Pruning

Aaron’s main task this morning was taking shrubs in hand.

He began with the camellia beside the Dead End Path. He pruned lower branches to lift the plant which has continued to bloom for at least two months.

The prolific Compassion rose has persistently refused to drape the arch spanning this path. Our friend from A.P. Maintenance therefore staked it up enabling it to continue in the direction in which it is determined to lurch. Here he discusses the finished project with the Head Gardener.

Finally he tidied the viburnum Plicata.

Last autumn Aaron had heavily pruned the roses in the Rose Garden, except for Rosarie de la Haie which is the only one currently fully in bloom. The host of heucheras brighten the borders and buds adorn the other specimens.

Elsewhere rhododendrons, phlox, honesty and aquilegias thrive; white clematis Marie Boisselot is opening out and diurnal yellow poppies demanded dead-heading.

This evening we dined on tempura prawns followed by Jackie’s spicy pork paprika and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda.

Fishy Business

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This morning, Jackie went hunting for pond liner to mend a leak in the Waterboy fountain

Brick Path through Agriframes Arch

whilst Aaron cleared wind-battered plants and cut back others encroaching on the paths,

Love Knot and Alan Titchmarsh

Little Rambler

and I dead-headed in the rose garden and beyond. In the first of the above two pictures, the paler Alan Titchmarsh stands beside Love Knot; in the second, Little Rambler’s label stands out.

Rosa Gallica

The bright pink Rosa Gallica is beautifully striated;

rose Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral bears new buds ready to take over from the mature bloom;

Bee on Absolutely Fabulous 1Bee on Absolutely Fabulous 2

and a bee lingered on Absolutely Fabulous long enough for me to get two shots in.

Bee entering foxglove

In fact bees busy themselves everywhere. This one takes itself into a pink foxglove;

Bee on aquilegia

another boards an aquilegia;

Bee on heuchera

another a heuchera;

Bee and shield bug in Bottle Brush plant

and, is that a shield bug sharing a berth with one in a Bottle Brush plant?

Petunias

Elsewhere we have suspended petunias;

Clematis Star of India

ascending clematises like this Star of India;

rosa Glauca

soaring Rosa Glauca;

Campanulas

white campanulas;

Rose Campion

delicate rose campion;

Sisyrinchium striatum

tiny sisyrinchium striatum;

Lilies 1Day lily 1

luscious lilies;

Fuchsia

hardy fuchsias;

Philadelphus 1Philadelphus 2

two different philadelphuses;

rose Dearest

another pink rose Dearest;

rose Wedding Day 1

and Wedding Day

Clematis and Wedding Day

joining the clematis on the Agriframes Arch.

After lunch we motored to Stewart’s Garden Centre just outside Christchurch where, at Maidenhead Aquatics, we found the liner.

Koi Carp 10Koi Carp 11Koi Carp 12Koi Carp 4Koi Carp 6Koi Carp 7Koi Carp 8Koi Carp 9

Koi Carp 5Koi Carp 1Koi Carp 2Koi Carp 3

Outside this outlet there is a large pool around which koi carp, some looking prehistoric, glide, fins flapping, or swoop, tails flipping, fins tucked into their sides, whirling interminably.

We also noticed that Broomhill Garden Buildings had a Spring Sale, where a rather good greenhouse was available at half price. Back home we sped to take measurements of the place where it would go. It fitted. Back we sped and ordered it.

This evening we dined on haddock fishcakes topped with Cheddar cheese; spinach (for the forearms); boiled potatoes, carrots, and green beans.with which I drank Louis Chamandiet Cairanne 2015.

 

 

Sticklebacks

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A brief window of sunshine emerged in an otherwise wet and dull day, to enable me to cut the grass, do some dead-heading, and repel bramble invaders on the back drive.

Otherwise I scanned a batch of colour slides from a trip to Richmond Park in May 1981.

Jessica and Sam 5.81 1

Jessica, Sam,

Matthew 5.81

Matthew,

Becky 5.81

and Becky were my companions.

Aquilegia

It was the season of Aquilegias

Azelias 5.81

and Azaleas.

Matthew and Becky and reflections 5.81

When Matthew and Becky began fishing for sticklebacks in the lake, I walked around to the far side to see what I could do with my long lens.

Matthew and reflection 5.81 2Matthew and reflection 5.81 1

Gradually, a certain amount of interest was aroused.

Becky, Jessica, Sam, Matthew and reflectionsBecky, Sam, Jessica, Piper and Matthew and reflections 5.81 2Becky, Sam, Jessica, Piper and Matthew and reflections 5.81 3

Reflections of Becky, Sam, Jessica, Piper and Matthew 5.81 1

Jessica, Sam, and Piper, the dog, soon became involved.

Reflections of Becky, Sam, Jessica, Piper and Matthew 5.81 2

Hello; who’s that behind Sam?

Becky, Sam, Jessica, Piper and Matthew 5.81

The people in the background were more interested in the shrubbery,

Matthew, crowd, and reflections

Becky, Matthew and Crowd 5.81

Reflections of Becky, Matthew and Crowd 5.81Matthew and reflection with crowd 5.81

Reflections of Becky, Matthew and Crowd 5.81 2

but soon there was quite a crowd of spectators,

Reflections of Becky, Jessica, Sam, and crowd 5.81

Reflection of Matthew and observer 5.81

who slowly drifted away.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi with vegetable rice salad. She drank her Hoegaarden/Bavaria mix and I drank Royale Pays’ d’Oc Merlot 2014.

Before The Thunderstorm

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For the best part of the day there were two consistencies in the weather: it was very warm and it was dry. This meant the overnight rain soon evaporated. The sun, however, vied for dominance with the clouds.

Sack barrow

Stopping on the way to buy a necessary sack barrow from Milford Supplies, we drove to Molly’s Den in search of two more stone urns for the rose garden. We were successful and installed them into position.

Planter in wrought iron

We also bought a red-painted wrought iron planter.

Front garden

Early on, in the front garden,

Tulip and raindrops

tulips’ in-built umbrellas protected their stamens.

Clematis Montana with bee

Bees preferred the pollen from the clematis Montana. If you can’t spot this insect filling its thigh sacs, you may choose to enlarge the image,

Bee on clematis Montana

or opt for this one instead.

Aquilegia

Pearly drops slipped from aquilegias.

Viburnum plicatum 2Viburnum plicatum 1

The viburnum plicatum had benefited from the warmth and the rain.

Wisteria

Two years ago, outside the utility room door, stood the stump of a wisteria that had clearly been heavily pruned, we imagine to make way for the plumbing for the en-suite bathroom above. It has responded to nurturing the first year, and training the next, to produce a fine drapery which should increase even more next year.

Pieris

Another stump, this time on the grass patch, has recovered to produce a pieris that now shows signs of feeling crowded by the Castle Bench.

Erigeron

Offspring of the erigeron, outside the French windows to the sitting room, have been adopted by various other parts of the garden.

Urn 1

Urn 2 (Jackie reflected)

Just before the thunderstorm hit at 4.30, after Jackie had planted up the urns, I joined her for cold drinks and a rest in the rose garden.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s prize chicken jalfrezi, now nicely maturing; meat samosas, egg fried rice, onion bhajis, and parathas. I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone, while The Cook abstained.

A Lost Shadow

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Ronan the Boilerman fitted a new thermostat to our hot water cylinder tank this morning. That means we no longer scald our hands and have to turn on the cold tap every time we want to wash them.

Jackie spent much of the day weeding and planting.

Elizabeth's bed

Once The Head Gardener had prepared it, I covered Elizabeth’s bed with compost. It took eight bags.

Brick path

The gradual burgeoning throughout the garden can be seen, for example, along the Brick Path – and, yes, Jackie has smuggled in another owl since this was las displayed –

Margery's Bed

and along Margery’s Bed, in the foreground of which a geranium palmatum has pushed its way into the light.

Tulips and pansiesTulips

We have varieties of tulip,

tulipa saxatilis lilac wonder

including tulipa saxatilis lilac wonder;

Daffodils

daffodil;

Aquilegia

and aquilegia.

Japanese maple

elegant leaves stretch their fingers out from this Japanese maple.

Pulmonaria and heuchera

Pulmonaria crops up everywhere,

Bee on pulmonaria

attracting equally hirsute bees clutching petals as they suck the nectar.

Butterfly Small White and honesty

Butterflies, like this Small White flitting from honesty to honesty, are also back,

Poppy and shadow

as are poppies, one of which, like Peter Pan, has lost its shadow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice Ferndene Farm Shop chilli pork sausage casserole, mashed potato, carrots and Brussels sprouts, followed by chocolate eclairs. The Cook drank Hoegaarden, whilst I consumed more of the madiran.

Reincarnation

This morning we went driveabout. At New Milton we paid the car tax for a year, bought me some new sandals, and some curry spices; then at Ringwood I examined a magnetic picture frame at Wessex photographic, and placed an order for a larger one, and Jackie bought a keep for the recently fitted door to the master suite.

Aquilegias

After lunch Jackie continued transforming our garden whilst I wrote a story. These unusual aquilegias were not visible last year because they were completely overgrown.

WordPress awards, it seems, are like buses. None come along for ages, then two or three arrive together. Having just received two awards in two days, the third has dropped into my mailbox. When Robin of Robin’s Real Life invited me to participate in Five Photos – Five Stories and described me as one of her favourite storytellers, this was my third bus.

Robin’s own delightfully romantic story prompted me to begin my daily quintet with a tale, snippets of which will have been gleaned by readers who have followed me for a while. It is now time to put it all together, and add relevant detail. I hope I can live up to the billing.

In March 1968, two and a half years after the death of Vivien, my first wife, Jackie and I were married. Nine months later, our son Matthew was born. This second marriage was to last a little less than four years. So distressing was the ending that it took each of us seven years to wed other spouses. Jessica, whom I married in 1980, was herself to die in July 2007.

Tess then came into the picture. Tess is Matthew’s lovely wife. In December 2008 she held a surprise 40th Birthday Party for the son Jackie and I shared. On other such special occasions a choice had clearly been made about which of us, who had not met for years, to invite. This time we were both to be at the event in The Plough at Upper Dicker.

With some trepidation I travelled down on the train, walked from the station, duly arrived, and surprised our son. Jackie, however, was absent. I circulated, chatting among the other guests, most of whom I knew well. My wandering through the bars took me past the door to the car park. It was then I did a double take.

The solid door was lit by a small, head height, window, perhaps 50 cm. square. There, neatly framed, in three-quarters profile, was my previous father-in-law, Don Rivett. But, this could not be. Don had died many years earlier.

The door opened, and in walked Jackie.

We conversed a little, then joined separate groups, but somehow or other, often found the groups merging. When Sam was the last to leave one particular table and we found ourselves alone, what now seems obvious began to dawn on me.

By the summer of 2010 Jackie and I had moved into a flat together, the proceeds of sale of our first marital home providing most of the funds necessary to buy our current house.

Jackie 8.10 004

For the requested photograph, I have chosen one from a set of negatives I took in August 2010, and scanned today. To borrow the words William Shakespeare put into the mouth of Dimitius Enobarbus when describing Cleopatra: ‘Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety’. Jackie is not the reincarnation of Don, but she is of the muse of my youth.

After that it seems a bit mundane to return to the starling family, but we did spend some time watching as both parents, now more courageous, combined to cater for clamouring chicks.Starling 1Starling 2Starling 3Starling 4Starling 5

The trot along the roof top became more urgent; the drop from the corner, and dash into the cave, less hesitant.

Meat and vegetable samosas and a paratha were added to Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and pilau rice for our evening meal. We both drank Kingfisher.

 

 

 

Cave Dwellers

On a warm, sunny, morning, Jackie drove me to Lymington hospital for a physiotherapy appointment. This had been rescheduled because I forgot the first one. Apparently, although it still looks pretty manky, and required the physiotherapist to cut away scabs clinging to the parchment of dead skin, my hand is healing well. I’ll spare you the photographic evidence. Later, I walked around the garden where Spider on cranesbill geranium

a minute spider clung to one of the many different cranesbill geraniums;

Glechoma

a glechoma has produced tiny flowers which neither of us has ever seen before;

Lonicera

a rich carmine lonicera adorns the arch leading into the planned rose garden;

Aquilegia and ornamental grass

and ornamental grasses cast their shadows across pale lilac aquilegias.

I needed to climb onto the Ace Reclaim bench to photograph this unidentified clematis,Clematis 1Clematis 2

because it is so close to the fence that it is our neighbours who are getting the benefit of it. Clematis Doctor Ruppel

Jackie had no difficulty in identifying the marvellous magenta Dr Ruppel variety ascending the weeping birch, because she had planted it beneath that tree.

The Heligan Path sign

I thought it rather generous of her to have added a dedication to The Heligan Path sign.

As you approach the entrance to Lymington hospital you are currently greeted by a sparrow concerto of splendid amplification. This comes from a colony inhabiting the walls. The architects have provided a facade of stone chunks without apparent grouting. A strong metal grid covers this, presumably to prevent an avalanche. These, the head gardener tells me are cages called gabions.Wall with sparrow

The birds flit backwards and forwards to and from the crevices behind which they are nesting.Sparrow 3

This one appears to be carrying food for chicks.

Sparrow 2

Various males stand guard outside their respective entrances.

Sparrow 1

You wouldn’t want to tangle with this one. (Click on him to reveal his malevolent visage).

The house sparrow is an Old World sparrow believed to have evolved in the Mediterranean region centuries ago. It is unlikely to date as far back as the times of the Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon humans. The latter term for our ancestors comes from the name of a hill in the village of Les Eyzies de Tayac in the Dordogne in Southern France, within reasonable driving distance of my house in Sigoules. This was where bones were discovered by workmen in 1868. These people were also cave dwellers, and lived on this hillside:4182885-cliff_dwellers_cave_Les_Eyzies_de_Tayac 2960806-The_National_Museum_of_Prehistory_Part_II-Les_Eyzies_de_Tayac

One former resident, surveying the valley below, has been preserved in stone.

Perhaps far more famous are the caves at Lescaux where early folk have left their marks on the walls. Chris and Frances were rather disappointed a few years ago when they took a trip from Sigoules to see them. In order to preserve the artwork intact, the public are not permitted to enter the original dwellings, and are shown around a replica, at the speed with which anyone who has been marshalled along a crowded art gallery will be familiar. Here is a two and a half minutes guided tour taken from YouTube:

There was no YouTube in prehistoric times, so people told their stories in scratched markings and pigmentation. 13000376 In Argentina’s Patagonia stencils of human hands, together with other rock paintings depicting the life of hunters who lived between 13,000 and 9,500 years ago, cover the walls of the cave known as the “Cueva de las Manos” which literally means, “the Cave of Hands”. Perhaps these people didn’t live long enough to be inflicted with Dupuytren’s contracture.

This evening we dined on a tangy variation of Jackie’s cottage pie topped with sheets of mature cheddar cheese; baked carrots and leaks; stir fried cabbage, onions, and peppers; and piquant cauliflower cheese. This was followed by Lidl’s Deluxe New York cheesecake, use by 18 May. Jackie drank her habitual Hoegaarden and I relished my customary red wine, in this case the last of the Cotes du Rhone Villages.