Rampant Alliums

For some days now a pair of robins have approached the stable door at the back of the house, settled in the wisteria, and drunk from Waterboy’s shell.

Another flits around the front garden, unwittingly taunting me through the window as I begin this draft.

The couple are becoming interested in Jackie’s continuing clearance of the Pond Bed and tolerate her talking to them but are not yet ready to pose for photographs. My sightings are far too fleeting for my trigger finger.

The Gazebo Path meets the Oval Path at the entrance to the Rose Garden. That is the point I had reached when a welcome shower drove us both in this afternoon.

When we first arrived in Downton we thought the little white onion flowers that came up after the snowdrops were quite charming. Little did we then know how invasive they are. One bulb can produce 300 babies. The first of the pictures shows a plastic bucket with part of Jackie’s collection; the second some with a cluster of pendant offspring all of which I attempted to prize out with a fork – I have no doubt I didn’t unearth them all.

Laid out on a shove halfpenny board with a 1p piece and a normal sized matchstick for scale Jackie has photographed in ascending sizes the allium vineal (wild garlic) and allium triquetrum bulbs with which we are dealing.

A brief period of sunshine followed the rain, giving me the opportunity to photograph raindrops, like these on tulips

or the feather lying among the weeds on the Oval Path, which will probably be my next targets.

Clematis Montana Mayleen is beginning its climb up the Cypress stump, beside which a freshly blooming rhododendron is poised to replace a fading camellia.

The Palm Bed photograph displays a spreading spirea, the rusting Ace Reclaim bench which has to be replaced, and the alliums triquetrum requiring eradication,

which also nestle annoyingly beneath another burgeoning rhododendron, a yellow Japanese maple, and the tulips Lilac Wonder.

Longer term readers will be familiar with Jackie’s pet robin who didn’t make it back this spring. He had, however, nurtured three broods before wintering in the forest. This was Nugget, at least three of whose progeny have returned in his stead. Let us call them collectively Nugget Junior.

While we prepared for dinner in the kitchen a sunshine-shower sparkled in the garden, refreshing Nugget Junior who is perched on the stone urn roughly in the centre of this image which can be enlarged with a couple of clicks.

Readers will also remember the game of Where’s Nugget? Much nearer to the house I am happy to present Where’s Nugget Junior? (1). If enlargement doesn’t reveal the robin, try looking through the second window pane in the second row.

Dinner consisted of spicy pizza with plenty of fresh salad. Jackie likes extra cheese on her pizza. I don’t, so she gave me a side dish of crispy bacon and mushrooms. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon.