Not Quite Mid-May

Today’s tour of the garden began with

clematis Marie Boisselot in the Kitchen Bed which also contains an as yet small wisteria, clusters of ferns, Japanese maples, the now ubiquitous erigeron, and self seeded bronze fennel which will have to go when it outgrows it’s welcome.

Other clematises include Niobe, now rivalling the fading wisteria and the burgeoning rose Paul’s Scarlet for space above the Wisteria Arbour; and Doctor Ruppel, one of which is beginning its ascent up the arch facing the Westbrook Arbour.

At the Brick Path corner of the Dragon Bed a deep red peony prepares to top off the happy planting of phlox and geraniums.

At the far side of this bed the magnolia Vulcan is beginning to relish the light now permitted into its corner.

The pink rhododendron in the Palm Bed sits opposite the deeper variety in Margery’s Bed.

There are a number of vantage points along the Brick Path.

The yellow diurnal poppies alongside the Gazebo Path

can be seen slightly above the centre of this view through the Cryptomeria Bed.

Before Aaron left this morning he had mown the grass patch which is beginning to warrant the epithet lawn.

Rose Madame Alfred Carriere soars above the entrance to the Rose Garden; Jacqueline du Pré adds harmony; Laura Ford a splash of yellow beside Roserie de la Haie; and Gloriana a touch of majesty to the side fence.

Aquilegias dance with ferns in the South Bed;

weigela festoons the fence above them.

Three hawthorn trees, swathes of libertia, and carpets of erigeron give a distinctly white hue to the Back Drive borders.

These are glimpses of the garden in not quite mid-May.

While we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks on the patio a pair of pigeons settled down for the evening in the copper beech.

For our dinner we travelled around the world in 60 minutes. We enjoyed Jackie’s special fried rice with Japanese tempura prawns, Chinese pork spare ribs, Indian tandoori chicken, Belgian Hoegaarden beer and more of the Chilean Carmenere wine.

“I’m Sure I Can’t Allow That”

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I dozed through the early parts of the day. At 4. p.m. Jackie set me up on Mum’s perching stool at a vantage point beside the bricked-in well, and I emerged, blinking, into strong sunlight to the sweet, sonorous, symphonies of vibrant birdsong.

While she continued to labour away in the sweltering heat, I perched and photographed what met my eye. When she caught me standing unaided and shifting the stool to give me a better angle down the Brick Path, she exclaimed: “I’m sure I can’t allow that.”

My choice of this evening’s ready prepared meals was suitably bland cod mornay with mashed potato and peas.

One Day Of Life

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I can spot a dandelion or a bramble when it grows big enough to be difficult to eradicate. The Head Gardener can spot any sort of weed as soon as it pokes through soil. She can distinguish that soon between a plant she will welcome and allow to live and another that must die. I am not safe in that department, so I don’t weed. Except for the few paltry dandelions and small cluster of brambles from one parent root that I removed today.

Jackie continued her phenomenal soil replenishment programme, sensibly choosing the Shady Bed for her main focus because it was pretty warm. It is worth repeating that this involves digging out poor soil, finger fishing thousands of tiny superfluous allium bulbs, adding spent potting compost, then

Planting in Shady Bed

planting, in this case begonias, mimuluses, and geraniums.

Aaron and Robin spent the morning working on the fence.

Rose Garden 1Rose Garden 2

In the Rose Garden the forget-me-nots in each picture have self-seeded around the base of Mum in a Million, planted in honour of my late mother-in-law, and just coming into bud. This seems rather thoughtful.

Poppies etc

These self-seeded orange poppies pop up all over the garden, only last a day, and are rapidly replaced.

Day Lily

The same applies to the similarly hued day lilies, so called for obvious reasons.

Irises

Fortunately these orange irises, along the Back Drive, having a delightful scent, bloom a little longer.

Clematis Niobe

The clematis Niobe enhancing the kitchen wall is now very vigorous;

Chilean Lantern tree

the Chilean Lantern tree is coming into flower;

Alliums

and different alliums emerge daily.

View From Decking 2

On the right of this view from the Decking the Cordyline Australis, otherwise known as Cabbage Plant, is coming into bud. It will soon bear sweet-smelling cascading floral filigrees.

Bird's nest

Beneath this palm Jackie found another bird’s nest that has served its purpose.

Sadly, this evening, we came to the end of the last batch of Jackie’s chicken jalfrezi, served with egg fried rice, parathas, and onion bhajis. I look forward to the next one. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta malbec 2014.

In The Garden Today

My gardening task today was cutting the grass.

View across grass patch

It is as well that I did carried that out before photographing this symphony in red provided by tellimas, rhododendron, pieris, mimuluses and petunias.

Rhododendron

Another rhododendron that I photographed last week in a still closed and soggy state is now fully open and looking well refreshed;

Tulips

as are the red and white tulips at the front of the house.

New arrivals are clematises

Clematis Niobe

Niobe

Clematis Marie Boisselot

and Marie Boisselot;

Crane's bill geraniums

yet more Crane’s bill geraniums;

Pheasant's eye narcissus

 Pheasant’s eye, perhaps the last of the narcissi;

Aqulegias

naturalised aquilegias;

Alliums

and different alliums.

As has been noted before, the Hordle Chinese Take Away set meal for two can always be extended into the next day. So it was with yesterday’s, the seconds of which we enjoyed this evening, with profiteroles to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

I’ve Received An Award

Dawn's tints 1Dawn's tints 2 There was not much sunshine today, so it paid off to have been up and dawn to watch its pink tints filtering across the road, turning the cool blue exterior of the house into a warmDawn's tints 3 watercolour, and piercing a new pair of windows into my study wall. An amble round the garden revealed Deutzia 1Deutzia 2

two different deutzias;

Verbena

a variety of verbena;

Aquilegias

and a quantity of aquilegias from seed scattered last autumn.

Clematis Niobe

This clematis Niobe, now thriving against the front fence, was a spindly twig trampled into gravelly soil when we arrived a year ago. It has responded well to Jackie’s winter care.

We have a saying which I had never understood until meeting Priscilla. This is ‘smelling like a petunia’, used to describe someone wearing perhaps too much perfume. Almost very variety of the range of cultivated versions of the plant has had the scent bred out of it.

Petunia Priscilla

Priscilla, however, carries the pristine aroma.

I was pleasantly surprised yesterday evening to receive:the-versatile-blogger-awardfrom Alex Raphael, who certainly deserved one himself.  Thank you Alex.

As part of the award, I have to say 7 things about me and nominate 15 other cool bloggers.

Here goes:

1. I will be 73 in July, and am enjoying a full and active life, qualified somewhat by 7 below.

2. I had secure and stable childhood which gave me the strength to survive several adult bereavements, all of which have contributed to who I am today. For example, being widowed and a single parent at 22 brought about an entire change of career.

3. I have 5 children by three different wives, two of whom have died. To date there are 8 grandchildren.

4. My interests include art, literature and photography.

5. It is fascinating how my enthusiasms have changed over the years. Having been a keen sportsman of generally average ability, I now don’t even know who is playing what. Similarly, I set top level cryptic crosswords for twenty years, until losing interest three years ago. Blogging has taken over – for as long as it may last.

6. Having spent a lifetime living and/or working in London, I am enjoying retirement between The New Forest and the south coast.

7. A problem with my right knee has curtailed my long walks for the moment, but I am an optimist, and hope to resume them in due course.

Of all the awards which float around WordPress, Alex has chosen the one I would most have coveted. This is because I do try to vary my material.

I follow almost 200 other blogs, but, I cannot nominate 15 for versatility. Sticking to that criterion, and avoiding those Alex has already nominated, this is my list:

Baffled Baboon

ireland2day: according to my lens

Implied Spaces

Dark Pines Photo

Life is But This

The World according to Dina

handmade. homegrown. beautiful life

The Proto Star

Oak Trees Studio

Of course  I couldn’t follow the instructions without technical help from Alex through an e-mail. Thank you for that too, Alex. Aaron laying brick paths Patiently and carefully, Aaron made further impressive progress in laying the paths for the new rose garden. The succulent piece of pork Jackie had bought a couple of days ago was far to big for yesterday’s meal. She therefore cut it in half and cooked the second for our dinner tonight. Boiled potatoes, carrots and cabbage were served with it. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Malbeck.

Out On Their Feet Amid The Confetti

Yesterday I forgot to mention the outcome of my visit to Simon Richards, the hand surgeon. That can only be a good sign. He has discharged me, but physiotherapy will continue for some time. The middle joint on the little finger remains bent rigid. He has advised me to practice straightening it with brute force from my right hand. That’s painful. And scary. Rather like holding a newborn baby, I don’t want to break it. But it seems to be working.

Wind still gusts around the garden, but we do have sunshine and showers. Rhododendron

A new rhododendron is in bloom;

Ant on allium

an ant perches on the first of our colourful alliums to arrive;

Thyme and erigeron

the thymes I rescued from the blue sinks last year have thrived;

Spiky shrub

as has the heavily Corokia cotoneaster outside the back door;

clematis Niobe

and the clematis Niobe enlivens the kitchen wall.

The rain, reinforced by a fierce fusillade of hailstones, soon returned and watered my charges for me.Mimulas and cosmos

These mimuluses, hosta, heuchera, and cosmos have yet to be planted up.

I returned to the task of identifying and scanning the prints retrieved from Elizabeth.

Michael and Sam 6.83

Here, Michael and Sam are seated in the garden of Gracedale Road in June 1983.

Sam 1983

Later that year, Sam tucks into refreshments after completing the Furzedown mini-marathon.

This was a fund-raising event for the children’s nursery school. Clearly the professional-looking number tags had been donated by the organisers of the Farnham Castle Marathon, sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken. I made a complete black and white portfolio of the occasion for the school. Some parents bought copies. If I ever find the negatives, I think the pictures would warrant their own post.

(I did find the negatives. This post and the next two feature the pictures)

Michael 1984

Sometime in 1984, Michael appears to be watching telly in the lounge of Gracedale Road. Probably an Arsenal football match.

Becky 1984 001

Also in 1984 we attended Tony and Liz’s wedding. Here is a portrait of Becky taken there.

That was the period in which I was converting colour negatives to black and white prints, using an enlarger and chemicals. Goodness knows how, I certainly don’t remember. Now I can do it at the touch of a mouse, so who cares?

Becky 1984 002

This, from the same set, was scanned from a 10″ x 8″ print.

Louisa 1984

Louisa was there too. Here, putting me in mind of the bridesmaid from 1970, she, too, seems to be out on her feet, and contemplating whether the confetti would soften the paving stones sufficiently to provide a feather bed.

There was more than enough of Jackie’s delicious beef stew for my meal this evening. I also finished the Madiran wine.

Lest We Forget

Alice wallpaperIt is Alice’s birthday today, so I will begin by displaying my iMac wallpaper on which she walks across the shingle on a very blustery day in view of the Isle of Wight and The Needles.

Telephone boxThis morning I walked to the bank at New Milton. I turned right up Lower Ashley Road and left along Ashley Road. This route is rather less picturesque and more protracted than the winding racetrack that is Christchurch/Lymington Road, but considerably safer. The man who insisted on giving me a lift soon after I had passed Angel Lane on my return thought so too.

Downton’s public Telephone box has probably seen better days.

A grasshopper camouflaged in the long grasses through which I trampled on the verge took me back to A Close Encounter I experienced in Sigoules on 9th August 2012.Grasshopper

36th Ulster Division memorial flagA memorial flag flapping on the top floor balcony of a block of flats in Ashley Road encouraged us to remember the 36th Ulster Division’s contribution to the First World War, which we joined 100 years ago today. This was just one group of the generation of young men and boys on both sides sent to their slaughter in order to satisfy the whim of a power-crazed Kaiser and the hopeless ineptitude of our own war leaders. Grandpa Knight 1917A century later we still fight our battles on foreign soil, to demonstrate that not much has been learned by mankind in the intervening century.

It is almost incredible to recollect that Kaiser Wilhelm was a grandson of Queen Victoria, and therefore that the major protagonists were a family at war.

My own paternal grandfather was one of those who came back, otherwise, since my father was born in 1917, when we think this photograph was taken, I probably wouldn’t be here to write this post. Neither would Alice, come to that.

When our lights are extinguished at 10 p.m. this evening, it will not be a power cut that brings this about. We will be joining the rest of the UK in an hour’s darkness of remembrance.

Back home this afternoon, while Jackie laboured with her watering cans, View from dump benchI wandered around the garden, at one point taking a rest on the dump bench and admiring one of its views. I did a little dead heading on my rounds. Petunias are very sticky.

Cricket on clematisThe nocturnal relative of this morning’s grasshopper, probably sleeping, aboard one of our many blue clematises was a cricket. Close scrutiny of the photograph reveals the incredibly long antennae that distinguish this insect from the other.Clematis Niobe

We think the purple clematis climbing the new arch on the opposite side of the garden is a Niobe.Hibiscus

Near this is a very prolific hibiscus.Crocosmia solfoterre

Because we are likely to forget their names, Jackie is labelling all those plants, like the unusual crocosmia Solfoterre, that she can, sometimes after considerable research.

Jersey Tiger MothJust as extensive research was required for me to identify a black and white striped butterfly that flashes it bright orange underside when on the wing. After a thorough study of the thoroughly informative ‘The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland’ by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Lewington, I surfed the web, to no avail. Then I had one of my strokes of genius. Maybe, I thought,’ it is a moth?’. One had, after all, the other day, settled on Jackie’s woolly bosom. It is a Jersey Tiger Moth. She was, incidentally wearing a cardigan at the time.

For our dinner this evening, Jackie produced a professional egg fried rice to accompany our succulent pork chops and the remnants of our recent Chinese takeaway. I finished the Bordeaux and she sampled some Hoegaarden.