Seeking Camouflage

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The sun has returned after several days’ absence. I wandered around the garden with a camera. These photographs reflect the current conditions in our plot.

Hibiscus 1

Hibiscuses are now in full bloom. This one is at the front;

Nasturtium

as is this yellow climbing nasturtium sharing the garage frontage with

Hanging basket and clematis Star of India

hanging baskets such as this container of geraniums an lobelia blending with the clematis Star of India behind them.

Dahlias, lobelias, and fuchsia chequerboard

There are quite a few dahlias reaching up to meet the Chequerboard fuchsia sharing the basket suspended from the wisteria arbour with the paler blue lobelias.

Clematis Polish Spirit and buddleia

A buddleia peeps through the Gazebo arch festooned with clematis Polish Spirit;

Eucalyptus

nearby petunias hang from the eucalyptus.

Leicesteria

Leicesteria drop earrings dangle in the West Bed

Japanese anemone

which also contains white Japanese anemones Jackie planted a couple of years ago to contrast with the ubiquitous pink ones.

Begonias and lobelia in hanging basket on dead snake bark maple

Begonias swing from the dead snake bark maple.

Gladioli Priscilla

Priscilla gladioli have survived the rains in the

Through the New Bed

New Bed.

Petunias and geranium

These petunias and geraniums stand on a brick plinth in the Weeping Birch Bed;

Petunias, geraniums, etc

opposite them a pot on the corner of the Raised Bed contains more of each with many blooms behind them.

Crocosmia etc

The crocosmia in this shot greets you as you leave the Rose Garden,

Rose Garden featuring Just Joey

this view of which is focussed on Just Joey.

Elizabeth's bed with Altissimo

Altissimo, in the centre of this shot looking into Elizabeth’s Bed, has sent out a lower than normal stem.

Palm Bed

Yellow rudbeckia takes centre stage in this section of the Palm Bed.

Comma butterfly

This bronzed Comma butterfly appears to be seeking camouflage from the dead little fir tree

Gazebo Path

in a pot on the right hand side of the Gazebo Path.

Perhaps last night’s power cut improved tonight’s evening meal. A consequence was that the lemon chicken Jackie was marinading remained in the lemon juice overnight. We enjoyed this with her special fried rice and runner beans. I finished the pinot noir. Jackie had drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio as an aperitif.

 

 

 

The Lady Of Shalott

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Cricket match 6 – Version 2

This morning I made this crop of a photograph taken at Burley in May, and Jackie turned it into a birthday card for Bill, whose party we were to attend later.

Aaron pruning Philadelphus 1Aaron pruning philadelphus 2

Among the various tasks carried out by Aaron was heavily pruning a spent philadelphus.

Aaron pruning philadelphus 4

Bending the branches took a bit of effort.

Fuchsia Delta Sarah

This fuchsia Delta’s Sarah is spreading along the west side of the patio.

Petunias

A stand of petunias,

Lilies

and these rather splendid potted lilies prepare for the arrival of the base for the greenhouse to be delivered during the week.

Dahlia

Dahlias continue to enliven the borders,

Japanese anemone

and the first Japanese anemones are springing up.

Agapanthus

The agapanthuses are coming along nicely,

Bee on New Zealand hebe

while the New Zealand hebe now attracts the bees, eager to fill their pollen sacs.

Gladiolus Priscilla

Priscilla, the frilly gladiolus is coming through in the New Bed;

Rose Peach Abundance

 roses like Peach Abundance are having another flush;

Echinaceas

and paler pink echinaceas have risen to join the darker red ones.

This afternoon we travelled by car to Poulner where we enjoyed Bill’s birthday party. We sat and conversed in the pleasant company of Helen and Bill’s children David, Rachel, and John; Rachel’s fiancé Gareth and John’s wife Stephanie and their children, Billy and Max; Gareth’s mother, Mo, and stepfather Fred; Shelly and Ron; and. of course the birthday boy and Jackie’s sister, Helen.

Gareth and Fred

Gareth got the barbecue going, taking us through the smoky stage.

John at barbecue

John took over to give him a chance to clear the vapours from his eyes.

Barbecue

Between them they produced a variety of roasted meats to go with the salads prepared by the ladies.

Guests reflected in window

Here is a group of the male guests reflected in a window.

Max and hands 1

Great aunts eagerly took it in turns to cuddle two and a half month old Max.

Shelly and Max

Jackie handed him to her younger sister

Max and hands 2Max and hands 3

Max and hands 4Max and hands 5Max and hands 5

who eventually handed him back to his mother whose hands he explored.

Bill 1Bill 2

Bill was his usual engaging self,

Billy in tub of balls 1Billy in tub of balls 2Billy in tub of balls 3

and, in a tub filled with plastic balls, his young namesake did a passable impression of Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott as painted by many Victorian artists.

I mostly drank a fine Argentine malbec, and sampled a splendid strawberry trifle and cream tea scone for dessert.

A Trio Of Flamenco Dresses

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Watering and dead heading were the orders of the garden today. For the first time, I availed myself of

Dead Heading kit

the Head Gardener’s dead heading trolley. This is basically an adapted IKEA sack barrow. The slot for secateurs has been obscured by the contents of the bucket of dead blooms. Scissors, weed- and slug-killers, stand in the top tray, so as to be readily available should the need arise.

Kniphofia

I have selected various shades of pink to feature today. First we have the antique hue of kniphofia

Kniphofia and candle holder

blending well with this latticed candle holder.

Japanese anemone

White Japanese anemones featured yesterday, but we also have many pink ones;

Gaura

similarly white gaura have featured before, but we also have other hues.

Phlox

Phlox also comes in other pigments. Here is a pink one.

Begonias

The spotlit trio of flamenco dresses are in fact begonias.

We finished our Chinese Takeaway this evening, and both drank sparkling water.

Sunset

Finally there was a fair amount of pink in the sky at sunset.

A Garden Of Delights

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Japanese anemone suspended petal 1Japanese anemone suspended petal 2Japanese anemone suspended petal 3

Watching the suspended petal of a Japanese anemone this morning set me musing. First I considered the strength of the thread that grasped it. As the flower part spun and twisted in the breeze, its captor clung on, just as it would with a fly’s frantically thrashing death throes.

On a more musical note, my head recalled the rhythmic tones of chirpy Chubby Checker from 1960:

This afternoon we went on an outing to Stratford Tony Manor House garden which was open under the National Gardens Scheme. It was my idea of a delightful garden.

Lakeside

There was space for large lawned areas, many trees, a stream, and a lake.

Shrubbery 1Shrubbery 2

The large borders, especially those planted against walls, were really rather splendid,

Couple admiring border

and admired by many,

Jackie admiring festooned wall

including Jackie.

Sculpture 1

There were a number of interesting sculptures.

Three girls sculptures

Three girls sculpture 2

The story behind those of three girls sheltering among cyclamen under a weeping willow is  rather endearing. Made some twenty years ago, they are the daughters of the family. The eldest, now brings her own child to visit the family home. This scene, reminiscent of Enid Blyton characters from an earlier time, has been brought into the 21st century with the subtle placement of a mobile phone. The standing child once had a tennis ball placed with  equal whimsy, but the dog kept taking it.

Fossilised stump

Two apparent sculptures were in fact fossilised stumps with polished tops.

Photographer photographed 1

A more modern garden ornament features in this photograph of a photographer and her subjects. We had a delightful conversation about this, and I gave them details of this blog.

Photographer photographed 2

The next picture I made of them will be a surprise to them. (I hope you like it, folks).

Visitors to garden 1

Some quite large groups of visitors wandered around, negotiating the sometimes steep slopes,

Tea Terrace

leading to the tea terrace where a very busy team of helpers kept us all supplied.

Flower arrangement

On each table was placed one or two very tastefully arranged vases of flowers.

Bridge

There were suitably placed bridges over the still lake;

Crossing the bridge

visitors enjoyed crossing them,

Lake 1

or just contemplating the tranquil scene,

Reflection

the tempting water,

Swan 1Swans 1

and the swans.

Gate

The nicely rusting iron gate to the kitchen garden contrasted with the green grass behind it, revealed by suitable excised symbols.

Field 1

At a short distance from Stratford Tony, an army helicopter chugged over crows in a recently harvested field

Field 2

now draped with striped curtains.

Back at home, Mr Chatty Man Chan of Hordle Chinese Take Away provided our evening meal with which Jackie drank sparkling water and I drank more of the Kekfrankos.

Fair Comment

Becky is producing a power-point training presentation for Mitcham’s Commonside Trust. Trawling through the web for suitable images she found one that was ideal for the point she wished to make. She was unaware of the picture’s provenance. Upon attempting to use it, she found it too large for her purposes. She returned to find out whether she could make it smaller. This time she discovered the credit. The photograph was from one of my posts.11831282_10153233541113999_1646686465_o

Wondering what were the odds, she has sent me the relevant page from the presentation. The image of the little church fete was my picture. The quality of Becky’s production is clear from her captions.

I have been unable to access the internet on my PC for a couple of days. This is because the icon came up in my taskbar, but I couldn’t move it to the screen. I rang Hewlett Packard this morning and discovered that I had managed to press two keys, so far apart as to make that a very difficult achievement, simultaneously. This informed my computer that it was possessed of two screens, so the internet page wandered off to a non-existent one. With the problem solved, I had 325 e-mails to deal with. Needless to say, that task was not fully completed.

Before phoning technical support, I had hoed, raked, and trimmed encroaching ground cover plants from three gravel paths. I then walked to the post box. The farmer has now harvested his rape crop, so I was able to walk across the field and down to the stream, which was now looking rather dried up, and back.Stream

Recently, Jackie heavily pruned a lilac that was growing over the pergola path. This afternoon, with my usual kit of fork, spade, and axe, I eradicated the residue, sometimes tracking trailing roots some way across the bed.

Japanese anemone and clematis Campaniflora

In the front garden the minute flowers of the prolific rambling clematis, Campaniflora dances among the Japanese anemones and everything else within reach of its tentacles.

Rose Special Anniversary

Special Anniversary is being celebrated in the rose garden,

Rose Compassion

and Compassion soars above the giant thistle and over the Dead End Path.

This evening we dined on gammon steak, lamb’s liver, carrots, cauliflower, and broccoli, all done to perfection. Equally perfectly, I microwaved the Tesco’s syrup sponge puddings, onto which we spooned thick double cream. I drank more of the Teroldego Rotaliano, and Jackie enjoyed her Hoegaarden.

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.

Flo’s Frog

Soon after midday Jackie and I drove to New Milton to collect our friend Sheila who has joined the family group. After lunch, Jackie, Flo, Sheila, and I went on a hunt for Becky, Ian, and Scooby, who had gone ‘to the beach’. They were not at Milford on Sea. They were not at Barton on Sea. We left them various mobile messages which they eventually picked up when they got home, and we were at Barton on Sea. Inevitable, I suppose. We joined them at home, where they told us the story of the Scotch egg. Whilst on the beach they watched a family having a picnic. A seagull swooped on the food and made off with a whole Scotch egg. This was clearly too heavy for it. It dropped it. Right under their dog, Scooby’s, nose. Manna from Heaven. He didn’t stop to question his luck. He devoured it immediately.

Our conversations ranged through cricket, crosswords, community projects like Commonside in Mitcham, and local politics. Commonside, where Becky worked for ten years, is in the London Borough of Merton; Jackie worked for Merton Social Services Department for more that thirty years; Sheila, Director of Merton Mind until the funding ran out earlier in the year, and a Merton Councillor for more than fifty years, had trained as a Social Worker with me at Croydon in the class of 1969/70. We had not known it before, but in our teens Sheila and I both frequented the Oval, Surrey County Cricket ground, and Sheila had worked opposite Mitcham Cricket Club’s ground which prompted the story of ‘Six Leg Byes’ told on 17th June 2012. The main cricket focus today came from this the third day of the Old Trafford Test match between England and India. England won the game in very quick time, two days early.Jackie and Sheila 2

I accompanied Jackie giving Sheila a tour of the garden. Japanese anemonePenstemonWe have an even darker pink variety of Japanese anemone now in bloom, and the penstemons are flourishing.

In addition to the jewellery Flo is spending her time making, she has started to produce wire animals, bringing all her natural skill in reproducing a wide range of creatures, perfectly proportioned and with life-like stances, in a variety of art forms. Flo's frog 2She used my camera to photograph a frog and e-mail it to a friend. She was very patient as I stumbled my way through explaining the the process on my iMac.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole (recipe), mashed potato, and crisp vegetables, followed by jelly and ice cream. Lambrusco, Marquis de St.Vincent Medoc 2012, and Hoegaarden were the drinks on offer.