Gracing The Back Drive

The weather today was overcast and cold, but mostly dry. A wander round the garden seemed to be in order.

The upstairs windows gave me a new perspective in which the rescued red Japanese maple gapes in awe across and above to the majestic copper beech; I could look down on the gazebo clematis; and in the Palm Bed the cordeline Australis bears buds.

The close-up of the maple began my lower level selection.

The red climbing rose, Paul’s scarlet, will soon be joining the wisteria beneath our bathroom window.

This hawthorn graces the back drive,

as do blue-tipped irises.

Ferns are unfurling as I write.

Enlarging this image of the Brick Path will enhance the West Bed with its lamiums, dicentras, and much more.

More aquilegias and a pieris on the grass patch are bursting into life; while an oak-leaved pelargonium with its scented foliage has survived the winter beneath the gazebo.

I have refrained from mentioning that last Friday evening we ran out of fuel oil. This was not a good week to be without heating. Today a new supply was delivered. This evening the excellent Ronan, of Tom Sutton Heating, reset the boiler.

We dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinot Noir.

Number 32

One of Aaron’s tasks today was to reinforce the

wobbly posts on the entrance to the Rose Garden,

cerinthes have proliferated by self-seeding.

The Oval Path curves round the bed beyond that entrance.

Shadows fall across the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

The yellow and orange diurnal poppies are preparing for my daily dead-heading routine.

The rejuvenated red Japanese maple rescued first by me and then by Aaron a couple of years ago blends well with honesty and the background camellia.

The eucalyptus enhances a number of views.

A spreading white spirea graces the Palm Bed.

Honesty, bluebells, daffodils, and a variety of daffodils add their points of colour.

Bees busy themselves gathering pollen from the crab apple blossom.

This afternoon we all drove to The Beachcomber at Barton on Sea. This had clearly been a most popular idea. The café itself was virtually empty, but the garden was packed out. We managed to find a table and wait for our drinks. A rather wearied staff member would come out with a tray and call the relevant number of the order.

I watched one young gull preening on a rooftop, while

a black headed gull seemed taken aback by the sight of

a most glamorous dog-walker.

Smaller birds, such as sparrows, hoped to find crumbs on the tables.

Bolder starlings emptied the plates of left-overs. When they carried off their prey they were lucky if it was not snatched by the marauding gulls. This group was feasting on the scraps of number 32.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; multicoloured carrots; green beans; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; piquant cauliflower cheese; mint sauce; redcurrant jelly; and flavoursome gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Western Cape Chenin Blanc 2018, Ian drank Kronenbourg, Louis drank water, and I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

He Lent His Hat

This morning Aaron, with his usual concentrated accuracy, assembled and installed

a new flat packed wooden arch across the Shady Path. This was to replace a cheap metal one that had collapsed.

As the morning warmed up he lent his hat to Florence sculpture who remained in the shade,

Camellias continue to splash colour across the eucalyptus framed garden canvas,

as do numerous narcissi,

primulas and bergenias.

Proud tulips begin to open.

Ladybirds were spotted, along with tiny hoverflies investigating ipheions.

On a gloriously sunny spring afternoon we went driveabout. We began at Mudeford Quay which was so crowded that we had nowhere to park. We then aimed for the forest.

A calf suckling at Holmesley spilled much of the milk on the ground, jumping back as we arrived, leaving a white strand swaying in the breeze;

Ponies practiced topiary by the roadside;

two more grazed among pine cones at Bisterne.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender green beans and peas.

A Touch Of Snow

Jackie needed to be as nippy as the air outside to photograph her aerial garden views in the rapidly melting snow this morning.

Her next subject was the snowcapped owl first captured in the patio through the sitting room window. Having wrapped herself up he became her first subject as she continued outside in the garden.

Yesterday’s frost-touched frogs were now also capped with snow.

Another view across the Kitchen Bed towards the Rose Garden reveals the protective shrouds placed as preservation over the more vulnerable plants.

The Rose Garden can be seen beyond Sculpture Florence, standing with dry feet on gravel. The Winter Season figure has collected an appropriate amount of precipitation.

From the Oval Bed beside the Rose Garden our eyes take us across the Weeping Birch Bed down the Back Drive.

Another snowy owl perched on the low wall surrounding the Palm Bed.

The owl could have been contemplating the wheels on the opposite side of the path.

This evening we dined on grilled gammon steaks; roasted butternut squash; potato and swede mash; sautéed peppers, onions, and red cabbage; tangy broccoli and cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans.

Soon I will be settling down to watch BBC’s coverage of the first match of this year’s Six Nations rugby tournament – that between France and Wales.

Rob’s Table, Helen’s Photographs

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Jackie drove me over to Rob and Helen’s home in Lordshill, a suburb of Southampton where we spent a very enjoyable day.

Apparently thirty years or so ago I gave Rob a rusty old sewing machine which had been left in the garden shed in Lindum House in Newark. I have no memory of this, but the fact that he has kept it all this time has now borne fruit.

He has cleaned and refurbished the base of the Bradbury of Oldham industrial artefact which has a still working treadle. Fixed to its top he has placed a solid sheet of cedar wood which was once a headboard. This has been sanded and oiled, thus releasing the beauty of the glowing grain.

On a nearby wall of this covered outside seating area hangs a splendid antique French water dispenser.

We enjoyed a superb three course lunch consisting of choice carrot and coriander soup by Helen; a most flavoursome fish pie by Rob; and a luscious lemon meringue pie by Helen. Rob and I enjoyed an Aldi claret.

Helen’s sister Marion and her husband John dropped in for a visit after lunch.

On 27th September last year, Helen had taken a batch of splendid photographs of our garden. She had sent me a set, but I was unable to download them. This afternoon we viewed them on Rob’s computer and he loaded them onto a memory stick which I brought home with me. Here is a selection, the individual titles of which appear on the gallery.  Autumn leaves are in evidence. Perhaps in another fortnight we will have some more. Jackie was ambivalent to see the pictures of the dahlia Bishop of Llandaff which has since been devoured by a vole.

Later this evening I found room for a ham sandwich followed by Elizabeth’s special Firs Mess of meringues topped, on this occasion, with raspberries and ginger ice cream. Sparkling water was my accompaniment.

 

 

 

First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.

Rearing Hellebores

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The first clear sky at dawn for some time promised a sunny day which was appreciated by the garden, especially the winter flowering cherry that has been blooming for seven months now.

Sunshine, shadows, and birdsong returned to the garden paths.

Cryptomeria and eucalyptus trees from the antipodes brightened considerably.

Some of the hellebores even reared their heads.

Bright yellow mahonia blended with paler daffodils.

Although those nearer the soil were a little mud-spattered, primulas that had drooped a little now stood proud.

This afternoon Margery and Paul paid a visit as congenial as ever.

Afterwards Jackie drove me to catch the last post at Everton Post Office and on into the forest. Much of the terrain was still waterlogged, but the ford at Brockenhurst was dry.

Beef pie meal

This evening we dined on the second half of the smaller of Jackie’s splendid beef pies; served with crisp carrots and Brussels sprouts; and sautéed potatoes, peppers, and onions. I drank Serabel Lirac 2015.