Hide And Seek

Nugget was singing outside the stable door this morning at 6 a.m.

I stepped out early to take advantage of the bright morning light. Jackie tells me that our little robin was perched on top of this kniphofia yesterday evening for quite some time, chirping away. Other images are entitled in the gallery.

Here are more of the red hot pokers and heucheras.

Somewhere among these Weeping Birch branches Nugget began a tuneful game of hide and seek with me. Please don’t search for him in this picture. I couldn’t find him, and if you do I will be upset.

However, today’s “Where’s Nugget” (23a-e) offers five opportunities for his fans to find him – as many or as few times as you wish. You may notice he is singing in one of them.

He dropped down later when I began raking the paths. I fear I disappointed him on the insect front.

Heidi, our much loved former daughter-in-law visited today and stayed the night. We lunched on Jackie’s usual spread of cold meats, pies, salads, and cheeses with which we drank Prosecco.

We spent our time reminiscing and exchanging thoughts and feelings about Michael’s death. During one period I took Heidi on a tour of the garden.

Verbena bonarensis continues to attract bees and butterflies, mostly Small Whites.

Mama Mia looked quite splendid in the Rose Garden.

Japanese anemones are as prolific as ever.

Heidi was impressed with the quantity of seating. We enjoyed views across the lawn and down the Phantom Path while we spent some time on the Westbrook Arbour bench.

Elizabeth joined us for a while and we all four sat on patio chairs enjoying pleasant conversation.

Jackie, Heidi, and I dined on The Culinary Queen’s delicious cottage pie; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender runner beans from our garden. I finished the Shiraz and the ladies drank Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio 2018.

Silent Companions

Today the light was dull; the weather warm and dry.

This afternoon we visited Ferndene Farm shop to buy pork for tonight’s dinner.

I joined a young lady happily photographing chickens on her phone. We had noticed that she had chosen a good vantage point. It was a matter of seconds before I discovered that she had no speech and couldn’t understand me. Her carer approached and told me what I had already gathered and that she loved chickens. I said that perhaps she wouldn’t mind me continuing. That was the case and we became silent companions for a while.

I then sought out the resident pigs in order to reassure myself that we would not be eating them.

We continued on through the forest, taking an unnamed lane alongside which refuse had been dumped. At least it had been bagged up;

as had these drink cans on Braggers Lane.

If you are going to dump old fridges on the verges of Fish Street, I suppose you wouldn’t bother to wrap them.

Further along Fish Street we encountered a pair of inquisitive goats, the Billy of which sported a splendid beard.

This evening, when the sun emerged, Jackie went into the garden to plant some bulbs. Nugget kept getting under her feet, so she gave up and photographed a few garden scenes, including

this area she had planted yesterday;

honesty, rudbeckia, and Japanese anemones;

the lawn, eucalyptus, and hanging baskets;

the decking and its planting;

Florence sculpture, petunias, and nicotiana.

Oh, and “Where’s Nugget?” (13).

Later this evening we dined on Jackie’s spicily piquant pork paprika and toothsome mushroom rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Hardy’s Chapter and Verse Shiraz 2018.

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.

Pruning

Aaron’s main task this morning was taking shrubs in hand.

He began with the camellia beside the Dead End Path. He pruned lower branches to lift the plant which has continued to bloom for at least two months.

The prolific Compassion rose has persistently refused to drape the arch spanning this path. Our friend from A.P. Maintenance therefore staked it up enabling it to continue in the direction in which it is determined to lurch. Here he discusses the finished project with the Head Gardener.

Finally he tidied the viburnum Plicata.

Last autumn Aaron had heavily pruned the roses in the Rose Garden, except for Rosarie de la Haie which is the only one currently fully in bloom. The host of heucheras brighten the borders and buds adorn the other specimens.

Elsewhere rhododendrons, phlox, honesty and aquilegias thrive; white clematis Marie Boisselot is opening out and diurnal yellow poppies demanded dead-heading.

This evening we dined on tempura prawns followed by Jackie’s spicy pork paprika and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda.

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.

Number 32

One of Aaron’s tasks today was to reinforce the

wobbly posts on the entrance to the Rose Garden,

cerinthes have proliferated by self-seeding.

The Oval Path curves round the bed beyond that entrance.

Shadows fall across the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

The yellow and orange diurnal poppies are preparing for my daily dead-heading routine.

The rejuvenated red Japanese maple rescued first by me and then by Aaron a couple of years ago blends well with honesty and the background camellia.

The eucalyptus enhances a number of views.

A spreading white spirea graces the Palm Bed.

Honesty, bluebells, daffodils, and a variety of daffodils add their points of colour.

Bees busy themselves gathering pollen from the crab apple blossom.

This afternoon we all drove to The Beachcomber at Barton on Sea. This had clearly been a most popular idea. The café itself was virtually empty, but the garden was packed out. We managed to find a table and wait for our drinks. A rather wearied staff member would come out with a tray and call the relevant number of the order.

I watched one young gull preening on a rooftop, while

a black headed gull seemed taken aback by the sight of

a most glamorous dog-walker.

Smaller birds, such as sparrows, hoped to find crumbs on the tables.

Bolder starlings emptied the plates of left-overs. When they carried off their prey they were lucky if it was not snatched by the marauding gulls. This group was feasting on the scraps of number 32.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; multicoloured carrots; green beans; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; piquant cauliflower cheese; mint sauce; redcurrant jelly; and flavoursome gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Western Cape Chenin Blanc 2018, Ian drank Kronenbourg, Louis drank water, and I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Dressing Chef

I wandered around the garden in today’s early morning light.

Alongside the magnolia Vulcan stand the first of our rhododendrons in full bloom.

The small diurnal yellow and orange poppies that crop up everywhere have woken up;

forget-me-nots also thrust through soil and gravel at will;

even more ubiquitous are honesty,

and bluebells.

Iberis, aubretia, dicentra, hellebores, daffodils, and primulas are thriving, although perhaps the ant has nibbled the last of these.

Rusty Duck keeps an eye on some of the primulas and the lamiums.

Hairy pulmonaria breathes in the sunshine.

Florence sculpture has a good view of the yellow Japanese maple.

The Shady Path catches the sun.

Camellia petals carpet the soil.

Greenhouse geranium cuttings will soon be planted out.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline came for coffee and stayed for lunch for which

Jackie mixed the coleslaw, after which, she regretted that she hadn’t left it for the superbly competent Louis who

mixed the salad and its dressing. It was only after he had crushed peppers using a couple of dishes that he realised we had a pepper mill. Each ingredient to the dressing was carefully added with a little tasting.

Seven of us sat down to the meal. I am not in my place because I was behind the camera.

My two sisters left to visit our mother this afternoon. The rest of us dined this evening on roast duck; roast potatoes; yellow and orange carrots; cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli; sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, and tasty gravy. Louis drank Corona, I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017, and the others drank Portuguese Rosé.