Dicing With Death

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What does Aaron have in common with a bee? You might be forgiven for imagining that it is that they both have very high work rates. That would be a good answer, but incorrect.

Aaron lopping cypress 1Aaron lopping cypress 2Aaron lopping cypress 3Aaron lopping cypress 3Watching our friend, unlit ciggy between lips, firing one-handed from the hip with his petrol-operated chain saw as he tackles the reshaping of our cypress tree, may provide a clue,

Aaron lopping cypress 5Aaron lopping cypress 6

especially when you see the height of his tripodal ladder.

Aaron tidying upAaron tidying up 2

Aaron always clears up along the way. Today he dragged branches to the Back Drive where he cut up a few logs for his client, Susan, leaving the rest for the ‘burn site’ of the dump.

Lopped branch on cypress

This branch demonstrates his clean cuts,

View from patio showing Aaron's completed work on cypress

while this view from the patio displays the finished shape.

Persicaria Red Dragon

The persicaria red dragon baring its bloody fangs in the Dragon Bed,

Crocosmia solfaterre

and the crocosmia solfaterre are among the plants that will now receive more light and air.

Fly on Winchester Cathedral 1Fly on Winchester Cathedral 2

In the Rose Garden, an intrepid fly scales the walls of Winchester Cathedral,

Geraniums and Summer Wine

and geraniums in the stone urn beside the potting shed enjoy a glimpse of Summer Wine.

Japanese anemones

 Japanese anemones appear to grow a foot each day.

Bee and spider's web 1Bee and spider's web 2Bee and spider's web 3

The bee skirting a hopeful spider’s web, in order to work on a verbena bonarensis, provides the answer to my opening  conundrum. Each in his own way is successfully dicing with death.

Later this afternoon we pulled up some brambles. As I walked along the Back Drive to deposit them in a bag for the dump, I almost stepped on twin juvenile collared doves sunning themselves on the gravel. Naturally I hurried indoors for my camera. When I returned they seemed to have disappeared. They were, however, simply playing hide and seek, foraging among the pebbles.

Collared doves juvenile 1Collared dove juvenile 2Collared doves juvenile 3Collared doves juvenile 4

Not yet old enough for timidity, almost in tandem, they carried on about their business and left me to mine.

Sweet pea

Here is a sweet pea for Bruce.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

 

 

Knickerbocker Glory

I did a little bit of dead-heading in the Rose Garden this morning, and watched the Wimbledon men’s semi-finals this afternoon.

Agapanthuses 1Agapanthuses 2Agapanthuses 3

Between matches, I took a break and wandered around the garden, particularly to see how the agapanthuses are coming along. The first image shows them against the backcloth of the Palm Bed, on the edge of which they are situated; the second looks out from that bed; and the third down the Gazebo Path.

Palm bed

Here is another view of the Palm Bed,

Garden view from corner of Margery's Bed

opposite which we have this scene from the corner of Margery’s Bed.

St John's Wort

Saint John’s wort glows at the entrance to the Rose Garden.

Fly on sweet peas

A fly also took a break on a white sweet pea.

Continuing with ‘A Knight’s Tale’ I added some new material and edited extracts from ‘Mugging’

and from ‘Tom’

The picture of Tom has been extracted from this school photograph featured in ‘Did You Mean The Off Break?’ 

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb steak and onion pie in proper short crust pastry, with new potatoes, crisp carrots and spring greens. I drank more of the Fronton, then  became  rather excited when I thought dessert was to be knickerbocker glory, but it turned out to be

Hydgrangea in vase

hydrangea in a vase, so we settled for a Magnum each.

 

Refreshment

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Jackie carried out much knowledgeable weeding and planting this morning, whilst I cleared up the discards and conveyed them to the compost pile.

Garden view along Heligan Path

The early sun lit libertias standing in the Weeping Birch Bed,

Rose Garden 1Rose Garden 4Rose Garden 5Rose Garden 3Rose Garden 2Rose Garden 6

and enlivened the burgeoning Rose Garden.

Raindrops on clematis CarnabyRaindrops on clematisClematis Marie BoisselotClematis

Various clematises,

Clematis Montana

including this wonderfully scented Montana festooned over the front wall;

Weigela

the weigela winding down the south fence;

Aquilegias

ubiquitous aquilegias;

Rambling rose pink

the pink rambler on the front garden trellis;

Libertia, geraniums Ingwersen's Variety, campanulas

borders everywhere, like this corner sporting campanulas, libertia, and geraniums Ingwersen’s Variety,

Raindrops on irises

and the long Back Drive hosting splendid golden irises, relished their welcome refreshment.

Fly on primula

A fly alighted on one of the front tub’s primroses.

This afternoon I added a little more to my biography of an era including me. I now have a working title: ‘A Knight’s Tale’. I took more text, and

this photograph from ‘A Sneaky Weekend’

I then made some prints from recent posts for Louisa.

After this I joined Jackie in the weeding, concentrating my efforts on uprooting the more obvious infiltrators, namely the smelly white alliums, clinging ladies’ bedstraw, and golden buttercups occupying the wrong beds.

This evening, there being no table available at the Crown in Everton, we dined at the Smugglers’ Inn at Milford on Sea. Having starters was a mistake. The platefuls were excellent. Mine contained battered whitebait, plentiful fresh salad, and thick wedges of equally fresh bread. Jackie received a huge plateful of bread and olives. Each serving was a meal in itself. An even bigger mistake was, in my case,  ordering succulent sirloin steak, still more fresh salad, a mountain of perfect chips, onion rings, and fried onions, mushrooms and tomatoes. Jackie was treated to a huge bowl of cannelloni. more salad, and an equal number of chips to mine. Neither of us could finish our food, and we did not require a look at the dessert menu. The food was, I hasten to add, all extremely good, and the service impeccable. We both reminisced that, in our prime, we would have managed all this. Jackie drank Amstel, and I drank Doom Bar..

The Dump Can Wait

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Much of today was spent planting roses, tidying beds, and pruning and lopping trees and overgrown shrubs.

I cleared up Jackie’s maple cuttings from yesterday, then concentrated on the myrtle behind the Compassion rose. Both these trees were depriving the rose of light and air, and the variegated myrtle was full of sports anyway.

The arch, as seen from the bench on the Dead End Path and from the distance of Fiveways, now awaits the retrained rose. The young leaves of the copper beech, the last to arrive, can be seen to the top left of the first picture.

Garden view through Agriframes Arch

Looking through the Agriframes Arch from the Dead End Path, one can see that the yellow bottle brush plant and

Chilean lantern plant

the Chilean lantern tree are both coming into bloom.

Elsewhere, Sweet Williams and Cerinthes romp ahead of the fuchsia beneath them.

Fly on marigolds

Bright marigolds attract flies like the one in this image.

Viburnum Rhytidophyllum

The viburnum Rhytidophyllum, with its delicate scent, creamy white clustered flowers, and crinkly leaves, is enjoying its best year since the surrounding jungle was opened up.

Gloriana, Crown Princess Margarete, and Jacqueline du Pré have all put in an appearance in the Rose Garden.

I chopped up all the tree branches and filled two orange bags with them. We had intended taking them to Efford Recycling Centre, but we ran out of steam and decided that the dump could wait.

This evening we dined on meals from New Forest Tandoori takeaway in Pennington. We both enjoyed prawn puri starters. My main course was king prawn naga with special fried rice; Jackie’s was chicken buna with fragrant pilau rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014.

An Enforced Eviction

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Wisteria

Early this morning the sun shone on the wall-bound wisteria aiming for the en suite bathroom.

Raindrops on tulip Diamond Jubilee 1

Lingering early raindrops rolled around the Diamond Jubilee tulips,

Raindrops and fly on tulip Diamond Jubilee

onto which a thirsty fly dropped for a drink.

RhododendronRhododendron and pieris

Another rhododendron, leading the eye to the pieris on the grass, is beginning to bloom.

The day dulled over as it progressed. We spent the morning working on the garden. Jackie did some general planting and weeding, and sprinkled chicken pellets over the newly composted beds. Before you imagine otherwise, we do not keep chickens. The pellets come in a large bucket and are marketed as manure.

Vinca

Vinca makes an attractive ground cover, but it does have a tendency to sprawl, take root, and make life very uncomfortable for bed-mates. So it has been for the Weeping Birch Bed. I therefore concentrated my efforts on that. Fast approaching is the warmer weather when a thinner duvet will be in order.

Ladybird on vincaSnail and ladybird on vinca leavesSnail on vinca leaf

A black-spotted ladybird and a tiny striped snail suffered an enforced eviction as I ejected  their shelter.

Brick pillar

Our stone urns and other containers are mounted on dry brick pillars. The ground under one of these subsided a bit last autumn and it fell over. We spent the last few minutes before lunch levelling a space and beginning to rebuild the column.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork and apple sauce, roast sweet and savoury potatoes, with al dente carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans; followed by rice pudding and blackberry jam.  I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Making It Through The Winter

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Frost on heuchera leaves

Once the heavy overnight frost fringing these heuchera leaves had thawed, the garden was warmed by the sun

which was low enough to light lily leaves and grasses,

while pearly jewels dripped from naked and semi-clad twigs,

Raindrops on rose leaves

and lingering rose leaves.

Autumn-hued hydrangeas hang on to life.

Alliums 2

The first clusters of precocious onion-smelly alliums have pierced the soil,

Leycesteria

and a pendulous leycesteria has already produced its kindergarten mobiles.

Shady Path

Shadows slanted across the Shady and

Brick Path

 the Brick Paths.

Three winter flowering pink Viburnum Bodnantense Dawn,shrubs are doing what is expected of them.

One camellia has begun to flower and has even provided evidence that some flies are capable of making it through the winter.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s brilliant beef in red wine, boiled new potatoes, and piquant cauliflower cheese. I finished the merlot.

Getting The Hang Of It

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Naturally, I couldn’t wait to get out into the garden and play with my new toy. Confining myself to the Creative Automatic setting with the zoom lens, I made a few close-ups. I had about a 60% success rate.

Asiatic Lilies

Starting with lilies, here are some Asiatics dappled by sunlight;

Day Lily

a day lily basking in full sun;

Fly on Lily

Fly on Lily – Version 2

and a fly exploring one in the New Bed.

Rose Mamma Mia

Now to roses. Mamma Mia is maturing nicely;

Rose Love Knot

Love Knot is prolific;

Rose For Your Eyes Only

and this is For Your Eyes Only.

Penstemon

These beautiful penstemons also grace the Rose Garden.

Bottle Brush plant

The red Bottle Brush plants, now that the yellow one is over, are coming into their own.

I also did some dead-heading and cut the grass, while Jackie watered the pots, and tidied and catered for our weekend guests. These were my long-term friend, Jessie, and her flat-mate, Guru, who arrived in time for lunch.

After lunch we visited the New Zealand graves at St Nicholas’s church in Brockenhurst. This was of interest to Guru because he has recently been learning about the Indian Army involvement in World War One, and there are three Indians buried there. I photographed one of these on our previous trip. (The pictures that follow were made with the CanonSX700 HS)

Arogyasami' s gravestoneSumeer gravestone

Here are the other two.

Belgian gravestone

On that day the light had been too strong for me to photograph the stone of the unknown Belgians who had worked in the hospital. Today was less bright.

Gravestone in tree

One of the nineteenth century stones has had a tree push it over;

Cross in meadow

the lichen on another blended well with the wild flower meadow.

After this we attended the  RNLI fundraising event at Gordon’s home in Downton Lane. This was an afternoon of jazz music and cream tea in the garden. It was very enjoyable.

GuruJessie and Guru

We arrived too late for a traditional cream tea, but were amply compensated with home-made cakes and delicious strawberries and cream. Jessie amused us by furtling in her bag for sweeteners for her tea.

We dined on Jackie’s classic chicken jalfrezi, pilau rice, and parathas. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank a Georges du Boeuf Fleurie 2014 that our guests had brought. Jessie’s choice was Irn-Bru, and Guru’s orange juice.