Spot The Difference

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In today’s gardening division of labour my contribution was weeding the back drive, while Jackie continued planting, weeding, and watering.

My main focus was on the bed alongside the new fence.

This involved clambering between dead stumps and the fencing and digging out stubborn brambles and sticky Willies. I had not anticipated needing to use a fork on all this, but, most unusually for April, there has been so little rain that the ground is rock hard. Consequently I didn’t get very far. For those readers interested in the scale of things this drive is 75 yards long and the width of a terraced house plot.

Jackie filled the Rose Garden urns – one on the brick pillar we have just rebuilt – with compost

in readiness for these lilies bought from the Hordle Post Office a couple of days ago.

Other plantings in the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds and the Rose Garden are mostly represented by labels.

Corner of Palm Bed at Fiveways

In this corner of the Palm Bed we have tulips; a yellow Japanese maple that clearly needs the pruning treatment;

Rhododendron 1

and a pink rhododendron just coming into bud.

Tree peony

A yellow tree peony competes with the latter over which will be the first in full bloom.

Daffodils, honesty, and hellebores continue to thrive.

This cream verbascum stands on the Back Drive bed,

Clematis Montana

and this clematis Montana spills over the front garden wall,

behind which a yellow potentilla is flowering. Can you guess what, when I put the first of these pictures of it up on the screen, got me rushing out there?

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s gherkins. I drank Doom Bar beer.

The Birds And The Bees

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I spent some time in the garden today observing avian activity.

Although some wood pigeons waited hopefully in the beech and in the weeping birch,

where one pair thought about it,

a loving pair petted each other in the as yet naked beech.

Fly on hellebore

Flies were attracted to the hellebores;

Flies on pottery doves

two of them joined a dove threesome on the decking.

Bees plundered the pulmonaria,

and another insect I cannot name sunk its lengthy proboscis into a daffodil.

A cheerful robin trilled encouragement high up in the birch.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. Before the meal we made a brief list to the quayside where

Motorboat and dinghy

a young man manoeuvred a motor boat and dinghy around

Yachts

the moored yachts, avoiding disturbing

Reflections of boats

reflections on the water.

Mallard and black headed gulls

Mallards mingled with black headed gulls,

both of which engaged in preening activities.

My choice of meal was Goan lamb with special fried rice. Jackie chose chicken biriani, and we shared onion bahjis. We both drank Kingfisher.

Today’s title was inspired by a recent comment from Mary Tang.

A Little Bit O’ Bloomin’ Luck

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Today began dark, wet, and windy. Thinking we would be unable to do much more in the garden we transported the results of yesterday’s crab apple pruning to Efford Recycling Centre.

Plant pots

As is the Head Gardener’s wont, she bought two more fibreglass faux terra cotta plant pots from the sales area.

The sun did put in brief appearance this afternoon, so I was able to present a snapshot of the first official day of Spring.

Jackie has also started buying plants, like these violas,

Snakes head fritillaries

and these snake’s head fritillaries just plonked in an urn for the moment.

Kitchen bed 1

Both are visible in this shot of the kitchen bed.

Camellias 1

These camellias shed their confetti-like petals on the Dead End Path.

Garden view from Margery's Bed

Others are visible on either side of the decking in this view beyond Margery’s Bed;

Dragon Bed 1

more in the Palm Bed;

Head Gardener's Walk 1

and beside the Head Gardener’s walk which also displays cyclamens.

These two were buried in darkness when we arrived three years ago. Now they are able to flower,

Dragon Bed 1

being visible from across the Dragon Bed.

Head Gardener's Walk 2

Figures lining the walk include dragons and a cherub.

There are, of course, hellebores and daffodils everywhere;

Pulmonaria

and pulmonaria, such as these clambering over a brick boundary.

Mahonia

A small mahonia planted last year is thriving along the back drive,

Vinca and hellebores

where a periwinkle has been stencilled on our neighbours’ wall.

A little bit of luck is essential to a successful photoshoot. As I was focussing on the garden it was appropriate that mine today should be blooming.

Epimedium 1

I was unhappy with my first shot at the epimediums, so I went back out to make some more efforts.

Then came my first ‘little bit o’ bloomin’ luck’. A bee had decided it was now warm and dry enough to flit from bloom to bloom.

As I clicked away at this insect, I received a second stroke. More clicking above my head alerted me to the fact that a pair of long-tailed tits were using the weeping birch branches as trapezes.

This warranted a tribute to Stanley Holloway:

This evening we dined on our second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Callia magna Malbec 2014.

Giving It Some Welly

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Dawn

This morning’s dawn promised a better day than forecast.

And so it proved, at least for the first hour or so. I took an early ramble round the garden on which more light was cast than yesterday. This brought forth an open-mouthed gape from a bespectacled gentleman atop the skeletal honesty in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Camellias and hellebores were nicely backlit in some areas.

Garden view from Fiveways

Here is the view from Fiveways;

Daffodils, hellebores, allium, and bergenia

bergenia, daffodils, and hellebores in a corner of the Dead End Path;

and more hellebores, alliums, and vincas.

Daphne odora Aureomarginata

Jackie is particularly delighted with the daphne odora Aureomarginata that she put in last year. It is apparently quite a fussy plant.

When shopping at Lidl this morning, Jackie had spotted that the supermarket was selling very reasonably priced wheelbarrows. She drove me back there to buy one. After this we travelled on to Friars Cliff for me to post, into one of the beach huts, the prints I had made of photographs taken of two little girls on the beach on 24th February.

On one side of Christchurch Road stretches a number of extensive fields which, at this time of the year are occupied by hundreds of ewes and lambs. On the other, in front of a farmhouse, is a much smaller rectangular enclosure, not much more than a fold, really. We have always thought of that as the nursery for very newborn lambs before their decanting across the road. Today we saw confirmation of this.

The most recent arrivals and their mothers could be seen through the fencing bars. The rolled folds in the babies’ skin demonstrated their newness. Already, just like the grown sheep, they were stamped with identification numbers.

Even so young, some of the lambs were as inquisitive as the ewes,

whereas others and their mothers were not quite so sure.

As we arrived, a farmer drove a large tractor and long trailer from the farmyard, around a bend in the road, and through an open gate into the field opposite. He proceeded to unload his cargo of ewes and their lambs,

Ewes and lambs 1

which were very soon suckling fit to fill out those rolls of skin.

Unloading ewes and lambs 7

The farmer was very gentle with his charges, even when offering a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘giving it some welly’, as he encouraged a reluctant little one to join its patiently waiting mother.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s pasta arrabbiata, sugar snap peas, and rocket salad, followed by tiramisu. I drank more of the Fleurie and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Current State Of Play

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It is perhaps no bad thing that the sun went AWOL today. This is because we spent the morning on spring clearance, and in the afternoon there wasn’t much light shone on what still needs to be done. Nevertheless I wandered around to capture images of the current state of play.

Here we have the result of Aaron’s work on the back drive. In the second picture daffodils and vincas are thriving.

Garden view from Florence

Daffodils and camellias appear in most of the views, like this one that sculptured Florence looks upon,

and these from different sides of the Palm Bed.

Hellebores, such as these in the Kitchen Bed are also ubiquitous.

Head Gardener's Walk

The Head Gardener’s Walk adds cyclamens to the mix.

We’ll get around to the Cryptomeria

and Weeping Birch Beds soon.

Alongside Kitchen Bed

Jackie has spent some time clearing out the hanging baskets and pots

Alongside patio doors

and tidying the patio.

The previously scarcely-existent front garden has bedded in well, euphorbias standing sentinel,

and daffodils, primulas, and hellebores adding colour.

The Monday Pie of our childhoods followed the Sunday roast meal. This  was the left-over beef or lamb minced up in a Spong and turned into cottage or shepherd’s pie. Jackie has her own version. I know it isn’t Monday, but then her roast dinners are not confined to Sundays, and we enjoyed roast lamb yesterday. Her pie, on which we dined this evening, consists of the meat coated in gravy, wrapped in tin foil, and heated through very slowly in the oven. This renders it superbly succulent. The dish is topped with roast potatoes and mushrooms. Today it was served with sage and onion stuffing, carrots, cabbage, and green beans. With this, Jackie drank Hoegaarden. My choice was Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2014.

Ever-Changing Skies

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Fence and compost bins

Aaron of A.P. Maintenance has recently completed the last section of fencing, and reorganised the compost bins. Today, he and his nephew Rory took away some of the resultant rubbish. This photograph is one of the few that I was able to take today in sunshine and with a dry camera.

During the rest of the day I was in and out to the garden attempting a few photographs of plants enjoying the sunshine and the showers. Perhaps only the duck and the frog were really in their element. The rain bejewelled primulas, daffodils, camellias, clematis cirrhosa, hellebores, iris, pulmonaria, and faux poppy sat for me quite nicely.

By mid-afternoon I conceded victory to the wind which enforced such rapid changes in the skies that all this last batch of pictures were produced within minutes during which rain fell continuously. Clouds rolled rapidly across the Heavens, sometimes concealing, sometimes revealing the sun

Holly trunk

throwing its glowing light on this holly trunk against a sludgy bank of cloud.

This evening we dined on minced beef pie, creamy mashed potato and swede, red cabbage, crunchy carrots, leeks, and onions. I finished the merlot.

Island In The Sun

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This morning’s sunshine lasted long enough

to draw me into pruning the rose garden. By the time I had finished the skies had clouded over and rain begun.

Window boxes

Between showers Jackie was able to plant primulas into the large window boxes on the front wall.

Camellia 1

More camellias are in full bloom, and

Daffodils and ferns

all the beds are clamouring for our attention,

Mudflats

but we abandoned them in favour of a drive to Tanner’s Lane beach,

Boat on mudflats

where the usual boat was moored on the mudflats.

Yacht

A solitary yacht sailed alongside the Isle of Wight,

Ferry boat and The Needles

as a ferry boat threaded its way past The Needles.

At low tide seaweed clung to rocks and breakwaters.

Trees and breakwaters

Further along the coastline gnarled trees were coming into bud,

Cloudscape

as rain-laden skies loomed over the sunlit landscape.

Egrets were among the birds feeding on the shore.

Egret in flight

One rewarded my numerous efforts to catch it in flight.

Having left Tanner’s Lane and begun to drive along Sowley Lane it seemed as if we were on the floor of a school dance from my teens. In the undergrowth on one side of the lane were assembled a bouquet of hen pheasants.

Pheasants 1

The less fragrant cocks patrolled the opposite side.

Plucking up courage, they paraded a bit,

Pheasants 2

then slipped through the barrier to join the ladies.

Crane at sunset

Just before sunset at Milford on Sea a crane silhouetted against the skies was a reminder that the beach huts destroyed in gales a couple of years ago are being rebuilt.

We hastened to Barton on Sea and waited for a pair of figures to make their way along the clifftop so that I could include them in my shot. Following their progress I was to discover that the gentleman was pointing a camera away from the west, and photographing the Isle of Wight.

Truly an Island in the Sun.

Tree and holiday homes

The tree in the grounds of the holiday homes park has grown as directed by the sea breezes.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chilli con carne, savoury rice, and salad. She drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Carmenère.