The Watchers On The Shore

Today’s weather was once more clear, bright, sunny, and cooler.

Bees continued collecting nectar throughout the garden. On my walk around I captured them on bidens, and on the more mature blooms of Festive Jewel.

Crisp young examples of the latter await their turn at contributing to the queen’s larder.

Tomatoes continue to ripen in readiness for ours.

It is a good thing I was not using film in my attempts to catch the myriad of fluttering snowflakes in the form of Small White butterflies while they swirled through the air. I settled for those landing on a poppy head and on a verbena bonarensis. Another took pity on me and perched on a petunia.

Orange crocosmia Emily Mckenzie brightens the Dead End Path and pink sweet peas dance in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Our Bishop of Llandaff in the New Bed was eaten by a vole a couple of years ago. Its deeper red companion has survived.

Another plant that has proved impossible to grow in the various beds tried by the Head Gardener is the gaura. This one is thriving in a pot.

Lady Emma Hamilton produces multiple flushes.

Rows of small begonias sparkle on the borders of beds like these alongside the Heligan Path.

Nugget darted in and out nearby. I am beginning to wonder whether he associates the click of the camera with the clink of a trowel.

One of the pictures above should provide a clue to today’s “Where’s Nugget?” (9)

Late this afternoon we took drive into the forest.

The only sign of life on Hatchet Pond was this pair of swans.

The others must have heard that members of an excited family were feeding the birds beside the nearby Beaulieu River.

Kite surfers and sailboarders struggled on the Solent at the end of Tanners Lane, where they were watched by a young man on the shore. I suppose I made it two watchers so I could legitimately borrow the title of Stan Barstow’s novel.

This evening we dined on Lidl’s rack of pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce; the Culinary Queen’s flavoursome mushroom rice; and the Head Gardener’s tender runner beans, with which Jackie drank Belgium’s Hoegaarden and I finished Tesco’s finest Chilean Malbec.

Ice Cream Delivery

Jackie swept liberally scattered beech nuts from the Rose Garden this morning.

Scoobie kept her company. On the Back Drive he found a fossilised rat which I opted not to photograph.

We have a liberal supply of petunias,

begonias,

and Japanese anemones.

Bees busied themselves gathering pollen, ignoring the fact that some plants remained dog-eared;

and competing for occupation of others.

Some clematises,

fuchsias,

cosmoses, and sweet peas remain in bloom.

Rose Doris Tysteman thrives in the Back Drive border.

Rosa Glauca hips hang over the colourful patio beds.

The hibiscus beside the Brick Path is really flourishing this year.

This afternoon the four of us visited the Beachcomber Café at Barton on Sea.

Gulls hung on the thermals overhead;

crows on the clifftop blinked and pecked at tissues which were eventually shredded;

children wandered;

and a fisherman angled on a breakwater

in view of the Isle of Wight and Christchurch Bay.

This was a day for ice creams.

We had become a little concerned on noticing an elderly woman alone in a wheelchair. After some time a younger woman made her way across the garden with two ice creams. She presented one to the person we then assumed to be her mother, and they sat and enjoyed them together.

After we returned home Ian and I listened to the BBC sport broadcast of the Ashes Test match first day; and watched the second half of the highlights after dinner.

Our dinner consisted of thick pork chops with mustard, brown sugar, and toasted almonds; creamy mashed potato; crisp carrots and broccoli; tender runner beans; and roasted peppers, onions and mushrooms. I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah while the others drank Wairu Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2017.

Sweeping Up

Today Jackie was mostly refurbishing and tidying pots and hanging basket plantings.

She has completed the Shady Path where all is now well, except for

windburn on this white lobelia;

and on this yellow tree peony whose healthy seed pods offer optimism for next year.

Beyond this small triangular bed before the wisteria arbour

Mrs Knight continued her work on the greenhouse area.

The life of the sweet peas on the kitchen corner could not be extended, but the tomato plant over which the force of the winds had flung them, has survived.

It remains be seen whether this hydrangea in the patio will recover from its blisters.

After lunch the Head Gardener applied herself to stripping out dead parts of the patio’s potted plants and tidying the rest.

Nugget assisted her in sweeping up – the disturbed insects, that is. For those readers new to the “Where’s Nugget?” feature or whose robins are different from ours, notably lacking the distinguishing red breast, there follows

a selection of portraits of our little gardener’s friend.

Now, can you see “Where’s Nugget?” (5), from when he joined us later on the patio for drinks.

Soon after I had begun to draft this post, Jackie came inside complaining that her little companion was not letting her get anything done.

This evening we dined on coriander and garlic coated chicken kebabs; Jackie’s spicy omelette-topped savoury rice; and moist ratatouille with our own runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

I will now wait half an hour for the TV Channel 5 broadcast of the cricket highlights to finish so that I can watch my own recording advertisement-free.

Variations On A Game

Today winds were fresh; rain was absent; and the temperatures were cool.

The verbena bonarensis attracted butterflies like this Comma;

and this Small White,

examples of which flitted everywhere, seeming to use white blooms as camouflage. Can you spot any one of these which will benefit from enlargement on accessing their gallery with a click?

Jackie continued her care work on these cosmoses and clematis on the back drive;

these, elsewhere, needed rather less attention.

This somewhat rusty duck had allowed the recent rain to roll off its back.

These bidens are some of many self seeded from last year.

Jackie has successfully tied up Margery’s hollyhocks

with string.

It was quite a stretch for the Head Gardener to tidy the white everlasting sweet peas.

In the process she pointed to a glass robin, crying “there’s Nugget”.

So, now you’ve been given a clue can you answer where’s Jackie?

The real Nugget had come out to play the game. In order to help newer readers who may not be aware of what they are looking for, and to give others a bonus we have today, in order of difficulty:

Where’s Nugget? – 4a;

Where’s Nugget? – 4b:

and Where’s Nugget? – 4c.

Not far from our little friend the stumpery is bedding down nicely.

Late this afternoon, realising that this was expected to be our last dry, sunny day for some time, Jackie drove me round the Bisterne Scarecrow Trail. I have the makings of a photo story which I will save for tomorrow. This is because rain is expected all day then; because I will require considerable time to work on the post; and because I am knackered now.

While I focussed on one of the exhibits Jackie photographed a couple of chickens scratching in the gravel.

Their flamboyant male companion flexed his muscles on my return to the car.

This evening I watched the recorded highlights of what rain has made the first day of the second Ashes Test Match between England and Australia, before we dined on minty lamb burgers, new potatoes, cabbage and carrots with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank Doom Bar.

Find The Colours

After lunch Matthew and Poppy arrived to spend the weekend with us.

Our granddaughter was keen to explore the garden again. She and Matthew walked around with a list of ten colours of which she was to find representatives. The only one that proved problematic was green.

I imagine there are enough colours in these pictures to cover the game. As usual, clicking on any example in each of the groups will access its gallery with the titles.

This evening we all dined on Forest Tandoori Indian Take Away’s excellent fare. Mat and I enjoyed lamb jalfrezi; Jackie’s choice was chicken shashlik; Poppy picked at a paratha. We shared various rices, a paratha, and onion bahjis. I drank Tsing Tao beer, and Jackie and Mathew chose Blue Moon.

P.S. As Jackie has so kindly informed me, the yucca is a phormium, so I have changed the title.

Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot

Not Cold Enough

Perhaps it was the very light overnight frost that led the blackbirds to investigate the neglected crab apples in the front garden.

This one turned its back on them and considerately stayed just long enough for me to photograph it.

We still have plenty of colour in our plot.

There are winter flowering plants such as this viburnum bodnantensis Dawn in Margery’s Bed,

and the tiny clematis cirrhosa Freckles dotted over the gazebo.

Hardy autumnal chrysanthemums we do expect;

maybe some of these fuchsias are tough enough to make it through the winter;

but self seeded bidens?;

still perky nasturtiums?;

sturdy penstemons?;

varieties of geranium not sheltered in the greenhouse?;

roses such as ascending Altissimo,

blushing Schoolgirl,

marvellous Mamma Mia,

and blooming Absolutely Fabulous?

To send these beauties packing it is not yet cold enough.

This evening Jackie produced a fillet of pork laced with powdered mustard, flaked almonds, and brown sugar, served with roast potatoes and parsnips; colourful rainbow carrots, firm Brussels sprouts, and tender runner beans. Having enjoyed a beer beforehand, neither of us imbibed.