Reflective Mood

It wasn’t until about 4 p.m. the afternoon that I realised on glancing through the window beside my desk that the sun had made a fleeting appearance as,

against the still indigo skies, it lit the pink rambling rose rising from the front trellis.

Its deeper pink companion soared above the porch, and the first of the Félicité Perpétue blooms which will drape themselves over the opposite fence has opened out.

I had spent the morning reading and responding to the letters of condolences it has taken me three months to complete. We posted these from Everton Post Office and drove on further into the forest.

Royden Lane took us to

Lower Sandy Down. On the left hand side of this shot stands

a large oak tree the bole of which is home to ferns, ivy, and mosses.

An unusual number of ponies grazed around Hatchet Pond, normally the realm of donkeys.

Stately swans disturbed the surface of the lake which mirrored their images.

A black headed gull was in an equally reflective mood.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; boiled new potatoes; breaded mushrooms; and green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

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.

Ponies At The Door

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT. THIS MAY BE REPEATED FOR MORE DETAIL

After an exchange of e-mails this morning, I had sufficient information to make the bank transfer of payment for the unexpected French land tax demand. Jackie drove me to the bank at Lymington where I completed the process.

We then took a brief drive into the forest. Seeking colour under a sunless granite sky was a little optimistic, but the unusually warm temperature was pleasant enough.

Undershore, popular with intrepid pedestrians

links land alongside Lymington Reed Beds with Pilley Hill. A footpath signed before a picket fence follows the side of Lymington River. Road closures in Pilley, where we wanted to book a table at the Fleur de Lys for tomorrow night, meant we retraced our wheels to take this route.

Two of the usual hopefuls waited at the door of Greatham House at Brockenhurst for pony treats.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Lal Quilla. Jackie chose chicken sag as her main course; mine was chicken jaljala; we shared special fried rice and an egg paratha; we both drank Kingfisher. Jackie was given two large carrier bags full of chillis – enough to see us out. I hope there is enough room in the freezer.

Before And After: The North Breeze Boundary

‘Boundary’ is a polite term for what should have separated our garden from that of ‘North Breeze’, the unoccupied house to the west of ours. It stretches from front to back from the street to the corner of the back drive and most of the way down that.

I learned this when the Head Gardener decided to hack through the undergrowth on that side of our brick path. Until then I had enjoyed a short-lived oblivion.

Boundary

 

I began on the section adjacent to the patio. This is what I found on 26th May 2014. The lonicera hedge had romped with brambles over and through the bits and pieces that were meant to divide the gardens, rooted on our side, and sent further stems to settle further in. I really rather wanted to go home, until I remembered I was already there.

Lonicera tangle

By 1st June I had cut my way to a length of strong wire. I still had to dig out the root shown on our side.

Netting fence

There was quite a lot of netting lying around the garden. We gathered this up and the next day I reinforced what I could make out of the dividing line. I could now see where I had come from, if not yet where I was going.

Blackbird's eggs in nest

The day after that, mother nature granted me a respite, in the form of a blackbird’s nest, complete with eggs. I clearly could not disturb this any more than I had done already. I waited patiently for another couple of weeks whilst the parent incubated her offspring. Then a magpie struck. This story was not inspired by Bruce Goodman, although I trust that fine storyteller would approve of it.

Adjoining fence of IKEA wardrobes

On 21st July, I continued my makeshift fence with discarded IKEA wardrobe sections.

Lonicera hedge far corner

I had reached the far corner, and was about to turn into the back drive. Oh, joy.

Ivy

Ivy covered stump

Brambles and ivy proliferated, even rooting in the line of dead stumps, and, of course, across the drive itself.

Wire netting in hedge 1

Wire netting had become entwined with the infiltrators. The iron stake in the bottom left of this photograph was one of two rows each of four lining either side of the drive.

Derrick hacksawing iron stake

They were deeply buried in concrete, so I had to hacksaw most of them off.

Rooting out

Having reached the five-barred gate at the far end on 16th October I made a photograph showing the lopping of the griselinia and the rooting out of brambles.

I stayed inside today, whilst Jackie continued her sterling clearance work.

For the first dinner I have been able to face in two days, I opted for a bacon sandwich which I enjoyed. I required no liquid sustenance. How long, I wonder, will an opened bottle of malbec stay potable? Fortunately there was still some curry left for The Cook,

The White Garden

Hunting through our house purchase documents for some clarity about responsibility for the huge amount of fencing in various stages of health that borders our property, I was unsuccessful in that, but I did discover the names of the houses in our little hamlet. We are one of four on our side of Downton Lane. In order, progressing along Christchurch Road towards that lane there stand Mistletoe Cottage, Old Post House, North Breeze (the empty bungalow), and Smallacres (now residential care). I will use the correct nomenclature in future. The sum total of my morning’s work on the back drive was the scalping (see yesterday) of just one tree stump. The fencing between us and Smallacres is in not much better SmallacresStump and ivy stemscondition than that we share with North Breeze.  The hitherto unseen rear view of the residential establishment is now exposed. Much of our thick ivy stems and brambles grows through the flimsy wooden structure, so pulling and hoping for the best is out. Surgical skill is required to cut the growth from our side at the point of entry. This afternoon I made a bit more progress. Once I had cut off enough of the thick ivy branches cascading over the stumps, I pulled away the stems adhering to the dead wood. This would produce a shower of decidedly dry brown dust inducing a coughing fit that lingered over lunch. Ploughing 1When I had had enough, I wandered over to Roger’s fields, and was most impressed with the work of the ploughman who had now produced acres of fine cross-hatching on what had been full of forage maize barely a week ago. As I walked along admiring the precision I noticed four tussocks lying on the land. They spoiled the man’s artistry so much that I felt inclined to remove them, but didn’t like to put my footprints on the soil. As the tractor hove Picking up tussocksinto view, it was stopped alongside these blemishes. Out stepped Roger Cobb, who walked across and picked them up. This man is a perfectionist. We spoke for a while during which he told me of a forthcoming vintage ploughing match similar to the one I had photographed in Southwell twenty two years ago. I feel another set of pictures coming on. Ploughman 'getting on'‘I must get on’, said my informant, and took his tractor into the dusk, against the lowering Skyskies. I was slightly puzzled, on this short trip, to notice that my camera battery needed charging rather sooner than I had anticipated. All became clear when Jackie informed me that she had been so impressed with all the white flowers still blooming in the garden that she had borrowed the Canon S100. Here is a selection of the photographs she took earlier:Begonias

BegoniasBegonia small

Smaller begoniasAlyssum

AlyssumErigeron - Version 2

ErigeronCyclamen

CyclamenDiasca

DiascaPansy

PansyCamomile

CamomileGladiolus

GladiolusLobelia

LobeliaImpatiens

ImpatiensJapanese anemone

Japanese anemoneSweet peas

Sweet pea.

Given how incensed some people become when supermarkets begin stacking their shelves for Christmas in August, I hesitate to repeat Jackie’s quip; when she served up a roast chicken dinner tonight, complete with homemade sage and onion stuffing, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and parsnips, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots and gravy, followed by profiteroles; that she was practising for that festive occasion. But she was only joking, and it was delicious. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I consumed more of the rioja.

Hibernation

Taking advantage of our good fortune in having such a long, dry, summer extending well into September, we worked on the garden again today. I continued pruning and removing foliage from the empty house side of our back drive, whilst Jackie dealt similarly with the last of the lonicera to the side of the house in the front.

The section on which I worked revealed the familiar hotchpotch of rotting fencing supplemented by all kinds of interesting material in metal or plastic. It also exposed a line of stumps standing like sentinels along the drive.Back drive fence 1Back drive fence 2Back drive fence 3Back drive fence 4

By lunchtime, I had reached the first bonfire, roughly half-way. Afterwards I continued as far as the second fire which we weren’t using today. It was music to my ears at this point to hear the trickling of the water feature in the garden of the residential care home on the corner of Downton Lane. As I stripped ivy from a tree trunk I could see that the overgrown vegetation was now on our side only, because the staff of this property maintained their garden.IvyIvy covered stump

Bonfire and sunThe parasitic growths that were choking the death out of the stumps of the row of trees felled long ago, gave the impression that their hosts had become regenerated. I half expected them, like Tolkien’s Ents, to lumber cumbersomely towards me. It took an hour to free the tree in these photographs of its hair-do.

Naturally, we kept our fire going all day, and just as the sun was thinking about making its way a little further West to bed for the night, the last of the lonicera lingered in the flames.

Jackie was still working on tidying her bed.Hedgehog hibernating As she raked up plants she had cut down, she came across a rather disgruntled hedgehog settling down for the winter amongst a pile of leaves. Naturally, she tucked him in again.

This evening we dined on excellent  cod, chips, peas, and onion rings at The Royal Oak. Jackie’s dessert was chocolate fudge cake, and mine was fruits of the forest cheesecake. She drank Peroni and i drank Doom Bar.

Over The Fence

Virginia creeper cornerKnackered at the end of the day yesterday, I chose to ignore one encroachment of foliage onto the path. This hinged upon a Virginia creeper no longer adequately supported by a partially collapsed wooden arch. It was beset by one of our own expansive trees and rambling bramble. I knew, however, if I ventured into the undergrowth, I would find that what was pushing everything forward would be the invasive jungle from next door. I wasn’t up for that. Until I got up this morning.

First of all I had a wander round the garden trying to put off the beckoning task..PhiladelphusThalictrum aquilegifolieumPampas grass The philadelphus is doing well, and a thalictrum aquilegifoleum now blooms alongside a pampas grass that echoes the unidentified evergreen I photographed yesterday.

Until they are given a permanent location, the plants recovered from Shelly and Ron’s are deposited in various spots in the garden. Diasca and gernaniumsThese geraniums and diasca flank the bench:

That’s enough prevarication.

Holly, brambles, ivy and Lonicera were all seeking new accommodation on the other side of their ramshackle fence. One ivy entwined around our unidentified tree had a stem a good inch and more in diameter. Everything in our shrubbery fled in the path of the invading army.

I set to with the loppers, and when I eventually reached what was left of the fence and trimmed enough to look over it, this is what confronted me:Garden next door

I had no choice but to pursue the lonicera along the boundary until I met the rest of it by the reclaimed patio shrubbery. No doubt had I continued in the other direction there would have been more.

All this makes me rather relieved that the garden on the other side is all laid to gravel.

This afternoon Helen came for a visit. This meant I had the perfect excuse to come inside and chat, and to leave the task unfinished. Wire netting pushed inwardsBefore that,Shrubbery clearance I had reached a section of wire netting that our home’s previous owner had attached to the iron posts that seemingly were once supporting a fence. This had been shoved forward by the neighbour’s lonicera. I have begun to fix it back, although must remove more of the invader before I can make it taut. The cleared space shown is part of what I have hacked out.

Jackie produced a chicken jalfrezi (recipe) as marvellous as ever for our dinner this evening. We enjoyed it with boiled rice, vegetable samosas, and Cobra beer.