An Increase In Numbers

For much of the day, apart from when Margery and Paul visited this afternoon, I listened to the men’s Cricket World Cup semi-final between England and Australia.

We enjoyed our usual stimulating conversation with this mother and son. Margery’s Bed is named after our friend who, a year or two ago, gave us some red hollyhock seeds which Jackie planted there. We were happy to tell her that they were blooming again at this time.

After the cricket finished I performed a dead heading session before our drinks in the Rose Garden where

Lanarth White lace cap hydrangea contrasts with Mrs Popple fuchsia;

and various lilies are keeping company with the roses,

one of which, Twice in a Blue Moon was a present from Becky and Ian for our second wedding.

We really don’t know how many wood pigeons inhabit our garden, but we can be sure that, because of their constant amorous activity, there will be an increase in numbers next year as usual. They resemble lumbering barrage balloons in the air, whoosh past my head as I sit in their flight path, thump on the fence or arbour supports on landing, and clatter among the branches overhead to announce their return home.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; creamy mashed potato; savoury rice; crisp cauliflower; and tender green beans and sweetcorn, with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank Oyster Bay Merlot 2016 given to me by Mat and Tess for my birthday.

Samuel Beckett Defaced

Knowing we were in for heavy rain this afternoon, Jackie ventured out on this drizzly morning to tackle the storm damage. The idea was that she would free what she could from the entanglements of the fallen tree, then call me to lift it. She seemed to be taking quite a long time, so I wandered out to join her.

She had freed the baskets from beneath the tree which she had hoisted out of the West Bed, and unravelled the still rooted solanum from the trunk

which she had dragged onto the back drive path.

The wicker owl, sans nose, perched on a low stump,

and the hanging baskets found a temporary home on a brick pillar in the recently thinned out Weeping Birch Bed.

The fallen hydrangea terra cotta pot had been righted.

While I surveyed the Head Gardener’s efforts, she furnished the owl with a new beak.

Elizabeth soon came out to lend a hand, which was used to retie the rose Summer Wine.

Jackie had gathered up many fallen branches to add to the few I plucked yesterday. My sister continued until lunchtime when she dripped indoors having cleared the rest.

As the rain hammered down this afternoon, I took a virtual reality tour of the Streets of London, scanning a baker’s dozen of images from colour slides of May 2008.

St Mary’s Hospital in Praed Street, W2 is where, a little over a year later, I would be given a replacement left hip.

Was this a group of student medics? If so, were any of them in attendance at my surgery?

Architectural reflections may be viewed in Bayswater’s Cleveland Terrace W2

The hollyhocks in this garden on the corner of Scarsdale Villas and Earls Court Road W8 suggest that this slide is an interloper and must have been taken a month or two later. I wasn’t cataloguing quite so carefully during this period of one of life’s hiccups. The road mending sign blends nicely with the vibrant blooms.

Nahals Newsagent stands near Westbourne Park Tube Station at 114 Talbot Road on the corner of Powis Mews W11;

Powis Square is not far away;

nor is Westbourne Park Road W11. I wonder whether this fascinating kneeler still stands on the first floor ledge we see.

Nu-Line Builders’ Merchants have produced very professional tromp l’oeil users of their products to mask their windows on the corner of Kensington Park Road W11.

Elgin Mews W11, in a right angled bend, links this road with Ladbroke Grove,

off which we find Bassett Road W10, where there seems to be pruning of plane trees under way;

Faraday Road W10 with its very modern Fire Station;

and St Charles Square W10, on the corner of which someone appears to be in trouble.

Sadly, Samuel Becket had recently been defaced in Blenheim Crescent W11 at its junction with Portobello Road. This 2006 work by Alex Martinez was based on a photograph produced by Jane Bown in 1976. It has now been painted over.

Jackie normally labels pre-cooked meals that she stores in the freezer. When she produced tonight’s protein item she had been distracted from doing so. The crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender spring greens; rich red cabbage were served with fish, not cottage pie. The meal was, nevertheless, most enjoyable. The Culinary Queen had prepared her splendid beef gravy, but refused to give it to us. She drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva 2016.

 

 

Lurking In The Shade

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Today Aaron and Robin levelled out the soil flanking the new fence and cleared away our last items of debris in preparation for building a log store.

Bath and other debris

The rubbish included the buried bath, now in its last resting place on the Back Drive, before removal to the dump.

Walking in The Sea Back 002

I finished reading Barrie Haynes novelette ‘Walking in the Sea’ this morning. The illustrator is Barrie’s young granddaughter whose cover appeared on https://derrickjknight.com/2016/08/05/deadheading/

The blurb accurately describes the essence of this scurrilous romp which would probably, perhaps slightly Bowdlerised, provide the basis of a good TV detective series plot. Written almost entirely in the present tense, with direct, uncomplicated, and amusing prose, the book carries the reader along, keeping its essential secrets to the end. It was certainly easier reading than Jane Austen, its humour requiring rather less work.

Brambles 1

I have occasionally mentioned our ongoing battle against invading brambles. This is what happens if we relax for  week.

Brambles 2

This time I reached over the fence with the long loppers in order to stem the flow at the lowest possible level.

Dragon's Bed 1Dragon's Bed 2

On my way back down the garden I spied The Head Gardener lurking in the shade beside the Dragon’s Bed.

Crocosmias

There are two types of crocosmia in this bed. The yellow one did not flower at all last year.

Cosmoses with bees

Drowsy bees clambered in and out of the cosmoses.

Florences's view

Here is Florence’s view past the hanging geraniums to Compassion rose climbing across the Dead End Path;

Hollyhocks

whilst beside the Phantom Path to the left, Margery’s hollyhocks soar aloft.

Rudbeckia

There are several clumps of Rudbeckia. This one is in the Palm Bed.

Ornamental grass, petunias, lobelias, nicotiana sylvestris

At the corner of the Cryptomeria Bed, ornamental grass; petunias, lobelia, and geraniums in hanging baskets; nicotiana; and buddleia stand in line.

Sprinkler

We enjoyed a drink in the Rose Garden where Jackie operated the sprinkler, and

Fuchsia and beyond

a fuchsia leads us past phlox and through the arch beside the hollyhocks featured above.

Jackie’s dinner this evening consisted of pork medallions baked in mustard and brown sugar topped with almond flakes; courgette, tomato and onion gratin; crisp carrots and green beans; boiled new potatoes; and tasty gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Becks and I drank sparkling water.

The Death Of The Heart

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Today, I have been mostly watering plants.

Nicotiana

Nicotiana now soars aloft.

Clematis Diversifolia Hendersonii

Several of our clematises, such as Diversifolia Hendersonii

Clematis Queen Mother

and Queen Mother in the front garden,

Clematis

and Duchess of Albany on the Rose Garden pergola bear hats of invisible pixies frolicking and turning somersaults in the sunshine.

Lily 1

This lily has taken two years to bloom.

Lily 2

Many, like this one, live just one day.

Bee on nasturtium

Bees are drawn to our nasturtiums.

Kniphofia

The kniphofias have poked their way up through the soil,

DDahlias

as have the red hot dahlias in the New Bed. The first is Bishop of Llandaff. I’m not sure about the others.

View from Shady Path

This view from the Shady Path encompasses

Hollyhocks

Margery’s hollyhocks.

While I was watering, Ronan was fixing our boiler, not that we will need heating any time soon.

The Death Of The Heart001

This is the blurb on the back cover of

The Death Of The Heart002

which I finished reading this evening.

When my blogging friend, Lisa learned that I was embarking on this novel she remembered that when she had read it, a long time ago, she had found it sad. I would trust Lisa’s judgement ahead of the book’s publicists.

If this is a story of adolescent love in the thirties, I am glad my teenage years were in the fifties. In my view it was more a tale of isolation and loneliness. I agree with the ‘Passion, misunderstanding…..’ paragraph above, but if this an example of ‘sublime sense of comedy’ it is so black as to be invisible to me. Remind me not to try The Orchid Trilogy.

Having said all this, I must concede that Bowen ‘is a major writer’. The book is well constructed; the prose is elegant; she has a keen eye for detail; and she develops character well. But does she like any of her creations?

Finally, Augustus John’s model has far more spirit about her than the unfortunate Portia.

This evening Jackie enjoyed a meal out with her friend, Pauline (not our NZ one); and I dined sumptuously on scrambled egg on toast and Doom Bar.

Tom Daley

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Jackie continued her creative miracles on the various beds. I rendered sporadic assistance in dead-heading, weeding, clearing up, and humping bags of compost.

Head Gardener's Walk

Here are current views of The Head Gardener’s Walk

Shady Path

and The Gazebo Path, looking across Margery’s bed in which her hollyhocks are now in bloom.

Petunias in hanging basket

Petunias in hanging baskets are ubiquitous,

Lilies 1Lilies 2New Bed

as are lilies of many different kinds in various beds. Currently they share The New Bed with dahlias and clematises.

Rose Garden

In the Rose Garden, before I’d finished dead-heading, the pink carpet rose was laid out before Love Knot, poppies, and petunias;

For Your Eyes Only

and For Your Eyes Only caught the sun.

Particularly in the morning, falling petals are suspended from spidery filaments. Spinning in the breeze some,

Fuchsia on web-string

like this fuchsia, have the appearance of Tom Daley taking off,

Honeysuckle (rocket)

or, such as this honeysuckle, shuttles aiming for space stations.

In case anyone needs to know this is what Wikipedia has to say about Tom Daley:

‘Thomas Robert “Tom” Daley (born 21 May 1994)[2] is a British diver and television personality. Daley specialises in the 10 metre platform event and was the 2009 FINA World Champion in the individual event at the age of 15. He started diving at the age of seven and is a member of Plymouth Diving Club. He has made an impact in national and international competitions from age 9. He represented Great Britain at the 2008 Summer Olympics where he was Britain’s youngest competitor, the youngest competitor of any nationality outside the sport of swimming, and the youngest to participate in a final.[5] In 2009, Daley reached a career best ranking of number one in the FINA World Diving Rankings for the ten-metre platform.[6]

He won two gold medals for England at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, in the 10 metre synchro diving (with Max Brick) and the 10 m Individual Platform competition,[7] and won the bronze medal for Great Britain in the individual competition at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.[8]

After his success at the 2012 Olympic Games and a summer of great sporting interest amongst the public in the UK, television network ITV approached Daley to have a role in their new celebrity diving reality TV show Splash!. Daley made his debut in the show’s premiere on 5 January 2013 as a mentor to the celebrity competitors taking part.[9]

With the increasing warmth, the butterflies are back.

Peacock butterfly on hebe

Here a Peacock performs its trapeze routine on a hebe.

Ronan, from Tom Sutton, came to fix our boiler which has stopped working. Unfortunately there were several issues, one being a faulty control box which he will have to obtain tomorrow. We won’t stink, because we have an immersion heater in the shower.

Tonight we dined on Jackie’s wholesome heart casserole, creamy mashed potato, and crunchy carrots. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and I made a start on the excellent Brancott Estate merlot/cabernet sauvignon 2014 given to me for my birthday by Shelly and Ron.

Bunting

This morning’s garden maintenance including more pruning, weeding, and digging up of brambles. Coma butterfly on verbena bonarensis

Comma butterflies are still transfixed by the verbena bonarensis.

Here are two views of the work in progress in the rose garden:

Rose garden work in progress 1Rose garden work in progress 2

  The reason for the hose is that each new plant requires four gallons of water daily, and we are not getting any rain. Jackie’s stepping stones can be seen; and also, in the second picture, the first of her brick pillars on which stands a pot including white cosmos under the apple tree.The two bricks in the foreground are the start of another. Four further views are from corners of the Phantom Path. Hollyhocks

The first, through Margery’s hollyhocks takes us across the grass patch to the Brick Path;

View from corner of Phantom Path 1

shifting slightly to the right at this western end gives a different perspective;

View from corner of Phantom Path 2

from the other end, we have two different views looking north, towards the house,

View from corner of Phantom Path 3

then the shed, over the door of which Jackie has hung cloth bunting.

As I set out for another session this afternoon, I was reprieved by a long and enjoyable phone call from Sam, who did his best to maintain a poker voice, as he was also watching the cricket in Perth, Australia, and knew I didn’t want to know what happened until I watched the highlights this evening. My second respite came when Shelly popped in for a visit. Early this evening I attempted an aerial photograph of the garden. We have Everest windows throughout the house. They are not meant to be fully opened, so it is impossible from upstairs to take in the whole picture. This is the best I could manage from our dressing room:Garden aerial view As always, clicking on this image, once, then a second time will enlarge the picture to reveal much more detail. For example the little chair in the rose garden will locate that feature. Stone edging

After this Jackie and I relaid stone edging in a small bed leading to the rose garden.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty cottage pie, carrots, peas, and cabbage. Dessert was apple pie and cream brought to us by Shelly. Jackie drank sparkling water whilst I finished the malbec.

The Great Diver

As is now customary, I began the day with a meander round the garden. Decking

This is how Jackie has refurbished the knackered decking;

Elizabeth's bed sign

and here is her sign for Elizabeth’s bed.

Phlox and stepping stones

She has positioned stepping stones between Aaron’s paving, and added phlox to the rose garden.

Dahlia Bishop of Llandaff, poppies, foxgloves, and hollyhockDahlia Bishop of Llandaff

In the former compost bed the dahlia Bishop of Llandaff and a yellow hollyhock now rise among foxgloves and poppies, now adopting their sculptural quality as they begin to seed.

Hollyhock

Red hollyhocks bloom elsewhere in the garden. The seeds of this one were a gift from Margery.

HebeBee on hebe

Bees were busy on the Phantom Path hebe. You may need to search for this one.

Since it was men’s semi-final day at Wimbledon, I spent the afternoon on the sofa watching tennis balls travel back and forth across the TV screen. Two splendid matches were in progress. In each, one player who performed extremely well was beaten in straight sets by another who played even better. Djokovic was probably expected to beat Gasquet, but the Frenchman put up a great fight, probably playing his best tennis.

Tension was the norm in the match between Murray and the phenomenal Federer. More or less from the start, Andy Murray had his work cut out, but fought back time and again to make us think that perhaps he had a chance. Roger Federer had other ideas.

We learned that Novak Djokovic, a great slider on the tennis court, has engaged Boris Becker as his coach. Between the two matches, we were treated to highlights of the seventeen year old Becker’s first Wimbledon competition, in which he dived and slid all over the place, to become the first unseeded winner of the tournament. I can believe it was thirty years ago I watched that amazing final.boris-becker-wimbledon

I am not sure who took this amazing photograph, but it appears on Turnstile and Fashion website, advertising the player’s shoes.

After the second match, I helped Jackie plant yesterday’s purchases. This morning she bought a white lace-cap hydrangea for the shady corner by the orange shed. When I hit more concrete and rubble whilst digging the whole, I put the job off for another day, and Jackie stood the plant in a bucket of water.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork with crisp crackling, boiled potatoes, and cabbage, carrots, and runner beans, followed by profiteroles. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I opened a bottle of Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014.