A Damselfly In The Kitchen Sink

Today the temperature was warm with intermittent sunshine.

Up early soon after dawn this morning, Jackie discovered an azure damselfly, no longer than one inch, in the kitchen sink. Delicately, she transported the creature to the frog pond which she felt may be more its natural element. Having produced this moving photograph, she proceeded to walk around the garden creating a few more.

Here is her collection. As usual, each garden view is labelled in the gallery which may be accessed by clicking on any image, each of which may be viewed full size by clicking the box beneath it, and further enlarged with another click.

Nugget Junior 2nd was in attendance the whole morning while Jackie worked on Elizabeth’s Bed.

When I joined her for clearing up duties the robin provided me with opportunities for

“Where’s Nugget Junior 2nd?” (2) which may need bigification,

and “Where’s Nugget Junior 2nd?” (3) from which he almost disappeared. Nugget senior was still absent.

Late this afternoon Elizabeth, Danni, Andy, and Ella joined us in the garden where eventually the weather dulled and a cool breeze blew, suggesting it might be a good idea to take our Forest Tandoori Take Away meal indoors to eat from bowls on our knees.

Ella, like the rest of us, studied the menu before putting in an order to Jackie who rang it through. Andy collected it a short while afterwards.

Happier Behind The Camera

I was grateful today for the overnight thunderstorm and for Jackie’s watering the parts it couldn’t reach early this morning before she and Shelly drove to Helen’s to offer sisterly assistance.

This meant I could concentrate on the dead-heading necessitated by the storm’s stripping of many petals. After more than an hour I retreated indoors with wobbly legs and wringing wet shirt to sit at the computer and apply myself to retouching two more of the images from my mother’s old album.

First I tackled my grandfather from c1926 at Conwy. Judging by the position of his hand I suspect he was holding a cigarette.

This photograph was probably taken in about 1919, before the marriage of my maternal grandparents, Annie and George Henry Hunter, who are the couple on the right.

These two images suggest that my grandfather was, like me, happier behind the camera.

After completing this work I returned to the garden,

where bees were very busy, being particularly partial to swarming over purple alliums and pink hebes.

Red geraniums, white marguerites, and pink hydrangeas produce an attractive bank on the front drive. Jackie is constantly thinning out the daisies so she has sufficient vision to her right when driving out.

A variety of day lilies continue to proliferate.

The last three day lily images are from the Kitchen Bed, also home to lysimachia Firecracker.

Pale pastel blue and white campanula spills over the Shady Path

from where we have views towards the house, and across the Palm Bed, among others.

This clematis Polish Spirit is nearby in the Dragon Bed.

From the stable door we look down the Gazebo path, and back from the agapanthuses coming into bloom in the Palm Bed.

Further garden views are afforded by the Rose Garden and the Phantom Path,

leading to the West Bed with its honesty and lilies.

Some time after Jackie returned home she drove out again for a Hordle Chinese Take Away meal which we enjoyed with Hoegaarden in her case, and more of the Fleurie in mine.

The Sun Gleefully Exclaimed


Well into this glorious October spell we still have a profusion of blooms brightening the garden.

Here is a small selection.

Jacqueline spent the day meeting James and Mark and visiting Mum. Late this afternoon Jackie drove me around the forest.

Two ponies foraging on Sowley Lane were caked in dried mud up to their flanks. We wondered where they had been. In the gradually filling ditches perhaps.

Further on, against the backdrop of the ancient granary barn ruins outside St Leonard’s Grange, another somnolent equine group cast long shadows across the sward.

We passed our home and drove on to Mudeford in order to admire the expected sunset. Ultimately sinking rapidly, the sun gleefully exclaimed at the view.

In the fading light gulls squabbled over food tossed skywards by a kindly couple and gentler hues replaced the earlier golden glow.

This evening, Jackie and I dined on her splendid sausage casserole; sautéed potatoes and onions; and crisp carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Doom Bar.

We Ate Their Cake


Late yesterday afternoon, Jackie created a new bed alongside the Head Gardener’s Walk on a piece of barren ground around the bases of holly and bay trees.

She earned her period in the Gardener’s Rest where she slaked her thirst with sparkling water

Having been held in a snarl up on the M27 for over an hour, Elizabeth’s friends Pauline and Jo were forced to abandon their visit to the garden. I therefore stepped out on their behalf.

I wandered along the Gazebo Path,

glancing to the left across to the Dragon Bed and the new wooden arch.

These, of course, are dahlia days. A white break has appeared among the petals of the single red one, and a hoverfly homes in on Puerto Rico.

Fuchsias like Mrs Popple continue to thrive.

These potted pansies have bloomed continuously since early spring.

Polish Spirit is just one example of the clematises that continue flowering.

Sculpture Florence stands proud on Fiveways.

Japanese anemones proliferate.

While I was at it, I picked some runner beans for tonight’s dinner.

A number of gladioli are pleased to be alive;

as are numerous petunias gracing hanging baskets.

Bees, like these milking bright blue heliotrope and blushing sedum, toil away, taking advantage of our Indian summer.

Love Knot and Margaret Merrill are just two of the roses basking in

the Rose Garden, where Absolutely Fabulous and Lady Emma Hamilton, in their maturity, are plumply alluring.

As I came to the end of my tour, Jackie arrived home with a garden centre trophy in the form of an ailing hydrangea. We have often seen how these bargains respond to her nurturing.

Jo sent Elizabeth a text showing her mother bearing the flowers that had been meant for us.

The timing was perfect, because we were sitting in the patio while we ate their cake.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole; swede mash, crunchy carrots, and the tender aforementioned runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I finished the Malbec.




Seeking Camouflage


The sun has returned after several days’ absence. I wandered around the garden with a camera. These photographs reflect the current conditions in our plot.

Hibiscus 1

Hibiscuses are now in full bloom. This one is at the front;


as is this yellow climbing nasturtium sharing the garage frontage with

Hanging basket and clematis Star of India

hanging baskets such as this container of geraniums an lobelia blending with the clematis Star of India behind them.

Dahlias, lobelias, and fuchsia chequerboard

There are quite a few dahlias reaching up to meet the Chequerboard fuchsia sharing the basket suspended from the wisteria arbour with the paler blue lobelias.

Clematis Polish Spirit and buddleia

A buddleia peeps through the Gazebo arch festooned with clematis Polish Spirit;


nearby petunias hang from the eucalyptus.


Leicesteria drop earrings dangle in the West Bed

Japanese anemone

which also contains white Japanese anemones Jackie planted a couple of years ago to contrast with the ubiquitous pink ones.

Begonias and lobelia in hanging basket on dead snake bark maple

Begonias swing from the dead snake bark maple.

Gladioli Priscilla

Priscilla gladioli have survived the rains in the

Through the New Bed

New Bed.

Petunias and geranium

These petunias and geraniums stand on a brick plinth in the Weeping Birch Bed;

Petunias, geraniums, etc

opposite them a pot on the corner of the Raised Bed contains more of each with many blooms behind them.

Crocosmia etc

The crocosmia in this shot greets you as you leave the Rose Garden,

Rose Garden featuring Just Joey

this view of which is focussed on Just Joey.

Elizabeth's bed with Altissimo

Altissimo, in the centre of this shot looking into Elizabeth’s Bed, has sent out a lower than normal stem.

Palm Bed

Yellow rudbeckia takes centre stage in this section of the Palm Bed.

Comma butterfly

This bronzed Comma butterfly appears to be seeking camouflage from the dead little fir tree

Gazebo Path

in a pot on the right hand side of the Gazebo Path.

Perhaps last night’s power cut improved tonight’s evening meal. A consequence was that the lemon chicken Jackie was marinading remained in the lemon juice overnight. We enjoyed this with her special fried rice and runner beans. I finished the pinot noir. Jackie had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio as an aperitif.




An Extended Flowering Period

The date prompted me to begin the day by providing a link to a post from 2012: http://derrickjknight.com/2012/08/07/would-you-believe-it/       –   well, would you? Any of it?

On another very mild morning, we continued preparations for winter. Although a considerable amount of cutting back is required, the garden is still full of colour, some from unlikely sources at this time of the year.

Snapdragons yellow

Snapdragons pink

We have snapdragons everywhere. These two examples are from the beds alongside the back drive.


Nasturtiums still festoon beds, baskets, and window boxes.

Clematis Polish Spirit

A number of clematises, like this nibbled Polish Spirit, are enjoying a resurgence.

Salvia Hot Lips

The salvia Hot Lips was The Guardian’s plant of the week on 10th May last year. Ours is bent on extending its flowering period;

Achillea Desert Eve redAchillea Desert Eve light yellow

as are these achilleas Desert Eve.


Chrysanthemums are to be expected.

Last Sunday, Aaron had discovered a wasps’ nest in one of the dead stumps along the back drive. Jackie had been delegated to buy some suitable insecticide for him to deal with it. She thought she would show it to me. This meant bashing it with a trowel. Soon the air was thick with vespas scooting everywhere. Remembering the bees, I did not hang around. Later, sitting at my p.c., I felt a tickle on my neck. I brushed it with my hand. A wasp flew from my hair to the windowsill. Refraining from photographing the creature, I squashed it.

This afternoon I mounted the Through To The Front series of photographs into the garden album, then watched the Rugby World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand.

In the early evening Jackie drove us to The First Gallery in Bitterne where I delivered my three prints for the Christmas exhibition. We went on to Elizabeth’s in West End, where Jacqueline joined us. The four of us dined at the revamped Eastern Nights at Thornhill. Under new management, the food is as good as before, and the service much more efficient. We all enjoyed the meals. My choice was Gosht Lal Mirchi with special fried rice. We shared a parata and onion bhajis. I drank Cobra. We separated outside the restaurant and Jackie drove me home.

And What Came Next?

This morning’s bouquet includes: Petunias


Clematis Polish Spirit

clematis Polish Spirit;






and delicate gladioli.


A veritable cacophony reverberated along the kitchen facia as the parent starlings jointly strove to satisfy their screeching offspring.

Whilst Jackie continued the creative gardening, I did the ironing and applied the first layer of wax to the new stair-rails.

This afternoon our friend Harri and her dog Inka came for a brief visit.

I have chosen to illustrate the third of my Five Photos – Five Stories with a set of five photos taken in Brittany in September 1982. They were themselves to provide a board book I made for grandchildren Emily and Oliver quite a few years later.

Whilst I was contemplating getting up in the morning in the bedroom of a gite where Jessica, our two children, and Ann and Don spent an enjoyable holiday, a buzzing on a windowpane alerted me to the presence of a fly. I don’t know where the original book is now, but I will endeavour to write this in the language I would have used for small children.

Fly & Butterfly 9.82 001

One day a fly landed on a curtain flapping in the breeze.

Fly & Butterfly 9.82 002

Suddenly a butterfly landed on the windowpane. The fly looked at it,

Fly & Butterfly 9.82 003

and dropped onto the sill. So did the butterfly.

Fly & Butterfly 9.82 004

The fly walked towards the butterfly and did a little dance.

Fly & Butterfly 9.82 005

They reached out a hand to each other, and –

What came next?

Each of the children gave what may be considered a stereotypical response. If you would like to suggest a suitable finale, I will wait a couple of days before revealing what my grandchildren said. I wonder if anyone will match them.

This evening we dined at The Family House in Totton, enjoying set meal M3 in the usual friendly atmosphere. We both drank Tsingtao beer.

Petra Wouldn’t Chance It

Earlier in the year, along with all her other plants, Jackie potted a couple of clematises. They seemed to be doing pretty well until they were, literally as it turned out, cut off in their prime.  Each one had been snipped just above the ground.  This proved a mystery until one afternoon Jackie watched a tiny mouse slipping between the bricks on which stand the invader proof fence.  At each corner, exactly where the clematises have been positioned, there is just enough room for a ‘waffer thin’ rodent to squeeze through.  The stems that got in his way were easily dealt with.

Clematis Polish spiritBut one of the climbers has survived.  It came into bloom when we were out yesterday.  The aptly named Clematis Polish spirit showed all the qualities of that oft-beleaguered nation and regenerated itself.

The story of yesterday’s rider on the lawn is that the young lady on horseback had won a prize and the not quite so young photographer was performing on behalf of a local newspaper.  We are still no wiser about why our particular lawn was chosen for the photoshoot.

I played hide and seek with light showers on my early evening walk in which I further explored Minstead’s public footpaths.  The sound of clopping equine footsteps determined that I turned up Seamans Lane.  I just missed the young woman who lives there and has several horses and carts.  Continuing on I took the footpath from Bull Lane to the houses opposite the Trusty Servant Inn.  This takes us between hedges separating fields with livestock in them.  Gate to Bull Lane footpathThere is at each end a gate that can be easily opened.

Curch footpath gateCrossing the road at the end, I walked up to All Saints Church and down the footpath alongside it.  This again is accessed by two simple gates, one at the top and the other at the bottom of the slope.

The path comes out near The Splash, where I crossed the road and walked up towards Furzey Gardens past the study centre.  The footpath on the right hand side of this road about halfway up leads down to Audrey Saunders’s ponies’ field.  It requires the negotiation of a rather rickety style held together with wire.  It is in climbing stiles that I have realised that post hip replacement my left knee is not quite as flexible as it was.  Footpath and stile to Primrose and Champion fieldWhen I straddle these crossing places I need to grasp my left foot and force a greater genuflection than comes naturally.  If, as with this one, the structure wobbles a bit one feels a certain measure of insecurity.

For some reason, this all reminds me of walking with the dogs.  The dogs in this case were Jessica’s Collie/Labrador cross, Paddy, and Ali and Steve’s Golden Retriever, Petra.  We had to pass through a gate alongside a river or canal in a place I disremember where.  Paddy, as usual, squeezed and wriggled her way through, wet-nosing anything that hindered her. Petra, equally as usual, wouldn’t chance it.  She stood, head down, sheepishly waiting for someone either to widen the gateway, or to lift her up.

Stile to Primrose and Champion footpath

The most stable stile today was the one that leads back onto the road through Minstead from Primrose and Champion’s field.

After the walk I was fed by Jackie with succulent sausage casserole and ratatouille; sausages courtesy of Helen and Bill, and courgettes courtesy of Heather and Brian.  I drank a couple of glasses of Vinsobres Cotes du Rhone 2011.  It is a great pity Jackie can’t remember where she bought the wine, because it is excellent.