Unashamedly Odious


Once hailed as ‘one of Hampshire’s loveliest gardens’ we last visited Apple Court Garden, under its previous ownership in the spring of 2014. Elizabeth had also viewed it before then. Today it was open under the NGS (National Gardens Scheme) which raises money for charity. The three of us went along to be profoundly disappointed. Certainly we have endured a very dry summer, but that was no reason for the general air of decay and lack of care, especially as the entrance fee and prices of rather sad plants for sale were high.

My camera worked hard to find things of beauty to photograph.

Jackie and Elizabeth studying plants for sale

Jackie and Elizabeth studied the plants for sale, on the way to the entrance hut.


Such colour as there was on this stretch – or anywhere else for that matter, appeared in  scattered spots, like this spiderwort tradescantia,


or this attractive two-tone crocosmia.


Elizabeth having paid our £5 a head entrance fee we scoured the beds for interest. Here Jackie contemplates the parched earth.


The distant agapanthuses looked well enough;


This bright phormium sent up reddish feathered foliage;

Turk's Head lily

a decorative Turk’s Head lily swayed to

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is attractive to bees. We noticed none in the garden.

A modicum of interest was engendered by the emergence of other visitors in the gaps between the beech hedges.

Water lily

At least, we imagined, the water lilies

and the carp in the Japanese garden would sparkle. Sadly the once clear water was too murky for the lens to penetrate to any depth; spiders’ webs festooned the wooden screen;

the surrounding path had become overgrown and the gravel so sparse as to offer raised circular stones as booby traps.

Comparisons are odious – so the old saying goes. Well, in our view this is no longer a lovely garden. A glance at the last two images in the post highlighted in the first paragraph above will show the difference in the carp’s pool. Our own garden, containing far more colour per square metre, is about a quarter of a mile from Apple Court. I am unashamed in making these two comparisons.

This evening Jackie produced, for the three of us, succulent roast lamb; perfectly crisp roast potatoes; Yorkshire pudding; runner beans from the garden with crunchy carrots and soft mange touts; and onion gravy so thick as to require a spoon for serving. Jackie having drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand, abstained from alcohol, while Elizabeth and I drank Castillero del Diablo reserva Merlot 2017.

Canine Companions

Scooby and pheasant 1Scooby and pheasant 2

A day or two before the Emsworth family joined us for Easter, whilst out walking with Scooby, Ian found a pheasant that he gave to their dog who has brought it with him. I have been very remiss in not mentioning it before, but it is probably why Eric and Scooby ignore each other in the garden,


where tulips are now blooming.


The North Breeze magnolia is now looking even more magnificent.

Jackie and I accompanied Becky and Ian on a drive to Curry’s at Christchurch where they bought a new Toshiba laptop charger. Afterwards we visited Stewart’s Garden Centre for coffee. The others also enjoyed scrumptious scones.Carp

Before entering the store we stopped to watch the carp enjoying the sunlight on their large pool.


In the restaurant area I engaged in conversation with a very friendly couple, the gentleman of which sported a beard that the current breed of rugby players would envy.


Towards the exit we met Chica the chihuahua who shared her basket with a fox and a duck. She is thirteen years old and can’t walk very far.Derrick

Knowing how she felt I was given a head start when walking back to the car. I got there first and waited on a conveniently placed chunk of rock.

This evening the five of us dined on set meal M4 at the most friendly Family House in Totton. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Tsingtao; Becky Diet Coke; and Flo Apple Juice.It was very enjoyable.

A Squabble Of Seagulls

The air was much colder today, and the weak sun only briefly penetrated the mist after mid-day.Misty landscape Even late in the morning, as I walked to Lyndhurst via Mill Lane and Pikes Hill, the Pony & prunusPonylandscape beyond the first layer of trees was obscured. At the top of Mill Lane one pony chomped under a flowering prunus whilst another looked as if it had done battle with a bramble.
Horse & foalFurther on a mare and her lanky adolescent offspring ceased nuzzling each other to wander across and pass the time of the day with me as I leant on a wooden five-barred gate.
The plan today was that I would walk to the Post Office in Lyndhurst to arrange postal redirection, and retire to the car park where Jackie would meet me with the Modus. In the event, I made good progress and didn’t take long in the Post Office, so I was half an hour early and sat on a bench watching the people go by.Mother & child A mother was teaching her little daughter how to cross the road, by looking both ways I imagine.
I had phoned Malachi a couple of days ago to ask him what he would like me to send him from England for his birthday. He thought ‘something to do with stars’ would be ‘cool’. I was very surprised to find just the thing in Lyndhurst, so it looks as if another trip to the Post Office will be in order to send the parcel to Perth.
Jackie drove us on to Milford on Sea for lunch in the Needles Eye cafe, from which the Isle of Wight and its Needles were not visible.
Gravel QuarryGravel quarry roadGravel quarry road 2
Passing through Downton we stopped to investigate the entrance to a quarry which was not far from our new house. Gravel is being excavated a good distance from the house, and I was reassured by the gentleman on site who, reasonably enough, wondered why I was taking photographs.
Seagulls squbblingSeagulls victorious
There are a number of posts along the beach at Milford on Sea bearing notices warning of underwater obstruction. Each of these when we arrived was occupied by a gull. One of these perches was in dispute. The resident was assailed by two rivals. A noisy three for all ensued.Seagulls squabbling in the air Before the argument was settled it was continued on the wing. When the victor reclaimed its throne it kept swivelling its head around, keeping alert and ready to repel further boarders. In case you didn’t know, the collective noun for seagulls is a squabble.
After lunch we drove back through Downton and stopped off to visit Apple Court Nursery and Garden which is very near where our new home will be. Rightly termed ‘one of Hampshire’s loveliest gardens’ it is a well established all the year round garden on which the owners and staff were working in earnest. Only open from March to October on Fridays, weekends and bank holidays, we will certainly visit it again. Jackie found it particularly helpful in learning what is likely to thrive in our new garden. The answer is most plants that like a neutral soil. Today we saw a quantity of spring bulbs, camellias, magnolias, and euphorbia.CarpCarp abstract
Particularly impressive was the Japanese garden with its small lake filled with monstrous carp.
Back home I dined on chilli con carne (recipe) whilst Jackie enjoyed a tamer chicken curry (recipe). I drank Campo Viejo rioja 2012.