A Surprise To Come

Beginning with the cherry trees at the front, I focussed on the garden this morning.

A crafty sparrow uses this holly tree as a diversionary tactic en route to its nest around the corner.

Despite the efforts of cumbersome pigeons and pelting hailstones, the pale pink winter flowering example has bloomed constantly since September;

a smaller tree has added the tones of a deeper pink blossom;

and the soaring amanogawa is now attracting bees. Can you spot the seeker after nectar homing in on the first picture and having landed in the second?

Some of the camellia petals are taking on the brown hues of weathered old age.

Like this tulip they have reacted to the recent heavy rainfall. The tulip just curled up its nose;

others, such as these standing proud in the Palm Bed, remain unperturbed.

A yellow Japanese maple stretches towards the Gazebo Path.

The first deep red rhododendron buds are opening in the Dragon Bed,

which carries clusters of yellow lamiums.

Snake’s head fritillaries are proliferating in the West Bed;

others, beside the stepping stones crossing the Cryptomeria Bed, we thought had failed. In fact they were just a little later than their neighbours.

Daffodils and hellebores dance to the right of the stones.

While I photographed the fruits of her labours, Jackie puzzled over a surprise to come. Normally she labels her greenhouse seedlings and bulbs. Sometimes she forgets to do this.

Elizabeth visited this afternoon and stayed to dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and tender green beans. Ian had brought a rather delicious bottle of Aguilla Chillando Garnacha 2017. I started on that, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth drank Becks Blue.

Tanners Lane

This afternoon I ambled round the sunlit garden.

Pink and red camellias, which first bloomed in January, appear to be going on for ever.

Tulips, like these yellow ones, are now replacing some fading daffodils, while

a variety of others are still in the bloom of youth.

Jackie planted these leucojum vernum last Autumn.

The amanogawa cherry came with the house.

Primulas, hellebores, and euphorbia are regular visitors;

Snake’s head fritillaries have so far survived a year or two.

Shortly before closing time we drove to Streets ironmongers in Brokenhurst to order a tap fitment. We took a leisurely route home.

Beside the road to Beaulieu a group of small deer disappeared into the woodland.

It wasn’t far from sunset when we arrived at Hatchet Pond.

I’ve never seen a galloping donkey before, but the one silhouetted against the skyline near the group grazing opposite the pond, crossed the ground at a fair lick when a young woman began photographing its companions. As I explained, the creature had come in search of treats.

Nearer sunset we diverted to Tanners Lane in search of a scene such as this.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent, short crust, beef, onion, and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; crisp carrots and broccoli, followed by sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 and my lady drank more of The Quintet.

He Lent His Hat

This morning Aaron, with his usual concentrated accuracy, assembled and installed

a new flat packed wooden arch across the Shady Path. This was to replace a cheap metal one that had collapsed.

As the morning warmed up he lent his hat to Florence sculpture who remained in the shade,

Camellias continue to splash colour across the eucalyptus framed garden canvas,

as do numerous narcissi,

primulas and bergenias.

Proud tulips begin to open.

Ladybirds were spotted, along with tiny hoverflies investigating ipheions.

On a gloriously sunny spring afternoon we went driveabout. We began at Mudeford Quay which was so crowded that we had nowhere to park. We then aimed for the forest.

A calf suckling at Holmesley spilled much of the milk on the ground, jumping back as we arrived, leaving a white strand swaying in the breeze;

Ponies practiced topiary by the roadside;

two more grazed among pine cones at Bisterne.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender green beans and peas.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

Magnolia Time

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

The gardens of Sway featured

a flowing stream beyond a lichen tattooed tree in Mead End Road;

a pink magnolia towering over a hedge in Adlam’s Lane;

a magnolia stellata competing with a variegated privet in Brighton Road;

and another pink one stating its ascendancy over a red camellia.

As we set out towards Burley we paused at the obligatory pony crossing.

At Thorney Hill our side of the road was clear, while an unconcerned grey made its leisurely way along the other.

On our return home I ventured into the garden to discover whether our flame red Vulcan magnolia was yet in bloom. It wasn’t, but we still have

camellias, some fallen blooms now adorning the gravel paths; daffodils

a variety of cyclamens

hellebores;

and hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans. The meal was taken from plates on trays in front of the television whilst we watched a recording of the earlier Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France.

The Bit Between Her Teeth

Each morning at dawn, as I work on my laptop, I watch pigeons

sizing each other up on the telephone cables,

or atop the blighted oak on the opposite side of Christchurch Road.

Later in the morning, Jackie walked into the garden to bring back photographs of her cyclamens lining the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Having got the bit between her teeth she continued with daffodils,

with camellias,

and with hellebores.

Our sister in law, Frances, came over for a visit this afternoon. This was very supportive.

Later, Sam joined us from Australia. We enjoyed fond reminiscences punctuating our shared sadness.

We dined on Jackie’s splendid cottage pie, crisp carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, leaks, and runner beans. I managed a small portion.

Misty Morning

Having slept much of yesterday, my head was much clearer today, although I was still rather wobbly.

However, I did manage couple of short walks in the garden. The first was before the sun emerged.

Cars drove with headlights on Christchurch Road; grey skies hung over the garden; yet I was still able to find reasonably lit flowers.

Later as the sun emerged, Jackie removed her protective covers from her more tender plants; more flowers were well lit; and the sun’s rays striated the clouds of mist.

This afternoon I settled down to watch the Six Nations rugby matches between France and Scotland, and between England and Wales.

This evening we dined on small supermarket chicken jalfezis – just what I could manage.