A Normal Day For Aaron

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Today, Easter Sunday, we confined ourselves to light gardening. For Aaron it was a normal day.

Compost bins

He reorganised the compost bins. This involved shifting the greenish fencing to the left from behind the Head Gardener’s Shed, and moving the contents of one heap into the one I had emptied during the week.

Ace Reclaim bench

He painted the Ace Reclaim Bench.

Phantom Path

He weeded more paths, and moved spare posts from the rickety orange shed to the trunk of the sturdier beech tree. Both of these tasks are shown in this view of the Phantom Path with the beech at the far end.

Heligan Path

Another snaking path was that entitled Heligan.

Dragon Bed and Shady Path

The Shady Path, seen beyond the Dragon Bed;

Gazebo Path

and the Gazebo Path were weeded last week.

Ajugas

We have many ajugas, such as these

Oval and Elizabeth's Beds

 in the Oval Bed, like Elizabeth’s Bed beyond, now fully composted.

We have almost finished the preparation of the Rose Garden, the first image of which shows the chimney pots in the distance, and the vantage point from which, at the south-easternmost corner I photographed the

Jackdaw 1

jackdaw, now guarding the nest inside the chimney, with my little ZX700 HS. Every so often the bird descends into the chimney.

geranium macrorrhizum Ingwersen's Variety

The geraniums macrorrhizum Ingwersen’s Variety are now blooming nicely.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, fish pie, crunchy carrots and runner beans, with which I finished the shiraz.

In Search Of Daylight

Eric, as Jackie has now termed our visiting pheasant, scarpered as soon as I entered the garden this morning, but the less timid robin commandeered the bird feeder, and crows circled the chimney pot. Soon they will be vying for territorial ownership of it.RobinCrows

Camellia 1Camellia 2

Through the jungle that is the garden of North Breeze next door, another camellia, looking a bit dog-eared, has thrust upwards in search of daylight,Vibernum

and our viburnum, now we have opened up the garden, and cut back this plant, has no need to climb so high before blooming.

Sawn trunk

The stump Aaron has trimmed on the back drive presents glorious golden abstracts.

This afternoon I finished reading the fourth of G.K. Chesterton’s ‘Father Brown’ stories, ‘The Secret of Father Brown’.Goldcrest 1Goldcrest 2

Later, when the skies had dulled over, and rain begun to fall, from inside the sitting room, Jackie spotted a goldcrest in the shrubbery. From a good metre our side of the window I pointed my Canon SX700 HS, set on auto, at the bird, which had by then dropped onto paving beneath. I pressed the shutter an instant before it flew off. There was no second chance. The uncropped image above is the whole scene. Beneath it is the cropped version. I publish both, not to display my dubious photography, but in praise of the camera.

Keen to begin watching ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple’ in time to give me a reasonable chance of staying awake, Jackie decided to dictate the description of our evening meal. ‘We had the same as yesterday and Jackie drank water’, she said. Who am I to argue?

A Tale Of Two Climbers

Today was another wet one. That put paid to any continuation of the pathfinding project, but we worked on others in brief spells between the rains.Gladiolus

An interesting variety of gladiolus has emerged outside the back door to the kitchen.

Jackie drove off to Everton Garden Centre to buy some annuals. She returned with quite a few. There were enough to plant up the urn and the chimney pots, and to provide marginals for the pond.

Butchers blocks potting shedFirst, she needed a potting shed. Our predecessor used a sand tray in the garage for this, but that was one of the many items removed to make way for the utility room. Among the pieces left for us by the previous owners, thinking they might be useful, were two butchers’ blocks. They were relegated to the skip pile from which they were retrieved this morning to make an improvised potting shed.

Three extremely heavy stoneware chimney pots had been brought from Amity Grove via 4 Castle Malwood Lodge. They had stood in our front garden since 31st March. They needed two of us to lift each one into a wheelbarrow, and to manoeuvre them into place. Chimney triangleThe awareness that they now formed three corners of a triangle caused Jackie once more to reflect on the lack of one in the kitchen.

While Jackie planted her purchases, I wandered around randomly weeding, then brightened up yesterday’s path with a partial application of gravel.

I have mentioned before the nature of the boundary between our home and the unoccupied bungalow to our right. This is sometimes rather problematic, as in the case of the Lonicera which has been so invasive as to push our neighbouring shrubs right out of position and across the patio. BoundaryOne particular climbing rose has been forced to extend leggy limbs above and beyond what is sensible. It is tied to a tall wooden stake that, in turn, is tied to a metal one. It looks to me as if the thick honeysuckle-like stems and branches are all that is keeping anything in place at all. Bird's nestI found an empty birds’ nest in the tangled mess. Seeing this object, as if floating on the reflecting metal garden table, alerted me to the fact that I was becoming a little damp.

Pondering how to dispose of the mounting pile of pruned plant pieces, I thought of my good Newark friend and neighbour, Malcolm Anderton, and another climbing rose which was itself perpetrating the invasion.

A long, high, stone wall separated our two properties. Covering this, on our side, were three large red climbing roses which tended to peep over to Malcolm’s. When, around the turn of the millennium, some of the boughs were found cut, and on the ground in our driveway, Jessica approached our neighbour to see if he knew anything about it. Indeed, he did. He had been pruning the invader whose stems he was chucking back over the wall. He informed us that that was the legal thing to do.

Our next door garden here is completely overgrown, so no-one would probably notice if I tossed the limbs of Lonicera back where they came from. I am grateful to Malcolm for the idea.

Having given up on the garden after lunch, I just nipped out to get wet photographing Jackie’s planting:Pond plantingUrn plantingChimney pot plantingDinner at The Jarna was as good as ever this evening. We know, because we enjoyed some, both drinking Cobra.

A Pair Of Frogs

Path along back of house a.m.Path for clearanceJackie and I spent the whole of this gloriously sunny day on path clearance in the garden. She worked on the brick one at the back of the house, whilst I concentrated on a gravelled track further along our plot.

The plastic bucket on my path has no bottom. There are a number of such receptacles in the flower beds. Perhaps they had a protective role with seedlings.

Because this thoroughfare has a fabric lining and has been more recently trodden, my task was easier than when working on the last one. There was, however, much weeding and defining of borders to carry out, with the usual final raking smooth. A cotoneaster that had obviously been cut back a few times was quite an obstacle to progress. This is because I decided to remove it, first removing the branches, then extracting the tough old stump, following the same process as with the hollies. Here are a couple of photographs of the finished job:Path clearedPath cleared 2Poppies

We are fortunate that the glorious red poppies are still such a focal point, because they took quite a battering in the recent storms, but are now finding the strength to stand proud again.

The flower beds and shrubberies also need extensive weeding, but we have chosen to focus on the paths first because that gives a generally tended appearance if you don’t look too closely at the rampant brambles and suchlike elsewhere. Inevitably some of these other areas do receive some attention, if only to prevent further invasion of the paths. Garden through weeping birch leavesCrow on rooftopThe result is that it is not only the footpaths that are seen in a new light, but new vistas across the garden are opened up. Crow on chimney potsThe beautiful rhododendron in these photographs was largely obscured from across the garden just a few days ago.

I took some time out to watch a considerable corvine conflict on our chimney pots. There is usually one crow or another perched up there shouting the odds or playing sentinel. This afternoon there were often three of four flapping, croaking, and pecking at each other. They didn’t stay around to be photographed, so I had to settle for one lookout and one guardian portrait.

Jackie clearing up after crearing pathFrogsJackie made a beautiful job of her path, and went on to tidy up the surrounding areas. There are a number of small home made ponds in the garden stocked with aquatic plants. One of these was in the bed behind the patio. It needed clearing out and freshly watering for the sake of the atmosphere as much as for the plants. She did this, and in the process, not content with her recent amphibian discovery, found a pair of frogs hibernating in the undergrowth. She returned them, a bit mossy, to their rightful position on the edge of the pond. Rose climbing peachIrisThe whole area around this water feature needed tidying up, which she did, and went on to carry out some heavy pruning of various shrubs, thus liberating a mature peach climbing rose. I rather colourful iris was also exposed for the first time.

We dined on Jackie’s sausage and liver casserole, mashed potato, carrots and green beans. And very good it was too. I finished the Languedoc whilst she drank her customary Hoegaarden.

We finished our drinks on the garden bench. One of the many trees that we don’t recognise, has a rather colourful green and yellow sinuously striped bark. Snail on tree trunkWe noticed that a snail was hoping to use it as a camouflage.

Can anyone identify the tree? This is what the branches carry:Leaves of stripy tree                            P.S. Jackie’s research has revealed that the tree is a member of the snake bark maple group, probably Hers maple, native to China.