April In May

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Today our April showers began. This morning Jackie continued her planting, weeding, and tidying; while I dug out a bank of sycamore seedlings dropped onto the Back Drive borders by a tree in the garden of the vacant North Breeze next door, and a large bramble from the Rose Garden.

In the variable light numerous plants like

Raindrops on saxifrage

tiny saxifrages,

various tulips,

Raindrops on honesty

honesty petals and seed cases,

rhododendrons,

Lilies

lilies,

Raindrops on lamium

and little lamiums sparkled with raindrops.

Libertia

Others, including libertias,

Geranium Phaeum

geranium Phaeums,

Clematis Montana

clematis Montanas,

Rhododendron

another rhododendron,

and the wisteria, were too sheltered to catch the rain.

Jackie with wisteria through kitchen window

The wisteria brightens Jackie’s view from the kitchen window,

in front of which hangs Pauline’s beautifully faceted light catcher.

The sun came and went above the garden paths, three views of which include the Florence sculpture;

Brick Path

and a fourth, the Brick Path.

This afternoon we drove around the forest.

Up on the moors we could watch the rainclouds sending down shafts of their precipitation, in darker indigo slashes, whilst the sun picked out the glowing gorse.

Tree on hill 1

I waited a while for the sun to pierce the cloud cover and play with this scene of stepped tree roots ascending a gravelly slope.

Brooding clouds, sunlight, gorse, and thatched roofs provided a dramatic entrance to Frogham,

beyond which we spotted our first pony foal of the season, its mother providing instruction in planting yourself firmly on the road. Notice its nice new shoes.

Between Godshill and Cadnam, alongside Roger Penny Way, another, adventurous, new baby kicked up its heels and rushed back to its mother on my approach, then continued to explore the terrain at a safe distance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver, bacon, and sausage casserole, new potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, followed by custard tart. She drank Peroni and I drank more of the Madiran.

Canine Paralympics

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Today’s most recently bloomed clematis climbs over the arch spanning the Shady Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me out to the forest.

Strong sunlight cast long or dappled shadows across the freshly resurfaced Holmsley Passage,

and warmed the wayside woodland.

Dog on walker

A disabled dog eagerly propelled its tailored cart, clearly training for the canine Paralympics.

Bees' nest

Bees had taken up residence in the modern house, alongside its dead wisteria, beside the

footpath that was once a railway line, now a route for walkers and cyclists.

It being the start of the grockle season, many others kept to the roads.

Horse riders

On Charles Lane outside Burley, Jackie needed to stop the car beside a passing area, so three riders could squeeze their horses past us. The last one waved their thanks and they cantered on their way.

House in pink

This house, in an imposing position on a bend, looked pretty in pink.

The story of MacPenny’s garden nursery is told in my post ‘Cock Of The Walk’, of 3rd June 2013. This was our next destination.

MacPenny's plants

Masses of rows of flowers, shrubs, and trees are for sale in the huge nursery area,

MacPenny's pots

where pots, compost, and other materials are also available in profusion.

But it was the mature, stunning, NGS Garden, with its wonderful display of rhododendrons and azaleas that we came for today.

We also liked the candelabra primulas.

This evening the four of us dined on Jackie’s sublime sausage casserole, caramelised sweet potato, creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots, and spring greens. Ian drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

Spot The Difference

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In today’s gardening division of labour my contribution was weeding the back drive, while Jackie continued planting, weeding, and watering.

My main focus was on the bed alongside the new fence.

This involved clambering between dead stumps and the fencing and digging out stubborn brambles and sticky Willies. I had not anticipated needing to use a fork on all this, but, most unusually for April, there has been so little rain that the ground is rock hard. Consequently I didn’t get very far. For those readers interested in the scale of things this drive is 75 yards long and the width of a terraced house plot.

Jackie filled the Rose Garden urns – one on the brick pillar we have just rebuilt – with compost

in readiness for these lilies bought from the Hordle Post Office a couple of days ago.

Other plantings in the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds and the Rose Garden are mostly represented by labels.

Corner of Palm Bed at Fiveways

In this corner of the Palm Bed we have tulips; a yellow Japanese maple that clearly needs the pruning treatment;

Rhododendron 1

and a pink rhododendron just coming into bud.

Tree peony

A yellow tree peony competes with the latter over which will be the first in full bloom.

Daffodils, honesty, and hellebores continue to thrive.

This cream verbascum stands on the Back Drive bed,

Clematis Montana

and this clematis Montana spills over the front garden wall,

behind which a yellow potentilla is flowering. Can you guess what, when I put the first of these pictures of it up on the screen, got me rushing out there?

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s gherkins. I drank Doom Bar beer.

Memo To Self

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Memo to self:

‘Never shop at Tesco’s late on a Friday morning. Remember. Because of the congestion, you will never be able to move faster than a plod. Especially when you have driven a short distance having cleared ice from the car windows, you will find that you are wearing too many layers for the oppressive atmosphere. The trolley could pass as a dodgem car. Other drivers will mostly be too old or infirm to be granted a licence; except, that is, for the toddler in the store-supplied pedal vehicle towing his Grandma’s basket on wheels. Facing an oncoming loader stacked with products for filling shelves will be like attempting to avoid an out of control container vehicle. Deft footwork will be required to avoid lasting bruises.

Especially if you are tagging along in a junior mate’s capacity, and you are unfamiliar with the layout you will not feel you are much use. When dispatched to collect specific items, at first you will need to find the relevant aisle. Even if you then find the right brand, you will probably bring the wrong size or the wrong amount back to the Caterer in Chief, and have to retrace your steps to return and replace the item. That is after you have managed to find your lady with her trolley in any one of the countless number of avenues of shelves.’

In case anyone thinks I exaggerate, when faced with an oncoming wheeled tower with apparently no driver, I, at one point, had to choose which elderly woman’s loaded trolley to treat as a bumping car. Fortunately, there was a staff member pushing the container, around which she peered, and applied her brakes. At that moment the toddler pedalled around the corner. The employee  had the good humour to be amused when I asked if her employers had trained her on the dodgems.

This afternoon I scanned another batch of negatives from May 1986. Some of these have appeared in earlier posts, but were made from prints of which I thought I had lost the negatives.

I believe this first group was taken at Tooting Common, where Sam and Louisa enjoyed climbing frames, sandwiches, and ice creams. Would gravel be permitted under these structures in our safety-conscious era today, I wonder? I am not sure whether the bicycle was Louisa’s birthday present.

Clematis montana 5.86

Our first clematis Montana was grown at our home in Gracedale Road,

Sam and Louisa 5.86

barefoot on the concrete back steps of which Sam, admired by his sister, undertakes an important piece of carpentry.

Derrick 5.86

Perhaps Jessica took this photograph of me at a party somewhere.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Lal Quilla, where we received the usual friendly and efficient service with first class food. My main meal was prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken bhuna; and we shared Kashmira pilau rice, garlic naan, and sag bahji. We both drank Kingfisher.

Wet Paint

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Today I scanned a few more colour negatives from the Summer of 1986.

Sam Summer 1986 2

The first is Sam in the garden of our home at Gracedale Road.

Jessica and Sam Summer 1986

This is where this picture of him and Jessica was taken.

I cannot definitely locate the sites of the holiday photos.

Matthew and Sam 1986

These of Matthew guiding Sam up a mountain

Matthew and Sam 1986

and exploring the summit, was in North Wales.

Meadow Summer 1986

The full meadow would have been in the same part of the country as the following phone-box sequence; possibly North Devon. Modern farming, and the increase in motorways have put such meadows in jeopardy. It was Dame Miriam Rothschild who led the move to revive them with her wildflower seed mix (http://www.ohllimited.co.uk/the-ashton-estate/wildflower-seed-mix/). The Head Gardener tells me that this woman was in the habit of flinging them out of the window of her Rolls Royce.

Now, what would the average person do when faced with a ‘Wet Paint’ sign on a bright shiny surface?

Jessica and phonebox Summer 1986

I’m sure you know, and would not be surprised to discover that Jessica was no exception.

Jessica and Louisa and phonebox Summer 1986

Neither was she averse to introducing our daughter, Louisa, to risky ventures.

On this occasion she was pleased to demonstrate that she had no paint on her fingers.

Sadly these telephone boxes have, in the countryside, largely fallen into disuse, and, like their companion red  pillar boxes, rarely bear a coat of fresh paint.

This evening, Becky, Ian, Jackie, and I enjoyed our usual excellent food and hospitality at Lymington’s Lal Quilla. I chose prawn dansak and shared special fried rice and egg paratha with Jackie, whose main meal was prawn dupiaza. The four of us shared onion bahjis. Becky drank red wine and the rest of us, Kingfisher.

PS. See TanGental’s comment below, with its link to the recycling of telephone boxes.

Before The Wedding

Before setting off to Lyndhurst for Danni and Andy’s wedding, we took a short tour round the garden.

Cow parsley

Cynthia Jobin‘s question on yesterday’s post had alerted us to the similarities between cow parsley and hemlock. After extensive research The Head Gardener was able to pronounce that we did not have poison and could indeed make soup with our crop.

Summer season statue

We have now discovered that the boy in the four seasons statuary represents summer.

Snake Bark maple

Two clematis Montanas are now giving the dead Snake Bark maple a new lease of life.

We attended the aforementioned wedding, had lots of lovely food and a certain amount of beer and wine. I will report on it tomorrow.

Before The Thunderstorm

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For the best part of the day there were two consistencies in the weather: it was very warm and it was dry. This meant the overnight rain soon evaporated. The sun, however, vied for dominance with the clouds.

Sack barrow

Stopping on the way to buy a necessary sack barrow from Milford Supplies, we drove to Molly’s Den in search of two more stone urns for the rose garden. We were successful and installed them into position.

Planter in wrought iron

We also bought a red-painted wrought iron planter.

Front garden

Early on, in the front garden,

Tulip and raindrops

tulips’ in-built umbrellas protected their stamens.

Clematis Montana with bee

Bees preferred the pollen from the clematis Montana. If you can’t spot this insect filling its thigh sacs, you may choose to enlarge the image,

Bee on clematis Montana

or opt for this one instead.

Aquilegia

Pearly drops slipped from aquilegias.

Viburnum plicatum 2Viburnum plicatum 1

The viburnum plicatum had benefited from the warmth and the rain.

Wisteria

Two years ago, outside the utility room door, stood the stump of a wisteria that had clearly been heavily pruned, we imagine to make way for the plumbing for the en-suite bathroom above. It has responded to nurturing the first year, and training the next, to produce a fine drapery which should increase even more next year.

Pieris

Another stump, this time on the grass patch, has recovered to produce a pieris that now shows signs of feeling crowded by the Castle Bench.

Erigeron

Offspring of the erigeron, outside the French windows to the sitting room, have been adopted by various other parts of the garden.

Urn 1

Urn 2 (Jackie reflected)

Just before the thunderstorm hit at 4.30, after Jackie had planted up the urns, I joined her for cold drinks and a rest in the rose garden.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s prize chicken jalfrezi, now nicely maturing; meat samosas, egg fried rice, onion bhajis, and parathas. I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone, while The Cook abstained.