Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

A.P. Maintenance

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CLICKING THE RELEVANT BOX.

In the garden this morning, envious of the attention given to the daffodils yesterday, many other plants clamoured to be photographed.

Readers may have noticed a hyacinth lurking among the daffodils. Here are a couple more, one seeking camouflage from the as yet uncleared autumn leaves.

Cowslips soar from the soil at the bottom of the back drive.

Along the beds there we have perennial wallflowers and primroses. That lady’s bedstraw will have to come out.

Alliums

Alliums are beginning to proliferate,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths are popping up.

Some bulbs, like these forcing their way through geraniums

Bulb unknown 3

or these from between patio stones, we cannot identify. The second, thanks to Rusty duck’s comment below, I can now say is Ipheion uniflorum. Geoff, thebikinggardener.com has added this information: ‘The first one – the pinkish one, is Chionodoxa ‘Pink Giant’ and the next one is Ipheion uniflorum as you say – although it has just had its name changed to Tristagma. (not just a minute ago)’

Aubretia

Some aubretia seem almost fluorescent.

The tiny clematis Cirrhosa now festoons the gazebo.

Jackie spent the morning clearing the garden beds, while I transferred the residue to the compost heaps.

Anyone who has followed this blog for the last two and a half years will know how invaluable Aaron, of A.P. Maintenance has been. He gets through a phenomenal amount of work on his regular Sunday morning visits. Today, for example, not only did he finish weeding the back drive, but he also

fixed the House sign into position at the front of the house

and pruned the crab apple trees in order to promote fruit for next winter’s blackbirds.

Old Old Post House sign

Jackie’s sign has now been switched to the other side of the entrance.

Ponies in the New Forest are normally to be seen fending for themselves. They are naked but for their own hair which generally lengthens during the winter; and they have to find their own food. Late in the afternoon, we drove out into the forest where, close to Linford, I spotted an equine group who appeared to be enjoying hotel facilities. They were all chomping away at a large hay bin, and one wore a rug. Like young children at the trough, more of the fodder landed on the floor than reached their stomachs.

The five-barred gate on which I leant to photograph the diners bore the sign for Newlands Farm. On our return home I Googled the farm. It was indeed a horse hotel of sorts. This is what their website has to say:

“Newlands offers you over 75 acres of well-managed grassland. We offer two types of grass livery care packages,with amazing riding from the farm gate directly onto the open New Forest , with no roadwork at all.

The farm is superbly located being less than 3 minutes from the market town of Ringwood yet set right within the New Forest National Park. The farm is run and situated alongside New Forest Livery and Training. Newlands is a professionally-managed farm providing superb grazing and care packages for your horse combined with access to superb outriding.

Grass Livery – Horses at grass are either :

– Visited regularly by their owners, or

– Retired/resting, ‘Owner-Away Option’, where owners visit less often, so we maintain the care.”

This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious fare. I finished the Fleurie while Jackie drank sparkling water.

Kind Of Blue

Aaron sawing wood

Aaron brought a friend to help today so he could finish by lunchtime. They sawed up the wood pile, then replanted a clump of grass roots which had been removed from the back drive some weeks ago, and, despite attempts to burn it, had refused to die. I understand that the Australian eucalyptus needs the heat of a forest fire to germinate its seeds. Maybe our grass is related to that tree.Grass rootsLog store

I managed to clear a space by the side of the house for the logs to be stacked before wandering around the garden with my camera.

Focussing on our profusion of blue-hued flowers, and thinking of Giles who enjoys them, I photographed:

Forget-me-nots

forget-me-nots,

Periwinkle

periwinkles,

Grape hyacinths

grape hyacinths,

Violas

violets,

Celandines

celandines,

Pansies

and pansies.

Whilst preparing this post I listened to what is probably the finest recording of spontaneous jazz improvisation ever made. During two sessions in 1959 Miles Davis, the legendary trumpeter, led a group including Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderly, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly, in the production of the album ‘Kind of Blue’.Kind of Blue

Evans, in his original programme notes, writes: ‘Miles conceived these settings only hours before the recording dates and arrived with sketches which indicated to the group what was to be played. Therefore you will hear something close to pure spontaneity in these performances. The group had never played these pieces prior to the recordings and I think without exception the first complete performance of each was a “take”.’

I you don’t have access to a copy, try it on YouTube.

This afternoon Flo continued her wildlife garden photography.

Bee on pulmonaria

Unaware of my blue theme, she featured a bee on pulmonaria.

White butterfly

She also captured a white butterfly on the wing,

Long-tailed tit

a tightrope-walking long-tailed tit,

Greenfinch

a greenfinch on a feeding tray,

Hoverfly

and a resting hoverfly.

Norman's parrot

She even threw in a shot of Norman’s parrot, which now hangs in our kitchen.

Eric

Finally, she persuaded Eric to pose for his portrait.

This evening we dined out on Ian.

Not literally. He just paid for it. He took us on a visit to La Viña in Lymington. It was a most enjoyable tapas bar. The food was excellent and the service extremely friendly if a little tardy. I can’t really detail the dishes because they were in Spanish, but they included a mixed paella, calamari, sardines, chorizo, asparagus, fried potatoes, meat balls and tortilla. Jackie and Ian drank Estrella beer; Becky and I shared a bottle of tempranillo; and Flo drank apple juice.

A Game Of Peep-Bo

Sunrise 1Sunrise 2

As I put out the bin bags at dawn this morning, the smoking fire further East down Christchurch Road revealed itself to be a blazing sun emerging to presage the splendid day we were to enjoy.

A little later, a crouching figure was seen to dart across to my desk and scamper back again. This was Flo, having risen surprisingly early to commandeer my camera for the next hour or so. Ladybird

She must have got the bug yesterday for she was to produce some even more successful pictures of our garden birds.

Here is a selection of her work:Thrush

A thrush on the rooftop projected its shadow into the ether. How this shot was achieved will be revealed tomorrow, for the benefit of those who haven’t worked it out.Female house sparrow

She captured house sparrows, both female

Male house sparrow 1Male house sparrow 3

and male.

Collared dove

The collared dove had found a new perch.

Jay 1Jay 2Jay 3Jay 4

Flo interrupted a jay’s breakfast, but it carried on regardless.

Female greenfinch 1Female greenfinch 2

A female greenfinch continued with hers

Male greenfinch

while her consort launched himself from the feeder.

Blackbird

A blackbird ignored the spider’s web beneath it.

Starling

Starlings are notoriously greedy beasts. Alone they must wait their turn at the trough.

Robin 1Robin 2Robin 3Robin 4Robin 5

An inquisitive robin removed its head from the feeder, straightened up, and engaged in a game of peep-bo.

Jackdaw

Finally a jackdaw snaffled two peanuts

Jackdaw's tail

and, of course, flew off at the sight of the camera.

When the Canon SX700 HS was returned to me I took a hobble down the garden and a few yards into Downton Lane.

Honesty

Our honesty is now in flower,

Epimedium

as is the epimedium

Skimmia

and the skimmia at the entrance to the back drive.

The lane itself has a profusion of

Primroses

primroses,

Celandine

celandines,

Cowslips

cowslips,

Daisies

daisies,

Grape hyacinths

and grape hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi (recipe), boiled egg curry, egg fried rice (recipe), and paratas. Jackie, Ian, and I drank Kingfisher; Becky drank rose; and Flo, J2O.

The Final Stage

1st April 2014

Ian stayed over again last night in order to help us today. Some of what had not been fitted into the van spent the night in our prospective son-ion-law’s car. The rest stayed in the Castle Malwood Lodge garage for collection this morning when we let the cleaners in.

I was up first and, with mist moisture dripping onto me from the splendidly ornamental garden trees, began emptying Ian’s car.

CamelliaScilla blue

IMG_8196Daffodils 2Scilla whiteOur new garden has a wonderful range of plants. Although they were somewhat veiled by the said mist, I photographed a sample, including white scillas, euphorbia, camellias, and grape hyacinths. It will be exciting, as the year unfolds, discovering what we have through the changing seasons.

The three of us then drove to Minstead where we loaded the two cars with the final contents of our rented garage, and drove back to Downton, after which we all travelled to the Needles Eye cafe and enjoyed all-day breakfasts, Ian and mine being the maxed-up version that signifies two of everything.

Ian followed us back to Minstead where we bade our farewells to an indispensable support and helper.

The two young women who were CME, the cleaning company’s operatives spent six hours doing a marvellous job on the end of tenancy clean, so Jackie and I had quite a wait in the sunshine before we could lock up.

The final stage of the departure from Minstead was the return of the keys to Penyards in Winchester. We did this at 7.30 p.m. and drove back to Milford on Sea and the Zaika restaurant’s Tuesday Banquet Night. This was clearly, rightly, very popular.

Staggering back to our new home, all we had to remember was whether to turn left or right at the top of the stairs to our bedroom.

Our broadband home hub will not be activated until 4th. In the meantime we have been told we can use BT WiFi. There is, however, no reception for this in Downton. A WiFi search is for another day.