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.

 

 

Late Summer Blooms

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While Jackie, weeded, watered, and planted, my main gardening task today was extensive dead-heading. If anyone spots any heads I’ve missed in the following photographs, I’ll thank you for not mentioning it.

Petunias, geraniums, erigeron

We have many petunias. These, with geraniums and erigeron, grace the sitting room wall.

Petunias and fuchsiaPetunias geraniums, and lobelia

These, in a basket hanging over the shady path, blend well with a dangling fuchsia and lobelia above;

Begonia and petunias 1Begonia and petunias 2

accompany begonias,

Dragon Bed

like these above the Dragon Bed,

Petunias

or are planted in beds.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff

Dahlias, such as Bishop of Lllandaff,

Dahlias, phlox, etcDahlias

and some I can’t identify are cropping up everywhere.

Dead End Path 2Dead End Path 1

This last trio grace the West Bed alongside the Dead End Path.

Bee on dahlia

A furry bee is cleverly camouflaged by the red and yellow one.

Bee on carpet rose

Other bees explore a carpet rose

Bee on salvia

and a salvia,

Salvias, cosmos, etc

two varieties of which are potted at the corner of the Kitchen Bed.

Crysanthemums

These chrysanthemums speak to the phlox behind.

Geraniums

I have no idea how many geraniums fill this stone urn nearby. Last autumn they were all little broken stems that the Head Gardener stuck in soil and nurtured through the winter.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus, Japanese anemones etc

Hibiscuses and Japanese anemones such as these on opposite sides of the Brick Path are typical of late summer blooms.

Penstemon and Festive Jewel

Another happy juxtaposition is that of the penstemons and Festive Jewel in the Rose Garden.

Fuchsia Lady in Black climber and hydrangea

The climbing fuchsia Lady in Black, against the pink hydrangea backdrop, has begun its ascent up the new arch beside the greenhouse;

Clematis

while the White clematis climbing the obelisk in the Kitchen Bed still flowers.

Shady PathPhantom PathThe Heligan Path

Jackie has produced her own individual signage for our paths,

Cryptomeria Japonica

and such as the Cryptomeria.

Palm Bed

Finally, here is a view across the Palm Bed.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s lemon chicken, breaded mushrooms, boiled potatoes, crunchy carrots, and crisp spring greens. One of the advantages of being a wine drinker is that, after a tipple on the patio, I have some left for my dinner. It doesn’t seem to work like that with Hoegaarden. I drank Cimarosa, reserva privada cabernet sauvignon 2012.

 

 

 

The Great Escape

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With the return of the sunshine I carried out a little more tidying in the garden, especially dead-heading of roses, including

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous,

Rose Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta,

Rose pink climber

and a pink climber recovered by Elizabeth.

Wisteria in Kitchen Bed

This wisteria occupied the Kitchen Bed when we arrived three years ago. Despite the Head Gardener’s best efforts it has never flowered.

Chilean lantern bush

The Chilean lantern bush, on the other hand, is once more producing blooms;

Pieris

and new shoots are emerging on the pieris on the grass patch.

Gazebo Path

Although the agapanthuses took such a battering from the recent storms that they wound up in a vase indoors, some still line the Gazebo Path.

Snapdragons, geraniums, lobelia

Little blue lobelias peep out from beneath rich red snapdragons and geraniums the Back Drive barrier,

Lobelia Queen Victoria

while their taller relatives named Queen Victoria tower in the Oval Bed.

Ginger lily

We have a number of ginger lilies.

Hummingbird moth

The warmth of the sun brought out numerous insects. Hummingbird moths hovered among the pink phlox. I needed many unsuccessful attempts to acquire this less than wonderful image of a constantly flapping creature I think is new to our country.

Red Admiral on verbena bonarensis

Verbena bonarensis blooms attracted both stable, lightweight, Red Admirals

Bee on verbena bonarensis 1Bee on verbena bonarensis 2

and bees that teetered somewhat.

Bee on salvia farinacea

Bees also plundered salvias,

Bee on bidens

bidens,

Bee on geranium palmatum

and geranium palmatums.

Insect on cosmos

I could not identify some tiny creatures like this one on a cosmos,

Insect on bronze fennel

or this one cleverly camouflaged by bronze fennel.

Sweet peas and gladioli whiteFly on sweet pea, gladioli

A fly was attracted by the ensemble of white sweet peas and gladioli.

Rudbeckia distributed

Rudbeckia snaked from bed to bed in this picture for which I must apologise to the Head Gardener because I did not remove the fallen branch before making it.

Spider 1

This spider was in for a disappointment.

Wasp on web line 1Wasp on web line 2

I could almost hear it licking its chops as it prepared its larder for the wasp that seemed ensnared by its web line.

Wasp and spider 1Wasp and spider 2Wasp and spider 3Wasp and spider 4Wasp and spider 5Wasp and spider 6

The tiny spider perfected the trap as its larger prey frantically twisted, turned, and span in its efforts to escape being drawn in.

Wasp and spider 7

Eventually the prospective dinner hauled itself to safety, and sped off, leaving the hungry spider to creep into hiding and lurk in wait for another victim.

This evening Jackie produced an excellent dinner of chicken Kiev, savoury rice, tasty ratatouille, and crisp runner beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bejewelled

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When I am under the weather it is always a bad headache that does me in. So it was yesterday, but, I am happy to say, this had desisted after a good night’s sleep and, although I remained a bit dizzy I enjoyed wandering around the garden this morning with a camera. I think I understand the expression ‘under the weather’ because I do seem to have headaches when there is that change in pressure that comes with impending storms. And yesterday it rained steadily all afternoon.

Raindrops on geranium 3Raindrops on geranium 4Raindrops on geranium 1Raindrops on geranium 2

This made for plants adorned with translucent pearly precipitations. Geraniums were well represented;

Raindrops on gladiolus leaf

 leaves, such as those of gladioli

Raindrops on poppy leaves

and poppies, bore crystal balls;

Raindrops on black eyed Susan

black eyed Susan sparkled;

Raindrops on begonia

blushing begonias shimmered in shadows;

raindrops on day lily

 strange creatures, food dangling from their maws, lurked behind day lilies;

raindrops on hydrangea

hydrangeas;

Raindrops on hosta

hostas;

Raindrops on rose Lady Emma Hamilton

roses Lady Emma Hamilton,

Raindrops on rose Special Anniversary

and Special Anniversary were all bejewelled.

Bee on rose Peach Abundance

Rose Peach Abundance

Oval Bed with Peach Abundance

Bees, like this one in the Peach Abundance rose, were venturing out again.

This afternoon I watched the Wimbledon men’s quarter finals of tennis on TV.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wonderful boeuf bourguignon, followed by vanilla ice-cream.

 

 

I Must Not Assume There Will Be No More Surprises

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It was very rash of me to assume that I would know the entirety of the group at our meal at Lal Quilla last night, and to predict what I would eat and drink.

On our entrance the staff, with their usual warm and friendly greeting, said that someone had telephoned the night before to add two people. We didn’t know anything about that, and in any case, Ian had made the booking. He had a quiet word with Raj and we were whisked to a larger pair of tables, according to the manager so we could spread ourselves out a bit. He presented us with a bottle of Beaujolais, so I did not drink Kingfisher. After a while I received a kiss on the cheek. Elizabeth had joined us. Soon afterwards, Danni and Andy came through the door. We were nine plus Poppy after all.

Finally, as we gathered ourselves to depart, a small cake with two lighted candles advanced towards our table followed by the entire staff group who led the family in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.

I’ve no idea why I felt rather muzzy all day. I dozed through a bit of Wimbledon tennis on TV, and managed a little weeding, watering, eradicating a few brambles, and tidying up after Jackie’s work on the rose garden. We took a rest with water on the patio from which I enjoyed

Garden view across Kitchen Bed

This view across the Kitchen Bed with its day lilies in the foreground and verbenas in a hanging basket beyond;

Petunias, geraniums, erigeron

pot planted petunias and geraniums over an erigeron carpet;

Mimulus and feverfew

and self seeded mimuluses and feverfew.

Dahlia and clematis

A dahlia nods to the clematis on the wisteria arbour;

Diascia, geraniums, bidens

 pink discias, red geraniums, and yellow bidens flow over the iron urn at the entrance to the Gazebo Path;

Crocosmia Lucifer etc

while blazing crocosmia Lucifer leads us into the Palm Bed.

rose Special Anniversary

As can be seen from this Special Anniversary rose, I haven’t dead-headed the Rose Garden today.

Clematis and solanum

White solanum and a bright blue clematis stream down from the dead tree at the end of the Brick Path.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank tap water.

The moral of this post is that when I say I will report on an outing the next day, I must not assume there will be no more surprises.

 

 

 

Is This The Beast?

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Microlite 1Microlite 3

Yesterday evening, whilst having drinks on the patio, a steady chugging overhead made me feel rather queasy. It took me back to Cumbria in the 1990s. 

As we were promised several hours of rain this afternoon, Jackie spent the morning watering the garden, and I took some photographs. The rain arrived just as Jackie had finished.

I’ll write that again. Because she is going away for three days with her sisters The Head Gardener spent the morning watering the garden. Although rain was expected it does not penetrate the soil in pots and hanging baskets.

My day was largely administrative, involving contacting Environmental Health about next door, visiting the Care Home on the other side of North Breeze to discuss this; arranging for delivery of the greenhouse; and having a meeting at the bank.

Petunias, geraniums, verbena bonarensis, erigerons

I rarely focus on the happy proximity of planting that we enjoy in the garden. Today I will begin with a view that meets us as we open the kitchen door. The erigeron in the foreground has, with Jackie’s midwifery, spawned offspring all over the garden. The petunias and geraniums in the various pots sit pleasingly together, and the tall verbena bonarensis, as it does everywhere, towers aloft.

Petunias, bidens, cosmoses, geranium palmatums

Across the other side of the patio, petunias, cosmoses, and geranium palmatums blend well with the distant spirea, The contrasting bidens, like every other one in the garden, is self seeded from last year.

Cosmoses

We are led back along the Kitchen Bed to this corner from verbenas, geraniums, cosmoses and bidens, through day lilies and more.

Petunias

Various day lilies lurk behind more suspended blue and white petunias in the Dragon Bed,

Petunias

pink and white varieties of which share their berth in the herbaceous border with blue and white lobelias,

Petunias, marigolds

and purple ones swing on the breeze in the company of bright marigolds and geraniums at the western end of the Phantom Path.

Petunias and marguerites

Others produce a white theme with marguerites, with dappled blue and white examples beneath.

Geraniums and petunias

A pink display is provided by more petunias, geraniums, and lobelia, more of the first two in the background with the red Japanese maple, rosa glauca against the fence and palmatums in the foreground.

Here, pink diascas are backed by the strident red bottle brush plant.

When the next two poppies open they will have something to say to these phlox.

Clematis Star of India

Verbena bonarensis sentinels surround this Star of India clematis,

Clematis

whereas Madame Julia Correvon cartwheels across the dead prunus pissardi towards phlox and penstemon.

Petunias and clematis

Petunias hanging near the Brick Path repeat the purple of another Star of India.

Hydrangea and day lily

This vibrant potted hydrangea reflects geranium palmatums in Elizabeth’s bed containing equally powerful day lilies.

Hydrangeas and fuchsia

A similar hydrangea takes the eye through red geraniums to a fuchsia Magellanica, with ferns, lobelias, and verbena bonarensis joining the party.

Hydrangea and geranium palmatums

Further along the bed a cooler note is stuck by a paler hydrangea and geranium palmatums.

Begonia 1

Two different begonia and lobelia combinations hang over the Brick

Begonia 2

and Heligan Paths.

California poppies 1

Jackie is particularly pleased with these California poppies grown from seed spilling over the rocks among the grasses on the Cryptomeria Bed.

Rose Super Elfin and snapdragons

The red and white of Super Elfin rambler and neighbouring snapdragons contrast like the emblems of Lancaster and York in England’s fifteenth century Wars of the Roses.

Petunias, poppies,

Further along the herbaceous border one can rest among poppies, petunias, lobelias, and verbenas.

Clematis and verbena bonarensis

Clematis Margaret Hunt frolics among verbena bonarensis in the Back Drive barrier.

Rabbit on patio 1Rabbit on patio 2

As I reached the conclusion of this tour I came upon a surprise scampering among the shrubs, pattering across the patio, and hopping under a hole scooped out of the soil under the North Breeze fence. Was this The Beast that burrows into our garded? If so it will not be alone. This prompted my call to Environmental Health. They have already been alerted to the vermin. They are interested in rats. They are only interested in mice if they are indoors. They do not do rabbits.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips with our own pickled onions and gherkins Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

 

 

The Wisdom Of The Owl

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Aaron with tree roots

Two days ago views along the kitchen window and bed opposite featured a sawn tree trunk at the far end. Here Aaron is with the last of the stump he further sawed and removed. As usual, I printed him an A4 copy for his collection.

View alongside Kitchen Bed

This has provided a little extra space at the end of Jackie’s current work area.

Hebe and Brick Path

Here is another view of the gap, taken from a hebe on the corner of the Dead End Path.

Removing a tree is always a last resort. The branches of this one, however, were very brittle and constantly breaking when strong winds beset this whirlpool of a corner. The extra foot of space is also needed for the expected greenhouse.

Bottle brush plant 1

To the right of the above picture the yellow bottle brush plant has now turned brown. On the other side of the gazebo path a bright red variety has drawn its attention.

Bee on bottle brush plant 1Bee on bottle brush plant 3Bee on bottle brush plant 2Bee on bottle brush plant 1

Swarms of bees gather in the attempt to transfix themselves on the beds of nails that are its blooms.

Snapdragons, geraniums and petuniasSnapdragons and geraniums

Other strong reds of snapdragons, geraniums, and petunias blend in the plastic troughs forming the barrier at the start of the back drive.

Marigolds and black-eyed Susan

Equally vibrant are the marigolds and black-eyed Susans now clutching the orange globe.

Foxglove

It is almost a relief to encounter the cooler hues of this foxglove,

Hosta

these hostas,

Insect on hebe

or the hebes, this example of which has attracted a tiny flying insect I can’t identify.

Although its floor is of gravel, the patio at the South end of the garden is termed the Concrete one. That is because the surface beneath the pebbles was probably where the Post Office vans were parked.

Garden view from concrete patio towards Rose Garden

That is where our mid-afternoon water was taken and we enjoyed views looking towards the Rose Garden;

Garden view from concrete patio towards potting shed

towards the potting shed;

Day lilies and geranium palmatums

of this cluster of yellow day lilies flanked by geranium palmatums;

New Zealand flax

and the New Zealand flax that has flowered for the first time since our arrival.

I haven’t mentioned the wind in the last few days. I thought that if I ignored it it would go away. It hasn’t.

Upturned pot and parasol

A couple of hours after we had been sitting beneath this parasol a sudden gust wreaked havoc. Admittedly the parasol had not been fitted tightly into its base, but it took off like a kite, smashed down into the bed, tipped over the stand supporting the recently planted red geraniums, and dragged down the string of overhead solar lights.

Broken plants

We began by lifting the parasol over everything and slotting it securely into its stand. Then picked up the pot and pedestal. Chucked broken bits onto the compost, and placed what would be salvageable onto one of the tables.

Gravelly soil

It was, I thought, very sensitive of the owl not to give me the benefit of his wisdom as I placed him on a chair and used his table to take the gravelly earth I scooped up and, with fingers and sieve, separated the two ingredients, so The Head Gardener could repot the remains.

This evening we dined on a fusion of more of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with vegetable samosas. Jackie drank Peroni and I opened Jessie’s delicious Georges Duboeuf Fleurie 2016 and drank some of it.