Life And Death

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This morning I employed several efforts at procrastination to defer my tackling the installation of the new Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner. Included were reading a book, dead-heading roses, and a bit of clearing in the garden.

Eventually, I got down to it, and am happy to say managed the job. I suspect the discs I was most scared of were actually for a Microsoft PC, because it seems the downloads were done on line with a Mac. Maybe Elizabeth will be able to enlighten me when she returns from a visit to Mum’s. A little sister is maybe a good enough replacement for a grandchild.

This afternoon I celebrated by wandering round the garden, which has reaped the benefits of Jackie’s splendid Autumn Clean.

She has weeded and swept paths including the Brick one.

Our colchicums, or Autumn crocuses, continue to spread each year.

The echinacea, however, are not doing so well. Jackie has tried these several times. None have survived, and these don’t look very well. Apparently they are prone to succumbing to sudden unexplained demise. Maybe the botanical world’s version of cot death.

We have many dahlias,

and numerous varieties of fuchsia. Bees were constantly diving into them. Here one grapples with Mrs Popple.

Another busy pollen gatherer swings on a yellow bidens.

Opulent begonias abound.

More dead-heading, as in Absolutely Fabulous was now required in the Rose Garden. Here we have the life-span of these blooms in one shot. Youngsters await their turn to beguile;

while blousy middle-age embraces a spider enswathing its prey, thus completing an opera of life and death.

Schoolgirl

and Golden Showers

scale the arbour.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans from the garden. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister, Becks Blue, and I, Albali reserva 2012.

The Bleeding Arch

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Jackie spent much of the day on giving the Rose Garden a thorough Autumn Clean. This involved extensive weeding, clearing all the paths, sweeping, pruning, thinning out, and dead heading. All the refuse was then carried to the Orange Bags for eventual transmission to the dump. Reducing the heucheras produced numerous plants for transplanting elsewhere. I rendered minimal assistance. The background paths and soil in these photographs is as worthy of perusal as the flowers.

Naturally, we took this evening’s pre-prandial potations in this space where, earlier, I had not noticed how the Ace Reclaim arch bled for Crown Princess Margareta.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; super savoury rice; al dente mange touts; and sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I consumed more of the Fleurie.

 

Spot the Bees

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Jackie continued watering the garden this morning. This afternoon we both carried out an extensive dead-heading session.

After this, I wandered among the flitting butterflies and the laden bees, occasionally sitting down, and photographing the still colourful range of flowers. The day lilies have been struggling, but some still survive. Look for the bees in some of the blooms. Captions to the gallery pictures offer identification.

This evening the three of us, including Elizabeth, dined on Jackie’s marinaded chicken fillets, pork rack of ribs, Plentiful vegetable rice, and ratatouille. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.

 

If You Weren’t The Head Gardener

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Jackie has spent quite a bit of time in the last three days clearing up after the storm. This has involved sweeping up leaves and broken plants; tying up some of the taller flowers;  generally clearing the paths; and continuing to water the baskets and other containers. Before the rain she carried out most of the required dead-heading. The roses in particular have benefited from the generous precipitation from the heavily laden clouds, so a little more pruning was required. I continued with that this afternoon.

These general path views demonstrate that much has been recovered.

Madame Alfred Carriere has swooned over the bright red petunias in the nearby urn. She will need to wait for Aaron’s attention on Sunday. The full size gallery version of the first picture above contains a bee wallowing in Summer Wine.

Dahlias have largely survived, supported by the Head Gardener’s ties. Those mingling with gladioli Priscilla hold a great attraction for bees.

Tall, slender, verbenas bonarensis, were a particular worry for Jackie as they bent double in the high winds. They have, however, largely perked up, and remain strong enough to bear bees swaying in the gentle breeze.

Many more blooms are appearing in the Rose Garden. Here we have For Your Eyes Only, Absolutely Fabulous, and Just Joey.

Rudbeckia is in its golden prime.

The patio borders are mostly unscathed, as are

the hanging baskets, such as those along the kitchen wall, and large pots like the one at the South end of the garden.

All in all, if you weren’t the head gardener, you might think there had been no storm.

I am happy to report that, of the Two Historic Houses, Elizabeth made the choice that would have been ours, put in an offer, and had it accepted – on the Swedish house. She returned home here this evening and the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid, hot, chilli con carne and wild rice. Elizabeth and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon. Jackie had consumed her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

Drinks In The Rose Garden

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We have recently subscribed to a joint funeral plan which offered a free will writing service. It is a distinct example of my ability to grasp ambivalence that I can prepare for the inevitable whilst at the same time feeling it is not going to happen to me.

By appointment today, the will writer telephoned and gleaned all the necessary information for her to draft up documents for both of us. As the Administration Department of our marriage I then prepared Jackie’s application for a renewal of her driving license. She signed it, of course. It hasn’t found its way to a post box yet.

This afternoon I watched the Wimbledon quarter final tennis match between Roger Federer and Kevin Anderson. I will not give away any details for those who may have recorded the game, save to say that there was a certain amount of consternation that it might continue long enough to clash with England’s World Cup football semi-final contest with Croatia.

Have no fear, we even had time for drinks in the Rose Garden, where, in addition to the many roses, we could enjoy other plants such as lilies and the Lanarth White lace cap hydrangea.

We watched the first half of the football on the sofa with bowls of Jackie’s superb pork paprika on our knees. This was served with new potatoes and chantenay carrots. I drank a Mendoza Malbec 2017 and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden. Now we are going to see the second half.

A Wee Bit Harsh

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Nasturtiums

Early this morning, in the front garden, I photographed nasturtiums;

Petunias in hanging basket

double petunias in a hanging basket;

Clematis Mrs N Thompson

clematis Mrs N. Thompson, now taking over from the pink roses on the trellis;

Clematis Ville de Lyon

and another, Ville de Lyon, draped over the fence.

Moving to the patio, I admired the various planting groups, including planters and hanging baskets along the Kitchen Path.

A brief sojourn in the Rose Garden revealed, among others, the miniature Little Rambler, clematis Arabella; Creme de la Creme; a bee in a poppy; and Jackie’s new creation, Rosa Canoris Forkii.

This made me determined to return later and join Jackie in a lengthy dead-heading session. I have to admit that I did get carried away with tracking bees and hoverflies, but, nevertheless, I thought the Head Gardener’s observation that there was more photography than dead-heading being carried out, was a wee bit harsh.

This afternoon I dozed through two World Cup football matches. It doesn’t much matter which they were.

Before dinner, we enjoyed a drink on the patio. I saved some of my Doom Bar to accompany Jackie’s splendid chicken jalfrezi and boiled basmati rice. Having finished her Hoegaarden, Jackie had the pleasure of watching me.

Maybe There’ll Be Frost

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Although the meteorologists keep changing their minds about it, we have a frost warning for tonight. We therefore began the task of bringing some of the more tender potted plants into

Cold frame 1Cold frame 2

a makeshift cold frame

Greenhouse 1Greenhouse 2

and the greenhouse.

Gazebo Path

Sun still streaked across the Gazebo Path;

Shady/Oval Bed paths

across the Shady Path;

Dead End Path 1

Begonias etc

across the Dead End Path;

Brick PathBrick Path 2

and down the Brick Path.

Cryptomeria Bed 1Cryptomeria Bed 2

Some geraniums and other similarly vulnerable plants like these in the Cryptomeria Bed,

Petunias

or these petunias, had to be left to the elements,

Pelargonium Quercifolium

but this pot of pelargonium Quercifolia that has taken two years to reach splendid maturity, just had to be placed in the greenhouse.

Meanwhile roses such as Compassion, seen rising above the Dead End Path in one of the earlier pictures;

Lady Emma Hamilton

Lady Emma Hamilton;

Absolutely Fabulous

and Absolutely Fabulous, will fight their own corners.

Sky an hour before sunset

An hour before sunset, the skies over Downton presaged splendid views later,

Sunset 1

when off we sped to Barton on Sea where

Sunset 2

we were not disappointed.

Sunset 3

Others had the same idea;

Photographing sunset 1

especially those

Photographing sunset 2

photographing

Photographing sunset 3

the ever-changing

Sunset 4

scene.

Sunset 5

Frozen vapour in the cross-hatched clouds suggests that maybe we will have frost.

Sunset with walkers 1Sunset with walkers 2Sunset with walkers 3Sunset with walkers 4

While walkers aimed for the sunset,

Isle of Wight at sunset

the Isle of Wight and The Needles were satisfied with the lighthouse beacon (enlargement will be necessary to see this).

This evening we dined on Jackie’s excellent sausage casserole, roast potatoes, and cauliflower. We did not imbibe.