Continuing To Cater

This was another fine, but cool, day.

As usual when Jackie stepped out of the stable door to fill the robin family’s breakfast tray

Nugget appeared in the wisteria before she had opened the cereal jar.

Soon after the Head Gardener had attended to her ever-multiplying avian infants we set out on what was planned as a garden centre crawl. In fact there was such a dearth of bedding plants which were all we could possibly make room for, that we stopped at two.

Ferndene Farm Shop presented its usual, smoothly moving, orderly queues, masked  members maintaining mandatory distance. I loaded bags of compost while Jackie paid for it and added a considerable quantity of bird food.

The next stop was Redcliffe, where there was no queue

and Jackie acquired a few flowers. Needless to say, like all other eating places, the Tea Room was closed.

This afternoon I dead-headed a number of roses.

The climber on the front trellis isn’t quite ready for the treatment, neither is

Perennial Blush along the back drive.

Also in the front garden we have calendula Orange Flush and deep red sweet William. The Euphorbia Mellifera in the background is just one of those we have whose honeyed scent lives up to its name.

The large blousy orange poppy, now past her bloom of youth nurtures a bud to take her place, while

the fully mature rose Margaret Merrill shares her bed with crisp offspring, with younger buds, and with an older relative whose time is done.

This was past siskin siesta time, so greenfinches were up and about drawing upon verdant leaves for camouflage. The clamour of a host of birds and their young filled the air around me.

The owls in this view of the Weeping Birch Bed looking northwards remain silent.

The peach rose beside the patio is pretty prolific.

If this is a bee on an erigeron

what is this?

Nugget Junior now fends for himself

while his Dad continues

to cater for his younger brothers and sisters.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken, bacon, and vegetable soup with crusty bread from the freezer, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the El Zumbido.

 

Feeding Fledglings

Yesterday Jackie photographed these deep magenta gladioli Byzantinus in the evening sunlight.

This morning she focussed on her white and blush pink foxgloves

happily located beside viburnum Plicatum,

red Japanese maple and long lived camellia;

not forgetting blue iris, white Erigeron and osteospermum sharing a bed with diurnal orange poppies;

her favourite colour way of orange and purple pansies;

and burnished calendulas.

In the garden today one could almost trip over hungry fledgling birds.

Through the front windows Jackie watched and photographed a young dunnock being injected with nutriment.

 

 

 

Later, I watched an apparently abandoned quizzical youngster who had no instruction manual. It may have caught a winged insect, but didn’t really know what to do with it.

Meanwhile greenfinches swung on the almost empty seed feeder

while sparrows scrambled over each other for the last of the suet balls.

This evening, with Jackie’s superb extra garlicky savoury rice left over from yesterday, I produced a meal of Lidl’s prepared pork spare ribs  and runner beans. I spent some time reading the instructions on the ribs packaging then was offered a quicker alternative method by the Culinary Queen, whereupon, feeling beset by Harry Enfield,

I had to get my head around a different procedure.

All turned out well in the end. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah.

Relaxed Restrictions

Late yesterday afternoon, beginning with

“Where’s Nugget?” (78), Jackie produced a series of photographs.

She was fascinated by the hairy borage

and a spiky caterpillar masquerading as a cactus.

Clematis Star of India occupies the wisteria arbour

through which is framed her favourite view of the garden. Left of centre, the Chilean lantern tree was lit by the evening sun.

Late this afternoon today, following the relaxed lockdown rules Jackie drove me to Bisterne Close along which I walked for 40 minutes before she picked me up and we returned home.

Unbeknown to each of us The Assistant Photographer and I focussed on the same subjects

 


Here we have tree fungus -Jackie’s

and mine.

To the right of this young female jogger stands a tree marked

for foresters’ attention, as in my photographs.

This would be too late for fallen (mine)

or broken (Jackie’s) trees.

One runner was exercising himself and his dog;

other people took a more leisurely pace.

I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with the friendly woman who kept the required distance from the runner and his pooch shown above.

There was much blooming rhododendron Ponticum along the lane.

Casting its shadow, a dark brown pony left a group ahead of me.

These wallowed in what, when we were last here, was a waterlogged verge.

Our final coincidental subject was the last of these ponies who, by the time Jackie approached was reaching for drier fodder.

We passed another pony on our way back along Bennetts Lane.

Golfers are now free to play on the Burley Course.

More ponies frequent the moors of Holmsley Passage.

This evening, along with her exquisite savoury rice, Jackie produced a variety of prawns: tempura; salt and pepper; and hot and spicy; and small vegetable spring rolls. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah.

Meet Nugget Junior

This morning while gardening Jackie photographed

rose Emily Gray, a highly scented rambler gracing

the back drive border out of sight in this shot;

clematis Doctor Ruppel climbing the weeping birch;

a row of blue irises with the bonus of a yellow stowaway in the bag of bulbs;

Nugget,

and his son Junior, still not qualified to wear the red jersey.

After lunch I managed the photoshoot.

On the kitchen corner of the patio we have delicate magenta gladioli Byzantinus blending with deep blue verbena Vectura and pink pelargoniums,

in turn reflecting similarly hued diascia potted above cascading Erigeron.

Nearby stands this peach rose we inherited.

Ornamental alliums of a number of varieties are gradually un-peeling throughout the garden.

Nugget attempted to encourage his son to feed from the suet pellet tray, but the youngster was deterred by my wandering around

the vicinity of the wisteria arbour.

I therefore focussed on this from above, showing how the rose Paul’s Scarlet and the clematis Star of India are poised to replace the fading pale blue blooms.

Later Jackie came in for her camera when Nugget and Junior both occupied the tray. Unfortunately they were gone by the time she returned.

Later, Nugget left Junior to his own devices while he flew off with a pellet for the next brood. Apparently robins are such prolific breeders that they can produce 3 to 5 clutches of up to five eggs a year. As soon as the youngsters earn the red jersey they are chased off by their father, so Junior will soon go and find someone else’s garden.

The marigolds in the Oval Bed continue to proliferate.

In the Rose Garden For Your Eyes Only is bushing out nicely, while Gloriana towers above it;

Schoolgirl vaults the arbour;

and flamboyant Festive Jewel,

sprightly Summer Wine and middle-aged Madame Alfred Carriere

carelessly cavort in concert.

This evening we dined on minted lamb steaks, boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and firm Brussels sprouts with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnacha, Syrah.

 

 

After His Bath

Today’s brisk north east wind carried a much cooler breeze than the sunshine promised. Fooled by this deception we took a circuitous route taking in

Keyhaven Harbour at low tide on our way home.

Some moored boats sat on dry land;

others, with buoys bobbed

on the rippling shallow surfaces while winds whistled through their bristling masts.

A lone oyster catcher picked its way among the drying weed,

 

like this black headed gull

quite unfazed by a black crow’s attempts at menace.

Several of the walkers who stepped out along the open freezer that was the sea wall commented on the tingling temperature.

There was not much activity at the end of Saltgrass Lane with its bridge to Hurst Spit over which

gulls swooped no doubt wondering why two gentlemen kept their prescribed distance.

One of the black headed birds rested on a rock contemplating

a cluster of yellow wild flowers on the opposite bank.

It is always risky for me to disembark with a camera while Jackie stops along a narrow winding lane like the one named

Agarton, because if any other vehicle comes along she will have to drive off and wait for me at the next available spot. Today we were lucky. Until we ventured into Lymore Valley.

There a most unpleasant stench beset our nostrils.

Rounding a bend we came nose to tail with a waste disposal tanker draining a domestic septic tank.

There was no way round it and Jackie was forced to back up until she found a place to turn. Difficult to do when you are holding your hooter.

Later this afternoon Jackie embarked upon a necessary watering session in the garden, where Nugget was having difficulty taking a bath in the somewhat reduced water feature. She refilled it and turned to her tray of potted plants. Her familiar followed her and indicated that he would rather swish around in that while keeping her company.

Looking rather tatty after his bath,

he was determined to hide. “Where’s Nugget?” (77) and

eventually emerged a little drier

to gather provender

for his offspring.

In addition to these pictures of her resident robin Jackie photographed the rose Paul’s Scarlet now scaling the wisteria arbour.

Fortunately The Culinary Queen prepares plenty of her delicious pasta arrabbiata for us to enjoy a repeat sitting today and other days. She drank Hoegaarden with her helping and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah with mine.

The Nuggets

Today the sun took a breather and the wind gradually increased.

This morning Aaron brandished a bramble he had found growing in one of our dead stumps.

Yesterday Jackie had photographed

the viburnum plicatum sprawling across the West Bed;

the Brick Path;

the view from the lawn looking past the eucalyptus and through the gazebo;

and a group of poppies, irises, and honesty brightening a corner of the Phantom Path.

Intending to weed it today, she also produced one of her “before” images of the brick section of the Oval Path.

In the event, Aaron did the weeding and I photographed the result

I printed our friend copies of the bramble picture above, and one of him mowing Laraine and David’s lawn next door.

Then, following John Knifton’s suggestion, I made an A3 print of the VE Day Street Party featured yesterday. Framing will need to wait until the lockdown has ended.

During a telephone conversation with Mum she told me that the outfits she had made for Chris and me for that occasion would not have been velvet as I had thought, because that would have been too heavy. It would have been material from her “rag bag” – probably an old coat. Her method was to turn the worn out garments inside out and wash them before creating the new ones. She explained that the reverse side of the material then looked in pristine condition – something that would not be possible today. As I reminded her the washing would have been done by hand, because she had no washing machine.

This afternoon Jackie was again beset by members of the Nugget family.

The only one who stayed for a chat when I was poised with my camera was Nugget himself.

We may be in a position of referring to the family as The Nuggets  in memory of

from the 1940s and ’50s.

Mrs Huggett was played by Kathleen Harrison who lived to be 105, and who Jackie knew in her last few years.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s rich red spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2018.

 

 

Old Curtains Or Blackout Fabric

Jackie continued refurbishing hanging baskets

and containers such as those she is watering here.

At the moment most of these involve cuttings she has preserved over the winter. We have heard today that garden centres are likely to open again next week, thus offering the opportunity for more variety – not that the Head Gardener has, thanks to Ferndene Farm shop, been completely devoid of bedding plants like these

calibrachoa awaiting a resting place.

Oak leaved geraniums and

Palmatums have survived in the open.

The burgeoning red climbing rose is now rapidly overhauling the fading wisteria;

while the nearby Chilean lantern tree is nicely lit.

Snow White Madame Alfred Carriere now relaxes with Summer Wine rouge above the Rose Garden where

the tiny Flower Power is having its strongest showing yet,

and the lyrical Shropshire Lad has found his rhythm.

A bustling bumble bee, hastening to reach its pollen count, scatters the microscopic yellow grains.

This afternoon I received an e-mail from our sister-in-law Frances wondering whether Mum had made Chris and my VE Day street party suits

from old curtains or blackout fabric. I had always thought velvet, but to ascertain the material’s origin I suggested Mum might remember.

Later  I scanned ten more pages of Agnes Miller Parker’s

elegant illustrations to H. E. Bates’s “Down The River”.

While I was working on this, Jackie began preparing the Cryptomeria Bed and found herself virtually surrounded by what seemed the whole robin family. Nugget, Lady, and two or three fledglings were all in attendance.

This evening I produced a meal of fillet steaks, mashed potato, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and runner beans. Modesty prevents me from mentioning its quality. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

“Where’s Jackie?”

Jackie spent much of the day tending to her hanging baskets and other containers, while I wandered about dead-heading and picking up debris for the compost bin.

I did, of course, have my camera handy. We have two new poppy varieties on display.

One is Californian;

the other I cannot name because it is a self-seeded volunteer which didn’t introduce itself.

For the first time this year geum Mrs Bradshaw has found a happy place in Margery’s Bed.

Another new bloom is clematis Warsaw Nike.

The Dr Ruppel I have been picturing recently scales the right hand side of the nearest arch spanning the brick path;

another is announcing its presence against the weeping birch trunk.

Jackie worked in the shade beyond these rhododendrons.

Here are some views of the Rose Garden.

In this one, “Where’s Jackie?”

After lunch Jackie worked

beneath a copper beech canopy

casting cool shadows.

Russel Crow, patrolling the roof of the house, panted like a dog to combat the heat.

Nugget did periodically investigate pickings from the pots, eventually taking off in search of fresh meat.

From this perch on the west side of the garden his food came in the form of flying insects at which he darted far too fast for my trigger finger – and for the wings of his prey.

The last two of these images show, on our right of Nugget’s plumage a little black mark which definitely identifies him.

This evening, on the patio before dinner, we noticed a nest of baby spiders, mostly clustered together.

Later, we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; tender runner and green beans with cabbage; and firm Brussels sprouts. with which I drank The Second Fleet Limestone Coast Shiraz 2018.

Whispering In The Wisteria

Late this afternoon I listened to the deceptively sweet trilling of a rival robin issuing war cries from a tree in the garden of No 5 Downton Lane whilst I stood in the Rose Garden photographing

lemon yellow climber Summer Time;

aptly named Altissimo glowing against the clear blue sky;

Madame Alfred Carriere draped over the entrance arch;

pinkish Penny Lane scaling the potting shed;

glorious Gloriana;

clustered Crown Princess Margareta;

and florid Festive Jewel.

On my way back towards the house I admired the species tulip and Japanese maple juxtaposition in the Palm Bed

and passed another peony opened in the Dragon Bed.

Down the Head Gardener’s Walk I rounded the greenhouse which still accommodates plenty of pelargonium cuttings,

and came upon Nugget, too currently domesticated for battle, gathering supplies from his food tray, now suitably wired against blackbirds.

He briefly whispered in the wisteria before heading off to his family.

Soon we will dine on chicken Kiev, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans. I will refrain from eulogising the quality of the cooking just in case the menu items turn out to be soggy or burnt, especially as Jackie is currently drinking Heineken and I am busy finishing the Shiraz.

 

 

 

Antipodean Visitors

Warm sunshine was the order of the day.

Jackie spent much time in shade tending to potted plants, many of which have survived the winter but needed shaves and haircuts.

She has suspended some of these from the lopped cypress.

My contribution to the general maintenance was a little watering, weeding, and transporting debris to the compost bin.

Our first peony blooms are appearing

as are those of roses Emily Gray

and Félicité Perpétue, both along the back drive

which also sports splendid hawthorns.

Our Antipodean visitors include the bark-shedding eucalyptus,

several sculptural New Zealand flaxes,

and the Cordyline Australis now sending forth its bud stems.

Small white butterflies flutter everywhere at the moment. This one had the decency to keep still for a moment.

Currently flourishing clematises include the bosomy Marie Boisselot;

the robust Dr Ruppel;

the novel Daniel Deronda:

and this anonymous character.

This radiant rhododendron refreshes the Palm Bed.

Nugget and Lady continue jointly to feed their brood. It is now really only behaviour that enables us to distinguish between them. For example when one drops down onto the wheelbarrow with which Jackie is working, something with wings in his beak, cocks his head on one side; inspects the offerings she has on display, and flies off in disinterest, that is undoubtedly our friend.

I am fairly sure this in Nugget perched on his favourite patio chair.

The pair of them were collecting suet pellets at this point. Unfortunately I only photographed one of them. Nugget, we think.

Later this afternoon a fledgling robin swooped after Jackie as she entered the rose garden and began tipping spent compost onto the beds for mulch. In a flash this baby cocked his head and began the investigations exactly as his father had done a year ago. Soon we really will have an identification problem.

This evening we dined on more of yesterday’s crusty bread with her wholesome soup of chicken and bacon added to the Culinary Queen’s vegetable base.