First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

What Has Been Happening

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Today, shyly, a warm sun peeped periodically through the slow moving clouds, which released no rain. This gave an opportunity to wander around the garden to explore what has been happening whilst we have lurked inside.

The winter flowering cherry still has no idea that its season is over.

Views from the paths are enhanced by

continuing varieties of camellia,

daffodils,

 hellebores,

and pansies.

Comparatively new arrivals are epimedium, honesty, comfrey, aubretia; and

wallflowers, blending with

euphorbia, that with its fly, like the alliums, attracts insects such as the bee and the tiny creature on the wing to the right of that.

This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Oliver’s Chinese takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Ribera del Duero Camino Nuevo 2016

 

Back To Sleep

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At very brief intervals this morning the deceptive sun suggested it may brighten our day.

Chionoxa

We believe these little plants forcing their way between wet paving stones are chionodoxa. Just above them poppies are beginning to try their luck.

Pulmonaria

Hairy little pulmonaria seem to tolerate anything thrown at them.

Gazebo path

My walk down the Gazebo Path coincided with the sun changing its mind.

Margery's Bed and beyond

Later the daffodil at the far end positively glowed with pleasure at another change.

Dragon Bed

Heucheras and euphorbias lead the eye to camellias on the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage.

Camellia blooms fallen

Earlier camellias have dropped buffeted blooms which continue to provide a pleasing display.

Crocosmia spears

Thrusting crocosmia spears caught the next bright beams. When gardening becomes possible again, many dead leaves will be removed.

Westbrook arbour

The Westbrook Arbour in the West Bed is now home to the chicken doorstops rediscovered in the cupboard under the stairs.

Daffodils and pansies

Here is the left hand side of that newly cultivated bed.

Across Weeping Birch Bed

From the Weeping Birch Bed with its blue vinca and yellow hellebore can be seen dancing daffodils.

Heuchera

Heucheras are beginning to brighten everywhere.

Brick Path

I do hope the Head Gardener will forgive my having taken this shot down the Brick Path without clearing up. It has been raining for days, after all.

Moss and sedum spectabalis

Moss covered rocks abound. Here one shelters a healthy sedum in the Cryptomeria Bed;

Cryptomeria Bed

another is about to be draped by vinca which will need keeping in check.

Pansies

Several hardy pansies have survived the meteorological vagaries;

Bee on pansy

one sleepy little bee had been persuaded to drag itself out of bed and into one of these where it appeared to have gone back to sleep.

Beef, mushroom and onion pie

This afternoon, Jackie made two beef, onion, and mushroom pies. This one is for the freezer.

Beef, onion, and mushroom pie meal

The second was served this evening with potatoes, carrots and cabbage, and thick, flavoursome gravy from the juices of the tender pressure-cooked beef. I finished off the 16 Little Black Pigs

 

Head To Head

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A patch of mostly dull and cold weather is giving me ample reasons for continuing with the scanning of the negatives of the long walk of the rather hot July of 2003. Today we are again back on the River Thames in South Oxfordshire.

Couples walking 7.03

This was still near enough to normal civilisation for elderly couples to be out walking along the banks.

If there were any footpaths on this stretch, they lay beneath the ripeness of Summer requiring negotiation, in the form of wild flowers attracting bees; grasses in seed; plantains trip over; broad backlit leaves bearing shadows of other floral forms; and convovulous carrying tiny beetles.

Convolvulus reflected 7.03

One of the latter plants trailed over the river, reflecting on the murky water.

Derelict hut 7.03

An avian trio perched on the coping stones of a derelict shed in need of replacement tiles;

a pair of peacocks entered into head to head negotiations;

Mallard and ducklings

a mallard paddled along ahead of her imprinted offspring;

Swans and cygnets

and a pair of swans introduced their cygnets to further reaches of the Thames.

Sheep and farm buildings 7.03

A flock of sheep grazed alongside what I took to be farm buildings of some sort.

The sun-baked natural world disregarded the two young men taking a leisurely row along the sleepy waters, passing a dangerous-looking weir, and negotiating a narrow lock.

Here, at home, dusk this evening lent a dramatic air to the looming skull of the virtually gutted North Breeze next door.

Shelly and Ron gave me a couple of very good Blason du Rhone Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2015 wines for Christmas. I drank a glass this evening with Jackie’s excellent chicken jalfrezi, and aromatic pilau rice, served with vegetable samosas. My lady finished the Coquimbo.

“So Much Colour”

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This morning Jackie continued her autumn clearing and planting in the garden. This afternoon I tidied up a bit then wandered around with my camera.

Petunias, geraniums, and erigeron

Petunias and geraniums continue to glow, with bright little erigerons still standing proud;

Hanging baskets over Shady Bed

and diascias and begonias adding to the music.

Hat planted up (bee on marigold)

The lead hat on the patio wall would grace an Ascot attender,

Bee on marigold

although she might not be happy about the resident bee.

New Guinea impatiens and fly

Other insects enjoying the warm weather include this fly on a New Guinea impatiens.

Fuchsia in Dragon Bed

Fuchsias are among the delights of the Dragon Bed,

Fuchsia in Kitchen Bed

of the Kitchen Bed,

Fuchsia and fennel in Elizabeth's Bed

and of Elizabeth’s Bed.

Oval Bed

That second example, via dahlia Coup de Soleil, continues the chrysanthemums’ colour in the top left hand corner of this Oval Bed view. The yellow nasturtium peeping into the bottom right hand corner is just one of

Nasturtiums, salvia microphylla, California poppiesNasturtiums

many rambling around the garden.

Palm Bed rhododendron leaves

Rhododendron leaves in the Palm Bed form a sinuous shape with the rudbeckias,

Palm Bed -Japanese anemones and rudbeckias

seen in the same bed dancing with Japanese anemones;

View through eucalyptus to weeping birch

or taking the eye through the regenerating eucalyptus to the yellowing leaves of the weeping birch.

Kitchen Bed eucomis, ginkgo, fennel

A similar yellow palette is taken up through the Kitchen Bed by way of the eucomises, the potted ginkgo, and the bronze fennel;

Diascias, geraniums, dahlias

whereas the pale pink diascias in the iron urn lead us to the hot geraniums and dahlias beyond.

Dragon Bed

A dragon stands proud, protecting plants in its eponymous bed.

Chilean lantern tree

Still the Chilean tree produces lanterns,

Colchicums

while gentler hued colchicums sprawl across the soil opposite.

Heligan Path begonias

Begonias still glow in their hanging basket alongside the Heligan Path over the Cryptomeria Bed,

Penstemon

and sunlight has a similar effect on this penstemon.

Rose Garden

An array of supporting plants accompany the roses in their Garden,

Festive Jewel

where such as Festive Jewel display several generations at once.

Grass Patch

Even the patch of grass delights in the day.

Perhaps this is what John meant when he came to paint the garden and observed “so much colour”.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken with her especially savoury vegetable rice – itself a veritable complete meal. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the sangiovese.

P.S. See my response to Luanne below as a recipe for the vegetable rice.

 

 

Aaron Knows The Score

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We have experienced an intermittently leaky kitchen extension roof since we arrived here. The amount of infiltration has depended upon the wind direction rather than the quantity of precipitation. One person has already allegedly repaired it – not very effectively.

Sid mending roof 1Sid mending roof 2

Sid, a very personable extra pair of hands, has joined Aaron in AP Maintenance. Today he mixed up cement and mended the roof properly.

Aaron removing stump 1Aaron with chainsaw

Aaron pruned a straggly climbing rose, and cleared more of the West Bed including stripping dead and intrusive growth from another palm, and sawing off an exposed tree stump we hadn’t known was there. When I told him that Sid had spotted a cracked tile and asked if we had any more, and I had replied that we had, but I would need to ask Jackie where they were, Aaron gave her yet another title. “The Maintenance Department”, said our friend, who knows the score.

Just to show willing, I assisted The Head Gardener in her general maintenance tasks this afternoon by occupying myself dead-heading.

Dahlias 1Dahlias 2

This is, of course, the season for showy dahlias

Chrysanthemums

bright, bushy, chrysanthemums,

Nasturtiums

and snaking nasturtiums;

Honeysuckle

but I am surprised to see honeysuckle rising again in both back and front gardens.

Geraniums

Geraniums

Begonia 1Begonia 2

and begonias cling on to life;

Fuchsia Mrs Popple

and fuchsias like Mrs Popple dangle away.

Rudbeckia

We have some multicoloured Rudbeckia;

Salvia Hot Lips

the aptly named salvia Hot Lips;

Cosmos

and long-lived cosmoses.

Rose For Your Eyes Only

The apparently everlasting For Your Eyes Only keeps company in the Rose Garden with

Rose Just Joey

fresh flushes of Love Knot,

Rose Laura Ford

Laura Ford,

Rose Mamma Mia

and Mamma Mia.

Butterfly Small White on verbena bonarensis

The Small White butterflies are still enjoying the verbena bonarensis,

Bee on clematis

and bees still gather pollen provided by such as this clematis.

Turfcutter's Arms (Jackie)

This evening we returned to the Turfcutter’s Arms

Roast belly of pork meals

for a roast pork dinner. Jackie drank Peroni and enjoyed a chocolate sponge dessert with ice cream; my choices were Ringwood’s Best and fruit crumble with custard.

 

 

Dicing With Death

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What does Aaron have in common with a bee? You might be forgiven for imagining that it is that they both have very high work rates. That would be a good answer, but incorrect.

Aaron lopping cypress 1Aaron lopping cypress 2Aaron lopping cypress 3Aaron lopping cypress 3Watching our friend, unlit ciggy between lips, firing one-handed from the hip with his petrol-operated chain saw as he tackles the reshaping of our cypress tree, may provide a clue,

Aaron lopping cypress 5Aaron lopping cypress 6

especially when you see the height of his tripodal ladder.

Aaron tidying upAaron tidying up 2

Aaron always clears up along the way. Today he dragged branches to the Back Drive where he cut up a few logs for his client, Susan, leaving the rest for the ‘burn site’ of the dump.

Lopped branch on cypress

This branch demonstrates his clean cuts,

View from patio showing Aaron's completed work on cypress

while this view from the patio displays the finished shape.

Persicaria Red Dragon

The persicaria red dragon baring its bloody fangs in the Dragon Bed,

Crocosmia solfaterre

and the crocosmia solfaterre are among the plants that will now receive more light and air.

Fly on Winchester Cathedral 1Fly on Winchester Cathedral 2

In the Rose Garden, an intrepid fly scales the walls of Winchester Cathedral,

Geraniums and Summer Wine

and geraniums in the stone urn beside the potting shed enjoy a glimpse of Summer Wine.

Japanese anemones

 Japanese anemones appear to grow a foot each day.

Bee and spider's web 1Bee and spider's web 2Bee and spider's web 3

The bee skirting a hopeful spider’s web, in order to work on a verbena bonarensis, provides the answer to my opening  conundrum. Each in his own way is successfully dicing with death.

Later this afternoon we pulled up some brambles. As I walked along the Back Drive to deposit them in a bag for the dump, I almost stepped on twin juvenile collared doves sunning themselves on the gravel. Naturally I hurried indoors for my camera. When I returned they seemed to have disappeared. They were, however, simply playing hide and seek, foraging among the pebbles.

Collared doves juvenile 1Collared dove juvenile 2Collared doves juvenile 3Collared doves juvenile 4

Not yet old enough for timidity, almost in tandem, they carried on about their business and left me to mine.

Sweet pea

Here is a sweet pea for Bruce.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the cabernet sauvignon.