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.

A Tattooed Jet-skier

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Yesterday, Jackie, having set a border with transplanted heucheras some weeks ago, thinned out the other plants in the small bed to the left of the rose garden entrance. As Aaron said, this increased the sense of space.

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning was to prune the plants over the arch to the front garden;

another was to fix spikes to the top of the Westbrook Arbour to prevent perching pigeons pooing onto the bench beneath.

Late this morning Jackie drove me out with the intention of photographing the New Forest Marathon. Unfortunately, because of road closures, and my inability to walk far enough along the paths that would lead to the runners, we abandoned the idea and went home to lunch, after which an amble round the garden was possible.

We still have a number of lively clematises, like this Polish Spirit in the Dragon Bed alongside the Shady Path,

and this Hagley Hybrid in the Rose Garden,

where is also to be found glorious Gloriana,

pink-cheeked Mum in a Million,

and Rhapsody in Blue harmonising with verbena bonariensis.

Peach Delight still stretches over the Oval Bed,

where nasturtiums echo rudbeckia,

itself found in the Palm Bed,

also home to helenium

and echinacea.

Bees swarmed blushing sedums

and Japanese anemones;

a wasp sought saxifrage.

Perhaps a spider’s spinning a modest veil for Florence sculpture.

Gauras have proved difficult to grow here. An exception is this one swaying in the Weeping Birch Bed.

This fuchsia curtains Elizabeth’s Bed from the Rose Garden.

In the late afternoon we visited Mudeford Quay which thronged with visitors, Many of whom were enjoying themselves catching crabs, although they snared more seaweed. The secret, which enabled one group to fill buckets with the unfortunate creatures before tossing them back into the water, seemed to be the bacon bait, which, to my mind, would have been better served flavouring a sausage casserole.

Taking advantage of the low tide, one dog walker wandered along the sandbank, passing the Isle of Wight, and retracing his steps.

Just as I was about to leave, a tattooed jet skier sprayed into sight and navigated his way between the port and starboard buoys.

heuchera

Early this evening, Jackie rushed in for the camera, rushed out with it, and returned with a backlit image of the heuchera I had photographed this morning.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; wild rice; crunchy carrots, and our own runner beans, followed by her sublime bread and butter pudding. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I finished the Fleurie.

 

Patrick’s Patch Revisited

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We enjoyed a productive drive through the forest this morning.

Hincheslea Moor 1

On Hincheslea Moor the horizon still bore the early haze, as one man and his dog disappeared into the bracken,

Hincheslea Moor 2

Hincheslea Moor 3

Hincheslea Moor 4

whilst the sun’s rays illuminated the rest,

Hincheslea Moor 5

especially the bright purple heather.

Highland Cow 1

Venturing into the wooded area at the edge of the moor, I became aware that I was being observed.

Highland Cow 2

A number of Highland Cattle glided among the trees,

Highland Cow 3

and sailed majestically into the sunshine beyond.

Highland Cattle 1

These great shaggy beasts have roamed the rugged landscape of Scotland since at least the 6th century AD, possibly having been imported from Scandinavia by invading Vikings.

Highland Cattle 2

Forage is easy to come by in The New Forest,

Highland Cow 5Higland Cow 6Highland Cow 7

and they probably don’t need their extra overcoats.

Highland Cow 8

They really are light on their feet, silent, and really quite elegant.

Highland Cow 9

On my way back through the forest this one became more interested in my presence;

Highland Cow 11

raising her head, she licked her chops;

Highland Cow 10

and attempted a kiss, which, deftly avoiding tripping over a fallen trunk, I politely declined.

Lymington RiverLymington River 2Lymington River 4

Moving on, the Lymington River at Brockenhurst was as smooth and effective as glass.

From there we travelled to Beaulieu for a visit to Patrick’s Patch. Although this gem of a community garden has featured in a number of posts, the link from 25th November 2013 explains its purpose.

Paddy's Patch 1

Today, the garden was enjoying one of its peak periods. This path, to one of the many scarecrows, is flanked by sweet peas, dahlias, and globe artichokes.

Comma butterfly

Butterflies, like this comma, punctuated the hedges;

Bee on echinacea

bees raided the echinacea;

Zinnia

at their peak were flowers like the dahlias above, this zinnia,

Globe Artichoke

and the globe artichokes that bore the evidence of the irrigation of

Rachel Head Gardener

Rachel, the Head Gardener, who worked over the whole plot with a snaking hose.

Bouquet from Paddy's Patch

Before we left, this friendly young woman cut us a bouquet of flowers, including the zinnia pictured above. Jackie was quick to place them in a vase on the kitchen table.

This evening we dined on the offerings of Mr Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away. I finished the last inch or two of the Slovenian white wine.

A Lunch Party

At mid-day friends Caroline and Keith, Margery and Paul joined us for lunch. Jackie laid on an excellent vegetable soup with croutons, followed by onion bhajis, spring rolls and prawn toasts; a choice of meats and pies, and various splendid salads, with several different breads. A little red wine was drunk, but most of us preferred water, still, or sparkling.

The general consensus was that we should spend the afternoon in the garden before tackling the scones with jam and clotted cream, the fruit salad, and/or the strawberries and cream. Even then, no-one had room for cheese.

We enjoyed warm, sunny, weather, with a slight breeze, making it ideal for the garden tour. We wandered round in twos and threes, occasionally meeting up.

Caroline and Keith entering Brick Path

Brick Path

Here, Caroline and Keith contemplate the Brick Path. When they reach the sweet peas which will be to their right, they will enjoy their fragrance.

Bee on echinea

To their left lies the New Bed whose bees fascinated them.

Paul and Jackie at Fiveways

Jackie and Paul paused at Fiveways.

Jackie

Jackie went on to the rose garden where she delighted

Jackie, Caroline, Keith and Margery

in displaying our achievement.

Margery

Margery tried out the armchair under the arch,

Margery on Pergola Path

then led the way back through the pergola.

Fuschia Ringwood Market, petunias etc

Much of the afternoon was spent in happy conversation on the patio, surrounded by arrangements like this, of fuchsia Ringwood Market, petunias, geraniums, and succulents, with a pink hydrangea peaking out from behind.

Rose petal on Ace Reclaim Bench

A red rose petal came to rest on the Ace Reclaim bench

View from Dragon's Bed

which is visible from the Dragon’s Bed.

There was a very brief programme of highlights of the fourth Test Match. This is because it didn’t take England very long to dismiss the last three Australian batsmen, thus winning the match, and the series and retaining the Ashes. 200px-Ashes_UrnThe Ashes are a symbolic representation of the ashes of English cricket described by a Sporting Newspaper after Australia’s 1882 victory. The following year England’s Captain Ivo Bligh vowed to regain those ashes. Said to be the remains of a burnt cricket ball, they are fought over every series between the two countries, although the urn that contains them never leaves Lord’s cricket ground

The Butterfly Net

Paving 1Paving 2

Jackie and I spent the morning weeding whilst Aaron and Robin continued refining their paving. This involves finishing of the ends with brick cut to shape with an angle iron. There are only the central joins left to be completed. We are so fortunate that the proprietor of A.P. Maintenance is such a perfectionist.

We now have several crocosmia blooming.

According to my research, this one is Xcrocosmiiflora. Jackie says it’s ‘common or garden monbretia’;

Crocosmia Xcrocosmiiflora

Crocosmia Lucifer

about Lucifer, there is no doubt.

Marigolds

Jackie grew these marigolds from seed.

‘When did you take that?’ bemoaned The Head Gardener. ‘I dead-headed those this morning’.

The air was positively aflutter with butterflies this afternoon.

Butterfly Comma on echinacea

Commas abound. Here one seeks camouflage on an echinacea;

Butterfly Peacock on stump

as did this Peacock on a dead stump. It kept me waiting, back bent, lens poised, before opening its wings. With these closed, the creature looked just like a crack in the bark.

Butterfly Green veined white on verbena bonarensis

I think this, on a verbena bonarensis, is a Green-veined White.

Butterfly Red Admiral on hebe

Is this poor, battered, Red Admiral a reincarnation of February’s Battle-Scarred example?

I have written before of the penchant of Chris and I, when we were very little boys, for collecting various insects. Between us, my brother and I did not possess a camera, but we did have a butterfly net. Many happy hours were spent, mostly unsuccessfully, dashing around what were, to us, head-high fields, gleefully waving this weapon in the vague direction of the adult versions of the caterpillars that had so horrified our grandmother. What we actually did with the unfortunates we did manage to snare was not meant to be unkind. After all, when we stuffed them into jam jars, we did insert a few leaves and bits of grass, and punctured the lids so that they could breathe. I don’t imagine that these imagos lived out their, albeit brief, natural span. My current collecting is done with a camera.

Anyone driving to us for the first time, is likely to miss the existing sign on the front wall facing directly out onto the road. Jackie has therefore made another that she has fixed to the angled wall so that at least people coming from the direction of Christchurch, can’t miss Old Post House sign

If you aren’t interested in cricket, you may prefer to skip the next paragraph. If you are an English cricket fan, you may prefer to skip the next paragraph. If you are an Australian, whether interested in cricket or not, you probably wouldn’t want to skip the next paragraph.

I made the mistake of watching the TV highlights of the second Test match at Lords. Australia had, in their first innings, scored 566 runs for eight wickets. They then bowled England out for 312. Before lunch today, the visitors had taken their overnight second innings score to 254 for 2, at which point they declared their innings closed, leaving England 509 to make in more than a day and a half. Less than five hours later, England were all out for 103. It was nothing short of slaughter.

This evening, Jackie and I shared our hob in producing fried egg, bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms, baked beans, and toast. We enjoyed the rest of Shelly’s apple pie and cream, with half each of a chocolate mint brought back from the Veranda last night. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and, despite it not being the most suitable accompaniment for a fry-up, I drank Louis de Camponac merlot 2014.