A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,

campanula,

heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.

 

Thelwell Ponies

On another gloomy morning I photographed the front garden trellis from our bedroom window, showing the pink climbing rose and touches of white solanum against a backcloth of red crab apples.

I had imagined this would be today’s post’s only illustration. Jackie, however, had other ideas. She developed the cold a day before I did and therefore had had one more day on which to become stir crazy and recover a little. She decided to take herself off to Otter Nurseries to replenish the birds’ fat balls, and it seemed churlish of me not to offer to accompany her. I kept my slippers on and did not leave the car.

On the way to the car I photographed this rather early iris.

Rainwater had settled across the lane at Flexford. As we rounded the bend we met a red car reflecting on whether or not to proceed.

 

The Thelwell ponies 

grazed at the corner of Bull Hill while,

carefully avoiding the waterlogged section,

cattle nested in the woodland at Norleywood.

Ian returned from Emsworth this afternoon and later we all dined on Jackie’s wholesome vegetable soup and bread, on trays, while watching the excellent Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. This is the true story of a black classical musician being driven around America in the 1960s by a white Italian from the Bronx. The men became life-long friends.

P.S. Our friend John Jones included this in a recent e-mail:

“Anyone who can draw well and be humorous at the same time is exceptionally talented. By chance the Friends of Southampton’s Museums, Archives and Galleries (which Margery helped to set up in 1976) will be having a talk on Norman Thelwell later this month. The speaker is Tim Craven, a former Curator of Southampton Art Gallery. No doubt we will hear a great deal about “small, fat, hairy ponies ridden at full-tilt by alarming young ladies”.”

 

 

 

 

Watering And Planting

Yesterday evening we met Becky and Ian at the Darbar restaurant in Emsworth. This was an excellent venue for our dinner. Inspired by the food of the Moguls the meals were quite unusual with aromatic spice blends; the service was friendly, tactful, and efficient. Jackie’s choice of main course was paneer shashlik; mine was goat and potato curry. We both enjoyed them very much. I also tried some of Ian’s creamy mild chicken curry. I’m not sure what Becky chose. We shared onion bahjis, plain parathas, and spinach and pilau rices. Becky drank Diet Coke, Jackie Kingfisher, and Ian and I Cobra. The enjoyable visit was completed when we drove on to our daughter and son-in-law’s flat in Southbourne to admire Becky’s artistic arrangements and refurbishments.

It is amazing that, in mid-May, we need to water the garden. The skies remained overcast but we received no rain.

My task today was to run the hose down the Back Drive and spray Aaron’s planting of yesterday. Allowing the hose to carry out its work in stages gave me the opportunity to wander round with the camera.

This foxglove is visible in the first of the drive pictures.

Clematises that have not featured before include the one on an obelisk just outside the Rose Garden; another Doctor Ruppel beside the Weeping Birch; and one sharing the Ace Reclaim arch in the Rose Garden with Zéphirini Drouin and

Crown Princess Margareta, beneath whom

sits Jacqueline du Pré.

Madame Alfred Carriere welcomes visitors to her domain.

The peach rose in the Oval Bed has really taken off this year.

It romps to the right of this view from the concrete patio; with Its partner to the left it came came with the house. The oriental poppies in the foreground are situated in the Weeping Birch Bed

which also houses this Sweet William.

The New Bed lies on the corner of the Back Drive; at the other end of the garden the bed before the wisteria arbour has filled out nicely.

This powder blue iris stands fronting the grass patch;

our white flowers also include antirrhinums

and Hawkshead fuchsias.

Bees, like this one diving into a geranium, continue to plunder pollen.

Hot lips now splash lipstick impressions over the Cryptomeria Bed.

The bench at the far end of the Dead End Path is never sat on. This is because it is generally covered in pigeon poop. Jackie has therefore filled it with decorative container planting which should mature nicely in the coming weeks.

This afternoon Elizabeth visited with her friend Franz for beverages and convivial conversation.

This evening we dined on moist chicken Kiev; tasty ratatouille including butternut squash; crisp cauliflower; and creamy mashed potatoes with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

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.

The Garden Stirs

Did you know that when someone else washes your feet they tickle mercilessly? Well, they do, and this is not funny when you are trying not to jerk your knees.

This afternoon whilst I watched the recorded highlights of the spellbinding Women’s Australian Open Final between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, Jackie toured the garden with her camera.

She brought me back a pictorial record of the garden stirring. As usual, titles of the pictures are given in the gallery.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs; plentiful, well dressed, salad; and tasty new potatoes.

From Eleven To Twenty One

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A CLUSTER TO ACCESS ITS ENLARGED GALLERY. EACH OF THESE PICTURES MAY BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY CHECKING THE BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT OF ITS PAGE.

My beautiful granddaughter enjoyed her eleventh birthday party yesterday. The lovely Louisa posted a set of photographs on Facebook. Here is one.

I spent much of the day scanning my negatives from Louisa’s 21st birthday party in May 2003, which traditionally took place on the lawn at Lindum House. With a few additions, the guests were those who had enjoyed such events for a number of years.

Of course, a Bouncy Castle was an essential requirement.

That year there was the addition of sumo suits, wrestling in which was continued in the castle. Louisa’s first opponent was Layla.

Later, she took on Sam, and a number of others joined in when battle continued inside.

I took a breather in order to enjoy the flowers.

Louisa produced my album from her 11th birthday party and all these young adults enjoyed reminiscing as the book was passed around.

Derrick and Louisa

Someone else took this photograph, so I scanned the print.

Tesco chicken jalfrezi and rice is not bad, but not as good, and nowhere near as plentiful, as Jackie’s. I know, because that is what we dined on this evening, followed by donuts and Wagon Wheels. I drank Concha y Toro reserva Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.

 

The Kitchen Garden

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Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.