, harmless gentleman’

Christopher Hibbert’s informative introduction puts this book – one of his earliest – in the context of the author’s life and times. Despite the campaign against the sadistic, exploitative, Yorkshire schools there is much of Dickens’s witty humour in this story of tragedy, romance, and mystery. It is so well known as to need no further comment from me.

Throughout this series Keeping’s drawings speak for themselves.

This afternoon, in order to make inroads into the weeds piercing the Rose Garden Brick Paths, I tore myself away from the Test Match commentary until after the tea break.

Here are two images from before my efforts;

and two scraped out and swept.

Jackie continued with much tidying and planting.

This evening we dined on pork chops coated with almonds; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower and broccoli, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2019.

At The Tea Interval

On a drab, drearily dull, day I tuned into the start of the second cricket Test Match between England and New Zealand, and scanned eight more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.

In turning ‘Nicholas found Bray lying on the floor quite dead, and his daughter clinging to the body’ upside down, Charles Keeping has given the image an additionally morbid perspective.

‘Mrs Nickleby would draw up a chair and run through a great variety of distracting topics in the most distracting manner possible’

In ‘Some of the neighbours threw up their windows and called across the street to each other’ the artist has sprawled across two pages, symbolising the crossing of the street.

‘As they stole further and further in, the old hag and Squeers were busily occupied with their tasks’ gives Keeping the opportunity to display perspective by having the foreground figure burst from the frame.

‘With eyes almost starting from their sockets, and in a fit of trembling which quite convulsed his frame, Smile was shrieking to him for help’

Keeping’s trademark dog in the street appears in the foreground of ‘To Gride’s house Ralph directed his steps, now thoroughly alarmed and fearful’

‘Ralph sat down, pressing his two hands upon his temples’

‘ ‘That’s my own brave Kate!’ said Nicholas, pressing her to his breast’

During the cricket tea interval and for a while afterwards I cleared and transferred to the compost bins some of Jackie’s weeding refuse, then wandered around with my camera.

Jackie continued planting hanging baskets and other containers

on the patio.

Other views include those beside the wisteria and along the Shady Path, where, beyond the shot containing the Arthur Bell rose,

a red climber stands over a spanning wooden arch;

the peeling bark of the eucalyptus; from Margery’s poppies through the Cryptomeria Bed; and

the Rose Garden, including

pink Mum in a Million, peach Flower Power, white Winchester Cathedral, yellow Crown Princess Margareta and Absolutely Fabulous, red and pink For Your Eyes Only, white Kent carpet rose, and pink Festive Jewel.

This evening we dined on succulent lemon chicken and roast potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm carrots and broccoli, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes de Gascogne.

Spare Ribs

This morning we drove to New Milton to collect my new specs from Boots and dry cleaning from Whites, then, on a hot and sunny day, continued into the forest

Some way outside Burley we stopped for me to photograph a trio of ponies, including a clinging suckling foal, cropping the roadside verge. I have noticed how the new mare mothers all seem to have bony ribs.

On the approach to Wootton Bridge, Jackie parked beside one of the many hawthorn trees that inhabit the woodlands, and I crossed the road to visit another foal and its family. The dam was another who displayed the spare ribs effect.

These recent mothers all seem to spend time taking in their own nourishment whilst supplying their persistent offspring, Maybe that is why this one led her infant across the road for apparently richer pickings.

I wandered down past bright buttercups, daisies, and young ferns, and crossed to the stream becoming drier by the day. Blown seeds rolled among the shadows; a child kicked an inflated ball while her carers sunbathed.

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of the excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes de Gascogne.

More Garden Assistance

Early this morning we shopped at Ferndene Farm Shop for three more 60 litre bags of compost and another tray of bedding plants.

This afternoon we were treated to a most welcome visit from Danni and Ella.

Our great niece made straight for her box of mice that hide under the TV, after which she dragged Jackie into the library where

the toy box lives.

She found a paper bag with which to go shopping. Her Mum was the willing shopkeeper.

The story that came next required an equal amount of rapt attention from mother and daughter.

There was time for a few bubbles to be blown before the contents of the tube found their way to the floor.

Because of lockdown at Easter we were overstocked with eggs which could not be distributed. Ella was the happy recipient of a chocolate Bunny which she was generous in sharing.

After a while, our great niece was happy to wander in the garden.

She offered assistance in sweeping paths and watering plants.

Danni joined her at times.

Individual members of the above gallery bear their own titles – Compassion rose; day lily; pink rose; Welsh poppies beside an owl log; a red climbing rose with a blue clematis; yellow rose, Summer Time; pink Festive Jewel; Gloriana, For Your Eyes Only and Summer season sculpture; and Florence’s basket of bacopa.

When it was time to return home, Ella refused to say goodbye because she didn’t want to leave.

Later, Danni e-mailed me her photograph of me watching Pets2 with Ella on Netflix. I don’t appear terribly impressed, and Ella’s interest soon waned.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Cotes de Gascogne Merlot Tannat 2019.

More Equine Infants

A dull day brightened after lunch, when we visited Otter Nurseries to buy three more – the last – hanging baskets similar to the three Jackie had purchased this morning. We continued our drive into the forest, where

adult asses trimmed the verges and, scratching when necessary, blocked the road at the bottom of Bull Hill,

further up which we found a flurry of fresh foal births since our visit a few days ago.

Leaving one suckling we progressed to East End where an infant pony nuzzled for similar nourishment

among others in a field of swaying golden buttercups.

Later, with a background of glorious birdsong, I dug out a bramble; dead-headed masses of Welsh poppies; and photographed

the Chilean lantern tree lighting the way along the Shady Path.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with the addition of firm broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Cleaning And Weeding

Today’s weather reverted to the cool and dull variety.

This afternoon, after reading more of the book, I scanned the next five of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.

‘Nothing was visible but a pair of legs, which were dangling above the grate’

‘And still the riot went on …’

‘ ‘The devil’s in this woman,’ muttered Arthur’

‘It was not exactly a hairdresser’s; people of a coarse and vulgar turn of mind have called it a barber’s’

‘Thieves! thieves!’ shrieked the usurer, starting up’

This afternoon, Elizabeth visited with Birthday Presents for Jackie and her gardening kit. While I listened to the Test Match between England and New Zealand, the ladies worked in the garden.

Elizabeth weeded the brick section of the Oval Path, while Jackie cleaned the decking and tidied some planters.

Elizabeth stayed for dinner which consisted on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with tender runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.

June Delights

On a day that returned us to warmth and full sunshine, Jackie spent much of it

examining her floral babies and stretching to care for them, while I mostly wandered in and out of the garden with my camera.

We have a number of clematises;

numerous roses;

freshly blooming rhododendrons;

and more welcome alliums.

The Kitchen Path runs alongside the Pond Bed towards the arch bearing a blue solanum.

The Gazebo and Brick Paths are colourfully bordered.

Jackie’s new planting in the Shady Path Bench Bed is burgeoning nicely.

The Byzantium gladioli are standing in several beds, including this one in the Rose Garden; the pink cabana Jumbo emerges from a blue pot; the red Japanese maple still dominates the Pond Bed.

Geranium palmatums, cosmos, dandelions, convolvulus, companula, pansies, and poppies are other thriving blooms.

Florence at Fiveways stands in front of our newest bench; the Nottingham Castle replica is the oldest.

Weigela and two different erigerons overlook the concrete patio.

This evening we dined on more of the marinaded chicken with boiled new potatoes, and tender runner and green beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

“Where’s Elizabeth?” (2)

Although the day became somewhat brighter and warmer as it progressed, it was really quite dull and cold until mid-afternoon. This morning we took a brief trip to Ferndene Farm Shop where the Head Gardener bought three more bags of compost and trays of bedding plants.

This afternoon we carried out a Tesco shop in the usual manner. Jackie was very pleased to try out the face screen Helen had given her for her birthday. It was a great improvement on the masks which make the task very difficult.

Afterwards we drove to Pilley where I made

this week’s selection of record pictures of the lake. Those from the two usual vantage points do not show the full difference in the water level from our last trip.

Maybe these three shots give a better idea, especially the last one which ten days ago contained a smaller pool apparently harbouring a shark.

I was able to walk across the dry stretch and round the row of cottages opposite the green on which small ponies grazed within sight of the thatched terrace. There I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a mother and daughter whose home looked out onto the scene. We found we had marathon running in common, both having run the London.

There were more donkeys, with foals, on Bull Hill than there were ponies.

These managed to disrupt the traffic on a grand scale. It was particularly amusing when I white Toyota slalomed round the asses and came to a halt nose-to-nose with my Chauffeuse’s Modus, and out stepped Elizabeth, (“Where’s Elizabeth?” (2)), with her friend Barbara who is staying with her.

For dinner this evening, the Culinary Queen produced chicken marinaded in mango and chilli on a bed of vegetable rice with tender green beans. Her accompanying beverage was Hoegaarden and mine, more of the Shiraz.