The Sun Gleefully Exclaimed

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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.

 

Bedmaking

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This year we have enjoyed a bumper crop on the apple tree we inherited. Previously it has produced just a handful of weedy fruit which never came to anything. I picked a few after lunch.

On this gloriously warm and sunny day, Jackie continued with the refurbishment of the Weeping Birch Bed on which she has spent many hours over the last few days. Like many of the beds in the garden, this one has been laid over solid concrete, the soil gradually seeping through the dry brick and stone retaining wall onto the gravel which we laid down a couple of years ago. Most plants were now rooted in very few inches of earth. The Head Gardener has rebuilt the wall; sifted much soil and gravel; cleared an access footpath; replenished the soil with compost; weeded and replanted, along the way digging out stray rocks, including tufa.

Experts are now dictating that asters should now be called something long and forgettable, yet the Autumn Jewel variety now settled in its new home does not bear the new nomenclature. We will therefore continue to term the plants beside the rose that has no name, facing self-seeded bidens across the brick path, as we have done all our lives.

We are enjoying a variety of the once unfashionable dahlias,

some of which,

like these euphorbia and kniphofia, still attract bees and wasps,

as, especially, do sedums, now rivalling geranium in richness of red.

This Small White butterfly rented the verbena bonariensis on a short term lease from the bees.

Geraniums, lobelia, and Japanese anemones continue to thrive;

while, in the Rose Garden, Mama Mia and Absolutely Fabulous are among those furnishing further flushes.

This evening we finished Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Patrick Chodot’s Brouilly 2016.

 

Garden, Ponies, Cattle, Ornamental Drive

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Late this morning I amused myself by poking my camera through the guest bedroom windows.

This afternoon Jackie and I shopped at Streets in Brockenhurst for a bag of coal, a spark guard, firelighters, gardening gloves, and a wheelbarrow. We continued on a drive into the forest.

 

On the moors along Rhinefield Road we spotted a mare suckling a foal. By the time I left the car and waited for a couple of cyclists to walk up the hill, the late lunch had been completed. The mother wandered off on her own, joining a few relatives. Her offspring gave chase. He then lay down for a rest. Off she went again. Up he rose and continued his pursuit.

 

When the ponies vacated this spot a longhorn cow advanced into it. She was joined by a black companion. These two drew closer together as the next member of the herd approached to commandeer its own pasturage.

Dappled sunlight slipped through the trees along Rhinefield Ornamental Drive reflected in streams running under the road.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I consumed more of the Pinot Noir.

 

Life And Death

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This morning I employed several efforts at procrastination to defer my tackling the installation of the new Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner. Included were reading a book, dead-heading roses, and a bit of clearing in the garden.

Eventually, I got down to it, and am happy to say managed the job. I suspect the discs I was most scared of were actually for a Microsoft PC, because it seems the downloads were done on line with a Mac. Maybe Elizabeth will be able to enlighten me when she returns from a visit to Mum’s. A little sister is maybe a good enough replacement for a grandchild.

This afternoon I celebrated by wandering round the garden, which has reaped the benefits of Jackie’s splendid Autumn Clean.

She has weeded and swept paths including the Brick one.

Our colchicums, or Autumn crocuses, continue to spread each year.

The echinacea, however, are not doing so well. Jackie has tried these several times. None have survived, and these don’t look very well. Apparently they are prone to succumbing to sudden unexplained demise. Maybe the botanical world’s version of cot death.

We have many dahlias,

and numerous varieties of fuchsia. Bees were constantly diving into them. Here one grapples with Mrs Popple.

Another busy pollen gatherer swings on a yellow bidens.

Opulent begonias abound.

More dead-heading, as in Absolutely Fabulous was now required in the Rose Garden. Here we have the life-span of these blooms in one shot. Youngsters await their turn to beguile;

while blousy middle-age embraces a spider enswathing its prey, thus completing an opera of life and death.

Schoolgirl

and Golden Showers

scale the arbour.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans from the garden. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister, Becks Blue, and I, Albali reserva 2012.

Just Too Short

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I took a couple of strolls around the garden with a camera this morning. Sculpture Florence turned her back on the early light streaming from the Rose Garden.

Overnight rain had refreshed fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, and dahlias, in one of which

a bedraggled bee risked drowning.

Our red hot pokers are over now, but other kniphofias of more autumnal hues stand erect in the Weeping Birch and other beds.

White solanum continues to drape itself over the dead tree beside the New Bed.

Spiders lurk everywhere. Look closely at the close-up of the hanging basket at the corner of the Phantom Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

Along the Rhinefield Road a rather young foal foraged far from his parent who looked to be away in the distance.

A little further along a forest sprite impersonated the upper section of a dead tree escaping the clutches of its parent body.

Along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive dry layers of fallen leaves and pine cones offered a spring to my step and to those of a lone walker. A carved cone marked a route.

Passing the trough on Wootton Common we noticed that it was surrounded by cattle vying for a drink. By the time we had turned round to park the car near the animals, they were all trooping off along the moor.

Ah, not quite all. Just one diminutive creature had been left behind. In vain did this Marshmallow cow, time and again, circle the trough attempting to slake her thirst. Even her neck was just too short. Eventually she hit on a super wheeze. She tried the human spout. I wonder if the next two-legged drinkers will have any idea about who had preceded them.

This evening the three of dined on Jackie’s roast beef; Yorkshire pudding; pigs in blankets; roast potatoes, sweet and normal; crunchy carrots, tender runner beans; and gravy solid with onions and mushrooms. Elizabeth and I drank La vieille ferme 2017, while the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

 

 

 

Autumn Arachnid

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As the first autumn arachnid predator wrapped prey for its larder in the warm morning sunshine, further potential sustenance foraged for their own food stores or simply soaked up the sun. The skies clouded over soon after midday and rain fell all afternoon.

This evening, leaving enough for Elizabeth, who would be home a little later, Jackie and I dined on her perfect pork paprika, tasty savoury rice, crunchy carrots, and tender green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2016.

 

We Ate Their Cake

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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.