Hay Ho

This morning Aaron of A.P. Maintenance completed his preparation of the Rose Garden for winter that is still being kept at bay.

A week or so back he gave the shrub roses a good haircut. Today he laid our two year old compost around their bases.

Clumps of bright yellow bidens, like these at the foot of our sculpture, Florence;

Little irises, heucheras, lamium, and geraniums;

a fig flowering in the Palm Bed;

and this clematis on the Westbrook Arbour, all speak of the season’s confusion.

This morning I helped Elizabeth load her car with belongings to take to her Pilley house. This afternoon Jackie and I followed this up by unloading them for her. We then continued on a forest drive.

The lake that has been mostly dry during the summer once more bears ripples and reflections.

Bustling goats in a field alongside Jordans Lane competed in a dodgem race for first bite at the bundles of hay clutched under their speeding keeper’s left arm.

On an open space beside Bull Hill a group of stumpy little ponies chomped on their own food.

From here we sped off to Mudeford, arriving just in time for sunset. While I was taking these shots

I was unaware that Jackie was adding her own sequence, featuring me among the silhouettes.

Preening swans,

one with an entourage of gulls, completed the picture.

Elizabeth returned in the evening and we all dined on Jackie’s splendidly hot chilli con carne and toothsome savoury rice. My sister drank Hop House Lager; my wife drank Hoegaarden; and I finished the Merlot

No-one Will Buy Any Ice Cream Today

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Today the Met Office threatened us with continuous steady rain. It didn’t come. We were also promised a stiff breeze. We received that. It was to be cold. It was. 6 degrees centigrade to be precise.

Mrs Knight drove us to Ferndene Farm Shop. While I loaded the Modus with three bags of compost she entered the hut to pay for them and emerged with a tray of geraniums. And I had thought we were only going for compost.

There was much on display in the outside garden centre. Rows and rows of plants like pansies, pierises; heucheras, hottuynias, heathers; and cellophane swathed bouquets.

Numbers of people who had time in the day to shop wandered around making plant selections.

Jackie was one. She sought and found a suitable climbing rose.

Dead-heading Marguerites

The young woman from the sales department, who had been in shorts a couple of weeks ago, offered me the opinion that it was too cold for sandals (sans socks, you understand), upon which I stabbed the air with my right index finger and exclaimed vociferously “I always go into sandals at the first sign of summer and I am not going back to more suitable shoes just because we’re having a little blip. Brrr”. She suggested that the blog-bound photograph I would publish of her tidying up marguerites would make her famous.

New Forest Ice Cream sign

As it was a bit nippy I nipped back into the car while Jackie visited the shop for some carrots. Noticing the advertising sign beside the door I speculated internally that no-one would be buying ice cream today. As my lady returned to the driving seat she announced “I have bought some New Forest ginger ice cream”.

Just to be perverse, the sun crept out this evening, enough to brighten the garden.

We dined on Jackie’s succulent roast pork with perfect crisp crackling, Yorkshire pudding, mashed potato, ratatouille, runner beans, and carrots bought this morning. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the merlot.

 

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.

Keep Off My Roof

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We carried out a little more gardening maintenance today.

Jackie concentrated on conditioning beds and pots like this sweet pea trough.

Jackie preparing sweet pea trough 1

It was not her own hunger that caused her to apply her teeth to the seal of the Miracle Gro tub.

Sweet pea trough

This was food for the plants.

Compost on oval bed

In addition to my usual clearing up after the Head Gardener, I transferred more barrow loads of compost to the Oval Bed.

A sleek jackdaw patrolling our ridge tiles, head turning this way and that, uttered repeated warning cries of ‘Keep off my roof’.

This evening we dined on roast chicken; sweet and ordinary roast potatoes; sage and onion stuffing; with green and orange mixed veg, namely Brussels sprouts, carrots, and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and i drank Cimarosa Limited Edition shiraz 2014.

A Lost Shadow

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Ronan the Boilerman fitted a new thermostat to our hot water cylinder tank this morning. That means we no longer scald our hands and have to turn on the cold tap every time we want to wash them.

Jackie spent much of the day weeding and planting.

Elizabeth's bed

Once The Head Gardener had prepared it, I covered Elizabeth’s bed with compost. It took eight bags.

Brick path

The gradual burgeoning throughout the garden can be seen, for example, along the Brick Path – and, yes, Jackie has smuggled in another owl since this was las displayed –

Margery's Bed

and along Margery’s Bed, in the foreground of which a geranium palmatum has pushed its way into the light.

Tulips and pansiesTulips

We have varieties of tulip,

tulipa saxatilis lilac wonder

including tulipa saxatilis lilac wonder;

Daffodils

daffodil;

Aquilegia

and aquilegia.

Japanese maple

elegant leaves stretch their fingers out from this Japanese maple.

Pulmonaria and heuchera

Pulmonaria crops up everywhere,

Bee on pulmonaria

attracting equally hirsute bees clutching petals as they suck the nectar.

Butterfly Small White and honesty

Butterflies, like this Small White flitting from honesty to honesty, are also back,

Poppy and shadow

as are poppies, one of which, like Peter Pan, has lost its shadow.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s choice Ferndene Farm Shop chilli pork sausage casserole, mashed potato, carrots and Brussels sprouts, followed by chocolate eclairs. The Cook drank Hoegaarden, whilst I consumed more of the madiran.

‘You Wouldn’t Like To Do That Again, Would You?’

On another warm and sunny day that, once we had got going in the garden, felt like the height of summer, we continued soil preparation. In addition to all her other maintenance tasks

Palm Bed

Jackie dug in the compost she had laid on the Palm Bed yesterday,

Rose Garden

and I completed the mulching of the rose garden with three more 100 litre bags of Landscape Bark. I swear they are becoming heavier by the day.

View from Back Drive to Roase Garden

Looking from the Back Drive towards this section,

View across Heligan Path

or across the Helicon Path towards the house,

one can see the burgeoning new growth popping up everywhere.

Bluebells Spanish

We now have profusions of Spanish bluebells,

Forget me nots

and of forget-me-nots.

Pigeon 1

Permanently perched on the telephone cable over Christchurch Road is a male collared dove,

Pigeon 2

pretending he is nothing to do with the nest in our holly tree upon which his lady is incubating.

Even when paying a visit, he first lands on the flowering cherry photographed yesterday. Since he is quite a ponderous creature he shakes the boughs freeing many cherry petals,

Hannah, Ben and Sam 5.83 1

just as Matthew did to the delight of Hannah, Ben, and Sam in May 1983.

This evening we dined at Dynasty in Brockenhurst with Elizabeth, Danni and Andy. My choice was lamb shatkora, special fried rice an onion bhaji. Along with Jackie I drank Kingfisher. The others drank red wine, cobra, or coke. Service and food were excellent.

The restaurant is close to the ford which we could see was waterlogged. As we were ten minutes early, I sniffed a photo opportunity and wandered down the road.

Ford and car

This was the scene as I approached, directly into the sun.

I was a bit slow to catch two cyclists wheeling through their spray. As they passed me I cried: ‘You wouldn’t like to do that again, would you’. ‘Do it again?’ was the reply. ‘Yes’, I answered.

Cyclists at ford 1

They immediately turned tail, sped through the water,

Cyclists at ford 2

Cyclists at ford 3

and, returning quite happily, enjoyed another shower.

Not Quite The Man I Was

Bay branches

When Jackie heavily pruned a bay tree in our front garden last autumn, some of the branches escaped into the untended jungle next door.

This morning, I decided to do the decent thing and remove them. I cut them to size and filled one of the gravel container bags with them. Later, Jackie and I donated them to the Efford Recycling Centre, along with another bagful we had collected during the week. We only came back with a large cut glass bowl.

This afternoon we visited Mole Country Stores where we bought a new post for the uprooted side gate and three bags of Landscape Bark. This outlet hast vast areas both inside and out where can be acquired most garden materials I can think of, and quite a few I wouldn’t have known about. Among other goods, the outside yard alone displayed

Stakes

 stacks of timber stakes in all shapes and sizes;

Mole yard 1

house coal;

Mole yard 2

Irish Moss Peat;

Mole yard 3

compost, topsoil, and landscape bark.

The company also caters for equestrian needs, such as harness and bedding. Unless someone is breeding very large rabbits, I imagine

Carrots

these bright orange carrots are intended for horses.

As I make my way through my eighth decade, it is only time that travels faster than it did in earlier days. Certain adaptations have to be made. It was when my arthritic right wrist, perhaps suffering from this morning’s exertions, made me aware that I could not lift my share of the Landscape Bark bags that I was reminded that I am not quite the man I was.

Young women carrying Landscape Bark

The offer of help from two beautiful young women was therefore gratefully accepted, and I did my best not to feel embarrassed, but to stand back and enjoy it.

Back home, it was almost warm enough to sit down with drinks. Instead, we wandered around with them.

Daffodils

Daffodils lining the Heligan Path have a marked, pleasant, scent.

We dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb jalfrezi, succulent savoury rice, and vegetable samosas; followed by chocolate sponge pudding and custard. While The Cook drank Kingfisher, I finished the madiran.