Early Morning Light

We began work in the garden early, because we knew it would be a hot day. In addition to all her general labours, Jackie spent much time scrubbing surfaces, such as the slippery decking, and pigeon poo on chairs and benches. My task was a certain amount of dead heading and feeding of the compost bin, but mostly, taking advantage of the diffused light before the sun had risen too high.

This deep red climbing rose was inherited from our predecessors in a sorry, straggly, state, yet now thrives under the Head Gardener’s loving care.

This New Dawn, a present from Poppy and Tess, is now beginning to scale the gazebo.

This recent purchase is a climber called Brownie, which was bred by Nola M. Simpson in New Zealand before 2009.

The first of these clematises is accompanied by a bottle brush plant and a Chilean lantern tree; the second by a Rosa Glauca.

The bottle brush plant glimpsed above is the red one now coming into bloom; the climber Wedding Day spans the Brick Path.

Most hanging baskets have now been planted up.

Several hebes are flourishing. Jackie is very pleased with this sculptural eryngium.

A variety of day lilies abound.

Readers will be aware that we have one honey-scented cordyline Australis. We didn’t know ourselves that we have three more on the west side of the garden which we have not noticed flowering before.

Pale pink Penny Lane and bright red Super Elfin have happily settled on the Gothic Arch.

Peach Abundance flowers in the Oval Bed just outside the Rose Garden, among whose residents are

an unknown deep pink climber; red Roserie de l’Hay; red and white striped Rosa Gallica and yellow Laura Ford; poppies and foxgloves; pink and yellow Summer Wine; bright red Gloriana; and golden Crown Princess Margareta.

This afternoon we spent an hour with Mum, who was in good spirits, in the garden of Woodpeckers.

Afterwards I watched a memorable Wimbledon tennis match between Angelique Kerber and Sara Sorribes Tomo.

This evening we dined on more of Jackie’s delicious beef and onion pie with flavoursome Jersey Royal potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender runner beans, and meaty gravy, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone.

On The Brink Of December

On a bright and sunny morning I wandered round the garden in my shirtsleeves.

Individual titles of these views can be found when accessing the gallery with a click on any image. The last two pictures show a Japanese maple before and after it had been pruned by Aaron and his A.P. Maintenance team who also

tidied up some of the beds.

Even a sleepy bee on a cobea scandens didn’t seem to realise that we are on the brink of December.

‘So enchanting was the vision of a stateless society, without government, without law, without ownership of property, in which, corrupt institutions having been swept away, man would be free to be good as God intended him, that six heads of state were assassinated for its sake in the twenty years before 1914. They were President Carnot of France in 1894, President Canovas of Spain in 1897, Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898, King Humbert of Italy in 1900, President McKinley of the United States in 1901, and another Premier of Spain, Canalejas, in 1912. Not one could qualify as a tyrant. Their deaths were the gestures of desperate or deluded men to call attention to the Anarchist idea.’ So begins the second chapter of my Folio Society edition of Barbara W. Tuchman’s ‘The Proud Tower’, namely The Idea and the Deed – The Anarchists: 1890-1914′.

This chapter deals with the Anarchism that swept Europe during this period leading to WWI – the theory of the intellectuals and the actions of those prepared to carry out ‘The Deed’ with which it was hoped the populace would be terrified into changing the orders of society. As always in such events, more ordinary people were killed than those for whom bombs or bullets were intended. Interestingly, it seems that Germany, who used the terror tactics espoused by their military theorists to suppress the Belgian people in August 1914, was the major European country least affected by the Anarchists.

Tuchman’s descriptions of the avowed terrorism bears alarming similarity to that technique practiced today. Unfortunately modern bombs are far more destructive than those that were available more than a century ago. Perpetrators are prepared now, as they were then, to sacrifice their own lives for their espoused cause.

The fluid writing in this work is far more literary than that permitted by the requirements of ‘The Guns of August’.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent shepherd’s pie; a leak and pork sausage; roast potatoes; moist ratatouille; and firm cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Coonawarra.

It Has To Go

As she toured the garden this morning Jackie was struck by the contrast between the number of survivors from spring and summer still blooming –

including clematis Niobe;

fuchsias Delta’s Sarah

and Mrs. Popple;

hebes;

hot lips;

bidens;

pelargoniums;

pansies;

campanulas;

and roses in the Rose Garden –

and the harbingers of spring to come, such as the budding rhododendrons;

the new shoots of Michaelmas daisies;

and the burgeoning mimuluses.

One of Aaron’s tasks was to clear dragons, hanging baskets, and other vulnerable artefacts from beneath the

rather brittle cypress that continually sheds dead branches and therefore has to go. It will be removed later in the week.

As we were planning to venture into the forest this afternoon the skies darkened, the previously still air produced gusts of more than fifty miles an hour, torrential rains fell, and the birds left the front garden feeders. Within half an hour tranquility returned.

Blue tits returned to the suet balls.This bird tried to masquerade as one;

and Ron, as we have named the front garden robin, was able to head for his seed feeder before the sparrows returned to dispossess him. It is almost impossible to distinguish between male and female robins. Should Ron turn out to be a female I guess she will be a Ronette. https://youtu.be/FXlsWB1UMcE

We then did drive into to forest.

Ponies at Norleywood had calmly weathered the storm that had added to

the pool at the corner of St. Leonards Road,

along which, like cannon-shot, clouds sped across the sky,

against which oak tree branches groped gnarled fingers.

It was not yet sunset when we passed St Leonards Grange and the ruins of its ancient grain barn.

Another winterbourne pool on which oak leaves floated reflected  the tree limbs and trunks;

a cheerful young girl running down the road was overtaken by a passing car;

and a pheasant was framed by a Star of David.

We drove on past Bucklers Hard, then retuned along St Leonards Road to catch

sunset both at the Grange

and a little further along the road.

This evening we dined on fish pie with Jackie’s succulent ratatouille; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, with which we both drank Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc 2016.

 

 

Happier Behind The Camera

I was grateful today for the overnight thunderstorm and for Jackie’s watering the parts it couldn’t reach early this morning before she and Shelly drove to Helen’s to offer sisterly assistance.

This meant I could concentrate on the dead-heading necessitated by the storm’s stripping of many petals. After more than an hour I retreated indoors with wobbly legs and wringing wet shirt to sit at the computer and apply myself to retouching two more of the images from my mother’s old album.

First I tackled my grandfather from c1926 at Conwy. Judging by the position of his hand I suspect he was holding a cigarette.

This photograph was probably taken in about 1919, before the marriage of my maternal grandparents, Annie and George Henry Hunter, who are the couple on the right.

These two images suggest that my grandfather was, like me, happier behind the camera.

After completing this work I returned to the garden,

where bees were very busy, being particularly partial to swarming over purple alliums and pink hebes.

Red geraniums, white marguerites, and pink hydrangeas produce an attractive bank on the front drive. Jackie is constantly thinning out the daisies so she has sufficient vision to her right when driving out.

A variety of day lilies continue to proliferate.

The last three day lily images are from the Kitchen Bed, also home to lysimachia Firecracker.

Pale pastel blue and white campanula spills over the Shady Path

from where we have views towards the house, and across the Palm Bed, among others.

This clematis Polish Spirit is nearby in the Dragon Bed.

From the stable door we look down the Gazebo path, and back from the agapanthuses coming into bloom in the Palm Bed.

Further garden views are afforded by the Rose Garden and the Phantom Path,

leading to the West Bed with its honesty and lilies.

Some time after Jackie returned home she drove out again for a Hordle Chinese Take Away meal which we enjoyed with Hoegaarden in her case, and more of the Fleurie in mine.

Garden Housework

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Throughout the garden we have prolific clusters of small orange and yellow poppies that shed their petals each day. Regular dead-heading encourages further growth. It has been one of my tasks to carry out this task. Today I did so for the first time since before my surgery.

I took my time over it, and paused for pit-stops along the way when, seated on chairs and benches that would have been too low for me six weeks ago, I photographed something else, such as the New Bed, the Rose Garden, the Oval Bed, day lilies, hostas, urns, and other planters.

Jackie continued what she regards as her garden housework.

This afternoon we drove to Everton Post Office and sent a parcel to New Zealand.

During the passages when my eyes were open, I then watched the World Cup football match between Sweden and Switzerland.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s Fish and Chips, and pickled onions. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Soon we will settle down to watch the England v. Colombia football match.

 

Russell Is Definitely Imprinted On Jackie

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I was first in the garden this morning. I wanted to check on our crow.

Hebe in Dragon Bed

This is a good year for hebes, as exemplified by this one in the Dragon Bed, where the crow was not.

Beside Shady Path

Our avian visitor was not along the Shady Path.

Brick Path

He was neither to be seen on the Brick Path;

nor in the Rose Garden, with its poppies and carpet roses, including the white, scented, Kent;

nor anywhere near the New Bed sporting clematises and erigerons.

Day lilies and geranium palmatums

The day lilies and geranium palmatums at the south end

Phlox Blue Paradise

and the phlox in the West Bed all reported his absence.

Crow

Silly me. I should have begun my search nearer the house. There he was, foraging among the paving stones. He was so keen to follow me about

that it took me a while before I could gain sufficient distance to focus on him with a long lens.

He remained firmly on the ground, so I didn’t feel he thought I was his Dad.

This all changed when his mother came out. He was on her in an instant.

No longer was it funny. Not wanting to be pecked again in the young bird’s effort to provoke her into regurgitating food for him, Jackie shoved him off and rushed inside. He followed her in and resumed his onslaught. The same thing happened when she went outside again.

The creature is definitely imprinted on Jackie. Perhaps fortuitously, Shelly, a little later, arrived to take her sister off to Somerset for the annual three day camping trip the three sisters share. We will see what effect the absence will have on Russell.

Russell? Well what else should we call him?

This afternoon I watched the momentous World Cup football match between Germany and S. Korea. After this, Becky arrived to take over administering to her Aged P while her mother is away. This will be the first time ever we have had a few days on our own.

We dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare.

 

The End Of British Summer Time

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Aaron was so pleased with our John Cook sculpture of him that he asked for a photograph. Naturally I printed him a copy of each of those that appeared in ‘A Particularly Strong Clue’.

Owl in New Arbour

Among other tasks today, he strengthened the new recycled gates arbour, under which the owl now stands on its plinth.

West Bed and Brick Path

The planting in the foreground of the above photograph is just part of the extensive clearance and refurbishment of the West Bed that Jackie has achieved in recent weeks.

Urn planted and erigeron

At the bed’s southern end verbena and pelargoniums still thrive in the urns, and erigerons carpet the surrounds of the New Bed.

Pelargoniums

Pelargoniums,

Begonias

 begonias of various shades,

Geraniums RozanneGeranium Rozanne 2

and geraniums like the blue Rozanne still add colour.

Fuchsia 1Fuchsia 2Fuchsia 3

Fuchsias abound;

Salvia Hot Lips

tiny Hot Lips salvias dance in the Cryptomeria Bed;

Petunia Million Bells

Million Bells petunias entice campanologists at the corner of the patio alongside the kitchen wall.

Hebe

Hebes

Honeysuckle

and honeysuckle seem to think it is Spring.

Rose Margaret Merrill

Roses like Margaret Merrill,

Rose Lady Emma Hamilton

Lady Emma Hamilton,

Rose Penny Lane 2Rose Penny Lane 1

Penny Lane,

Rose pink climber

and the deep pink climber soaring above the Oval Bed, remain confused.

Nasturtium

Nasturtiums twine everywhere,

Clematis Cirrhosa

yet the winter flowering clematis Cirrhosa seems a little early,

Gazebo Path

as it festoons the gazebo under which I stood to produce this image of the path named after it.

Garden view across Cryptomeria Bed

To the right of the far end of that path, this was the view across the Cryptomeria Bed, showing the few leaves of the weeping birch that survived the recent storm.

The setting back of our clocks by one hour at 2 a.m. this morning signalled the official end of British Summer Time. Of course no-one gets up at that time to adjust all the timepieces in the house. We just have to try to remember when we get up.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla. My main meal was lamb taba shashlik jalfrezi; Jackie’s was chicken chom chom. We shared onion rice, an egg paratha, and onion bhaji, and both drank Kingfisher. Service and food were as good as ever.

 

 

What’s This Beetle?

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Supplementing this morning’s work on ‘A Knight’s Tale’ were my posts ‘Auntie Gwen’ and ‘One For Rebeckah’,

from which this photograph was included.

This afternoon the weather was dry, overcast, and humid, with the sun sometimes sneaking a peek at what I was up to. This was watering, dead-heading, and a little weeding.

I then experienced considerable difficulty in loading new photographs into WordPress.

Bee on hebe

Pollen-dusted bees favoured the pink and purple hebes;

New Bed garden view

Deep red Bishop of Llandaff dahlias nod to the lilies in the New Bed. (See Head Gardener’s comment below – we don’t know the name of the dahlia, but it’s not the Bishop)

Gaura

We live in hope that this gaura, a plant with which we have so far been unsuccessful, will flourish in the Weeping Birch Bed.

'Pineapple' plant

On the other hand, Jackie has had great success with what we call ‘Pineapple’ plants, prised up from paving and placed in the Kitchen Bed.

Early this evening the sun reemerged and shed new light on the garden, bringing, incidentally, a cessation to loading problems. Maybe this was because the Head Gardener had returned and there was no further reason to sulk.

Echinaceas

A glow was lent to echinaceas

Phlox

and to phlox in the palm bed;

Crocosmia Lucifer

to the crocosmias, like this Lucifer;

Day lilies

to a much wider range of day lilies than we remember having;

Clematis 1Clematis 2

and to various clematises,

Clematis 3

including this one in which the Head Gardener can justifiably take great pride. As long-term readers will know, what is now the Rose Garden, was, three years ago, a concrete-bound, overgrown kitchen garden of sorts. This is where this raggedy specimen started life. Jackie lifted the wizened little plant, placed it in a pot adopted by the front garden trellis, and returned it to its roots in its birthplace.

Strawberries

Inherited wild strawberries are bearing fruit for the first time.

Beetle on liliesBeetle on lilies 2

As I passed the sweetly scented lilies in the New Bed, an iridescent green glint in the centre of one of the blooms flashed enticingly. Does anyone have any idea as to the beetle’s identity?

Miss Coleoptera on Twitter offers this suggestion: ‘Probably a Cetonia aurata or a Protaetia’. Uma offers this, in his comment below: ‘To me that looks like a Bombardier Beetle. Or perhaps the fellow is an oil beetle’. Google images confirms Cetonia aurata, which Oglach, below, has named as a chafer beetle..

If I had any sense I wouldn’t struggle when there’s a blip in the system. I’d just ignore it until it went away.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice topped with an omelette. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Georges DuBoeuf Fleurie 2016.

 

 

Spoiler Alert

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We were both reprieved from gardening duties this morning by the rain.

I scanned a few more colour slides from 1981/2.

Sam in hammock 8.81

Here Sam enjoys swinging in a hammock at the Drapers’ home in Meldreth near Royston in Cambridgeshire. This was August 1981.

Matthew, Becky, and snowman 12.81

In December that year we had a rare heavy fall of snow in Gracedale Road, Furzedown, South London. Matthew and Becky made the best of it. That was probably the only time in their childhoods that it was possible to create such a magnificent snowman.

Sam 12.81

Another Cambridgeshire venue was the home of Nigel and Judy Pearson at Pastures farmhouse in Caxton. At a Christmas party there, Sam tucked into his first pheasant. I remember biting a piece of shot. This was also the first time I had sampled such fare.

In September 1982 we spent a couple of weeks at the Vachettes’ chateau at Fontaine in Normandy.

Arnoux, Marie- Helene, Jessica, M. et Mme. Vachette 9.82

This is the garden in which Jessica basks in a deckchair with Arnoux, Marie-Helene, and the Vachette parents. As can be seen by the colour of the grass this was a very hot autumn.

Jessica 9.82

Lying at Jessica’s feet

Louisa 9.82 2Louisa 9.82 1

is Louisa in her carrycot;

Sam 9.82

while Sam enjoys the toys she will soon grow into.

This afternoon the sun shone, not only here in Downton, but also in Wimbledon where a tense Gentlemen’s Final took place. I watched it on television.

Andy Murray, trophy, and wife

I will not reveal the winner, but his wife looks on.

Afterwards I wandered around the garden, doing some sporadic dead-heading, whilst Jackie watered some more hanging baskets

Petunias

Petunias, mimuluses, lobelia, geraniums, owlPetunias 2

containing petunias, mimuluses and lobelia.

Urn, petunias, begonias, bidens,

She also slaked the the thirst of this urn containing petunias, trailing geraniums, and bidens, with penstemons at the side,

Rose Garden

suspended in the Rose Garden.

Hydrangea, geraniums, poppies, pansies, verbena bonarensis

The hydrangea at the corner of Elizabeth’s Bed is thriving;

Clematises, lilies, dahlias, fuchsia, solanum

as are the lilies and clematises in the New Bed;

Hebe

and the hebes are coming into bloom.

This evening we dined on Mister Chatty Man’s Hordle Chinese Take Away. Jackie drank a blend of Hoegaarden and Bavaria non-alcoholic beer, while I consumed more of the Carignan Vieilles Vignes.

One For Mary Tang

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The kitchen door was open this morning as I wandered into it. Such was the heady blend of sweet scents that pervaded the room, that I looked around for the bouquets of blooms I felt sure The Head Gardener must have gathered. There were none. The aroma emanated from the garden itself on this much warmer day. This became apparent as I investigated.

Magazine on bench

Testament to Jackie’s occasional breaks, gardening magazines like this one on the Heligan Path bench, are likely to be found in sunshine or shade, depending on her needs at the time. In the right foreground of this picture, on a dry brick plinth stands one of the recently purchased half-dozen stone urns, planted with geraniums, petunias, and, yet to burst forth, begonias. Heucheras, hellebores honesty and hebes fill the near beds, whilst in the background the palm which gives its name to the recently refurbished plot, is budding, which it didn’t do last year. An ornamental grass bends at the feet of the weeping birch, now sporting catkins. There will probably be no more long shots of the garden that do not contain an owl.

Jackie reading on Heligan Path bench

Later, with the bench in shade, I shifted my viewpoint in order to show the scene through what will soon be a cascade of clematis Montana seen, already covering the other side of the dead tree at top right, that will cover the plank of wood used to form the arch. Jackie enjoys a rest.

This evening we attended a quiz night at Helen and Bill’s church hall in aid of CAFOD. Everyone had brought  contribution of finger food and there was a bar where beer, wines, and soft drinks were available, and variously consumed by the assembled company.

Quiz Night WinnerPeter Thomas, a very skilled magician, offering his services free of charge, stepped in at the last minute to manage the quiz, and to entertain us with some marvellous tricks.

Our family members made up two tables; one team consisting of Bill, David and Jen, John, and Rachel; the other of Becky and Ian, Shelly and Ron, and Jackie and me. The first of these groups came second overall, and we won. The winners were each given a certificate to prove it.

This post is for Mary Tang, who likes the panoramic views.