Paths, Poppies; Bees, Blooms

On the morning of this cool, sunny, day to the tune of gentle birdsong and busy bees, I carried out dead heading and light weeding; Martin continued his sterling work for the whole day.

Among several other tasks, including mowing the lawn, our friend

completed the weeding of the Phantom and Brick Paths.

The three cordyline Australis trees disperse their heady scent throughout the garden where the eucalyptus and the yellow bottle brush plants are also in bloom.

Bright red poppies, attracting bees,

and gentle yellow Californian varieties are at their peak;

bottle brushes also draw the honey gatherers.

Day lilies are putting in regular appearances.

Roses are represented by two different pale pink New Dawns, the white Madame Alfred Carrière draped across the entrance to the Rose Garden, and Peach Abundance.

Here are views of the Gazebo Path, from the Cryptomeria Bed and of the Rose Garden.

This evening we dined at Rokali’s where my main course was duck Ceylon, and Jackie’s chicken sag; we shared puris and sag rice; I drank Kingfisher and Jackie drank Diet Coke. All was perfectly cooked, and well presented with excellent, friendly service.

Making Do

On another hot summer’s day visiting traffic continued to pour into our area, so we stayed at home and I made do with garden flower photography.

During the morning and later in the afternoon Jackie concentrated hard on irrigation, including filling the Waterboy’s shell, the level of which suffers from dehydration and thirsty birds.

Butterflies and bees didn’t seem to mind the heat as they flitted from plant to plant. There is room for both Small White butterfly and a bee on the hibiscus in the first picture; bees had sole occupation of the bidens and the saxifrages; the Meadow Brown and the Small White butterflies were unwilling to share space on the sedum or the verbena bonariensis.

Today’s lilies are the heavily scented pale pink double and the freckled beauty seen in better light.

It is the season for dahlias including the two-toned Puerto Rico.

The season for this rhododendron is long over, but the plant doesn’t know that.

Pale pink phlox coexist with rich rust-coloured chrysanthemums.

Lady Emma Hamilton and Ballerina dance on in the Rose Garden, while soaring Altissimo and an unknown pink climber once more reach for the skies.

Hollyhocks, rudbeckia Goldsturm, California poppies, petunias, and hydrangea Tricolor all lend their colour.

Much as the Head Gardener tries to train her clematises, some, like this Niobe, insist on trailing where they will.

As always, the galleries can be accessed by clicking on any image, each of which may be viewed full size by clicking on the box beneath it and further with another click.

Later this afternoon Elizabeth visited for a cup of tea and didn’t stay for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s egg fried rice, mini spring rolls, and tempura and spicy prawns. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Carles.

Absolutely Fabulous Cricket

The sun was permitted the occasional appearance from behind today’s cloud curtain.

At mid morning, thinking she was attending to the Weeping Birch Bed, I ventured out for a stint of clearing up after the Head Gardener’ general maintenance efforts, and received something of a shock.

Jackie had been diverted by the Rose Garden, upon the paths of which she had dropped considerable debris. That was clearly going to take precedence.

Nugget would keep getting under my feet as he foraged for his brood. In the first picture he has a beakful ready for transporting to yellow gapes at home. “Where’s Nugget?” (86) is the third image. Biggification may be required to spot him.

After I had bagged up and added to the compost bins all the weeding and clipping refuse, I had intended to sweep up the bits I couldn’t pick up, but our little robin familiar persuaded me to leave it for a while since he still found rich pickings.

I therefore concentrated on dead heading and photography.

Love Knot and the red carpet rose blend together with Alan Titchmarsh in the background; Just Joey is the large portrait; Rosa Gallica and Mamma Mia make good companions; the petunias and lobelia adorn a hanging basket over the Phantom Path.

After lunch I swept the Rose Garden paths and made more photographs, details of which can be gleaned from the gallery that can be accessed by clicking on any image.

I watched a minute cricket wandering between the petals of an Absolutely Fabulous rose.

Jackie had by then begun thinning out the wandering plants and their foliage that were choking the Weeping Birch Bed. I carried several trugfuls to the compost bins before collecting my camera from the house, because

Nugget wouldn’t go away and kept posing.

This picture shows how close he was to Jackie.

Half a dozen mice stand guard over the seedlings in the trough beside the frog pond. They are there to deter the lumbering wood pigeons from squashing the plants as they land lurching for a drink. In fact Jackie is beginning to wage war on pigeons. Those building the nest in the wisteria yesterday continue today. Every time the Head Gardener removes the sticks and shoos them off they return and start again. Given that they regularly drop both twigs and poo onto the bench below she does have a point.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender spring greens. The Culinary Queen drank Becks, and I drank more of the Douro opened a couple of days ago.



Once more, today was scorchingly hot. Apart from gentle tidying up, watering was the order of the day.

Garden view towards Rose Garden

The hose in this garden view was trained on the Rose Garden, where

Rose Garden 1

pink foxgloves, golden heucheras, and blue clematises romp among roses like the yellow Laura Ford, and deep red roseraie De L’Hay;

Rose Garden 2

where pink Summer wine, and white Madame Alfred Cariere cover the blue wooden entrance arch;

Rose Garden 3

where Summer’s sculpted image just manages to peep through For Your Eyes Only;

Rose Jacqueline du Pré

and where Jacqueline du Pré has been fortunate to find shade.

Poppies 1
Poppies 2
Poppy 1

Giant poppies blaze in the first view above.

Bronze fennel, poppies, Canterbury bells

There are more alongside Canterbury bells and bronze fennel on the north side of the Back Drive,

Viper's bugloss and geranium palmatum

where viper’s bugloss, given to us by Giles in order to cater for bees, burgeons before geranium palmatums;

Rose Dearest and libertia

and where the buxom rose Dearest can just about hold up her head.

Clematises and gladioli

Clematises and gladioli thrive in the row of deep plastic window boxes that divides the Back Drive from the garden proper.

New Bed

Alongside this display stands the New Bed.

California poppies 1
California poppy

We have California poppies in the Cryptomeria Bed,


on the other side of which my favourite rhododendron is now blooming.

The last three days of sunshine have brought opulence to the garden.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, mashed swede and potato, carrots, cauliflower and runner beans, all cooked to perfection by the Culinary Queen, who finished the Bergerac blanc while I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

Oak Tree Farm

Oak Tree Farm telephone boxes

Yesterday’s observant readers will have noticed the post was earlier than usual.  This is because I pressed ‘Publish’ rather than ‘Preview’ by mistake.  Once today’s posts have been set in motion there is no turning back.  Some of us, of course still use what is jocularly termed ‘snail mail’, where you write on paper, place the missive in an envelope, write an address and stick a stamp on that and place it in a red box.  Until placed in the box there is plenty of time to rethink and even alter what you have written. Modern technology allows you endless painless revisions, but once you have pressed the button your message is metaphorically snatched out of your hands.  There are no snails in cyber space.  Mind you, the normal post, be it adminstered by the Royal Mail or its commercial rivals, is pretty quick.  We can still expect first class letters to arrive the next day.  Once it was even quicker.  In my childhood there were two deliveries a day; in Victorian times even more.  It was then possible to arrange an evening’s meeting through exchange of letters beginning that morning.  There was no texting in those days.

The Penny Post was introduced by Sir Robert Peel in 1841.  Originally horsepower was harnessed to carry the mail.  Now huge vans cart them along our motorways and special locomotive vans transport them through the night.  I once knew a man who worked on the mail trains.  The vans were mobile sorting offices.  Bags of mail were loaded onto the carriage, their contents removed and sorted, and unloaded at the other end of the country.  The system required the bags to be upturned and thoroughly shaken, to ensure that no mail had been caught in the seams.  One day he had adopted this procedure when a slim sheet of paper floated to the floor.  It was a postcard sent some forty years earlier from Germany.  Strenuous efforts were made to seek out the parents of the young man who had sent it during the war.

Soon after our dinner of Jackie’s liver and bacon casserole David Small arrived to replace the broken garage lock.  The light was fading by the time he finished.

The casserole was served with crisp vegetables and sauteed potatoes enhanced by onion and garlic.  It was rather a miracle that the spuds were not limp.  These hang in a bag behind the kitchen door, so they won’t turn green if you leave them too long.  Yesterday’s Murphies were wizened and bendy, displaying the creases you see in a new born baby’s skin.  Much of their stuffing had been drawn out by the new shoots they were sprouting.  But they weren’t green.  Jackie had disguised this beautifully.

As we had promised ourselves, we took another trip to Ferndene Farm Shop, joined the throng and well and truly stocked up.  I have never been to a Harrods sale, but I have seen pictures in newspapers of bargain-hunters frenziedly elbowing each other out of the way to get at the goodies on display.  Some of the most frail-looking customers in what is really a food supermarket of excellent quality and reasonable prices, would not be out of place at a Harrods free-for-all.Oak Tree Farm private letter box

Oak Tree Farm pillar boxesAcross the road from the shop lies Oak Tree Farm, a haven for red pillar and telephone box enthusiasts. Oak Tree Farm telephone and pillar boxes The gravelled courtyard behind a securely locked pair of entrance gates are filled with these symbols of England.  A black-painted Georgian wall-mounted letterbox is set in the establishment’s brick wall.  The owner is a serious collector.

Anyone interested enough in the subject of red telephone boxes may also like to read my post of 15th October last year entitled ‘Kersall Telephone Box’.

On leaving the shop we went driveabout.  New Milton’s main street was closed to traffic.  This made it rather difficult to reach Milford-on-Sea, but we managed it in the end and walked along the sea front past Hurst Pond Nature reserve out to Hurst Point, and back to The Needles Eye cafe (see post of 10th January).

High Ridge Crescent house

We happened to pass a house for sale in High Ridge Crescent that we had seen on the internet.  It confirmed our interest.

As we left our car in the Hurst Road car park and I announced my intention to take photographs, a woman advised me to make sure the horizon was straight.  I didn’t mention that it wouldn’t matter too much because I have an editing facility which can straighten images. Crow My picture of a crow aiming for the point of an arrow that was the water’s edge, seemed to me to be enhanced by the angle of the skyline, so I didn’t change it.

HeronA heron on the hunt in the pond did not move for the whole time it took us to walk to the spit and back.

The area is an intriguing nature reserve because it lies at a point where freshwater from the River Dane meets tidal water coming up the gully from the spit. Black capped gull The sight of the seabirds swooping, manoeuvring, and diving at an alarming rate along this channeled out watercourse reminded Jackie of the X-wings speeding along the tunnel during the famous Death Star battle in ‘Star Wars’.

Jackie on Norwegian rocks

Like much of the Dorset coast this area is subject to erosion.  In an attempt to stay the inevitable action of the waves, huge rocks line the shore alongside the nature reserve, providing shelter for the Californian poppies clinging to the pebbled margins. Norwegian rocks These were imported from Norway, and today the quartz they contain glinted in the sunlight.

This evening’s meal was a tender and lean roast lamb dinner.  Maipo reserva merlot 2012 was my wine.