John’s Bedroom

The moon still shone brightly as Jackie went out to photograph

the pastel pink dawn

as it tinted the roof tiles over the gabled bedroom that harboured John Corden on his recent visit.

Although we had suffered a little more damage such as fallen  pots, supports, and owls on the decking,

the camellias continue to proliferate.

These views along and beyond the Head Gardener’s Walk show snowdrops, bergenias,  camellias, and primulas,

another row of which, happily hindered by Nugget,

Jackie planted this morning. The labels lying on the soil are marking lily and gladiolus bulbs also inserted therein.

“Where’s Nugget?” (66).

The Assistant Photographer produced all these photographs, including this lovely composition of

cyclamens, vinca, and cherub sculpture.

This evening for dinner, Jackie produced baked gammon; piquant cauliflower and broccoli cheese; creamy mashed potatoes; and sautéed leeks mixed with chopped cabbage. I finished the Squinzano and Jackie abstained.

Responding To Comments


Today’s photographic projects were prompted by responses to recent posts.

Pony Round-up 17

Yesterday’s offering included 35 photographs, and of those who favoured the very last one, Laurie Graves, herself an excellent blogger, suggested a large print. I made one of A3+ with a white margin.

Various comments focussed on potential views from the seats portrayed in ‘Seating Arrangements’, the day before. In contrast to the last two days, this one was very dull, but I thought I would oblige, on my perambulation around the garden.

View from aluminium dump bench

Here is the view to the left of the aluminium dump bench, and through the gazebo to the Palm Bed. The Florence statue appears on the right hand edge of the image;

View from Ace Reclaim bench

a are direct sight of her is gained from the Ace Reclaim Bench.

Florence at Fiveways

She has gathered a few more baskets around her. I cropped the close-up because a blue bucket and a hose reel would have been more than The Head Gardener could tolerate.

View from chairs in gravelled patio

From one of the chairs in the gravelled patio we look towards the Oval Bed


containing one our clumps of rudbeckia.

Phantom Path

A strategically placed chair faces east along the Phantom Path.


This time I have included the decking seating arrangement, on which the signs of impending autumn are beginning to fall. (That one is for my friends over the pond)


It is, of course, the time for dahlias;

Bees on ice plant

and for ice plants to attract working bees.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalfrezi, savoury rice, parathas, and onion bahjis. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Heritage de Calvet Côtes du Rhône Villages 2014.



Gusting 50+ miles per hour winds wreaked havoc overnight and today. They are due to continue until tomorrow morning.

Fallen chairs and potFallen chair and potFallen potFallen pot on decking

Pots and chairs, even the new heavy wooden ones, were blown down,

Nicotiana bent

and the taller plants, such as the nicotiana staked up a few days ago,  were bent over once more.


Some stems were broken off and, like this beautiful begonia, found their way into vases known as accident pots. These containers are so called because of the occasional mishaps occurring during ordinary maintenance, not the results of elemental vengeance.

Struggling to steer our own course in the face of the gusting blasts, we did a little recovery work, including tying up roses, and laying down items, such as hanging baskets and more chairs, that were likely to suffer. We left the nicotiana because the cane snapped as I tried to insert it, and I couldn’t be bothered to search out another. Especially for the Head Gardener, this was all rather dispiriting. We don’t, just yet, want to be reminded that Autumn is around the corner.

This evening, for dinner, we consoled ourselves with Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, crunchy carrots, crisp cauliflower and cabbage, followed by steamed suet pudding and cream. I drank more of the Alentejano, and Jackie drank fruit juice.


View from dressing roomHeligan path

As the morning sunlight gradually scaled the beech tree to the left, it exposed the changing nature of the weeping birch, the leaves of which are beginning to blend with the gravel of the Heligan Path.


Aaron and Robin completed work on the decking, which included Aaron’s own idea of the steps, made from offcuts of the planks. The intention is to train plants around the trellis.

Cold frame

It was a day for recycling. Jackie and I built a temporary cold frame for the winter, from offcuts of Elizabeth’s conservatory roofing, concrete slabs, and old bricks.

Automata are mechanical figures designed to move in certain ways when set off at the turn of a handle. As an art form these date from very early times, and are, at least in The First Gallery at Bitterne, near Southampton, enjoying a resurgence of interest. Our friends Margery and Paul Clarke, the proprietors, have long featured such works in their exhibitions, and have just finished one devoted entirely to these intriguing and entertaining constructions. At the close of this event they gave a party to celebrate this and their 40th year of exhibiting. Naturally we attended.

The gallery in their home was filled with fascinating pieces, all hand-made with marvellous moving parts. Examples are:

Automaton 1

Horse Box with Bird,

Automaton 2

A Friendly Gesture,

Automaton 3

Love Boat,

Automaton 4

these three as labelled,

Automaton 5

A Cheap Automata Shop,

Automaton 6

A Wave Machine,

Automaton 7

this group of four,

Automaton 8

Three Fishes and Bird,

Automaton 9

this one the name of which escapes me,

Automaton 10

another being tried out,

Automaton 11

these tiny miniatures in their glass case,


and Helluva Guy,

Wooden puppet

whose creator also made the hanging wooden puppet.

Margery had made a few figures of her own, notably:



Aggie witch

and Aggie, the very very wicked witch.

Other works included:

Cat and dog

Cat and Dog,

Cat in Moonlight

Cat by Moonlight,

Seal box and fish

and Seal Box with Fish.

Group in garden

It was a warm enough day for a number of guests to sit outside,

Margery speech

until all were called in to drink a toast, listen to Margery’s short welcome speech,

Margery Lighting candle

and see her cake candle lit.

She then cut the cake which was distributed to follow the excellent soup, numerous canapés and other treats, and various desserts.

After this we visited Mum shortly before her temporary carer arrived to help her cook her dinner. Mum is having a difficult time with her arthritis at the moment and, for the time being, has a carer visiting at mealtimes.

We then went on to Elizabeth’s and spent some time with her before returning home where the contents of the doggie bag given to us last night by the waitress at The Royal China were just the job for our evening meal. I had consumed a glass or two of wine earlier, so was in no need of accompaniment. Jackie drank a Hoegaarden.

Grass Cuttings And Wild Woodbines

Decking repair

This morning Aaron twice drove himself and me to Mole Country Stores to buy some decking with which he repaired our somewhat decayed structure. The reason for the second outing was that the new lengths were narrower than those being replaced, so we were originally two short.

Sitting in the cab of a working van took me back to my teens and early twenties. As I said to Aaron, it is often the scents of such an enclosed space that stay in the memory. The dominant one in our friend’s vehicle was that of grass cuttings. Dad’s removal van during the 50s and 60s bore the strong aroma of Wild Woodbines, his chosen brand of cigarettes. I worked alongside my father in the school holidays, and later, on Saturday mornings.

Today’s TV rugby fare included matches between Samoa and USA, Wales and Uruguay, and New Zealand and Argentina. In order not to spoil things I will say nothing about them, except that that was a lot of TV.

In the intervals between contests I took the air in the garden, where plants and wildlife continue to benefit from the Indian summer.


Hibiscus thrives;


the first colchicum or Autumn crocus has emerged from the soil;

Bee on bidens

Bees, like this one on a bidens, still coat their limbs with pollen;

Spider wrapping prey

and a spider wrapped up its prey with which to stock up its larder.

The sunlight enhanced the garden views such as

View from Shady Path across Grass Patch

those from the Shady Path across the Grass Patch,

View from Brick Path across Heligan

and from the Brick Path towards the Heligan one and beyond. Japanese anemones are prominent in each one.

Jackie produced her delicious chicken jalfrezi with egg fried rice for our dinner tonight. Tesco’s meat samosas made good starters. Jackie drank Hoegaarden whilst I finished the malbec.

The Great Diver

As is now customary, I began the day with a meander round the garden. Decking

This is how Jackie has refurbished the knackered decking;

Elizabeth's bed sign

and here is her sign for Elizabeth’s bed.

Phlox and stepping stones

She has positioned stepping stones between Aaron’s paving, and added phlox to the rose garden.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff, poppies, foxgloves, and hollyhockDahlia Bishop of Llandaff

In the former compost bed the dahlia Bishop of Llandaff and a yellow hollyhock now rise among foxgloves and poppies, now adopting their sculptural quality as they begin to seed.


Red hollyhocks bloom elsewhere in the garden. The seeds of this one were a gift from Margery.

HebeBee on hebe

Bees were busy on the Phantom Path hebe. You may need to search for this one.

Since it was men’s semi-final day at Wimbledon, I spent the afternoon on the sofa watching tennis balls travel back and forth across the TV screen. Two splendid matches were in progress. In each, one player who performed extremely well was beaten in straight sets by another who played even better. Djokovic was probably expected to beat Gasquet, but the Frenchman put up a great fight, probably playing his best tennis.

Tension was the norm in the match between Murray and the phenomenal Federer. More or less from the start, Andy Murray had his work cut out, but fought back time and again to make us think that perhaps he had a chance. Roger Federer had other ideas.

We learned that Novak Djokovic, a great slider on the tennis court, has engaged Boris Becker as his coach. Between the two matches, we were treated to highlights of the seventeen year old Becker’s first Wimbledon competition, in which he dived and slid all over the place, to become the first unseeded winner of the tournament. I can believe it was thirty years ago I watched that amazing final.boris-becker-wimbledon

I am not sure who took this amazing photograph, but it appears on Turnstile and Fashion website, advertising the player’s shoes.

After the second match, I helped Jackie plant yesterday’s purchases. This morning she bought a white lace-cap hydrangea for the shady corner by the orange shed. When I hit more concrete and rubble whilst digging the whole, I put the job off for another day, and Jackie stood the plant in a bucket of water.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork with crisp crackling, boiled potatoes, and cabbage, carrots, and runner beans, followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I opened a bottle of Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.

Roundup Not Required

This morning we both worked at the front of the house. I remained safely within our walls. Jackie, however, diced with death by sweeping the whole length of the narrow pavement. Jackie sweeping pavementThe speed limit on this road is 60 m.p.h., and is often exceeded. Stepping back to admire your work out there does not bear thinking about.
Jackie also tidied up the front of the trellis. This was rather bad luck on me, because it involved the removal of a couple of euphorbias. A good hour of my morning had already been spent hacking out the roots of one penetrating the gravel path inside the garden. I hadn’t really contemplated tackling any more. Not previously being familiar with the plant, I had thought that this was just a large flower. Not so. It was secured by roots as thick as those of small trees.
The front garden is on a higher level than the small drive and the road outside. This has meant earth has slid under the trellis. Some attempt has, in the distant past, been made to hold back the flow with piles of stone. Euphorbia rootsThis last euphorbia had grown through the stone. Sometimes it was only the clink of the rock on fork or spade that distinguished it from the apparently equally steely roots. They were also esconced on both sides of the trellis. After an hour, I gave up. Definitely a job for that powerful weedkiller, Roundup, I thought. Superwoman had other ideas. She knelt down with a trowel and, feeling like a member of The Time Team, chipped away at the earth between and beneath the stone, exposing the two large roots straddling it that were eventually all that was holding the tangled mass. Euphorbia root extractedProudly, after a cut with the loppers, she drew it out.
As part of her clean-up of the pavement, Jackie had cleared a blocked drain in the gutter and hosed down the footpath. Gutter outside houseThis is a picture of the gutter opposite our driveway, at about the position of the red car in the first picture. Fast-moving vehicles come so close to the kerb that they sprayed us with muddy water.
This afternoon we worked in tandem. Jackie cleared out the earth fall from under the trellis, I toddled off and brought back some concrete slabs from elsewhere in the garden, and together we put them in place against the bottom of the latticework. Trellis clearedWe left a little of the euphorbia in place near the entrance arch, and tied up rose, clematis, and honeysuckle. A few more climbers should obscure the ugliness of the concrete.
Front gardenWeeding, eradication of bramble and ivy, and heavy pruning, resulted in us  at least having some idea of the shape of our front garden. As I scratch my head, determining what to write next, I am reminded of the vicious thorns on the old pink rose that seemed to make their mark each time I stood up straight.
On the inside of the wall at bottom right of the last two pictures, can be seen traces of pink and turquoise paint. Underneath the nondescript brown wash along the front, remain vestiges of these two colours. Much of the inside of the house has similar traces beneath a weak white daub. There had clearly been an overall attempt to produce a more anodyne decor than the house had once enjoyed.
After a Hoegaarden and a glass of Chateau les Gauries bordeaux 2011 on the decking situated to catch the evening sun, we dined on a repeat of yesterday’s delicious dinner. I drank another glass of wine with it, and Jackie didn’t.

Tree Felling

Yesterday’s post carries a picture of the holly stump I decided to remove today. The promised rain fell overnight but kept off today, so I didn’t get my break.
Jackie drove us to Milford Supplies where I bought a long, heavy, tree feller’s axe, a smaller hand one, an iron shovel, and, for good measure, a fork handle. Tree felling toolsI felt somewhat like a Mafia hit man as I arrayed my purchases in the boot of the car.
I spent the rest of the morning extracting the stump. This feat was achieved by swinging the heavy axe and bringing it down on the stubborn remnant enough times to split it a bit and chip off some residual branches; by digging out soil around it until reaching roots; by chopping or lopping out those lifelines for the tree; and eventually kicking the object to dislodge it enough to cut out the tap root. It is harder to do this than to write about it. As I wielded my long macho weapon I identified with Van Heflin’s homesteader in ‘Shane’, and kept an eye out for Alan Ladd. He didn’t show up, so I had to finish the job unaided.
The last holly I cut down was about 30 feet high in Newark almost thirty years ago. I sawed off sections of the trunk first, until reaching a manageable stump. This is the method I employed after lunch with a tree only about ten feet tall. Having added all the branches to my ever increasing pile of stuff too tough for compost, I tackled the stump in the same way as the earlier one. I was able to leave a useful length to aid me in the kicking process.
Today’s location is at the far end of yesterday’s path. It widens out beyond a decking area which is approached by stepping stones through the gravel. The condition of that terrain can be seen from the stump picture. With the two hollies out of the way I thought I just had to weed, rake, and sweep the gravel and I would be finished. No such luck. The few sprigs of copper beech piercing the elderly weed protection lining in front of the platform would just pop out with a little gentle persuasion, I thought. Not so. They were actually suckers sprouting from a root of the mature tree nearby. So I chopped out a section of that root and completed the job.
Decking areaIn this photograph the keys to the location are the blue clematis and the red rose. The holly stump was situated close to the central two stepping stones.
Stepping stones and gravel
The disturbed area to the right of this second image was occupied by the other tree.
The wooden arch leading into the front garden now supports a rose of deeper pink than the first that bloomed.
Yesterday’s roast pork and red cabbage meal was beautifully reprised. The crackling was even better. With it, Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Bishop’s Finger beer.