A Year For Honesty

Today the weather was fairly gloomy. Early rain gave way to overcast clouds and oppressive warmth. Our own garden seemed the best venue.

Bees, nevertheless, were busy plundering the amanogawa cherry now in full bloom.

Tulips, which, until now have kept their collars tightly buttoned, are beginning to think about loosening their ties.

Avian courting continues in the weeping birch.

The golden Japanese maple glows despite the lack of sunshine.

Dicentra joins primulas, hellebores, daffodils, fritillaries, and honesty in the West Bed.

Honesty is a biennial bloomer. The transparent medallion-shaped seed pods, so attractive when backlit in the autumn, as effective as a careless sneeze, scatter the germs that raise these spires of colour everywhere in the spring. This is its year.

The daffodils in the above photograph of the Cryptomeria Bed are later blooms which will delight for some weeks more. Others are past their best.

The vinca is a plant which, given free rein, would dance over all the beds and consequently requires a certain amount of containment. When we first arrived the garden was choked with it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Juicy Assemblage.

A Surprise To Come

Beginning with the cherry trees at the front, I focussed on the garden this morning.

A crafty sparrow uses this holly tree as a diversionary tactic en route to its nest around the corner.

Despite the efforts of cumbersome pigeons and pelting hailstones, the pale pink winter flowering example has bloomed constantly since September;

a smaller tree has added the tones of a deeper pink blossom;

and the soaring amanogawa is now attracting bees. Can you spot the seeker after nectar homing in on the first picture and having landed in the second?

Some of the camellia petals are taking on the brown hues of weathered old age.

Like this tulip they have reacted to the recent heavy rainfall. The tulip just curled up its nose;

others, such as these standing proud in the Palm Bed, remain unperturbed.

A yellow Japanese maple stretches towards the Gazebo Path.

The first deep red rhododendron buds are opening in the Dragon Bed,

which carries clusters of yellow lamiums.

Snake’s head fritillaries are proliferating in the West Bed;

others, beside the stepping stones crossing the Cryptomeria Bed, we thought had failed. In fact they were just a little later than their neighbours.

Daffodils and hellebores dance to the right of the stones.

While I photographed the fruits of her labours, Jackie puzzled over a surprise to come. Normally she labels her greenhouse seedlings and bulbs. Sometimes she forgets to do this.

Elizabeth visited this afternoon and stayed to dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and tender green beans. Ian had brought a rather delicious bottle of Aguilla Chillando Garnacha 2017. I started on that, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth drank Becks Blue.

Raindrops

Unless you wanted to photograph

car wheels sending up spray from the puddle in the gutter to the front of the house,

or pools forming on the garden paths, this was not a day to venture outside. The alliums on the Brick Path are some uprooted by the Head Gardener who wages an annual war against these invasive bulbs.

Rain streamed down the windows, brightened only by Pauline’s welcome lightcatcher.

I was granted one brief easing of precipitation during which to nip out and catch raindrops on bedraggled pansies, shy tulips, damp hellebores, and glistening amanogawa buds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb steak and mushroom pie; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; firm Brussels sprouts; and rich gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Blossom Hill Pale Rosé, I drank Des Maures Lalande de Pomerol 2016, and Ian drank Cobra.

Nest Building

For some time now, Aaron, our very own Green Man, has been working his way through the removal of the stumps of the old grizelinia hedging that he cut down a year or two back. This morning he completed the task.

We now have several clusters of snake’s head fritillaries;

orange and yellow epimedium, which here blends well a fading daffodil;

the ubiquitous honesty;

a range of hellebores preparing to drop their seeds;

and these wallflowers fronting euphorbia.

Birds such as darting goldfinches in the cypress, and cumbersome pigeons in the copper beech just coming into leaf are busy nesting.

Reminding me of ‘And What Came Next?‘, a Red Admiral butterfly and a fly slumber alongside each other beneath

catkins dangling from the weeping birch.

For a long, leisurely, lunch Mat, Tess, Poppy, Jackie, and I joined Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith at Hoburne, Bashley, holiday home site. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. I chose a fishcake and salad starter followed by a plentiful roast beef dinner. Others also enjoyed their selections. We shared Prosecco, one glass of which was free for each of the Mothers on their day. None of us could eat a dessert. Afterwards the adults sat in the sunshine while the children played football and generally ran about.

Tanners Lane

This afternoon I ambled round the sunlit garden.

Pink and red camellias, which first bloomed in January, appear to be going on for ever.

Tulips, like these yellow ones, are now replacing some fading daffodils, while

a variety of others are still in the bloom of youth.

Jackie planted these leucojum vernum last Autumn.

The amanogawa cherry came with the house.

Primulas, hellebores, and euphorbia are regular visitors;

Snake’s head fritillaries have so far survived a year or two.

Shortly before closing time we drove to Streets ironmongers in Brokenhurst to order a tap fitment. We took a leisurely route home.

Beside the road to Beaulieu a group of small deer disappeared into the woodland.

It wasn’t far from sunset when we arrived at Hatchet Pond.

I’ve never seen a galloping donkey before, but the one silhouetted against the skyline near the group grazing opposite the pond, crossed the ground at a fair lick when a young woman began photographing its companions. As I explained, the creature had come in search of treats.

Nearer sunset we diverted to Tanners Lane in search of a scene such as this.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent, short crust, beef, onion, and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; crisp carrots and broccoli, followed by sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 and my lady drank more of The Quintet.

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.

Magnolia Time

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest.

The gardens of Sway featured

a flowing stream beyond a lichen tattooed tree in Mead End Road;

a pink magnolia towering over a hedge in Adlam’s Lane;

a magnolia stellata competing with a variegated privet in Brighton Road;

and another pink one stating its ascendancy over a red camellia.

As we set out towards Burley we paused at the obligatory pony crossing.

At Thorney Hill our side of the road was clear, while an unconcerned grey made its leisurely way along the other.

On our return home I ventured into the garden to discover whether our flame red Vulcan magnolia was yet in bloom. It wasn’t, but we still have

camellias, some fallen blooms now adorning the gravel paths; daffodils

a variety of cyclamens

hellebores;

and hyacinths.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans. The meal was taken from plates on trays in front of the television whilst we watched a recording of the earlier Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and France.