The Garden As April Begins

On a warm day with sunny intervals it was time to record the garden as it comes alive.

The Brick Path and the Back Drive borders each hold some of the plants I am about to show, like the euphorbia fronting one of the dead stumps on the Back Drive.

We have many tulips in pots and in the beds.

Varieties of daffodils proliferate.

Camellias have been blooming since last November, and are now accompanied by magnolia Vulcan.

Hellebores hang about everywhere.

Japanese maples are coming into leaf.

Spring snowflakes are spreading nicely; forget-me-nots; primroses; pulmonaria; white fritillary; epimedium, wood anemones; cowslips; chionodoxa; and mahonia are further delights.

Unfortunately, on my rounds I found the body of the ailing dove, which had suffered no further damage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh crusty bread, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Red Blend.

A Sad Sign Of The Times

Jackie had a reasonably smooth shop this morning, after which she worked in the garden until the temperature became too hot. The Co-op was selling bedding plants, some of which she naturally bought, although she will have need of

all her pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse.

After lunch I took a tour with my camera and deposited some debris into the compost bin.

Even these white daffodils turned their backs on the bright sunlight.

The younger tulips in the patio pots are in hot pursuit of their elders,

more of which are fully opened;

others continue to grace the Rose Garden

and the foreground of this view from the concrete patio leading towards that area.

The species Lilac Wonder attracted a rather small bee,

This is time of year when, before coronavirus, we would have visited local bluebell woods, however we do have

plenty of our own.

Lavinia Ross spotted pot marigold calendulas in yesterday’s post. Here is another variety of the genus for her.

Our Magnolia Vulcan is now coming into bloom.

Camellias brighten many views like this one of the Brick Path;

they form a sympathetic backdrop to the red Japanese maple;

and come in a variety of hues.

Spirea sprays spread across the Palm Bed;

pieris leaves flame over the lawn;

self-seeded Erigeron has leaped to cascade from the Kitchen Bed obelisk;

and spring daffodils nod to summer snowflakes across the Cryptomeria Bed.

Caterpillar-like catkins wriggle on the tips of Weeping Birch branches.

Tiny epimedium blooms cast their shadows on the West Bed.

The borders of the back drive contain unusual daffodils, sympathetic snapdragons, and vinca colour-coordinated with honesty.

The far end of this drive stands opposite the car park of The Royal Oak which bears a sad

sign of the times, advertising their spring menu for which no-one is able to stop and enjoy until the pandemic rules are relaxed.

This evening we dined on tempera prawns with sweet chilli sauce, diet garlic bread, and fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Mezquiriz. We had planned a houseful for Easter so stocked up on items such as these before panic buying had cleared the shop shelves.

Nest Building

For some time now, Aaron, our very own Green Man, has been working his way through the removal of the stumps of the old grizelinia hedging that he cut down a year or two back. This morning he completed the task.

We now have several clusters of snake’s head fritillaries;

orange and yellow epimedium, which here blends well a fading daffodil;

the ubiquitous honesty;

a range of hellebores preparing to drop their seeds;

and these wallflowers fronting euphorbia.

Birds such as darting goldfinches in the cypress, and cumbersome pigeons in the copper beech just coming into leaf are busy nesting.

Reminding me of ‘And What Came Next?‘, a Red Admiral butterfly and a fly slumber alongside each other beneath

catkins dangling from the weeping birch.

For a long, leisurely, lunch Mat, Tess, Poppy, Jackie, and I joined Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith at Hoburne, Bashley, holiday home site. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. I chose a fishcake and salad starter followed by a plentiful roast beef dinner. Others also enjoyed their selections. We shared Prosecco, one glass of which was free for each of the Mothers on their day. None of us could eat a dessert. Afterwards the adults sat in the sunshine while the children played football and generally ran about.

What Has Been Happening


Today, shyly, a warm sun peeped periodically through the slow moving clouds, which released no rain. This gave an opportunity to wander around the garden to explore what has been happening whilst we have lurked inside.

The winter flowering cherry still has no idea that its season is over.

Views from the paths are enhanced by

continuing varieties of camellia,



and pansies.

Comparatively new arrivals are epimedium, honesty, comfrey, aubretia; and

wallflowers, blending with

euphorbia, that with its fly, like the alliums, attracts insects such as the bee and the tiny creature on the wing to the right of that.

This evening we enjoyed a second helping of Oliver’s Chinese takeaway, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Ribera del Duero Camino Nuevo 2016


A Game Of Peep-Bo

Sunrise 1Sunrise 2

As I put out the bin bags at dawn this morning, the smoking fire further East down Christchurch Road revealed itself to be a blazing sun emerging to presage the splendid day we were to enjoy.

A little later, a crouching figure was seen to dart across to my desk and scamper back again. This was Flo, having risen surprisingly early to commandeer my camera for the next hour or so. Ladybird

She must have got the bug yesterday for she was to produce some even more successful pictures of our garden birds.

Here is a selection of her work:Thrush

A thrush on the rooftop projected its shadow into the ether. How this shot was achieved will be revealed tomorrow, for the benefit of those who haven’t worked it out.Female house sparrow

She captured house sparrows, both female

Male house sparrow 1Male house sparrow 3

and male.

Collared dove

The collared dove had found a new perch.

Jay 1Jay 2Jay 3Jay 4

Flo interrupted a jay’s breakfast, but it carried on regardless.

Female greenfinch 1Female greenfinch 2

A female greenfinch continued with hers

Male greenfinch

while her consort launched himself from the feeder.


A blackbird ignored the spider’s web beneath it.


Starlings are notoriously greedy beasts. Alone they must wait their turn at the trough.

Robin 1Robin 2Robin 3Robin 4Robin 5

An inquisitive robin removed its head from the feeder, straightened up, and engaged in a game of peep-bo.


Finally a jackdaw snaffled two peanuts

Jackdaw's tail

and, of course, flew off at the sight of the camera.

When the Canon SX700 HS was returned to me I took a hobble down the garden and a few yards into Downton Lane.


Our honesty is now in flower,


as is the epimedium


and the skimmia at the entrance to the back drive.

The lane itself has a profusion of









Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), boiled egg curry, egg fried rice (recipe), and paratas. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher; Becky drank rose; and Flo, J2O.

‘Didn’t You Know Grandpa Was Jesus?’

Until now, I have spared my readers photographs of the more rancid receptacles in our fun-filled adventure.plugholesMuck from kitchen sink Everything, in fact, but the kitchen sink. Having scoured the sink itself on numerous occasions, but being slightly perturbed by the unpleasant aromas emanating from the plug holes, Jackie decided to dismantle them and investigate. She was to regret it, but made a good job of speeding the water’s descent to the septic tank in the garden.
The tray at the bottom of the good quality shower in our en suite bathroom fills to paddling level during a shower. The water takes some considerable time to soak away and leaves a slippery scum. I hesitate to think what might be impeding its passage.
Given that it is Easter Sunday, and that we had Becky and Flo with us, number 50, the next picture in the ‘through the ages’ series, is serendipitous. Derrick & Becky 7.74The photograph of my daughter and me was taken by Jessica in no. 2 Horse & Dolphin Yard in July 1974. I have mentioned before that I have given each of my children stacks of albums of their childhood photographs. A print of this one is in Becky’s collection.
Some time during Jackie and my years apart, Becky was showing her mother the albums. On reaching this picture Jackie expressed a certain surprise at my appearance. ‘Didn’t you know Grandpa was Jesus?’ piped up our granddaughter.
I make no claim to deity, and have no wish to be sacrilegious, but think the story worth telling.
Raindrops on epimedium leavesRendering yesterday’s watering of plants in pots unnecessary, we experienced steady rain all day today. These epimedium leaves are probably feeling refreshed by it.
Becky and Ian came for the evening, to stay over, and to take Flo home tomorrow. Cooking a full roast dinner for the first time in her new, confusing, kitchen this evening, Jackie produced as tender lamb and as crisp vegetables, including roast potatoes and parsnips, as ever. We all five enjoyed it. Jackie and Ian drank Hoegaarden whilst I imbibed Campo de Borja Caliente Rojo 2012.

She Does Make Exceedingly Good Books

Azalia and pieris shrubbery Azalia and pieris shrubbery (2) Azalia

On another glorious day, I had a wander around the garden of the Lodge, the shrubberies of which are now blooming splendidly.  Jackie had spent the morning attending to her little garden on our kitchen corner, after which we drove to The Firs to put in a stint there.

M27 trees

In less than a week the trees lining the M27 have burst into leaf.

Jackie and I and Danni worked on the beds.  My task was to mix topsoil, all-purpose compost, and farm compost and apply this as top dressing to weeded beds.  In preparation for this the grass edges were trimmed and weeding carried out.

We continue to be pleased with the fruits of last year’s work, if only because the really heavy work has all been done. Epimedium and primroses There are examples of serendipity, usually created by self-seeded primroses, such as their coordination with epimedium, or their contrast with forget-me-nots. Tulips And there are happy results of planting, such as the numerous tulips planted everywhere.

I was particularly pleased with those  I had bought at last year’s Bishop’s Waltham Garden Fair.

Tulips from Bishop's Waltham Garden FairThey have all come up again, in a bed which didn’t exist a month or so before they were planted.

Derrick and Jackie

Danni took the opportunity to photograph Jackie and me taking a break.

Elizabeth bookbindingElizabeth's booksElizabeth's Fly By Night

While the serfs slaved, the lady of the manor sat in the shade making beautiful little books for the planned summer exhibition.  In fairness to Elizabeth, who normally gets stuck in with the rest of us, she is recovering from a general anaesthetic and minor ENT operation and, like Mr. Kipling and his cakes, she ‘does make exceedingly good’ books.

Danni made an excellent sausage casserole meal which we enjoyed with the assistance of red wines and, of course, for she who will be nameless, Hoegaarden.  A delightful Berry Bliss from the Co-op was for afters.

The low sun was blinding along the motorway as we drove west to home. As is now quite common a handful of deer dashed across the road in front of us in the vicinity of Shave Wood.

When she had finished driving and we settled back home, I poured Jackie a complimentary.  Others would call this a Bailey’s.  We have renamed it in line with the custom of many local Indian restaurants who offer us a complimentary drink, usually a Bailey’s, after our meal.