Birth Announcement Card

The fairly regular substantial showers of heavy rain that we are experiencing this week has really freshened the garden and perked up flagging flowers such as

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Japanese anemones which are somewhat stunted;

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solanums both blue and white like this one that cascades over a tall dead elm;

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various dahlias had been dried up and hanging limp;

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several of these lilies had bowed low and lost their bloom;

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Absolutely Fabulous continues to live up to her name;

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Flower Power has risen like the Phoenix;

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For Your Eyes Only still draws insects on the wing;

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Rosa Glaucas’ blooms may be over, but their hips shine with health.

This afternoon Becky helped me make a birth announcement card for Ian’s concerned stepmother. This involved printing and resizing

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this photograph produced by Flo when Ellie was 6 days old, for the front page,

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and this one at 14 hours taken by Dillon for the inside.

During this process, when Becky was using the mouse and I was wanting to add my input to the screen, I absent-mindedly tried to do it with my glasses case. Several times. Later, in the sitting room, Becky, who had been the last to leave the computer, casually mentioned to her mother that she wanted to wait until her Dad had shut down the iMac. Even when Jackie became impatient for me to do so, I didn’t twig what was going on. I decided to comply.

Lined up in place of the confiscated mouse were my mobile and landline phones, two specs cases, and two TV remote controls. The two ladies stood leaning in the doorway quivering with silent glee.

Ian, who had paid for yesterday’s takeaway, went back home to Southbourne late that night and so was not with us to partake of the leftovers this evening.

The rest of us grazed when we had motive and opportunity. Jackie and I enjoyed the first sitting entertained by lightning strikes momentarily illuminating the tails of cats and dogs swept along in blustering gusts lashing the windows to the sound of manic drum rolls that was another electric storm. Mrs Knight drank Peroni, and I drank Château La Mauberte Bordeaux 2020.

When I returned to write this last paragraph my white mouse had transmogrified into a bar of soap.

A Bunch Of Roses

This largely overcast morning Jackie spent weeding and planting; my contribution was dead-heading and a little clearing up.

After lunch I picked a bunch of roses.

Later this afternoon I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2022/05/23/a-knights-tale-1-a-sneaky-weekend-2/

This was an attempt to tidy up the series. For the first 3 episodes of the tale I had incorporated sections like this first one into my daily diary posts. I wanted to take them out and keep them apart from what I had been doing this century. Now I’ve got myself into a muddle because I don’t know how to get the revised ones in the right order and retain the earlier complete posts under another category. I guess I’ll figure it out. I hope that at least is clear.

This evening we all enjoyed further helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Tsing Tao beer and I drank more of the Shiraz.

Happy Planting

Jackie spent most of this pleasantly sunny day on general garden maintenance, including spraying about half of the

Back Drive weeds with herbicide.

My contribution was dead heading, hand weeding, and clearing debris, in one long and one short bursts.

Here are some blooms of For Your Eyes Only, before and after dead heading.

I managed to disturb hoverflies like these on Summer Wine and bees like this on a white climber, but they didn’t take it personally.

I was serenaded by the trickling of the water fountain in the Rose Garden, and by small birds

like this tiny goldfinch perched atop the Weeping Birch. You may need enlargement of this image.

Happy plantings include these different yellow/orang dahlias; the juxtaposition of clematis, petunias, and verbena bonariensis against the kitchen wall; and the sprays of gaura (no, not Laura, WP) bursting from the Ali Baba pot.

This final set of images each bears a title in the gallery.

This afternoon I posted ‘A Knight’s Tale (8: From The Good Life To Refugee Status)’

Elizabeth came to dinner and we received a Red Chilli takeaway meal. My main choice was Tiger Prawn Vindaloo; Elizabeth’s was Bengal Chilli Chicken; and Jackie’s Saag Chicken. We shared special fried rice, a plain paratha, chana masala, saag bhaji, saag dal, and a mixed vegetable curry. Jackie drank more of the Carricante; Elizabeth and I drank more of the Fleurie.

After The Storm?

Yesterday’s winds had in fact reached gale proportions.

This morning I joined Jackie in the garden and carried out a dead heading operation.

Roses New Dawn, Alan Titchmarsh, Créme de la Créme, For Your Eyes Only, and Winchester Cathedral were among those that received my attention.

Taking a break for lunch and cutting my hair, Jackie continued until early evening. Among her achievements were

the creation of a new bed opposite the greenhouse door; bringing one of her dragons further into view by providing him with a pedestal; and progressing the clearance of the stepping stones through the Palm Bed.

This latter project could be seen from the decking on which we took our pre-dinner drinks in gathering gloom, as could

the tall sunflower, and these two garden views.

My afternoon was spent producing https://derrickjknight.com/2021/07/29/a-knights-tale-6-spanish-flu/

This evening we dined on pork chops coated with mustard; new potatoes, crunchy carrots, and firm broccoli, with which Jackie drank more of the Rosé and I repeated the Recital.

Immediately afterwards, having now learned that tomorrow’s gentle breeze and light showers has transmogrified into the end of Hurricane Evert, we set about once more laying down the garden furniture raised this morning.

Hoverflies Can Stand The Heat

This afternoon seemed even too hot for bees. Jackie continued her garden maintenance work. My contribution included trimming the edges of the lawn, a modicum of dead heading, and acting as the Head Gardener’s bagman, to and fro the compost bins.

We enjoyed, however, a host of hoverflies, seen here on For Your Eyes Only, Verbena Bonariensis, red carpet rose, Rosa Gallica, and a Marguerite.

One of the few bees in evidence took a rest on a somewhat chewed hemerocallis leaf.

Later this afternoon, I scanned the next four of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Dickens’s David Copperfield.

Writhing as Dickens describes, ‘He sat, with that carved grin on his face, looking at the fire’.

‘Miss Murdstone marched us into breakfast as if it were a soldier’s funeral’. Keeping’s portrait is true to his earlier ones.

‘The street was not as desirable a one as I could have wished it to be’

‘Traddles cut the mutton into slices; Mr Micawber covered them with pepper, mustard, salt, and cayenne’

This evening we dined on tender roast beef; fried potatoes and onions; crisp Yorkshire pudding; firm carrots, broccoli, and runner beans, with which I finished the Shiraz and Jackie drank more of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Flies Are Now In Season

On another warm, humid, and largely overcast morning garden maintenance was continued.

Jackie mostly concentrated on the Rose Garden, then produced her own gallery. It was the cricket on Absolutely Fabulous that sent her indoors for her camera. She also spotted a bee and a beetle on Rosa Gallica. Winchester Cathedral, For Your Eyes Only, and Lady Emma Hamilton were all ready for their close-ups. The beetle on the leaf in the first Rosa Gallica picture may be an invasive ladybug

My work was wider-ranging weeding, dead-heading, and feeding the compost bin and bags for the dump with suitable material.

With the cordyline Australis and the Wedding Day rose in full bloom it seemed opportune for me to stick my camera lenses through the upstairs windows and produce some

shots from above. So I did.

I then spent a while completing Jackie’s driving licence renewal application on line, only to get to the very last item and be told that there had been a technical hitch which resulted in the whole effort being cancelled. Mrs Knight then repeated the process with a paper application in half the time.

Afterwards we posted the application at Everton Post Office; collected a prescription from Milford on Sea Pharmacy; visited Rosie Lea tea house, formerly The Hobler Inn, to book a meal for which Danni had given Jackie a voucher for her birthday; and, following a forest drive, purchased three more bags of compost at Ferndene Farm Shop.

Beside the stream at the start of Cadnam Lane, apparently exhausted in the heat, a trio of pigs lay flaked out. They occasionally twitched in an effort to shift the horseflies from their flanks. One sow found the energy to rise to her feet and slowly yawn.

Round the next bend ponies sought shelter in the woodland. They, too, received their share of flies.

This evening we indeed on Jackie’s succulent beef and onion pie; new potatoes, firm carrots, and tender runner beans, with meaty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhone 2019.

For The Bees

Between stints in the garden today, which varied from overcast-gloom to sun-bright, I finished reading Chekhov’s engaging story entitled ‘Teacher of Literature” (1894).

Essentially tracing the journey from childhood hardship to the consequences of unearned comfort the tale is told with human insight and with delightful bucolic descriptions. I will not reveal the changes in the main protagonist’s thoughts, but I accept the judgement of translator Elisaveta Fen that ‘The theme is among Chekhov’s favourite ones – the emptiness of mere material prosperity with no prospect of change, [and] the tedium of provincial life….’

There is no drawing to this story in my Folio Society edition.

My first spell in the garden, before lunch, involved clearing, bagging up, and transporting to the compost bin the refuse from the Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings.

The air was brighter after lunch when I weeded

another of the narrow brick footpaths between the Rose Garden beds. Silent woodlice slipped away from my scraping tools, and the water feature bubbled whenever the sun peeped out. Once again the path was too wet to sweep clean.

Even after another night of rain, many floppy blooms are beginning to raise their heads. Here we have the prolific peach-coloured Doris Tysterman; Festive Jewel, Aloha, and For Your Eyes Only in various shades of pink; the white Créme de la créme; the blushing Shropshire Lad; the prolific Gloriana; a rambling Ballerina; the aptly named Peach Abundance; a spreading Perennial Blush; and rich red Ernest Morse.

The elder shrub Sambucus nigra now rivals Altissimo in height.

While I wandered around with my camera Jackie, from her perch in the Weeping Birch Bed, pointed out the buds on the sculptural New Zealand flax.

Some three or four years ago our friend Giles, who has his own welcoming wildlife garden, gave us a twiggy stem of Vipers Bugloss with which to attract bees.

This boon for bees now dominates the far end of the Back Drive and lives up to its magnetic billing.

This evening we dined on tender baked gammon; new potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and piquant cauliflower cheese with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Plant Pulley

Today was very hot and sunny. Until fatigue forced me inside I put in

more work on the stones of the Weeping Birch Bed footpath.

It is now possible once more to sit on the chair beneath the tree and look across to the Rose Garden. A raised stone sits in the foreground of this picture. I picked it out of the undergrowth with the intention of using it on the path. When the Head Gardener informed me that it was part of another path leading in the direction of the crow’s flight from the chair, I was somewhat disappointed. Ah, well.

In the Rose Garden we have, among others, Altissimo, foxgloves, Gloriana, Madame Alfred Carriere, and For your Eyes Only.

Red and white mimuluses are blooming in a hanging basket over the Heligan Path; yellow ones in a tub beside the decking.

White petunias share a pot with angels wings, and blue pansies in a hanging basket beside the greenhouse are almost fluorescent.

Planting was again Jackie’s main occupation today. Here she displays a tomato grown from seed.

She has also installed one of Shelly’s Christmas presents, namely a retractable plant hanger which, when attached to the top of the Gazebo can be applied to a hanging basket and retracted to a position giving the required headroom for passing husbands. This one certainly appreciates it.

We have a number of clumps of Erigeron and various peonies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with an omelette and served with two preparations of prawns – one tempura with sweet chilli sauce, the other hot and spicy. We both drank Concha y Toro Reserva Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

Precipitation Photoshoot

Beneath a constantly percolating cloud colander parky temperatures prevailed throughout the day.

I stayed at the computer while the Assistant Photographer produced the

precipitation photoshoot. Click on any image to access the gallery where each picture bears it own title.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy mango and lime piri-piri chicken served with chilli-potent savoury rice topped with omelette, followed by apricot jam tart and custard, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Sweated Labour

On another sweltering, humid day we made short trips into the garden largely for the purposes of watering, mainly plants in hanging baskets.

Speaking for myself, I needed to wait until I had stopped soaking my T-shirt and recovered from my efforts before I was almost fit enough to wander around to admire our work and produce a few photographs.

As usual the images are titled in the gallery which can be accessed by clicking on any one. They include various petunias; a golden sunflower; a variety of dahlias; a bee on a geranium Rozanne; a bunch of begonias; mauve Japanese anemones purple and red fuchsia Mrs Popple; roses Margaret Merrill, Special Anniversary, For Your Eyes Only, Lady Emma Hamilton, Mamma Mia; and pelargoniums.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver and bacon casserole; boiled potatoes; and crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hop House Lager and I drank more of the Carles.