Just Too Short

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I took a couple of strolls around the garden with a camera this morning. Sculpture Florence turned her back on the early light streaming from the Rose Garden.

Overnight rain had refreshed fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, and dahlias, in one of which

a bedraggled bee risked drowning.

Our red hot pokers are over now, but other kniphofias of more autumnal hues stand erect in the Weeping Birch and other beds.

White solanum continues to drape itself over the dead tree beside the New Bed.

Spiders lurk everywhere. Look closely at the close-up of the hanging basket at the corner of the Phantom Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

Along the Rhinefield Road a rather young foal foraged far from his parent who looked to be away in the distance.

A little further along a forest sprite impersonated the upper section of a dead tree escaping the clutches of its parent body.

Along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive dry layers of fallen leaves and pine cones offered a spring to my step and to those of a lone walker. A carved cone marked a route.

Passing the trough on Wootton Common we noticed that it was surrounded by cattle vying for a drink. By the time we had turned round to park the car near the animals, they were all trooping off along the moor.

Ah, not quite all. Just one diminutive creature had been left behind. In vain did this Marshmallow cow, time and again, circle the trough attempting to slake her thirst. Even her neck was just too short. Eventually she hit on a super wheeze. She tried the human spout. I wonder if the next two-legged drinkers will have any idea about who had preceded them.

This evening the three of dined on Jackie’s roast beef; Yorkshire pudding; pigs in blankets; roast potatoes, sweet and normal; crunchy carrots, tender runner beans; and gravy solid with onions and mushrooms. Elizabeth and I drank La vieille ferme 2017, while the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

 

 

 

Late Summer Flowering

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I began the day with a walk round the garden with the camera. Jackie joined me to ensure that I did not miss any of her special successes.

First was the front of the house, with clematis, nasturtiums, solanum and verbena bonariensis festooning the trellis in front of the garage door; honeysuckle old and new, and pink roses having another flush; and planters of geraniums, lobelia, and petunias.

Constantly watered geraniums and other goodies thrive along the kitchen wall, opposite Jackie’s precious pineapple plants (eucomis, but I can’t get the alliteration with that) in the bed.

Begonias beside the Head Gardener’s Walk spill out of their pot. The ferns in front of them were plucked from less hospitable positions and replanted by She Who Walks The Path.

Jackie paid particular attention to hydrangeas during the long hot spell. Some, like one in the Dragon Bed, and other low-lying specimens, were little more than dried up sticks. The Phantom version, after which its path has been named, has not flowered for three years. The blooms are much smaller than they should be, but at least they are there.

Rudbeckia, Japanese anemones and a late blooming, self-seeded day lily brighten the palm bed. The pink Japanese anemones occupy the Kitchen Bed.

More rudbeckia grace the grass patch border, as do lobelias Cardinalis.

We have crinum Powelliae in the Cryptomeria Bed; ginger lilies, and white gladioli in the Weeping Birch Bed.

The Westbrook Arbour planting, including that seated in the cane chair, has matured well, as have the solanum and clematis soaring above the dead tree at the far end of the Brick Path. Penny Lane has claimed the Gothic Arch.

Roses Lady Emma Hamilton, Absolutely Fabulous, Winchester Cathedral, Gaujard, and Hot Chocolate thrive in the revived Rose Garden;

the unknown peach rose and climbing Compassion overlook the patio.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital where a little of my blood was extracted for a PSA test, essentially to rule out prostate cancer.

This evening the three of us dined at the Wallhampton Arms. Jackie enjoyed a smoked haddock fishcake starter; Elizabeth, potted shrimps; and whitebait for me. The ladies each chose spatchcock chicken as a main course, whereas I Chose ribeye steak. Jackie drank Moretti while Elizabeth and I shared a bottle of Nine Lives merlot 2016. Back at home, our dessert consisted of Jackie’s splendid apple and apricot crumble and custard.

Spot the Bees

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Jackie continued watering the garden this morning. This afternoon we both carried out an extensive dead-heading session.

After this, I wandered among the flitting butterflies and the laden bees, occasionally sitting down, and photographing the still colourful range of flowers. The day lilies have been struggling, but some still survive. Look for the bees in some of the blooms. Captions to the gallery pictures offer identification.

This evening the three of us, including Elizabeth, dined on Jackie’s marinaded chicken fillets, pork rack of ribs, Plentiful vegetable rice, and ratatouille. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.

 

Orkney Stories

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This morning I finished reading a book worthy of one of Pauline’s bookmarks. This is George Mackay Brown’s ‘The Golden Bird’. That title is one of two Orkney stories combined in a John Murray publication from 1987.

As beautifully crafted as our NZ friend’s work, these stories tell of his Island home during the last quarter of the 19th century, when he traditions of centuries were beginning to be threatened. The eponymous title tells of the slow decline of the island community and the tensions of isolation within it. The next ‘The Life and Death of John Voe’ takes as its theme the story of a typical Orkneyman who sails the seas and returns to his roots to end his days. A voe, incidentally, is a small bay or creek in the Orkneys and Shetlands.

The writer, who spent all his life in the Orkneys lives, breathes, and conveys the essences of the hardy, taciturn, folk; the savage seas; the rugged landscape; and the essential isolation of the time. With spare, simple, poetic, language, Mackay Brown enthrals and informs the reader. Perhaps the most beautiful passages are left to the final stages of the second story. He is justifiably considered one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century.

George Mackay Brown

The portrait of the writer inside the dust jacket is by Jessie Ann Matthew.

Somewhat later I toured the garden in order to check on irrigation needs.

Pansies in refreshed urn

I was encouraged by the sight of yesterday’s droopy pansies revived by the water I had given them.

Day lily

A variety of day lilies

Knifophia miniatures

and miniature knifophia thrived in the beds.

Bottle Brush plant red

The red Bottle Brush plants are now blooming.

Rose Super Elfin

The red Super Elfin rose is ascending the Gothic arch,

and most of the plants in the various pots and hanging baskets are still benefiting from the soaking administered by the Head Gardener. It looked as if I was due for an easy time.

Water drops on petunias

In the heat of mid-afternoon I undertook another check. This suggested it would be beneficial to water the patio and its surrounding containers. I therefore did that, mostly with a hose. Eventually I ran out of steam and could do. no more.

Soon afterwards Becky looked further afield and noticed droopiness in a chimney pot. She photographed the ailing plants and administered liquid refreshment.

Later, Elizabeth came for a visit and Becky cooked for the three of us. She produced an excellent meal of Cumberland sausages; ¬†mashed potato; tasty onion, mushroom and red wine gravy; cabbage fried with black pepper and nutmeg; and a tin of sweetcorn because she couldn’t find any carrots to julienne and glaze.

 

Snatching Snoozes

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In ‘The Card Case’, I spoke of the client who had no money to pay my fee, but brought me the occasional small gift, all of which I have treasured for almost 30 years. I am not a science fiction fan, so I have not read many of his paperback books. One of these is Poul Anderson’s ‘The Makeshift Rocket’. I finished this short novel this morning. It was a surprisingly entertaining work. Light-hearted, with a touch of dry humour, once I had ceased trying to decipher the author’s attempts at reproducing Danish and Irish spoken English, I enjoyed the book.

Afterwards I photographed garden views from upstairs windows and from the stable doorway.

Having decided to reduce the codeine element in my pain relief, I struggled a bit today. On the other hand it may have been the amount of walking on uneven terrain I undertook yesterday. Consequently I spent the afternoon alternately dozing over snatches of World Cup football and having brief forays into the garden.

Lily, marigolds etc

A new day lily has forced its way through the soil to join the marigolds beside the greenhouse.

Palm Bed to eucalyptus

Geranium palmatums lead us past more day lilies in the Palm Bed to the eucalyptus and beyond.

Cosmoses, geraniums, violas

Urns, like this stone one Jackie has planted up at the end of the Brick Path,

Garden view from Shady Path to kitchen window

and the pottery one standing on the filled in well, counteract what she call “The June Gap”, when there is not normally much colour around.

The hanging baskets on the kitchen wall and the two clematises in pots on the corner serve the same purpose.

Rose Ballerina dances in the bed beside the entrance to the Rose Garden,

Rosa Gallica and Mama Mia

where such as Rosa Gallica and Mama Mia continue to splash their colour.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea Swinging Sixties is another plant in a pot,

Linaria and valerian

opposite which Linaria and Valerian vie for space in the Oval Bed.

My final trip up the garden was via the Phantom Path to join Jackie taking a break on the decking. There I passed the Cryptomeria Bed with its clematis, geranium palmatums, and hot lips; a penstemon in Margery’s Bed; a planted pot on the corner of the Gazebo Path; and Florence sculpture with her basket of bacopa.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and splendid special fried rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I didn’t.

 

 

Hot Chocolate And Hot Lips

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It was another mark of progress this morning when I wandered around the overcast garden while Jackie was out shopping. I didn’t imagine I might have to be rescued in some way.

Wedding Day rose has begun to bloom on the Agriframes Arch spanning the Brick Path.

The diagonal view from the Heligan Path towards the greenhouse features Hot Lips and the clematis now blooming over the Phantom Path.

The arch over the Dead End Path, from which can be seen the Rosa Glauca in the patio, supports Compassion rose and scarlet runner beans.

Astilbe and campanula Samantha flourish in the West Bed.

Poppies, heucheras, and clematises vie with roses in the Rose Garden.

Bee flying to yellow bottle brush

Here, a bee sets its sights on one of the yellow Bottle Brush plants’ blooms.

Hostas and erigeron

The sun having put in an appearance this afternoon, and a hosta in the front garden having caught my eye, I ventured out again.

Geraniums

Jackie has replaced the pansies in the stone tubs on the wall with bright geraniums.

Fuschia Delta's Sarah

Fuchsia Delta’s Sarah thrives in the triangular bed beside the wisteria arbour;

Petunias and diascias

almost black petunias are set off nicely by pink diascias in a pot beside the Kitchen Bed;

and these hanging baskets on the kitchen wall contain diascias, lobelia, and bidens.

This evening we dined on our second helpings of yesterday’s Forest Tandoori takeaway meals.

Down The Garden

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Patio

As it began to rain whilst they were finishing the painting yesterday, Clare and Andrew had placed the garden chairs under the wisteria arbour. This morning, Aaron carried them to the patio.

The day was overcast. Jackie and Aaron spent the morning on garden maintenance, now at its most pressing. Aaron also filled his truck with our pruning and clippings. From the patio I continued on a perambulation with the camera.

I took my usual route along the Kitchen Path, passing the rose campion planted in front of the lysimachia firecracker with feverfew to the left.

At the corner by the iron urn, in view of the geraniums and verbena in a planter above the Dragon Bed with its pink snapdragons and prolific marigolds,

I made my way along the Brick Path, past the grass patch with its bed of bright pink begonias,

taking a rest on the Westbrook Arbour bench, and looking down the Phantom Path to sculpture Florence. Penny Lane is making her way up the Gothic Arch, opposite clematis Star of India.

Campanula persiciflora

The campanula Persiciflora stands at the south end of the Brick Path, beneath the dead snake bark maple.

It normally takes me quite a while to make inroads into a new book. “Pilling Always Pays’, by Thomas Armstrong, which I finished today, was no exception. My post-operative lethargy probably contributed to this, but I did also think that the author’s painstakingly thorough method of introducing his cast of characters may have played a part. Nevertheless, I will not hold this against him, for he proceeded to tell a carefully crafted story with numerous apparently disparate strands skilfully knitted together in the final pages. The setting was a provincial town in 1936, with its closely interwoven upwardly mobile community. ¬†In ‘Auntie Ivy And Sir Edmund Hillary’ I featured what I had found inside my copy.

This evening we dined on succulent roast chicken, new potatoes, crunchy carrots and cabbage, and moist ratatouille, with flavoursome gravy.