The Bees Awake

The forecast overnight heavy rain persisted, clattering on the kitchen Velux window until shortly before dawn. Slowly, sheepishly, the sun crept into the skies, warming the garden enough for me to walk around in shirtsleeves, looking at the difference in the light from yesterday.

The gelatinous liquid aiding temporary hibernation of the bees was now running freely, for most had left their roosts.

One tottered tentatively around its berberis berth.

This evening we all dined on succulent roast breast of lamb; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding; al dente carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, chopped cauliflower leaves, and tasty gravy with mint and cranberry sauce. Jackie, Becky, Ian, and I drank Sacchetto rosé.

He Vouched For Their Taste

James the carpenter fitted a new drainpipe and guttering on the west end gable wall this morning

while Martin finished clearing the Oval Bed,

in which could now be seen this clematis attracting a hoverfly.

Wasps and bees were also buzzing around,

and the ubiquitous verbena bonariensis provided numerous trapezes for fluttering butterflies such as Red Admirals

and Small Whites.

Dahlias and crocosmia Lucifer are enjoying their time;

lilies in the Rose Garden have survived their recently bent stems.

As the day’s temperature rose, Martin worked steadily clearing the rest of the Dragon Bed.

In the first of these two pictures he holds up one of the fruiting blackberry brambles, for the taste of which he happily vouched.

Ian returned in time to join us for tonight’s dinner which consisted of oven fish, chips, and peas with which he and Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Louis de Camponac Cabernet Sauvignon 2022.

War Cry Or Serenade?

Accompanied by a shrill avian chorus that, apart from the occasional baleful wood pigeon, could have done with a bass tenor from Langholm, our division of labour in the garden this morning continued apace. It hadn’t been good idea for me to wear a sun-absorbing black T-shirt.

Perched in the Weeping Birch high above the eponymous flower bed

a pair of chaffinches kept up an incessant two note whistle lending a discordant jarring to the harmony. Was this a war cry or a serenade, I wondered?

To the left of Jackie, who was continuing her work on the Brick Path,

an owl roosted on a branched stand sporting a clematis fascinator in readiness for

Wedding Day festooning the Agriframes Arch with a certain amount of Compassion shown.

Another clematis adorns the Palm Bed, while two more owls are draped in ferns in the Pond Bed,

which also contains blue lobelia, pastel petunias, and rose campion.

Golden Day lilies star in the Dragon Bed.

Roses are represented by the red climber ascending the opposite side of the lopped cypress to The Generous Gardener; lofty Altissimo; and Rosa Gallica, being entered by a working bee.

This evening we dined on spicy lemon piri-piri chicken and various rices with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Selone Puglia Rosso Appassimento 2021.

Hopping From Seat To Seat

Yesterday I somehow managed to strain my left inner thigh which means walking is out of the question.

Perhaps thirty years ago, as featured in I spent a good hour hopping from seat to seat on an Intercity train when I was commuting from Newark to Kings Cross.

The method proved useful once again today. I couldn’t walk, but I could hop from seat to seat around the garden for a photoshoot. So this is what I did.

These images were produced from a seat in the patio;

these from the Wisteria Arbour;

the Gardener’s Rest yielded just two;

then came the decking;

one from the bench at Fiveways;

a good range from the four various viewpoints in the Rose Garden;

two from the concrete patio;

four from the Heligan Path bench;

two from the Westbrook Arbour;

three from the Nottingham Castle bench;

and finally, petunias in a chimney pot on the lawn seen from its own bench. All the other titles will be available from accessing the galleries.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and onion pie; boiled new potatoes; firm carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Flo and Dillon drank Ribena, and I finished the Côtes-du-Rhône.

A Soporific Afternoon

In the vicious postprandial heat I ventured on a garden hunt for butterflies and bees, which had been more present earlier in the day when we were clearing clippings and bagging them up for disposal.

Only two Peacocks and one bee settled in view during the half hour in which I was prepared to stick it out.

This afternoon we drove to Helen and Bill’s home at Fordingbridge to deliver a birthday present for our brother-in-law. He appeared to be asleep and Helen was out, so we left it in the porch.

We returned home via the forest.

Outside The Fighting Cocks at Godshill a group of ponies queued for a drink until

one became frisky and was rebuffed, while

another joined those waiting for a bus opposite.

Two walkers with a dog passed ponies on the green at Hale.

We followed another little and large pair on Tethering Drove, until they entered Broughton Gorse and led me to other equines in the adjacent landscape, one of which had succumbed to sleep,

as had two of our regular friends the Gloucester Old Spots slumbering at the Cadnam end of Roger Penny Way.

This evening we dined on oven fish and chips, peas, and pickled cucumbers and onions, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Banks’s Amber Bitter.

Resisting The Spanish Invasion

This morning Jackie and I drove to our annual pilgrimage to Boldre’s

Church Lane, with its high ancient hedgerows and its

private bluebell woods.

Banks and verges are now adorned, in addition to the bluebells, with white stitchworts, and yellow celandines and dandelions.

Jackie and and I saw differing images in the gnarled bark of an aged oak.

Rodlease Lane forms a T-junction with this first ancient thoroughfare, and also hosts this native variety of the blue flowers. When taking these pictures I was careful not to disturb

a bee pollinating a dandelion.

The reason we regularly visit this little area is because it continues to be populated by our own native plants as here

photographed and described by Jackie. The long, slender stems bear dark blue bells bending down one side. The leaves are long and narrow.

The Spanish variety is an invasive plant having largely replaced our home grown examples. To illustrate the difference our Head Gardener

photographed these interlopers when we arrived home. They are larger, more upright, plants with clusters of blooms all round the stems which rise from larger strap-like leaves.

I photographed these hybrids in our front garden. Their bells do hang down, but cluster all round the top of their stems. They also have larger leaves than our natives, none of which, sadly, are to be found on our plot.

This evening I dined on spicy pasta arrabbiata while the ladies enjoyed the chilli free version with Bolognese sauce. We had planned on Louisa, Errol, Jessica, and Imogen coming for Easter, but Covid put a stop to that, so tonight we all had the same Easter pasta in the shapes of chickens, eggs, and bunnies. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.


Martin spent the morning tidying the back drive beds. He applied his painstaking effort to cutting back excessive growth and cleaning the brick edging. He chopped the refuse and added it to the compost.

Two robins who we think are a grandson of Nugget and his female partner have been attracted by the work. Longer term readers will be familiar with our late tame robin and the occasional challenges to find him. Hopefully we are starting a new “Where’s Nugget’s grandson?” with these two, the first being No. 1 and the other No. 2. You may need to enlarge the images.

While all this activity was going on a big bumble bee slept away the morning on a blooming bergenia.

Hellebores and violas are also in bloom.

Owls and burnished Lanarth White hydrangea basked in the warm sunlight.

Snowdrops are now in flower throughout the garden

and on the kitchen table.

Another flower arrangement of Jackie’s consisted of a clutch of hard boiled eggs which took us back to our youth when most eggshells were white. Even in our early adulthood it was the brown shell that was unusual. Until someone decided that brown ones were considered more healthy. It seems that Tesco is in the vanguard of reversing the trend.

At mid afternoon we purchased a few items at Ferndene Farm Shop then took a short forest drive.

Sunlight picked out distant slopes beyond Burley Road and its moorland. The ponies in these landscapes showed interest when I disembarked from the Modus, but turned their backs when they realised I was not carrying food for them.

On the approach to Bisterne Close a field horse looked wistfully across the lane at a pair of

pony cousins enjoying their freedom.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; firm Brussels sprouts; and tasty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Azinhaga de Ouro Reserva 2019.

One Miniature Member

Early this afternoon I posted “A Knight’s Tale (9: Before The Coming Revolution)”.

Later, we shopped at Lidl and carried on for drive. Everywhere is becoming very crowded. Reaching Lymington was a lengthy process. We kept along Sowley Lane and St Leonard’s Road to the east, which doesn’t have too many visitors.

A family of mallards beside a temporary pool alongside St Leonard’s Road were possibly debating whether to settle on it.

Opposite, in sight of the Isle of Wight,

bees busily worked over the remaining blossom on nascent blackberries while they still had a chance.

Our familiar equine group of friends, with its one miniature member congregated outside St Leonard’s Grange, within reach of

their still liquid watering hole reflecting possibly aquatic plants.

Cattle on the moorland fronting houses between East End and East Boldre were happy to share pasturage rights with a few ponies.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of Red Chilli takeaway with which Jackie finished the Carricante and I drank more of the Fleurie, which involved opening another bottle.

Hoverflies Can Stand The Heat

This afternoon seemed even too hot for bees. Jackie continued her garden maintenance work. My contribution included trimming the edges of the lawn, a modicum of dead heading, and acting as the Head Gardener’s bagman, to and fro the compost bins.

We enjoyed, however, a host of hoverflies, seen here on For Your Eyes Only, Verbena Bonariensis, red carpet rose, Rosa Gallica, and a Marguerite.

One of the few bees in evidence took a rest on a somewhat chewed hemerocallis leaf.

Later this afternoon, I scanned the next four of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Dickens’s David Copperfield.

Writhing as Dickens describes, ‘He sat, with that carved grin on his face, looking at the fire’.

‘Miss Murdstone marched us into breakfast as if it were a soldier’s funeral’. Keeping’s portrait is true to his earlier ones.

‘The street was not as desirable a one as I could have wished it to be’

‘Traddles cut the mutton into slices; Mr Micawber covered them with pepper, mustard, salt, and cayenne’

This evening we dined on tender roast beef; fried potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm carrots, broccoli, and runner beans, with which I finished the Shiraz and Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc.