This was an attempt to tidy up the series. For the first 3 episodes of the tale I had incorporated sections like this first one into my daily diary posts. I wanted to take them out and keep them apart from what I had been doing this century. Now I’ve got myself into a muddle because I don’t know how to get the revised ones in the right order and retain the earlier complete posts under another category. I guess I’ll figure it out. I hope that at least is clear.
This evening we all enjoyed further helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Tsing Tao beer and I drank more of the Shiraz.
Beneath oppressively leaden skies on an unseasonably warm morning we carried out some tidying of the garden.
Enjoying the sounds of gentle birdsong in the trees; raucous geese honking overhead, and the
clinking and scraping of Jackie’s tools as she trimmed the grass and weeded brickwork, I concentrated on sweeping fallen beach leaves and dead heading in the rose garden and elsewhere.
The bonus of the weather conditions was the diffused light in which to photograph
Summer Wine (too high to reach with secateurs); crisp, pink, Just Joey; constantly blooming white Winchester Cathedral; and the seemingly everlasting Crown Princess Margareta.
Early this afternoon Joseph and Angela visited. Our sister-in-law, a superb Chinese cook, came laden with authentic cooking including some ingredients not available in this country. She brought paper plates so washing up would be negligible; non-alcoholic beers and rosé wine. By the evening she had finished the preparation and served starters of prawn crackers, spring rolls of flavours never experienced here, prawns in garlic, and runner beans with an intriguing taste. Later, came a complex curry and steamed rice to which more prawns could be added to taste. Lemon cheesecake and strawberries were to follow. I finished the Fleurie, while the others drank non-alcoholic beers or rosé wine.
Before settling down to the cooking, Jackie and I accompanied Angela on a
photo tour of the garden.
In addition to her favourites from this collection, I printed her copies of a number of my photographs including this one of
While we continue to experience the dry scorching heat of an Indian summer, our containers need watering at least once a day. Occasionally diverting for a little dead heading I carried out this task this afternoon while Jackie
completed and photographed the progress of her refurbishment of the front garden garage door planting.
Later, while we sat on the decking with Diet Coke for Jackie and fizzy water for me, I photographed the little fuchsia Mandarin Cream; a bushy hibiscus; pretty petunias in hanging baskets and on the decking itself with lobelias, impatiens, variegated ivy, and jasmine whose flowers are over; views of the Dragon Bed and the gazebo; a stand of begonia pots; and shadows cast on a New Zealand flax.
I then stepped into the Rose Garden and photographed hydrangea Lanarth White: two different stages of Aloha, the red of which fades to pink over time; Gloriana, now too high for me to reach with secateurs; deep pink Special Anniversary; and the ever golden Absolutely Fabulous.
This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken; tasty gravy; boiled new potatoes. crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and fried mushrooms, with which Jackie drank more of the Pinot Grigio, and I drank more of the Dao.
We began work in the garden early, because we knew it would be a hot day. In addition to all her general labours, Jackie spent much time scrubbing surfaces, such as the slippery decking, and pigeon poo on chairs and benches. My task was a certain amount of dead heading and feeding of the compost bin, but mostly, taking advantage of the diffused light before the sun had risen too high.
This deep red climbing rose was inherited from our predecessors in a sorry, straggly, state, yet now thrives under the Head Gardener’s loving care.
This New Dawn, a present from Poppy and Tess, is now beginning to scale the gazebo.
This recent purchase is a climber called Brownie, which was bred by Nola M. Simpson in New Zealand before 2009.
The first of these clematises is accompanied by a bottle brush plant and a Chilean lantern tree; the second by a Rosa Glauca.
The bottle brush plant glimpsed above is the red one now coming into bloom; the climber Wedding Day spans the Brick Path.
Most hanging baskets have now been planted up.
Several hebes are flourishing. Jackie is very pleased with this sculptural eryngium.
A variety of day lilies abound.
Readers will be aware that we have one honey-scented cordyline Australis. We didn’t know ourselves that we have three more on the west side of the garden which we have not noticed flowering before.
Pale pink Penny Lane and bright red Super Elfin have happily settled on the Gothic Arch.
Peach Abundance flowers in the Oval Bed just outside the Rose Garden, among whose residents are
an unknown deep pink climber; red Roserie de l’Hay; red and white striped Rosa Gallica and yellow Laura Ford; poppies and foxgloves; pink and yellow Summer Wine; bright red Gloriana; and golden Crown Princess Margareta.
This afternoon we spent an hour with Mum, who was in good spirits, in the garden of Woodpeckers.
Afterwards I watched a memorable Wimbledon tennis match between Angelique Kerber and Sara Sorribes Tomo.
This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s delicious beef and onion pie with flavoursome Jersey Royal potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans, and meaty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.
On a drab, drearily dull, day I tuned into the start of the second cricket Test Match between England and New Zealand, and scanned eight more of Charles Keeping’s excellent illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Nicholas Nickleby’.
In turning ‘Nicholas found Bray lying on the floor quite dead, and his daughter clinging to the body’ upside down, Charles Keeping has given the image an additionally morbid perspective.
‘Mrs Nickleby would draw up a chair and run through a great variety of distracting topics in the most distracting manner possible’
In ‘Some of the neighbours threw up their windows and called across the street to each other’ the artist has sprawled across two pages, symbolising the crossing of the street.
‘As they stole further and further in, the old hag and Squeers were busily occupied with their tasks’ gives Keeping the opportunity to display perspective by having the foreground figure burst from the frame.
‘With eyes almost starting from their sockets, and in a fit of trembling which quite convulsed his frame, Smile was shrieking to him for help’
Keeping’s trademark dog in the street appears in the foreground of ‘To Gride’s house Ralph directed his steps, now thoroughly alarmed and fearful’
‘Ralph sat down, pressing his two hands upon his temples’
‘ ‘That’s my own brave Kate!’ said Nicholas, pressing her to his breast’
During the cricket tea interval and for a while afterwards I cleared and transferred to the compost bins some of Jackie’s weeding refuse, then wandered around with my camera.
Jackie continued planting hanging baskets and other containers
on the patio.
Other views include those beside the wisteria and along the Shady Path, where, beyond the shot containing the Arthur Bell rose,
a red climber stands over a spanning wooden arch;
the peeling bark of the eucalyptus; from Margery’s poppies through the Cryptomeria Bed; and
the Rose Garden, including
pink Mum in a Million, peach Flower Power, white Winchester Cathedral, yellow Crown Princess Margareta and Absolutely Fabulous, red and pink For Your Eyes Only, white Kent carpet rose, and pink Festive Jewel.
This evening we dined on succulent lemon chicken and roast potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm carrots and broccoli, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Cotes de Gascogne.
From our bedroom window we are still greeted in the morning by a scented pink climbing rose, sweet little solanum, and ripe crab apples so far eschewed by blackbirds; and from our en suite bathroom Paul’s Scarlet still soaring above the wisteria.
While I up there taking these images
I made several garden view photographs, all featuring the Gazebo.
At ground level, we have golden mushrooms on the stumpery;
a number of thick-pile carpet roses;
and, in the rose garden, Crown Princess Margareta, Shropshire Lad, Absolutely Fabulous, and Mama Mia, all blooming well with burgeoning promise of more to come.
This afternoon I continued reading “The Guns of August”, the first volume of Barbara W. Tuchman’s history of the First World War, which I began yesterday.
This evening we dined on tender roast lamb; Coleman’s mint sauce; creamy mashed potatoes; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm, tasty, carrots and Brussels sprouts, with meaty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Faugeres.
Between further bouts of dis-tressing Félicité Perpétue I checked on the current condition of the rest of the garden.
In the meantime Jackie continued her weeding and clearing, leaving offerings for me to transport to the compost bin.
This climbing Cobaea Scandens, or Cup and Saucer plant is now blooming on the kitchen wall near one of the many
petunia and pelargonium planters,
all of which have perked up nicely since the storm. The ornamental grass in the first image of this pair,
like the Addams Family’s Cousin It, has returned to its righted perch.
A number of fuchsias, like Delta’s Sarah in the first of this triptych, Mrs Popple, and Garden News, have benefited from the rain
which has given this Absolutely Fabulous example pink spots, caused Alan Titchmarsh to flag a bit, refreshed Crown Princess Margareta, and kept the red climber bent over.
Nicotiana Sylvestris stands proud,
as do hollyhocks; Japanese anemones remain abundant; black eyed Susan cascades down the chimney pot; and kniphofia penetrates the gap between wooden chair struts.
We are wondering whether to replace this rather struggling little lawn with some York stone paving. Otherwise I might have to mow it before it gets out of hand.
After lunch Jackie bagged up my further rose clippings, then took over the pruning. The hard, woody, old stems we have now reached are not suitable for composting.
This evening we dined on Jackie’s toothsome cottage pie; additional fried potatoes; tender cabbage and kale; with crunchy carrots and cauliflower and tasty, meaty, gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Flores de Seligmar Rioja 2018.
On a sunny and mild morning I spent some time dead heading and transporting clippings to the compost bins.
Jackie pruned and tidied the lawn area, keeping me supplied with bags of refuse.
The eucalyptus has now been adorned with its pendant baskets.
Nugget played his game in “Where’s Nugget?” (84) and (85). A click on either image will access the gallery each picture of which can be viewed full size by clicking the box beneath it on the right and further enhanced if necessary.
Later, Jackie added twelve begonias to the now weeded bed above. This activity, of course, produced more robin fodder.
My dead heading took me through the Back Drive entrance arch scaled by clematis Margaret Hunt and along these borders containing fuchsias, poppies, antirrhinums, phlomis, and much more.
In the Rose Garden I focussed on the strongly scented Absolutely Fabulous, Deep Secret still bearing the raindrops that fell overnight, and Crown Princess Margareta; the bright magenta petunias in the urn; and the gentler, drifting, scent of Rosa Gallica.
Elsewhere the red bottle brush plants and various hemerocallises bloom.
It is well known that Jackie finds birds becoming imprinted on her.
What do I find?
Well, this afternoon, as I left the kitchen to offer the Head Gardener some water, I heard a buzzing in my hair, which has not been cut since the lockdown began. I could feel nothing, but gave it a good finger rake and shook it all about. I walked through the garden, still hearing buzzing. I raked once more. I returned to the house, poured some water for Jackie, carried it outside, returned, and settled with Virginia Wolf on my lap.
A fat, drowsy, bee dropped from my locks onto my shoulder. I flicked it into the fireplace and forgot about it. It must have been three quarters of an hour later when the creature clutched at my T-shirt. This time I flicked it onto the carpet and continued with my book.
When Jackie came in it was still crawling about. With the aid of a glass and a birthday card she carried it into the garden whereupon it flew into a spider’s web. You just can’t help some people.
After the excitement we dined on Jackie’s super spicy chilli con carne with her flavoursome savoury rice, with which she drank Becks and I drank more of the Douro.
Today was cool and overcast. This afternoon I dead-headed the Rose Garden,
then photographed some blooms that escaped the chop. These include Absolutely Fabulous, Ballerina, Gloriana, Deep Secret, Mamma Mia, Aloha, Lady Emma Hamilton, Special Anniversary, Crown Princess Margareta, and Shropshire Lad. Each is labelled in the gallery which may be accessed by clicking on any image. For enlargement scroll down to just beneath the gallery pictures where, to the right, is a box indicating ‘view full size’. The full size may be further enlarged with one or two clicks.
A certain little robin followed me around, sending me in for the camera before I was ready. We were both rewarded by a big fat juicy worm
Nugget tossed the writhing creature, twisting his head faster than the speed of my shutter, enabling him to peck off beak sized bits. For him, fresh food is now available.
We prefer our fodder cooked, so this evening we dined on roast gammon with Jackie’s moist ratatouille and firm penne cheese, with which she drank Becks and I drank Flores de Soligamar Tempranillo & Garnacha 2018.
At different times in this very hot day I have shared watering duties with the Head Gardener and carried some of her refuse to the compost bins.
Jackie has continued potting and tidying. When possible she sits and lifts the containers on any available surface.
The wisteria draped over its arbour here offers her a modicum of shade.
Blue solanum scales the arch in the first picture
and aquilegias share its bed opposite the greenhouse.
Nugget is very busy transporting food from the feeders outside the stable door. Before filling his beak he pauses above or below (clue) his hanging larder and when loaded takes off round the corner like an Exocet. Interestingly he will carry on regardless when we are outside, but if we are sitting inside the slightest movement cause him to flee. We suspect he cannot recognise us through the glass. He does feature in this “Where’s Nugget?” (73), but it would be so difficult to find him that biggification would probably be essential and I won’t be offended if anyone gives it a miss.
These potted pelargoniums have survived the winter.
Bonny bluebells are ubiquitous.
These in the back drive border stand beside vinca, bronze fennel, and cascading Erigeron.
We have several different varieties of rhododendron, two of which grace the Palm Bed.
This solarised cockerel lights the Pond Bed at night.
The yellow diurnal poppies have caught up with the orange ones which now require my daily dead heading attention.
Pink campion thrives beside the Lawn Bed.
For your Eyes Only, seeking shade,
and Crown Princess Margareta, attractive to flies, are two of the roses now blooming in the Rose Garden,
in which we now have abundant apple blossom.
No matter how many are pulled up by Jackie and Aaron, we cannot eradicate the wayward white alliums which produce clusters of minute bulbs seen here in the Weeping Birch Bed.
Osteospermum spills over its container on the edge of the concrete patio.
Woodpeckers Care Home has informed us that one of the residents has been admitted to hospital with coronavirus. Each remaining resident will be confined to their room for two weeks during which each member of staff has been equipped with suitable PPE. Mum is quite relaxed about it saying that she, who doesn’t mix with other residents anyway, has largely self-isolated as long as she has lived there.
We are about to dine on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable soup with crusty bread from the freezer. She will drink Peroni and I have already started on the Rheinhessen.