Shirt Sleeves Sunshine

This morning, accompanied by returning birdsong, I took a trip round the garden, occupied by numerous flying insects like these

bees drawn to euphorbia.

Martin’s tireless efforts of cutting back shrubbery, trimming and training roses throughout the winter have opened up

views throughout the garden.

Quite apart from their having no right to be in bloom this early these on the patio have survived all that the elements have thrown at them during the last few days;

these Lilac Wonders in the Palm Bed are better protected.

Numerous daffodils flourish,

as do forget-me-nots, wallflowers, and our first bluebells.

A range of camellias continue to carpet the ground beneath them.

It was definitely warm enough for shirt sleeves – and for me.

This afternoon, while Dillon was passing his driving test, I watched the Women’s Six Nations rugby matches between Scotland and France and between England and Wales.

Becky came home with Dillon and we all dined on another of Jackie’s cottage pies, carrots, runner beans, and broccoli stems, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Sangiovese & Syrah Toscana.

This evening we all dined on (another of Jackie’s cottage pies, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli stems, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Sangovese/Syrah red wine) Merril’s comment exposes why the section in brackets was added.

Seasonal Juxtaposition

Ellie loves pens, pencils, and drawing. She also has her favourite pictures and likes to combine the two.

She crams as many as she can into each hand and wanders around with them, occasionally sitting with them into her “hidey” place behind the velvet sitting room curtains, where she enjoys adding her own embellishments to adults’ drawings and photographs.

Close scrutiny of her copy of her favourite photograph will reveal Ellie’s fine lines on “Granny”Jackie’s knitted jerkin and on “GramGram” Becky’s neck.

Our front garden currently accommodates both the early blooms of Amanogawa cherry and the lingering prunus Subhirtella “Autumnalis”;

the continuing prolific camellias are seen alongside the magnolia “Vulcan” and the white viburnum, one of several in flower since Christmas;

Pale pink tulips, a bright pink hyacinth, and “Jetfire” daffodils jointly brighten the beds. Such are some of our unusual seasonal floral juxtapositions.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby matches between Ireland and Scotland and between Wales and Italy.

Becky is visiting Scotland with the Grandfamily for the weekend, but had left good portions of her tasty spaghetti Bolognese meal for Jackie and me to finish for tonight’s dinner with which I drank more of the Shiraz.

Not Yet March

Before the rain returned for the day, a walk round the garden this grey, finger nipping, morning revealed

a good selection of camellias in a range of pinks;

plenty of flourishing lichen;

many still flowering snowdrops;

fallen leaves supported by Angel’s Wings;

dancing daffodils;

sheltered cyclamen;

mossy logs;

some hellebore heads held high;

even a bee clinging to clematis Cirrhosa Freckles.

Soon after 2 p.m. when we drove to Walkford for niece Jane’s 40th birthday party at Shelly and Ron’s, essential headlights bejewelled golden droplets in waves thrown up by other vehicles splashing through the increasing puddles, still more swollen by the incessant deluge on our return three hours later. We enjoyed a range of sandwiches, quiches, and other plentiful snacks; and a birthday cake made by Shelly. We enjoyed catching up with the various family members. A variety of beers and wines was on offer. No further sustenance was required later.

Becky’s Biology Lesson

Despite the dreary drizzle-day and thanks to Martin’s weeks of clearance work in the beds there is now no corner of the garden not

brightened by snowdrops and more.

As usual clicking on any image will access the gallery, each item of which can be enlarged and bears a title; some also bearing bumble bees which yesterday had sped freely around the garden. Today, motionless, they cling to a number of plants from which they had sought sustenance then. When I mentioned this to Becky she explained that these insects, not having skeletons, contain fluid beneath their flesh which in cold weather coagulates causing a state of somnolence until liquifying once more on warming up.

Ian returned from Southbourne last night, in time to shop with Becky today for our dinner this this evening. They returned with 6 rib eye steaks; chips, and peas, which Becky cooked to perfection, according to individual choices; with M & S rice and bread and butter puddings to follow. I drank more of the Côtes du Rhône Villages

January Blooms

A brief walk around the garden today featured

a variety of pink and red camellias, a daffodil, several hellebores and Daphne Odoratas.

This evening we all dined on KFC bargain buckets, sides, and fries, with which I drank Héritages Châteauneuf-du- Pape 2021.

Investigation By Spiders

After lunch, tempted into the garden by the sunshine, still keeping ice

in containers like this pot saucer, fingers tingling, I took a brief walk around with my camera.

Many of the camellias were either in bloom or bud,

while the Japanese anemones bore seed pods apparently investigated by spiders.

Backlit cordyline Australis bore drips of precipitation.

The Gazebo bore the clematis Cirrhosa “Freckles”.

The dead stumps along the Back Drive and sculpture Florence were picked up in sidelight.

Later, I dozed through the first two episodes of Lucy Worsley’s Russian Romanovs.

This evening we all dined on tempura, and hot and spicy, prawns; tempura vegetables and spring rolls on Jackie’s colourful vegetable rice, with which I drank more of the shiraz and the Culinary Queen drank Mezquiriz Rosado 2023

Cutting Back

After lunch I recovered pictures and substituted feature images for the following posts:

His waterproof hooded jacket glistening from fairly steady light rain Martin had spent the morning cutting back last year’s dead garden material.

In order to improve the view from our kitchen window,

he began with the Pond Bed.

As will be seen from a few views I photographed on a walk round the garden, there is much more to be done.

Pearly drops slowly slid from camellias

and hellebores.

Tête-à-têtes and snowdrops happily co-existed, and

the lichen on the Nottingham Castle bench continued to celebrate the purer air of its last resting place.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; sage and onion stuffing; boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm broccoli and cauliflower; tender green beans; and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Diet Coke and I drank more of the Malbec.

More Attractive Than Triffids

Bright sunshine casting shadows beneath a clear blue sky shortly before midday when I took a chilly walk around the garden belied the temperatures skirting freezing which, during a current further cold spell below 0 centigrade sending rivulets of condensation from our bedtime breath dripping down walls and misting tightly closed windows until we were able to fling them open and dash shivering downstairs to our electric portable radiators timed to ignite at their lowest heat level an hour before Jackie but perhaps a couple after I expected to emerge.

Snowdrops and hellebores share the limelight with, at a higher level, a

variety of camellias;

daffodils are following up fast;

fern filigrees and honesty seed bud traceries are picked out by the clear light, as are

new shoots from our recently pruned roses.

When we first arrived here the garden of the then abandoned next door house, North Breeze, rampaged through our land, as demonstrated by

Now we have the benefit of attractive, sweet scented, acacia,

currently in bloom, hanging over the Back Drive fence.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby match between Scotland and France – probably the most impressive contest I have ever seen.

For dinner this evening Jackie produced her omelette-topped egg fried rice on which to bed hot and spicy, and tempura prawn preparations, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Blooming Today

On another bright, cold, morning I nipped upstairs to photograph from above

Florence continuing her general clearing of the garden beds.

After lunch I focussed on a few flowers, including Amanogawa cherry; varieties of cyclamen, of daffodils, of camellias, of tulips; smiling pansies; a sunlit hellebore; a hanging fritillary; and a sweetly scented Daphne Odorata Marginata.

A number of seemingly drowsy bumble bees seem to need a rest on leaves between blooms.

Ian had returned home last night because he had work to do today, so he was unable to join us for this evening’s dinner which consisted of Jackie’s wholesome cottage pie; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, and meaty gravy, with which The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, Becky drank Mavrodaphni of Patra Kourtaki, and I drank Bold Vine Zinfandel 2019.

Definitely Spring

On this warm and sunny day Jackie unwrapped the wooden patio chairs and

we set them in place;

Flo continued her work in the garden, clearing twigs and leaves of cordyline

Australis and setting about burning them;

I wandered around with a camera.

Jackie and I took a forest drive after lunch while the others dealt with banking.

I photographed wild woodland daffodils along the banks of the rippling, reflecting Lin Brook, where bent a broken tree trunk.

We continued along Highwood Road, with shadows

falling across last autumn’s fallen leaves and the trunks of trees.

A field horse churned up a mud bath and splashed around in it before joining

its companions in a run,

while others grazed in a field opposite.

A drift of daffodils enhanced a neighbouring piece of land.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable stewp, with which she, Becky, and Ian drank Portuguese Rosé, while I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2019.