Recovery

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As the wind has dropped and the temperature soared, we now enter into a heatwave.

The recovery work in the garden is under way. Clearing fallen branches, staking up plants, watering, and dead-heading were the order of the day.

Palm Bed

Jackie staked up the nicotiana in the Palm Bed for the third time;

Hanging baskets and Palm Bed

Hanging baskets

Hanging basket

it can be seen through hanging baskets settled back in place,

Gazebo Path

but no longer bends across the Gazebo Path.

Pedestal planter

Standing planters have been set up again.

View from Phantom Path across lawn

I have now dead-headed the phlox in the foreground of this view from the Phantom Path, but not yet cut the grass.

Begonia

Fortunately most begonias did not suffer from wind burn.

This evening we dined on meaty beef burgers, crisp chips, a variety of baked beans, and lashings of fried onions, followed by zesty lemon tart and cream. Jackie drank fruit juice whilst I imbibed Moreland brewery’s Old Crafty Hen.

The White Garden

Hunting through our house purchase documents for some clarity about responsibility for the huge amount of fencing in various stages of health that borders our property, I was unsuccessful in that, but I did discover the names of the houses in our little hamlet. We are one of four on our side of Downton Lane. In order, progressing along Christchurch Road towards that lane there stand Mistletoe Cottage, Old Post House, North Breeze (the empty bungalow), and Smallacres (now residential care). I will use the correct nomenclature in future. The sum total of my morning’s work on the back drive was the scalping (see yesterday) of just one tree stump. The fencing between us and Smallacres is in not much better SmallacresStump and ivy stemscondition than that we share with North Breeze.  The hitherto unseen rear view of the residential establishment is now exposed. Much of our thick ivy stems and brambles grows through the flimsy wooden structure, so pulling and hoping for the best is out. Surgical skill is required to cut the growth from our side at the point of entry. This afternoon I made a bit more progress. Once I had cut off enough of the thick ivy branches cascading over the stumps, I pulled away the stems adhering to the dead wood. This would produce a shower of decidedly dry brown dust inducing a coughing fit that lingered over lunch. Ploughing 1When I had had enough, I wandered over to Roger’s fields, and was most impressed with the work of the ploughman who had now produced acres of fine cross-hatching on what had been full of forage maize barely a week ago. As I walked along admiring the precision I noticed four tussocks lying on the land. They spoiled the man’s artistry so much that I felt inclined to remove them, but didn’t like to put my footprints on the soil. As the tractor hove Picking up tussocksinto view, it was stopped alongside these blemishes. Out stepped Roger Cobb, who walked across and picked them up. This man is a perfectionist. We spoke for a while during which he told me of a forthcoming vintage ploughing match similar to the one I had photographed in Southwell twenty two years ago. I feel another set of pictures coming on. Ploughman 'getting on'‘I must get on’, said my informant, and took his tractor into the dusk, against the lowering Skyskies. I was slightly puzzled, on this short trip, to notice that my camera battery needed charging rather sooner than I had anticipated. All became clear when Jackie informed me that she had been so impressed with all the white flowers still blooming in the garden that she had borrowed the Canon S100. Here is a selection of the photographs she took earlier:Begonias

BegoniasBegonia small

Smaller begoniasAlyssum

AlyssumErigeron - Version 2

ErigeronCyclamen

CyclamenDiasca

DiascaPansy

PansyCamomile

CamomileGladiolus

GladiolusLobelia

LobeliaImpatiens

ImpatiensJapanese anemone

Japanese anemoneSweet peas

Sweet pea.

Given how incensed some people become when supermarkets begin stacking their shelves for Christmas in August, I hesitate to repeat Jackie’s quip; when she served up a roast chicken dinner tonight, complete with homemade sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and gravy, followed by profiteroles; that she was practising for that festive occasion. But she was only joking, and it was delicious. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I consumed more of the rioja.

Painted Into A Corner

Jackie in back driveWhile we have been working on the main garden, the back drive has taken advantage of our negligence, and become rather out of hand. Jackie has decided that, far preferable to getting down on her hands and knees to weed it, she will apply a weedkiller. Since this area is the size of a large town back garden, the task will require goodness knows how many trips from the house to the undergrowth with a small can of diluted poison. In the photograph she is seen making her way to the far end. At least a start was made.

Front gardenCut brambleThe front garden has also rather burgeoned. After transporting a few more sets to finish yesterday’s border, I made a start on that.

After leaving off the poisoning, Jackie set those last few blocks of granite, and continued planting and watering.When she called me for lunch, I had not even finished clearing the brambles breaking through the trellis by the entrance, and clambering over any plants in their path. As the second picture shows, it became apparent that I had painted myself into a corner. I found another way out.

This afternoon I managed to clear the trellis area, and heavily to prune a sloe tree that was encroaching onto the footpath outside our property, and putting unnecessary pressure on the latticework of the trellis. I had to sacrifice nascent fruit of both the brambles and the tree, but I can live with that.

Before I could put my feet up at the end of the day I needed to clear the severed branches and uprooted blackberry bushes from the garden and the street outside. It was then my turn to make long treks down the garden path. The vast pile of cuttings that all the clearances are accumulating, lies at the far end of the main path, near the gate in today’s first photograph. Backwards and forwards, knackered, I tramped. Adding material to the heap is rather like tossing the caber.

Afterwards, I had a wander around with my camera. PoppyRose - pinkA new variety of poppy has revealed itself in the bed I weeded yesterday, and a pink climbing rose has taken off since we gave it more space and light.Verbena bonarensis, clematises, and geraniums

We have a number of varieties of verbena which are seemingly happy with life. The tall stemmed bonarensa blends beautifully with the clematises on the new arch, and the surrounding geraniums. Nutmeg geranium, diasca, verbena strawberries and creamIts shorter, scented, cousin, aptly named strawberries and cream, makes a welcome companion for diasca and pelargoniums, especially the nutmeg flavoured one. That is why Jackie has placed their pot alongside the bench.Petunias

Petunias, such as these in a hanging basket, come in a variety of colours, Mimulusas does the mimulus, nestling on the margin of the tiny pond.

For dinner, Jackie produced gammon baked in a nest of whole mushrooms; swede, carrot and potato mash; cauliflower; and a positively piquant melange of onions and tomatoes for    a sauce to provide juiciness. I didn’t drink any of her Hoegaarden, or anything else for that matter.Onion and tomato sauce

For the onion and tomato sauce:

Take four medium onions, finely chopped. Fry them with one clove of garlic in butter with a little oil to stop the butter burning.

When they are well done, add a can of chopped Italian tomatoes and gently fry until blended in well.

Try it. It’s delicious.

Owling With Attitude

The blackbird still sits on her nest. Peering through shrubs at a safe distance, sometimes her bright little eyes are visible to the viewer, sometimes her upturned tail.

Brambly bedToday’s task for me was to clear one bed of brambles and other unwelcome growth. Simple enough for a day’s work. I thought. In fact the wild blackberry bushes were the least of my problems.

As I began to feel my way into the undergrowth I came across a number of previously unseen plants. Passion flower chokedOne was a heavily-budded passion flower which had become entwined in a hebe, and, of course brambles. The necessary disentanglement was a most delicate operation.Passion flower support Having carried out the surgery I gave it a leg-up by means of netting attached to a metal post set in concrete that Jackie had found elsewhere in the garden. Another such climber had clung to the weeping branches of the birch tree, but had many stems trailing in and out of the bed grasping at anything in its path. Further similar treatment was required. This time the netting was strung between two wooden stakes.

Two types of tree that are abundantly self-seeded in this garden are hawthorn and bay. There was one of each in this bed, their roots, as always, taking shelter among those of  other plants; in this case the weeping birch and some lilies that have not yet flowered.Bed head screwed to birch I had no chance of reaching them unless I removed the wooden bed head nailed to the tree. No doubt this once had a decorative purpose of sorts.  I couldn’t prise it off. Once the rust had been scoured off the nailhead it turned out to be a screw, so dilapidated as to be bereft of a slot. I tried to make one with the trusty hacksaw. I couldn’t get it deep enough.

Then along came Superwoman, who saw that if we removed the rickety slats and the other end, we could leave the post where it was. D’oh!

That is what we did. I dug out the offending trees and replaced the rest of the bed head. Two of the joints had by now disintegrated, so nails will have to be used, when I have bought some of sufficient length. In order that it does have a decorative function, I optimistically fed a passion flower stem through the secure bit.

Jackie speaks of the June gap, which is that unproductive time between the finishing of the spring flowers and before the arrival of those of the summer. The planting here has been so well planned that there is no such hiatus. Water lilyPhiladelphusWhite bush roseRose - pink abundancePetuniasPetunias - magentaDiasca and pelargoniumBegoniaPoppiesVerbascumRodgersiaClematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalI took a break after lunch and photographed water lily, philadelphus, roses, petunias, diasca, pelargonium, begonia, poppies, verbascum, rodgersia, and clematises which are just a few of those we currently have flowering.

Our blackbird is still awaiting the emergence of her chicks. Not so the owl in my friend Hari’s tree. Her two are about three weeks old, and able to reach the ground, but do need to be returned to their Mum. If I am able to photograph our fledglings I am confident that my pictures would not be as striking as the one Hari e-mailed me today.Owling by Harri She believes the creature was displaying a mind of its own when it stared back at its rescuer. I rather like her term for a baby owl, especially one with attitude, which has provided today’s title.

This evening’s meal was Jackie’s beef and mushroom pie with mashed carrots, swede, and potatoes; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. Tiramisu ice cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the tempranillo.

If you have a shop that can sell you ready prepared pastry and have saved enough beef casserole (recipe) you, too could make the pie. Simply drain off the sauce from the casserole and use it as gravy; roll out the pastry, insert the filling into it, and bake it in the oven for about half an hour on 200. The chef, when pressed for her timing, said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t time it, I just stood and looked at it until it was the right brownness’. I don’t expect she did this for the whole time, but I think that gives you the idea.

Over The Fence

Virginia creeper cornerKnackered at the end of the day yesterday, I chose to ignore one encroachment of foliage onto the path. This hinged upon a Virginia creeper no longer adequately supported by a partially collapsed wooden arch. It was beset by one of our own expansive trees and rambling bramble. I knew, however, if I ventured into the undergrowth, I would find that what was pushing everything forward would be the invasive jungle from next door. I wasn’t up for that. Until I got up this morning.

First of all I had a wander round the garden trying to put off the beckoning task..PhiladelphusThalictrum aquilegifolieumPampas grass The philadelphus is doing well, and a thalictrum aquilegifoleum now blooms alongside a pampas grass that echoes the unidentified evergreen I photographed yesterday.

Until they are given a permanent location, the plants recovered from Shelly and Ron’s are deposited in various spots in the garden. Diasca and gernaniumsThese geraniums and diasca flank the bench:

That’s enough prevarication.

Holly, brambles, ivy and Lonicera were all seeking new accommodation on the other side of their ramshackle fence. One ivy entwined around our unidentified tree had a stem a good inch and more in diameter. Everything in our shrubbery fled in the path of the invading army.

I set to with the loppers, and when I eventually reached what was left of the fence and trimmed enough to look over it, this is what confronted me:Garden next door

I had no choice but to pursue the lonicera along the boundary until I met the rest of it by the reclaimed patio shrubbery. No doubt had I continued in the other direction there would have been more.

All this makes me rather relieved that the garden on the other side is all laid to gravel.

This afternoon Helen came for a visit. This meant I had the perfect excuse to come inside and chat, and to leave the task unfinished. Wire netting pushed inwardsBefore that,Shrubbery clearance I had reached a section of wire netting that our home’s previous owner had attached to the iron posts that seemingly were once supporting a fence. This had been shoved forward by the neighbour’s lonicera. I have begun to fix it back, although must remove more of the invader before I can make it taut. The cleared space shown is part of what I have hacked out.

Jackie produced a chicken jalfrezi (recipe) as marvellous as ever for our dinner this evening. We enjoyed it with boiled rice, vegetable samosas, and Cobra beer.