On The Brink Of May

Before watching the Women’s Six Nations rugby decider between England and France this afternoon I wandered around the garden to look at the flowers.

Blossom cascades from two crab apple trees at the front, where pink climbing roses

pink climbing roses cling to the trellis opposite the smiling pansies against the garage door.

Libertia and bluebells are both now ubiquitous,

As are these poppies which start the day in bloom and end it stripped of petals. My job is to dead head them so they will come again tomorrow.

White erigeron and pink honesty are also found everywhere, as in the Cryptomeria Bed, shared with

osteospermum.

We have a number of clematis Montanas, one of which shares the limbs of this lilac.

Various wallflowers are cropping up.

This wisteria has flowered for the first time, while the weathered camellia is showing it age.

Rhododendrons are in their prime.

Camassia and ajuga are more examples of small blue flowers.

We inherited this white blooming shrub from our predecessors. Can anyone identify it? Thanks to Carolyn (doesitevenmatter 3) for Snowmound or Spirea Nipponica

Finally, a few days ago this gravel would have harboured forget-me-nots and other little flowers which will settle anywhere. Now, it has been just one area in which Flo has undertaken strenuous weeding.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegarden, I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon, Flo drank Kombucha Raspberry and lemon, and Becky abstained.

A Tall Lean Boy

Today the air was cold and the light dull.

This morning Jackie and I each reached a corner of the bench while weeding the Shady Path. There is just the middle stretch to be completed. A yellow tree peony and a plethora of Welsh poppies can be seen in the surrounding beds.

The clematis Montana weaves about the lilac on the Back Drive.

When literary blogger josbees recommended that I reread chapter 2 of Nicholas Nickleby I had imagined that I would not read the whole book again, but would work my way through scanning Charles Keeping’s illustrations for my readers. In fact I was wrong. As the characters came flooding back to me after more than half a century, this Dickens novel is now one of the few I am happy to read again.

The frontispiece illustration is to ‘A tall lean boy, with a lantern in his hand, issued forth.’

‘Motioning them all out of the room, Mr Nickleby sunk exhausted on his pillow’ demonstrates Mr Keeping’s penchant for sandwiching a section of text into his drawing.

‘The clerk presented himself in Mr Nickleby’s room’ contains the artist’s skill at portraiture. The proximity of the houses seen through the window demonstrates the congested nature of the environment.

‘ ‘Mrs Nickleby,’ said the girl, throwing open the door, ‘here’s Mr Nickleby’ ‘ demonstrates Keeping’s adherence to the text. The young lady has hastily attempted to clean her dirty face with an even dirtier apron.

‘ ‘I have been thinking, Mr Squeers, of placing my two boys at your school’ ‘

‘A minute’s bustle, a banging of the coach doors, a swaying of the vehicle to one side’ exemplifies the artist’s mastery of receding perspective by bursting the foreground range of portraits out of the frame.

Early this evening a friend of Jake, who I photographed Sunset Dancing last December, called to collect a print I had made for him. Jake now lives in The Netherlands, and earns a living skydiving.

Later, we dined on roast chicken thighs and roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, sage and onion stuffing, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Recital.

Walkers In The Field

On a gloriously warm and sunny Good Friday, being the start of a four day holiday weekend, the government was still urging the public to adhere to the coronavirus lockdown  regulations; the UK reported death toll was now approaching 1,000 in the last 24 hours; and a small but significant minority of people were transgressing and being variously dealt with by the police.

The diurnal poppies that, if regularly deadheaded, will last for another six months have appeared in the back garden.

In the front we have pink cherry,

two different crab apples,

and Amanogawa blossoms;

while clematis Montana and vinca vie for purchase on the low wall.

After lunch I walked along Christchurch Road to the fallow field, down into Honeylake Wood, and back.

My chosen entrance to the field, avoiding the kissing gate was now becoming quite well trodden.

The arable land is fronted by blackthorn hedgerows

with wild flowers such as daisies and dandelions at their base.

Tractor tracks bend round the opening to the wood,

while through the hedge to the far left the screeching of groupie gulls alerted me to ploughing in Roger Cobb’s top field.

Stretching shadows striated sylvan footpaths and attendant celandines.

I stepped into the trees to keep my distance from two male neighbours I had never met before who lived at the corner of Hordle Lane opposite The Royal Oak.

Among the ubiquitous yellow flowers, in various stages of disintegration in their return to the soil

lay broken branches of birch and other arboreal debris.

Velvet moss coated trunks and roots of trees entwined by meandering ivy.

A very shallow trickle was all that remained of a small stream that usually joins

the greater watercourse which would normally cover

this fallen limb against which it now laps and ripples.

This time I crossed the bridge, continued a short distance up the mounting slope. and backtracked past

a clump of starry wood anemones.

A walking couple crossing the field in my direction on my way back thought better of it and turned round to cross the path of

the two gentlemen I had seen earlier as, keeping their distance, they crossed to my chosen hole in the hedge and presumably returned home before I did.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork; roasted new potatoes in their skins; crisp sage and onion stuffing and Yorkshire pudding; crunchy carrots and firm Brussels sprouts; red cabbage cooked with onions and garlic in red wine with a touch of balsamic vinegar; and tasty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Mezquiriz.

 

 

 

A More Manageable Garden

Our own garden is rather more manageable for dodgy knees than yesterday’s veritable undulating park. I took an amble around it this afternoon.

Jackie thought that this very small daffodil, in one of the stone troughs resting on the front wall, had come up blind. In fact it has bloomed later than most.

Behind the troughs rambles a clematis Montana, one of several we have.

One shares its perch with a blue solanum on the arch to the south end of the Brick Path;

another cosies up to the lilac.

This one, adorning the Gazebo was a shrivelled little specimen, barely alive, until Jackie came along and nurtured it. In the foreground of this shot we have a bottle brush plant ready to burst open.

The clematis will soon festoon the top of the arch.

The first of these aquilegias stands beneath the wisteria; the second is at the south end.

This phlox subulata is the sole survival of six planted last year.

Jackie savages this toadflax whenever she finds it growing like the alleged weed it is. There is no doubt, however, that it makes good ground cover.

Another plant whose name escapes the Head Gardener is this rather beautiful little bulb – one of a cluster in the Cryptomeria Bed.

We have two different rhododendrons in the Palm Bed.

The viburnum Plicata now blooms in the West Bed.

Many of our bluebells are either of the incoming Spanish variety or hybrids. Fortunately we do have some native English specimens.

This miniature azalea has accompanied me in all my abodes since it came in a pot presented to me by the foster carers of Parents for Children in 2003. It has now taken up permanent residence in the Kitchen Garden.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice followed by strawberries and cream.

Nothing For It

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I spent a considerable number of frustrating hours attempting to secure internet access today. I will not bore anyone with the details. Looking on the bright side, I decided to tackle the paperwork for my annual tax return. This went quite well until I tackled my bank statements, which I receive on a quarterly basis. The most recent batch has not arrived. “No problem.” I thought. “Now I bank on line I can take the necessary details from there”. …………… “Ah……..”.

There was now nothing for it but to wander round the garden with my camera in hand and a mobile phone in my pocket. There are, of course, less pleasant ways of spending my time.

The clematis Montana now drapes the front wall upon which a trough of blue pansies smile; the potentilla now dances with the vinca.

The sweet scent of the wisteria pervades the area beneath its arbour.

Buds of blue irises and red poppies are simply biding their time.

While I wandered and emptied a trug or two into the compost, Jackie continued replenishing soil and planting in beds and containers.

These verbascum look down on similarly hued Erigeron,

Cow parsley in Dragon Bed

just as the cow parsley soars above everything else in the Dragon Bed.

pansies and clematis Marie Boisselot buds

In the Kitchen Bed’s stone urn white pansies bridge the season of faded white daffodils and that of clematis Marie Boisselot, whose buds can be observed in the obelisk behind.

Geranium Palmatum

The first of the geranium Palmatums, which will soon arrive in abundance, has lined up along the Shady Path in line with heucheras,

Shadow on heuchera

on the leaves of which a hebe casts its shadow.

Erigeron, aquilegia, vinca, alliums, silenes

Erigeron, aquilegias, vinca, alliums, and silenes crowd each other in the Weeping Birch Bed,

aubretia and wild strawberries

as do aubretia and wild strawberries in the Oval Bed opposite.

Butterfly Small White, honesty

Small White butterflies flitted about.

Rosariae de L'Hay corner of Rose Garden

Rosariae de L’Hay enlivens its corner of the Rose Garden.

This afternoon, until I was back on line, I continued reading John Le Carré’s The Night Manager.

Dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s excellent pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I consumed A Dark Apothic 2015 Californian red.

 

 

 

 

Great Nephews

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Many of the blooms on the still quite small pink rhododendron, seen in this sculpture’s eye view from Five Ways, are now fully open.

Others recently flourishing include the yellow tree peony, various geraniums, and elegant libertias.

The flamboyant red and yellow tulips are changing their hues with age, while the euphorbias have reached full sculptural maturity.

A clematis Montana festoons the mauve lilac tree.

Orange poppies lead the eye to the marigolds alongside the greenhouse. Similarly the heuchera alongside the Dead End Path echos the recently flourishing copper beach leaves.

This latter path is visible from the patio where we sat with Helen, Shelly, Billy and Max who visited us this morning.

Although his usual cheerful self, poor little Max has chicken pox, so he was a bit thirsty and drowsy. Helen administered the bottle.

Billy was as active as ever, manoeuvring his vehicles, wandering about the garden, and munching chocolate bars. The two boys are Helen’s grandsons and Shelly, Jackie, and my great nephews.

This evening we dined on prawn toasts and Jackie’s superb egg fried rice with a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce followed by Easter bread and butter pudding. Should anyone wonder what this is, I would ask what else would you do with weird hot cross buns purchased in error, not having realised that the currants were in fact chocolate chips, other than put them in the freezer in case they might come in useful. Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016

 

 

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.