The Holly And The Ivy

 

Our white sofa, being a sofa bed, is extremely heavy. In order to avoid damaging the new flooring, this morning Connor called upon

Mark to help him lift it into place.

Jackie ventured into the garden on this much brighter day than yesterday, announcing “I am going into the garden to photograph some loveliness.”  Her results included

raindrops on oak leaf pelargoniums,

on nasturtiums – only the red ones -,

on roses including Hot Chocolate,

Winchester Cathedral,

and pink carpet variety,

on vinca,

 

on cyclamen,

 

on camellia,

and on branches of Japanese maple,

weeping birch,

and the stems of Félicité Perpétue.

She also pictured primroses,

bidens,

solanum,

marguerites,

cyclamen leaves,

weeping birch bark,

viburnum,

 winter flowering cherry,

and generous pansies sharing their trough with next spring’s burgeoning tete-a-tetes.

Finally she thought her collection would not have been truly seasonal – not that much of it actually is – without

the holly

and the ivy.

The blackbirds have eaten all our berries.

Apart from working on this draft, I wrote out a batch of Christmas cards which Jackie posted later.

By the end of the afternoon, Connor was working on the final corner, which he soon finished.

One of the benefits of not being able to get into your kitchen for three days is that you can eat out in one of your favourite restaurants each day. This evening it was the turn of The Family House Chinese at Totton where we enjoyed our usual M3 set meal with Tsing Tao beer.

Venison For Christmas

The weather picture this morning was of strong winds propelling variable clouds, some unloading precipitation of heavy rain and piercing hale, and bright sunshine, all vying for the available time.

Thus, our naked trees enjoyed ever-changing backdrops,

while the house was often brightly lit.

Among other tasks, Aaron planted beside the cypress trunk two heavily scented pink climbing flora –

clematis Montana Mayleen and

rose The Generous Gardener. There will be later additions.

Meanwhile the first of our camellia buds burgeons.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Helen and Bill’s home in Fordingbridge where, with Shelly and Ron we all enjoyed

Helen’s delicious dinner of succulent roast venison topped with bacon; crisp roast potatoes, including the sweet variety and onions; three colours of carrots; firm Brussel’s sprouts and cauliflower with which red and white wines were imbibed. We had begun with canapés and mulled wine. The meal was completed by a moist chocolate log topped with sliced strawberries.

This feast was followed by an impossible Christmas quiz in which Shelly won with a creditable 12/25, Jackie came second with 9, Ron managed 8 and I came last with 6. Helen and Bill were let off because they had done it before. Afterwards we enjoyed anecdotal reminiscences, in particular horse drawn deliveries of groceries and milk; rag and bone men; fish and chips and other meals; house prices and educational practices. We tried to stick to an embargo on the recent election.

I am definitely converted to venison for Christmas.

 

 

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.

Jackie Frost

Although it wasn’t to last long, we awoke to our first proper frost of the season

Jackie photographed the panoramic views from the dressing room and from the garden bedroom upstairs.

She then toured the garden and brought back this gallery of images. As usual titles are given on accessing the gallery with a click on any of the pictures. The sun soon brought the temperature up and each one of the wilted plants on display had returned to its full glory by midday.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendidly matured succulent sausage casserole; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender curly kale; and red cabbage imbued with the piquancy of vinegar and soy sauce.

The Garden Stirs

Did you know that when someone else washes your feet they tickle mercilessly? Well, they do, and this is not funny when you are trying not to jerk your knees.

This afternoon whilst I watched the recorded highlights of the spellbinding Women’s Australian Open Final between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, Jackie toured the garden with her camera.

She brought me back a pictorial record of the garden stirring. As usual, titles of the pictures are given in the gallery.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs; plentiful, well dressed, salad; and tasty new potatoes.

Giving A Hand

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX TO BOTTOM RIGHT.

Just before lunch today, Jackie and I arrived at Mum’s home in West End where we joined Mum and Elizabeth. Jackie had packed a plentiful picnic lunch of sandwiches, tomatoes, cakes and jam tarts; Elizabeth brought salad. These were enjoyed when Danni and Andy joined us a little later. We were a gardening party to spend the afternoon working on our mother’s garden.

Elizabeth began by assembling the new lawn mower and cutting the grass;

while Jackie pruned the shrubbery on the drive to the

front garden with, among others, its magnolia, heathers, and muscari. Perched on Mum’s raised garden chair, I helped to fill the bags with the cuttings

I offered similar assistance in cutting up the photinus that the Head Gardener pruned in the back garden. By cutting out the lower branches she gave the tree shape, and, in the process, revealed the hiding place of a blue cockerel.

Danni and Andy concentrated on weeding and redefining the edges of the flower beds.

In truth, I spent most of my time watching the others work. Well, someone had to take the photographs.

The penultimate photograph in the lawn mowing sequence contains an ailing rose with muscari at its feet. Jackie dug out the rose and set the smaller, healthy, plants aside for replanting while Elizabeth raked out and bagged up photinus leaves.

Until she began to feel cold and wish to go back indoors, Mum kept an eye on proceedings. She had been helped out without her walking frame. Elizabeth gave her a hand as far as the door, after which she made her own way inside.

Back home this evening Jackie and I consumed some of the lunch that had been surplus to requirements.

 

An Assignation

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A CLUSTER TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, ANY MEMBER OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN ITS PAGE AND CHECKING THE BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

Before getting stuck into the ironing, I played for time by wandering around the garden with my camera. Some tulips and daffodils were still emerging; many hellebores and other daffs were in bloom; some of the earlier camellia blooms were turning to parchment, as they do; the winter-flowering clematis cirrhosa still flowers; three glass birds fly into the sun.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Milford on Sea for Peter to cut my hair and for me to make an appointment with a GP to set things in motion for my knees to be examined. I don’t dwell on it, but it is time to see what’s what. Afterwards we continued into the forest.

A stretch of currently very marshy land separates Undershore from Lymington reedbeds. Undershore is a narrow, winding, lane with a high bank on the other side. Jackie tucked the Modus into a corner beside a footpath so I could walk back photographing the tarmac and the soggy ground. When we stopped, the route seemed unpopulated. Soon one car after another came along. Taking evasive action I nipped onto the verge taking a step onto a muddy path. It wasn’t a path. It was a quagmire of a ditch. That was awkward. My socks and shoes got rather damp. Further along Undershore we came to School Lane which was full of the cars I had seen earlier, and adults and children. School was out.

At East Boldre grey ponies cropped grass and tore at gorse; while chestnuts preferred to stick their noses in ditches and their rears in the air, occasionally disrupting the traffic.

Marvelling at how those dainty little hooves could bear the weight of a heavily pregnant donkey and her load we brought up the rear as she followed two others down to the shingle at Tanner’s Lane. The leading pair were soon chewing on seaweed. Jackie, who had stayed in the car, told me that the bulky creature had had great difficulty squeezing past two cars blocking the entrance to the beach. Once she found her way there a joyful assignation ensued as other donkeys greeted her through the barbed wire to the adjacent field.

My first task on returning home was to change my shoes and socks in readiness for a trip to Lal Quilla where we will be dining with Richard and his wife. I will report on that tomorrow.