In The Soup

It is not unusual for us to be held up at Brockenhurst’s railway level crossing. This morning, on the way to visit Mum, was no exception. I had ample opportunity to photograph some roadside dandelions.

As we approached Woodpeckers Care Home we noticed a crocodile of preschool children with a number of adult attendants walking purposefully along Sway Road. When they stopped and were escorted across the road we realised that their destination was the same as ours. Here was another example of the thoughtful care that has gone into this provider. These little ones were to be joined by a number of junior schoolchildren who spent their time dashing round the path encircling a small lawn. We, and any resident able and interested to watch from their window, were able to watch this exuberant activity. The staff members told me that, every Friday, the children visit the home for community activities, sometimes engaging directly with the residents. This would be admirable reminiscence therapy.

I then related a similar activity I initiated in my Southwark Social Services office in about 1973. Our building was an old Town Hall used for several different purposes. One was an elderly persons’ lunch club. On one particular day a distressed mother had abandoned three children in our waiting room. How were we to look after them while we traced their mother? An idea came to me. I suggested the lunch club members were asked for volunteers to child sit. There was much competition for the honour. Three able women took care of the children until they were eventually returned to their mother.

The next day our helpers came knocking to ask if we had any more youngsters needing care.

Mum was looking well and settled today. She was pleased to say that the papers had all been signed to confirm her permanent stay.

Honeysuckle climbs a trellis opposite the front door;

despite their similarity to forget-me-nots, these little blue flowers beside a later flowering tulip, are brunnera; daisies speckle the sward beside the ditch just outside the entrance gate.

Grazing ponies graced the moorland on the approach to Hatchet Pond, where

little white flowers crept over the water and a woman wandered with a mobile phone.

At East Boldre I photographed ponies and gorse on the moor, where the trees are all now in leaf.

I crossed the road to take the close-up of the gorse. Note that I have mounted the slight slope leading with the right, recently operated, leg. This is not yet a good idea, as the knee was quick to point out.

The Assistant Photographer was on hand to catch me in the act.

On the waterlogged corner with St Leonards Road we spotted a bay pony with its nose in the soup.

This evening we dined on lemon chicken; potatoes roasted with leaks; remarkably tasty carrots; and firm cauliflower and broccoli with which I finished the Merlot Syrah and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Our Joint One Good Knee

Last night I watched a recording of Saturday’s breathtaking rugby match between Wales and South Africa; after lunch today the soporific contest between Scotland and Argentina.

Bright sunshine had taken me into the rather cold garden this morning.

Winter pansies and trailing ivy adorn hanging baskets on the sitting room walls.

Geraniums

and Japanese maples brighten several vistas.

Surprises include lingering snapdragons

and nascent honeysuckle.

Ubiquitous flamboyant fuchsias continue to flounce among the beds.

Clematises needing warmer weather have died back from the gazebo, but the Cirrhosa Freckles will enliven their support right through until spring.

Carpet roses, like this one in the Weeping Birch Bed, pile on the blooms.

Serpentine stemmed bobbles of Japanese anemones cavort before a spider web in the Rose Garden.

A few crinkly leaves are still to fall from the copper beach;

the Weeping Birch has shed all hers.

Being possessed of our one joint good knee, it fell upon Jackie to fit a new toilet seat in the print room.

This evening we dined on Jackies’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice followed by profiteroles. My wife drank Hoegaarden; sister Elizabeth drank Hop House lager; and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.

Up And Down The Garden Path

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Between phone calls wrestling with internet connection problems, while Jackie began the process of moving the less hardy plants to their winter quarters in the greenhouse, I wandered around the garden inspecting the surprises it still holds for us. Being a natural optimist I hoped I would be able to post my findings later.

We have a profusion of prolific fuchsias, not all of which I can name. A bee clambered dozily into one of the Delta’s Sarahs.

Cyclamens grace the stone tubs on the front wall, and various beds, such as that of the Weeping Birch, also home to asters, begonias, geraniums, petunias, bidens, and a red carpet rose.

Begonias

 geraniums and petunias also bloom in other beds and containers.

 

The primula survives in the West Bed; a little blue iris reticulata in the raised bed; a clematis once again scales the potting shed trellis;

the ubiquitous verbena bonariensis, such as that in a container in front of the garage, stands proud beside its neighbouring nasturtiums, and the honeysuckle and solanum ascending the right hand trellis.

This morning glory may have been a late developer, but it is making up for lost time; hot lips are persistently, provocatively, pursed.

My wanderings involved a few trips up and down the Brick Path.

It must be more than thirty years since I bought our now threadbare but structurally sound Chesterfield sofa from Heal’s. This afternoon it was removed for reupholstering.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent pork chops with mustard and almonds; new potatoes; crisp carrots; tender cabbage and sautéed peppers and onions. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth drank Hop House lager and I drank Réserve de Bonpas 2016. This meal prompted me tell the relevant story that was told in ‘Chamberlayne Road’.

 

Late Summer Flowering

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I began the day with a walk round the garden with the camera. Jackie joined me to ensure that I did not miss any of her special successes.

First was the front of the house, with clematis, nasturtiums, solanum and verbena bonariensis festooning the trellis in front of the garage door; honeysuckle old and new, and pink roses having another flush; and planters of geraniums, lobelia, and petunias.

Constantly watered geraniums and other goodies thrive along the kitchen wall, opposite Jackie’s precious pineapple plants (eucomis, but I can’t get the alliteration with that) in the bed.

Begonias beside the Head Gardener’s Walk spill out of their pot. The ferns in front of them were plucked from less hospitable positions and replanted by She Who Walks The Path.

Jackie paid particular attention to hydrangeas during the long hot spell. Some, like one in the Dragon Bed, and other low-lying specimens, were little more than dried up sticks. The Phantom version, after which its path has been named, has not flowered for three years. The blooms are much smaller than they should be, but at least they are there.

Rudbeckia, Japanese anemones and a late blooming, self-seeded day lily brighten the palm bed. The pink Japanese anemones occupy the Kitchen Bed.

More rudbeckia grace the grass patch border, as do lobelias Cardinalis.

We have crinum Powelliae in the Cryptomeria Bed; ginger lilies, and white gladioli in the Weeping Birch Bed.

The Westbrook Arbour planting, including that seated in the cane chair, has matured well, as have the solanum and clematis soaring above the dead tree at the far end of the Brick Path. Penny Lane has claimed the Gothic Arch.

Roses Lady Emma Hamilton, Absolutely Fabulous, Winchester Cathedral, Gaujard, and Hot Chocolate thrive in the revived Rose Garden;

the unknown peach rose and climbing Compassion overlook the patio.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Lymington Hospital where a little of my blood was extracted for a PSA test, essentially to rule out prostate cancer.

This evening the three of us dined at the Wallhampton Arms. Jackie enjoyed a smoked haddock fishcake starter; Elizabeth, potted shrimps; and whitebait for me. The ladies each chose spatchcock chicken as a main course, whereas I Chose ribeye steak. Jackie drank Moretti while Elizabeth and I shared a bottle of Nine Lives merlot 2016. Back at home, our dessert consisted of Jackie’s splendid apple and apricot crumble and custard.

A Harsh Day’s Light

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One consequence of the long, hot, cloudless, days we are currently enduring is the difficulty of photographing flowers. Today, I tracked the skies in order to avoid the burning rays, and focus on the more shaded sections of the garden.

It is the very early morning light that reaches and is gentlest on the front garden, keeping such as the trellis in front of the garage in the shade;

while the Starry Night petunias suspended over the porch; the orange day lilies; the lace cap hydrangea and the white marguerites; and the honeysuckle on the main trellis all benefit from a degree of filtering.

By mid morning in the main garden, strong contrasts featured in scenes such as the view from the Kitchen Bed across to the patio; and the Brick Path running from dark to light in either direction. The dead snake bark maple is becoming rather wobbly, so the days of hanging baskets enlivening it may be rather numbered.

Little orange poppy blooms are replacing the dead heads I removed a couple of days ago; fuchsia Delta’s Sarah; the red hydrangea beside the patio; the little pink patio rose on the edge of the Kitchen Bed; and the petunias in the cane chair blending with the phlox alongside; all retained sufficient shade.

Lilies, including those in urns in the Rose Garden; in the Cryptomeria Bed; and in the patio border embraced a dramatic mix of light and shade.

Yellow flowers of lysimachia ciliata Firecracker against red campion; various clematises, including one sporting a Small White butterfly, beside dahlias in the New Bed; day lilies and heucheras picked up the sun’s rays gratefully. The golden marigolds and yellow bidens in this chimney pot tolerated it.

The camera avoided the overhead rays of the early afternoon, so I watched the Wimbledon tennis match between Serena Williams and Kristina Mladenovic. Later, the sun was somewhat lower in the sky,

brightening the Shady Path with its hanging baskets and knifophias;

and the Palm Bed where alliums were being sprayed, and from a corner of which our eye was led to the geraniums in the chimney pot on the grass patch.

The light on the Rose Garden was now a little filtered on roses Special Anniversary and Creme de la Creme; sweet peas; and potted begonias and petunias.

This evening we watched the World Cup football match between Brazil and Belgium.

For dinner, Jackie produced excellent roast chicken, sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, tasty gravy, mashed potato, flavoursome carrots, and runner beans.

 

 

Seeking Solutions

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This afternoon I kept my eyes open for most of the football World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico. In order to wake me up at half time I wandered around the garden,

Spraying penstemon and salvias beneath petunias and geraniums in hanging basket

where Jackie was spraying the flower beds by hose.

Petunias, begonias etc in cane chair

The cane chair planting

and other containers were still benefitting from recent irrigation.

A variety of nasturtiums are in pots in the front of the garage door,

and solanum and honeysuckle have joined clematis Mrs N. Thompson on the trellis.

We have many other clematises.

Several different day lilies occupy the Dragon Bed, which leads towards petunias in a hanging basket over the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Rose Mamma Mia  blends well with some of the lilies.

Before they returned home Becky and Ian sat in the garden seeking solutions to a crossword.

Later, Jackie and I dined on a little of Becky’s chicken curry and rice; rack of pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce; and fresh salad.

 

 

I Really Must Get Dead-Heading

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On a warm and sunny afternoon, whilst Jackie planted in the shade, with a pit stop at Five Ways, I made my way to the Rose Garden. The Head Gardener followed me with Mum’s perching stool, placed it beside the Florence sculpture, propped up the single crutch I am now using, and left me for a while. After two further shifts of the stool I was among the roses.

From Five Ways I could look down the Phantom Path between the Cryptomeria and Margery’s Beds;

I could see more poppies on the Weeping Birch Bed; geranium palmatums attracting small white butterflies flitting to and fro; a tall red climbing rose; the Cordyline Australis preparing to pervade its bed with its powerfully sweet scent; and a laurel leaf that doesn’t look too well.

Honeysuckle cavorts with Madame Alfred Carriere atop the entrance arch to the Rose Garden,

where there are so many roses in all stages of development that I could see that I really must get dead-heading as soon as I can.

In particular the peach Crown Princess Margareta and the red Zephirini Druin now flank the Ace Reclaim Arch in the far corner.

Later this afternoon I walked from my desk in the hall through the kitchen to the sink. Not really a big deal. Until I realised I had forgotten my crutch.

Tesco ready prepared meals for dinner this evening consisted of fish pie for me and pasta carbonara for Jackie, who added runner beans to each.