Gracing The Back Drive

The weather today was overcast and cold, but mostly dry. A wander round the garden seemed to be in order.

The upstairs windows gave me a new perspective in which the rescued red Japanese maple gapes in awe across and above to the majestic copper beech; I could look down on the gazebo clematis; and in the Palm Bed the cordeline Australis bears buds.

The close-up of the maple began my lower level selection.

The red climbing rose, Paul’s scarlet, will soon be joining the wisteria beneath our bathroom window.

This hawthorn graces the back drive,

as do blue-tipped irises.

Ferns are unfurling as I write.

Enlarging this image of the Brick Path will enhance the West Bed with its lamiums, dicentras, and much more.

More aquilegias and a pieris on the grass patch are bursting into life; while an oak-leaved pelargonium with its scented foliage has survived the winter beneath the gazebo.

I have refrained from mentioning that last Friday evening we ran out of fuel oil. This was not a good week to be without heating. Today a new supply was delivered. This evening the excellent Ronan, of Tom Sutton Heating, reset the boiler.

We dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Pinot Noir.

Ferns Unfurling

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Sears Barbers at Milford on Sea, where Peter cut my hair. We continued into the forest.

This lane is one we traversed at North Ripley.

From high ground near Linford we admired landscapes over farmland. Horses may be seen in some, and a stretch of hawthorn in another.

The Modus is still managing to cope with the narrow, winding, crumbling Holmsley Passage, on the verges of which bracken is unfolding.

Back at home I dead-headed clusters of the diurnal poppies. On the way round the garden I paused to take a few photographs. Blue solanum scales several arches, and the large wisteria drapes its arbour outside the stable door. Sculptural euphorbias tower in the beds, and clumps of erigeron carpet paving stones and walls. Geraniums macrorrhizum are sweetly scented and make good ground cover. Another rhododendron is blooming in the Palm Bed. A wasp makes a beeline for the open flower in the close-up image of this. The last of these photographs is of Libertia.

A number of our own ferns are unfurling.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s deliciously spicy pork paprika, boiled potatoes, crisp carrots, and tender runner beans, with which I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Rewards

Snatching half an hour of occasional sunshine before the expected gloom set in for the day, I wandered around the garden with my camera.

Rose pink climber

Two retrained pink climbing roses are in bloom along the front garden trellis.

Geranium palmatum

We have masses of geraniums palmatum. Jackie took cuttings last year, and distributed some in the front, where they are thriving and will soon replace the wind-blown crab apple blossom from above.

Libertia and red Japanese maple

Similar division has been effected with libertia. My method is described in the linked post. I would have been happy to write that the libertia here frolicked solely with alliums and bluebells against the red Japanese maple. Unfortunately when I put this picture up on screen it revealed the clinging velcro strings of lady’s bedstraw, a pernicious weed we have spent two years eradicating. That put a halt to my proceedings while I assisted The Head Gardener in its immediate removal.

Red Japanese maple

The maple’s red foliage appears to be extended by a rhododendron on the other side of the grass.

Snapdragon

Snapdragons are now fully out, this one fortuitously planted within sight of one of the residents of the Dragon Bed.

Shady path

Walking straight on past the dragon leads to the Shady Path, so named because of its original state.

Gazebo path

Running roughly parallel to the right of this is the Gazebo Path.

View from shady path

This is the view through the gazebo across the grass patch.

Roses red climber

Continuing along the Shady Path, red climbing roses now reward Jackie’s training.

Gladioli

When we arrived here, some very poorly looking slender red gladioli struggled in poor soil outside the kitchen door. Our resident expert lifted the bulbs and replanted them in the boxes she arranged at the head of the back drive. They are standing proud and coming into flower.

Rhododendron

A mature rhododendron has been rescued from the choking jungle,

Clematis Doctor Ruppel

and nearby, similarly hued clematis Doctor Ruppel proliferates.

Hawthorn 1Hawthorn 2

The hawthorn along the back drive has responded to pruning.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My main choice was Goan King Prawn, and Jackie’s sag chicken. We shared an egg paratha, special fried rice, and onion bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

Gold Blends

SHOULD YOU WISH, CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM, REPEATING IF NECESSARY.

Jackie did a great deal of tidying and planting today whilst I carried out a little of the latter.

Landscape bark scattered

We suspected that once the landscape bark in the rose garden began to attract live bird food we would need to sweep the brick path on a regular basis. That time is upon us. Like human babies in highchairs, the carnivorous members of our avian population toss out what they are not partial to.

Our camellias bloom at different times.

Camellia

Whilst this deep red one is at its peak,

Camellias and Japanese maple

a lighter relative fades to meld with the neighbouring Japanese maple;

Daffodils

and these once bright yellow daffodil trumpets have also turned to old gold.

This afternoon I walked to the paddock in Hordle Lane and back.

Rape fieldSky over rape field

Landscape with rape

The golden field visible from our bedroom window

Hedgerow and rape field 1Hawthorn hedge and rape field

blends in the hedgerow with hawthorn

Lichen and rape field

and like-hued lichen.

This evening we dined on pork rib rack coated in barbecue sauce and Jackie’s excellent vegetable rice followed by Black Forest gateau, with which I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

 

A Marvellous Achievement

Passion flowerThe passion flower rescued recently is now blooming. Stop clockLouisa & Claire & RichardEarly this morning we learned that the intrepid trio attempting the Three Peaks Challenge were, having completed Scafell Pike in three and a half hours, doing well. Louisa has sent some stunning photographs.Louisa & ClaireScafell PikeScafell Pike 2Scafell Pike 3Scafell Pike 4Louisa, Claire & Richard Signs of excited tiredness are evident at the summit, but when you think they had to be driven, by Paul Scott, from Nottingham to Ben Nevis before they could even start, unless they managed to get their heads down in the car, they will have been without sleep for a deal more than the 24 hours target time. For those unfamiliar with the geography, Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, is in Scotland; Scafell Pike 5Scafell Pike in England’s Cumbria; and Louisa abd PaulSnowdon in Wales, Paul ScottPaul, who should not be forgotten in this venture, had a fair amount of driving to do in the Nottingham – Lochaber – Cumbria – Snowdonia – Nottingham quadrilateral. Golden hopsI imagine lap 3 (6 hours+) in the timer photo represents the drive from Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike.

Soon after 9 a.m. Louisa changed her Facebook Profile picture to the silhouetted image above. Possibly not from the mountaintop itself, but…… what mastery of technology.

Golden hops 2Whilst eagerly awaiting news of the completion of the challenge climbs, I continued battling with the invading lonicera and brambles at the front from next door. I also shortened a hawthorn by some length. Several new upright trunks had sprouted from one curtailed some years ago. Jackie unravelled golden hops from a cherry tree they were choking and trained them onto the fence.LouisaSnowdonSnowdon 2

 

Having taken fifteen minutes out for a swim in her favourite waterfall pool, Louisa and her friends completed the challenge in 23 hours, 43 minutes. What a marvellous achievement, says the proud father.

Tests of endurance rather run in the family. Sam rowed the Atlantic and I ran 18 marathons. But I am sure Louisa’s brother would agree that she’snow-capped us both. When Sam collected his boat in 2003 and rowed it to Newark from Henley, I walked alongside him. The last leg of this was the 25 miles from Nottingham. Sam having already arrived at his destination, Louisa met me at Newark Castle with a pint of beer for me in each hand. So……Cheers, my passionate flower, and the team.

We will be having roast beef followed by gooseberry and apple crumble for dinner, but I can’t wait until afterwards to post this.

Owling With Attitude

The blackbird still sits on her nest. Peering through shrubs at a safe distance, sometimes her bright little eyes are visible to the viewer, sometimes her upturned tail.

Brambly bedToday’s task for me was to clear one bed of brambles and other unwelcome growth. Simple enough for a day’s work. I thought. In fact the wild blackberry bushes were the least of my problems.

As I began to feel my way into the undergrowth I came across a number of previously unseen plants. Passion flower chokedOne was a heavily-budded passion flower which had become entwined in a hebe, and, of course brambles. The necessary disentanglement was a most delicate operation.Passion flower support Having carried out the surgery I gave it a leg-up by means of netting attached to a metal post set in concrete that Jackie had found elsewhere in the garden. Another such climber had clung to the weeping branches of the birch tree, but had many stems trailing in and out of the bed grasping at anything in its path. Further similar treatment was required. This time the netting was strung between two wooden stakes.

Two types of tree that are abundantly self-seeded in this garden are hawthorn and bay. There was one of each in this bed, their roots, as always, taking shelter among those of  other plants; in this case the weeping birch and some lilies that have not yet flowered.Bed head screwed to birch I had no chance of reaching them unless I removed the wooden bed head nailed to the tree. No doubt this once had a decorative purpose of sorts.  I couldn’t prise it off. Once the rust had been scoured off the nailhead it turned out to be a screw, so dilapidated as to be bereft of a slot. I tried to make one with the trusty hacksaw. I couldn’t get it deep enough.

Then along came Superwoman, who saw that if we removed the rickety slats and the other end, we could leave the post where it was. D’oh!

That is what we did. I dug out the offending trees and replaced the rest of the bed head. Two of the joints had by now disintegrated, so nails will have to be used, when I have bought some of sufficient length. In order that it does have a decorative function, I optimistically fed a passion flower stem through the secure bit.

Jackie speaks of the June gap, which is that unproductive time between the finishing of the spring flowers and before the arrival of those of the summer. The planting here has been so well planned that there is no such hiatus. Water lilyPhiladelphusWhite bush roseRose - pink abundancePetuniasPetunias - magentaDiasca and pelargoniumBegoniaPoppiesVerbascumRodgersiaClematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalI took a break after lunch and photographed water lily, philadelphus, roses, petunias, diasca, pelargonium, begonia, poppies, verbascum, rodgersia, and clematises which are just a few of those we currently have flowering.

Our blackbird is still awaiting the emergence of her chicks. Not so the owl in my friend Hari’s tree. Her two are about three weeks old, and able to reach the ground, but do need to be returned to their Mum. If I am able to photograph our fledglings I am confident that my pictures would not be as striking as the one Hari e-mailed me today.Owling by Harri She believes the creature was displaying a mind of its own when it stared back at its rescuer. I rather like her term for a baby owl, especially one with attitude, which has provided today’s title.

This evening’s meal was Jackie’s beef and mushroom pie with mashed carrots, swede, and potatoes; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. Tiramisu ice cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the tempranillo.

If you have a shop that can sell you ready prepared pastry and have saved enough beef casserole (recipe) you, too could make the pie. Simply drain off the sauce from the casserole and use it as gravy; roll out the pastry, insert the filling into it, and bake it in the oven for about half an hour on 200. The chef, when pressed for her timing, said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t time it, I just stood and looked at it until it was the right brownness’. I don’t expect she did this for the whole time, but I think that gives you the idea.

A Rude Awakening

Flowering cherryWe have packed the long life milk, so it fell to my lot, this bright morning, to walk down to the village shop to buy some more. I returned via the church path, The Splash, and Furzey Gardens.

Burgeoning spring has come to Castle Malwood Lodge garden, with its flowering cherries and its shrubs; to those in the village; and to the verges and hedgerows.

I stopped on the way to say goodbye to Alan. We discussed the ‘bedroom tax’, which in my view is far more complex than it seems to some. There is no doubt that many elderly people, often recipients of depleted and diminishing Social Services, are struggling alone to keep going in family houses when all their offspring have moved away, whilst younger people, faced with mounting rents, strive to bring up families in one-bedroomed flats. Whether penalising those Council tenants who cannot, or are reluctant to, move from their life-long homes is the answer, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, somehow a balancing of this problem needs to be achieved.

At the village green I met a couple seeking a walk before lunch in the Trusty. I now have plenty of experience with which to set them on their way.

Celandine & violasHawthorn

Celandine, violas, primroses, and hawthorn sparkled in the sunshine. Primrose & ChampionI find it almost impossible to photograph primroses in bright sunshine, so I settled for an equine one who, with Champion, her male escort, basked at the trough.

Moss on phonebox

Moss adorned the little-used public telephone box.

Berberis

Sawn trunkA flaming bright orange berberis blazed alongside the road leading up to the church.

A number of trees bordering the still soggy church footpath have been cut down. They leave fascinating forms reminiscent of a child’s wooden jigsaw puzzle.

At one end the signpost has been embellished by the addition of an outstretched gauntlet. Clearly someone thought the direction of the thoroughfare needed some clarification.Gauntlet

Less hardy than the New Forest ponies, many of the adult thoroughbreds in the fields still wear their winter warming coats. The youngsters seem to be deemed not to need them.Horses through hedge

Alex Schneideman, in a recent post, illustrated an enlightening article on the emotional impact of out of focus portraits against sharply drawn settings. I wonder what he would think of this shot of the horses seen through the hedgerow.

Toad

Whilst I was wandering this morning Jackie began the task of dismantling her portable garden. We continued it this afternoon. When she had installed it, she had disturbed a sleepy toad. The creature obviously survived the trauma, for today the horticulturist once again aroused it from its slumbers.

Jackie’s garden contained the deer-proof fencing, various assorted bricks, and a total of 84 pots of flowers, most of which were quite large. Some of the pots were in hanging baskets. There was the bird feeder with its squirrel baffle, and lots of both wooden and metal stakes. This was no mean achievement to put together, and quite a project to take apart. As I trudged backwards and forwards across the garden to return brick-loads to their previous resting place behind the garages, I wondered how she’d managed to carry them all across in the first place.

As I post this we are about to drive to the Curry Garden at Ringwood, where we will enjoy their usual excellent food and a pint and a half of Kingfisher.