April In May

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Today our April showers began. This morning Jackie continued her planting, weeding, and tidying; while I dug out a bank of sycamore seedlings dropped onto the Back Drive borders by a tree in the garden of the vacant North Breeze next door, and a large bramble from the Rose Garden.

In the variable light numerous plants like

Raindrops on saxifrage

tiny saxifrages,

various tulips,

Raindrops on honesty

honesty petals and seed cases,

rhododendrons,

Lilies

lilies,

Raindrops on lamium

and little lamiums sparkled with raindrops.

Libertia

Others, including libertias,

Geranium Phaeum

geranium Phaeums,

Clematis Montana

clematis Montanas,

Rhododendron

another rhododendron,

and the wisteria, were too sheltered to catch the rain.

Jackie with wisteria through kitchen window

The wisteria brightens Jackie’s view from the kitchen window,

in front of which hangs Pauline’s beautifully faceted light catcher.

The sun came and went above the garden paths, three views of which include the Florence sculpture;

Brick Path

and a fourth, the Brick Path.

This afternoon we drove around the forest.

Up on the moors we could watch the rainclouds sending down shafts of their precipitation, in darker indigo slashes, whilst the sun picked out the glowing gorse.

Tree on hill 1

I waited a while for the sun to pierce the cloud cover and play with this scene of stepped tree roots ascending a gravelly slope.

Brooding clouds, sunlight, gorse, and thatched roofs provided a dramatic entrance to Frogham,

beyond which we spotted our first pony foal of the season, its mother providing instruction in planting yourself firmly on the road. Notice its nice new shoes.

Between Godshill and Cadnam, alongside Roger Penny Way, another, adventurous, new baby kicked up its heels and rushed back to its mother on my approach, then continued to explore the terrain at a safe distance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver, bacon, and sausage casserole, new potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, followed by custard tart. She drank Peroni and I drank more of the Madiran.

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 Big Beast Barrier

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Today, Jackie did a massive shop and I shifted a little more compost.

Orange streak on Honesty

Fluttering about the garden is what I think is, despite its yellow colouring, an Orange tip butterfly which stubbornly refuses to stop and pose. Instead this one held a mask of Honesty.

Azalea

This dwarf azalea is one that I brought from Sutherland Place when I left there in 2009. It had been part of the contents of a filled pot given to me when I stopped working with Parents for Children a couple of years earlier.

Bluebells (Spanish) and heucheras

Most of our bluebells ring Spanish tunes. Here a clump separates a pair of heucheras.

Forget-me-nots

These forget-me-nots have taken over one of the paths leading from the Rose Garden. We cannot bear to pull them up until they have flowered, so I guess we will continue to go the long way round to the orange shed.

Big Beast Barrier

Jackie’s new Big Beast Barrier has withstood the nocturnal marauder for at least one night. My original round peg has been staked in position and placed alongside one of the concrete blocks I dug out of this plot three years ago. The poles in the foreground are part of an obelisk which held up a clematis that appears to have died, having, according to Jackie, been subjected to the intruder’s urine. She is hoping to preserve the cyclamen from a similar fate.

Father Christmas left a bottle of Spice ‘n’ Easy fresh red chilli sauce in Jackie’s stocking. She found it a little too hot. She thought that sloshing a fair amount of it into tonight’s chilli con carne with savoury rice, might be a good way of eventually dispensing with it. I loved it. The Culinary Queen managed it. I drank Trivento Malbec reserva 2016. This could possibly have helped Jackie cool her meal, but she didn’t fancy it.

 

Far Too Busy To Chat

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Aaron, Jackie, and I continued tidying up the garden this morning.

Daffodils still glow all over;

Honesty

the new generation of honesty crops up everywhere;

Anemone albas

and the Anemone albas are spreading nicely in the Weeping Birch Bed.

Frogs and Jattie's sculpture

Jackie has weeded around and cleaned the little cistern pond, thus revealing the frogs and Jattie’s sculpture.

Snake's head fritillary

The lamp glowing in the sunlight is one of the snake’s head fritillaries Jackie has added to those already shining in the Cryptomeria Bed.

Peacock butterfly on gravel

A peacock butterfly tried in vain to look invisible on the gravel of the Heligan Path which joins

Brick Path

the south end of the Brick Path.

Bee on pulmonaria 1

Bees continue to plunder the pulmonaria.

Collared dove

I had a fairly lengthy conversation with a young collared dove taking advantage of Aaron’s fencing.

Wood pigeon with nesting material

Wood pigeons

Sparrow with nesting material

and sparrows were far too busy gathering nesting material to chat.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and special fried rice; followed by apple pie and custard.. She drank sparkling water and I drank Cimarosa limited edition Shiraz 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.

A Conundrum 2

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We took it easy today. Prompted by today’s post from thebikinggardener I wandered around the garden to see how our Hellebores are doing.

Some way behind Geoff’s, ours are coming through.

Many primulas have so far survived the winter.

Mist on cherub

The shattered bits of cherub Jackie found in the undergrowth a couple of years ago have gained a fine coating of moss.

Honesty and weeping birch

The remnants of honesty, hollowing ovals on stems, blends well with the weeping birch bark.

The parent viburnum Bontantense and its two children are blooming well. One joins with a leycesteria in beginning to mask Aaron’s new fencing.

Winter flowering cherry

Alongside the winter flowering cherry

Blackbird

and beneath the crab apples, a blackbird dropped down for a change of diet.

Pieris

This pieris takes my mind off the fact that the grass needs cutting.

Hydrangea

A few youthful pink cheeks survive amid those ageing, wrinkly, and skeletal ones of this hydrangea.

Eggshells on new bed

Finally, the conundrum. Who has dragged a clutch of eggshells from the compost heap across the New Bed? Well, we did spot a rat, hands and nose pressed to the pane, peering, like Tiny Tim, through our window when we ate our Christmas dinner.

Just before 4.30 p.m., we dashed out to Barton on Sea to watch the sun sink into Christchurch Bay. I did not stage the photograph of the woman kicking it back up into the sky.

A while later we dined at Lal Quilla. My choice was lamb shatkora massala; Jackie’s prawn sallee. We shared an egg paratha, mushroom rice, and sag bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

The Dymo Marker

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Well, I did cut the grass, and wander round the garden, but that was along time ago. The rest of the day was spent preparing my finances for my very efficient accountant. Had I done even a modicum of filing any time during the last seven months, the task may have been a little more exciting. But I didn’t. So it wasn’t.

Jackie, however, may have found her own awesome effort, rather more satisfying.

Jackie working on Dragon BedDragon Bed

She spent the whole day resuscitating a small section of the Dragon Bed. This involved the usual method of improving the soil with compost; finger-fishing for thousands of tiny allium bulbs; prising out buried lumps of stone which now form the access path you see here; and planting new residents.

Tree peony

We have also been clearing the Palm Bed; enough to allow a glimpse of a hidden peony.

Clematis

The inherited clematis on the Shady Path is doing well,

rose Special Anniversary

as is the rose Special Anniversary, in the Rose Garden where

Rose garden

Festive Jewel begins a bid to compete with the fluorescent heucheras.

Honesty

I swear that wherever there is a breeze we can hear the jingling of Spanish doubloons.

Mimuluses self-seeded

The red mimuluses in the hanging basket slung here, not only survived the mild winter, but also self-seeded in the camouflaged blue painted Butler sink below.

Viburnum plicatum

The viburnum plicatum becomes daily more glorious.

View from Waterboy

This is a view from the Shady Bed towards the Waterboy;

Revived tree

and another across the Phantom Path, leading to the revived yellow-leaved tree, on which, when we arrived, only the bottom right hand branch bore foliage.

Rose garden evening

Winchester Cathedral As we sat in the Rose Garden with our pre-dinner drinks I reflected from my chair on what it would look like when all these plants were in full bloom.

Now, boring as my day mostly was, it did have one major benefit. Jackie has painstakingly written her plant labels in black permanent marker. Unfortunately this is not proof against the wind and the rain. My files are all labelled with a Dymo Marker, which I thought would be longer lasting. So I showed her how to work it, and she was away.

Mister Chatty Man, proprietor of Hordle Chinese Take Away, provided our dinner this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012.