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.

Interlopers

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This morning we continued tidying the garden.

Daffodils in ginger jar

The lovely daffodils occupying this old ginger jar have such long, slender, stems that they are unable to support their heavy heads in the garden. Jackie has therefore trimmed and rehoused them.

Here are some more tulips. The white ones are ‘Diamond Jubilee’.

Garden across Cryptomeria Bed

Here are current views across the Cryptomeria Bed;

Garden across Margery's Bed

Margery’s Bed;

Garden view across Weeping Birch Bed

and the Weeping Birch Bed;

Pieris

the pieris on the grass patch;

Owl on garden wall

and an owl for Pauline.

Here are some daffodils from the front garden that have not been posted before;

and others with delicate salmon-pink trumpets. Jackie considers their yellow companions to be interlopers,

Fritillaries

much like the white fritillary.

Clouds behind weeping birch

For the first time this year we took drinks in the rose garden before dinner. I hope it is not too long before Laurie and Clif can do the same on their patio. The clouds behind the weeping birch had a silver lining.

Our dinner this evening consisted of haddock fillets on a bed of spinach; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and piquant cauliflower cheese. This was followed by rhubarb pie and custard. Jackie drank Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Royale 2015 and I drank more of the merlot.

Playing Gooseberry

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This morning we continued Spring clearing in the garden. My task was dead heading the hydrangeas.

One of Jackie’s was to clean out the Waterboy’s pond. He nodded his approval.

The Head Gardener was extremely excited about her corydalis flexuosa ‘China Blue’ which is apparently hard to grow.

Another euphorbia is flowering in the front garden,

where the winter flowering cherry has blushed continuously since September.

Sitting on the Castle Bench when I had finished my gardening I engaged in a game of peep-bo with a collared dove in a shrub that has become a tree. This creature kept lowering its head out of sight, then popping up briefly.

Collared doves 3

At least, that is what I thought I was playing. But, hang on a minute. What was this?

Collared doves 2

Do you see?

Yes. There were two. I had been playing gooseberry.

Collared dove 2

Sussed.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Pool, gorse, reflection

The Shirley Holms corner beyond Sway is still pretty waterlogged.

Ponies

These young ponies found a dry patch to have a lie down;

Pony rising to its feet

although my attention prompted the larger one, looking almost as awkward as I would, to rise to its feet.

Pigeons in flight

As I returned to the car, two pigeons took off into the skies.

Primroses decorated the bank of a stream by the roadside at Sandy Down,

Horse eating hay

where horses in a field chewed hay,

and snake’s head fritillaries shared berths with daffodils and more primrose.

Magnolia stellata

Steff’s Kitchen is attached to Fairweather’s Garden Centre in Beaulieu. We took coffee and water there, where a magnificent magnolia stellata shed confetti over the tables and the grounds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef, peppers, mushrooms and onions cooked in a rich red wine sauce and served with new potatoes, carrots, and Yorkshire pudding. I drank more of the shiraz.

Far Too Busy To Chat

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Aaron, Jackie, and I continued tidying up the garden this morning.

Daffodils still glow all over;

Honesty

the new generation of honesty crops up everywhere;

Anemone albas

and the Anemone albas are spreading nicely in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Frogs and Jattie's sculpture

Jackie has weeded around and cleaned the little cistern pond, thus revealing the frogs and Jattie’s sculpture.

Snake's head fritillary

The lamp glowing in the sunlight is one of the snake’s head fritillaries Jackie has added to those already shining in the Cryptomeria Bed.

Peacock butterfly on gravel

A peacock butterfly tried in vain to look invisible on the gravel of the Heligan Path which joins

Brick Path

the south end of the Brick Path.

Bee on pulmonaria 1

Bees continue to plunder the pulmonaria.

Collared dove

I had a fairly lengthy conversation with a young collared dove taking advantage of Aaron’s fencing.

Wood pigeon with nesting material

Wood pigeons

Sparrow with nesting material

and sparrows were far too busy gathering nesting material to chat.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and special fried rice; followed by apple pie and custard.. She drank sparkling water and I drank Cimarosa limited edition Shiraz 2014.

A Little Bit O’ Bloomin’ Luck

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Today began dark, wet, and windy. Thinking we would be unable to do much more in the garden we transported the results of yesterday’s crab apple pruning to Efford Recycling Centre.

Plant pots

As is the Head Gardener’s wont, she bought two more fibreglass faux terra cotta plant pots from the sales area.

The sun did put in brief appearance this afternoon, so I was able to present a snapshot of the first official day of Spring.

Jackie has also started buying plants, like these violas,

Snakes head fritillaries

and these snake’s head fritillaries just plonked in an urn for the moment.

Kitchen bed 1

Both are visible in this shot of the kitchen bed.

Camellias 1

These camellias shed their confetti-like petals on the Dead End Path.

Garden view from Margery's Bed

Others are visible on either side of the decking in this view beyond Margery’s Bed;

Dragon Bed 1

more in the Palm Bed;

Head Gardener's Walk 1

and beside the Head Gardener’s walk which also displays cyclamens.

These two were buried in darkness when we arrived three years ago. Now they are able to flower,

Dragon Bed 1

being visible from across the Dragon Bed.

Head Gardener's Walk 2

Figures lining the walk include dragons and a cherub.

There are, of course, hellebores and daffodils everywhere;

Pulmonaria

and pulmonaria, such as these clambering over a brick boundary.

Mahonia

A small mahonia planted last year is thriving along the back drive,

Vinca and hellebores

where a periwinkle has been stencilled on our neighbours’ wall.

A little bit of luck is essential to a successful photoshoot. As I was focussing on the garden it was appropriate that mine today should be blooming.

Epimedium 1

I was unhappy with my first shot at the epimediums, so I went back out to make some more efforts.

Then came my first ‘little bit o’ bloomin’ luck’. A bee had decided it was now warm and dry enough to flit from bloom to bloom.

As I clicked away at this insect, I received a second stroke. More clicking above my head alerted me to the fact that a pair of long-tailed tits were using the weeping birch branches as trapezes.

This warranted a tribute to Stanley Holloway:

This evening we dined on our second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Callia magna Malbec 2014.

A Bunch Of Daffs

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Before settling down to an afternoon of vicarious rugby on the television, I wandered round the garden and picked a virtual bunch of varieties of daffodil.

Here it is.

The Six Nations rugby matches were Scotland v. Italy at Murrayfield; France v. Wales in Paris televised by BBC; and finally Ireland v. England in Dublin on ITV.

As is my normal practice, I won’t reveal the results of these games, but I cannot remain totally silent about the second match, certainly the longest and most bizarre I have ever seen. A rugby match lasts 80 minutes. In certain situations it may continue until a natural stoppage after full time. This would normally be no more than 2 or 3 minutes. The first 79 minutes of this contest were most unmemorable. There then followed 21 further minutes, including struggles a few metres from one try line, a certain number of offences, a sending off, some replacements, and perhaps a cheeky bit of cheating involving a team doctor. That will probably never be forgotten.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabiata with mange toutes and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I abstained because I had drunk a bottle of Doom Bar whilst watching the rugby.

Giving It Some Welly

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Dawn

This morning’s dawn promised a better day than forecast.

And so it proved, at least for the first hour or so. I took an early ramble round the garden on which more light was cast than yesterday. This brought forth an open-mouthed gape from a bespectacled gentleman atop the skeletal honesty in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Camellias and hellebores were nicely backlit in some areas.

Garden view from Fiveways

Here is the view from Fiveways;

Daffodils, hellebores, allium, and bergenia

bergenia, daffodils, and hellebores in a corner of the Dead End Path;

and more hellebores, alliums, and vincas.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Jackie is particularly delighted with the daphne odora Aureomarginata that she put in last year. It is apparently quite a fussy plant.

When shopping at Lidl this morning, Jackie had spotted that the supermarket was selling very reasonably priced wheelbarrows. She drove me back there to buy one. After this we travelled on to Friars Cliff for me to post, into one of the beach huts, the prints I had made of photographs taken of two little girls on the beach on 24th February.

On one side of Christchurch Road stretches a number of extensive fields which, at this time of the year are occupied by hundreds of ewes and lambs. On the other, in front of a farmhouse, is a much smaller rectangular enclosure, not much more than a fold, really. We have always thought of that as the nursery for very newborn lambs before their decanting across the road. Today we saw confirmation of this.

The most recent arrivals and their mothers could be seen through the fencing bars. The rolled folds in the babies’ skin demonstrated their newness. Already, just like the grown sheep, they were stamped with identification numbers.

Even so young, some of the lambs were as inquisitive as the ewes,

whereas others and their mothers were not quite so sure.

As we arrived, a farmer drove a large tractor and long trailer from the farmyard, around a bend in the road, and through an open gate into the field opposite. He proceeded to unload his cargo of ewes and their lambs,

Ewes and lambs 1

which were very soon suckling fit to fill out those rolls of skin.

Unloading ewes and lambs 7

The farmer was very gentle with his charges, even when offering a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘giving it some welly’, as he encouraged a reluctant little one to join its patiently waiting mother.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta arrabbiata, sugar snap peas, and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. I drank more of the Fleurie and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.