Cawing For His Mum

I delayed my walk around the garden until later this afternoon, hoping to take advantage of the light.

Almost as soon as I had photographed this budding heuchera

and this camellia bloom toning into graceful age,

the skies closed the curtains, silhouetting the Weeping birch branches.

I continued photographing a range of daffodils;

another somewhat droopy camellia retaining its youthful bloom;

one of our varieties of euphorbia;

 

a species tulip, Lilac Wonder;

a steadily developing Japanese maple;

and one of our sundry clusters of forget-me-nots.

The West Bed border contains primroses, primulas, hellebores, snakes head fritillaries, and lamium.

I even just about managed to catch a wren.

Russell the lone crow imprinted on Jackie made 

quite a row cawing for his Mum.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome Hunter’s chicken; roast potatoes, parsnips, and mushrooms; crisp carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage and green beans; followed, with custard, by what, given its dried fruit base, the Culinary Queen calls her amber crumble, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido.

 

 

 

Compost Soup

There is now some confusion about whether it is acceptable here to drive to an exercise location. Today I confined myself to our garden and the footpath across Roger Cobb’s farm on Downton Lane. This was once a regular walk – before my knee surgeries.

In the garden more tulips are opening

and daffodils continue to please.

The Cryptomeria Bed also contains cyclamen.

From the Weeping Birch Bed we enjoy various views.

Camellias crop up everywhere.

This one stands beside our eastern fence;

some bushes bear both blooms now turning to parchment and new buds on the way.

Shrubs, like this tree peony, pruned in autumn, are producing new shoots.

Soon the remodelled North Breeze house will be shielded from view.

Our house, however, will remain visible from the Heligan Path.

On Downton Lane the refuse bags were piled outside houses for collection a little later.

One household clearly needed more than one bottle bin – possibly to help them through the pandemic.

Grape hyacinths stood on a bank opposite

celandines and dandelions blending with primroses on the verges

like this one alongside Old Rode House.

Roger’s five-barred gate to the footpath was locked, but the kissing gate beside it was accessible. As far as I know this pleasant farmer is the only one in the area who really respects ramblers’ rights.

The grass strip along the centre is well stocked with wild lamium;

blackberry brambles are burgeoning with new shoots in the hedges

through which houses on Christchurch Road may be glimpsed.

The footpath is mostly dry, but the fields are rutted with rainwater runnels.

I did not venture across the tractor-scoured terrain which offered another view of the Downton dwellings mentioned earlier,

and others on Downton Lane.

While I was thus gadding about, Jackie was producing culinary recycling. Her finely chopped ingredients were boiled on the hob;

mashed in the Moulinex;

decanted into ice cream tubs;

labelled and placed in the freezer.

Here are her directions for the preparation of Compost Soup Base, handwritten on one of my sheets of scrap paper from 2009.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potato; firm Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans: and crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Médoc.

 

 

Precipitation

Yesterday Jackie tidied up the area fronting the garage door trellis. This involved clearing away last year’s plants that were beyond their best-before date, especially the still blooming nasturtiums that should have shrivelled and died months ago. She then added new life to the pots.

Today was one of steady, light, rain. Starting with the Head Gardener’s new planting of perky primulas and pansies

I photographed pellucid precipitation on diverse daffodils;

on fresh tulips;

on other pansies;

on hellebore brollies;

on winsome wallflowers:

on camellia petals;

on slender summer snowflakes;

on pink pelargoniums;

and on a closed clematis Cirrhosa Freckles.

Floral lichen on the back of the Nottingham Castle bench is developing nicely.

This afternoon, Valentine from HSL brought a sample chair,

one of which he tried out for size for each of us. Having taken an order he returned this one to his van and, for the first time in two years, I was able to rise from a seat without using my arms.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken; crisp roast potatoes; and crunchy cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, with tasty gravy. I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

Negotiating The Levels

Today’s weather was dull, dry, and warm.

This afternoon we ventured into the forest, finding ourselves in MacPenny’s Garden Centre where Jackie shopped for a climbing hydrangea and sat in the car with her puzzles while I wandered around the open garden.

Offering free access all the year round with proceeds of donations dedicated to the National Garden Scheme, I have to say that this splendid facility was looking very much in need of care. A notice at the entrance warns of uneven surfaces which need negotiation, but my impression is that these are more precarious, the steps lacking handrails once in place.

It is of course comparatively early in the year. Last year I spoke to a gentleman volunteer who was tending some of the beds. Today there were heaps of compost awaiting spreading, but no real signs of activity.

Nevertheless shrubs such as camellias,

rhododendrons,

and magnolias bloomed happily, while

hellebores and

snakes head fritillaries flew the flags for smaller species.

A small tree I didn’t recognise

bore pendulous fruit.

One was never very far from a bench

or steps, most of which I thought best avoided.

Paths wound around and between banks offering vistas on different levels.

Rotting stumps made offerings to the garden ecology;

a probably currently redundant hose lay coiled on a leaf-laden path;

branches of naked trees writhed against the skies.

Any readers concerned about my safety may be reassured by the walking stick that Elizabeth gave me for my birthday last year which does wonders for my balance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s well-filled toothsome beef pie; roast potatoes and butternut squash; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes de Bourg.

A Closer Look

Elizabeth popped over this morning to collect some wood and nails to repair a fence on a temporary basis until Aaron can do it for her. She fixed a time with him.

Having concentrated on general garden views yesterday I took a closer look at

a variety of daffodils;

primulas and

primroses;

hellebores;

camellias;

anemone Blandas;

 

vinca;

viburnum;

and Amanogawa cherry blossom.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby international between Scotland and France. Just before half time the game erupted into a 30 man handbags session. One player threw a punch and was sent off. The game deteriorated after that.

Elizabeth, Danni, Andy and Ella came to dinner.

Before hand the usual fun ensued. Elizabeth and Danni graced the white sofa.

Ella has taken a shine to the bell with which Jackie wakes me when I have fallen asleep during Bargain Hunt.

She also has a new game which involves a tender “Aahh” as she settles her Teddy down to sleep;

she is not averse to ditching him when distracted by her Dad.

The meal consisted of Jackie’s sublime beef pie; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans, and tasty gravy. This was followed by rhubarb crumble and custard. Elizabeth, Danni, and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon, The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank Diet Coke,

Jackie served up to eager participants.

 

 

Ella tucks in beside her mother.

Jackie took the two photographs of the infant enjoying her Kit Kat dessert.

 

 

“I’ll Have A Copy Of That”

Despite yesterday’s rain the Head Gardener drove to Otter Nurseries clutching vouchers for special offers of seven different items. One of these was for 10 fifty litre bags of compost. The helpful staff had stuffed these all into the Modus. Unfortunately they did not offer to unload them at this end. That was my task this morning. I piled them up beside the shed, then staggered inside for a sit down.

Today had dawned as dry, bright, and sunny as yesterday was wet and dreary.

Jackie entered the garden in order to photograph Eric the pheasant. He immediately scarpered, so she cast her camera lens onto the plants.

These cranesbill geranium leaves bear a slight dusting of last night’s light frost.

 

One of Eric’s little games is to decapitate daffodils. He missed those in these three pictures.

Fallen camellia blooms enhance the third composition. Others remain on the shrubs.

 

 

New clematis shoots cling to the weathered iron gazebo, preparing to supersede

winter-flowering Cirrhosa Freckles;

These blue pansies will soon be supplanted by their pot-sharing tulips.

Pink hyacinths,

magenta cyclamens.

two-tone comfrey,

and cream hellebores brighten beds.

Spring is the season for nest-building and incubating eggs. It is prime poaching period for predatory magpies.

On the lookout for potential prey one of these plumed pests perches atop a blighted oak on the other side of Christchurch Road.

Later this afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

On Shirley Holms Shetland ponies grazed in the soggy landscape

which was waterlogged in parts, a number of reflective pools having been recently created

on the wooded side, the drier sections of which were littered by fallen branches,

beech nuts,

and their leaves.

On my way back to the car I photographed an equestrienne approaching us.

As she drew near she smilingly exclaimed “I’ll have a copy of that”.

“What’s your address?” I enquired.

“I’ll take it off your blog” she replied. It was only then that I realised that the beaming face beneath the unfamiliar helmet was that of Anne of Kitchen Makers.

So I felt the need to produce a close-up of her astride her splendid steed.

Beside Church Lane at Boldre lay a recently uprooted tree in a field occupied by

horses wearing rugs to protect them from the overnight temperatures currently slipping below freezing.

Daffodils surrounded the Church of St John the Baptist, in the graveyard of which

a photographer shepherded his subjects.

A gaggle of geese now occupied Pilley lake;

Hatchet Heath harbours more than its normal quota of ponds;

and swans smoothly glide on the slopes of East Boldre.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice with plain parathas accompanied by Hoegaarden in the case of the Culinary Queen and the last of the Cabernet Sauvignon in mine.

 

 

 

 

Through The Window

Another day of steady rain

washing windswept windows;

greasing patio paving;

puddling paths;

pearling maple branches;

glazing garden views;

dowsing patient sparrows;

refreshing colourful camellias,

 

and pink prunus Autumnalis,

ensured a day of Hardy reading and through-the-window photography.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken curry and savoury rice followed by baklavas with which I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.