Cleaning Out The Frog Pond

Jackie spent most of this gloriously sunny and warm spring day working in the garden.

In the front she photographed budding Amanogawa

and crab apple blossom,

and a row of different coloured cyclamens.

I took tours before and after lunch, choosing to focus first on a variety of daffodils;

these, alongside the Dead End Path, are strongly scented and aptly named Park Perfume;

 

iberis cascades over the New Bed wall in front of more;

nodding to the dreaded all-pervading white allium another masquerades as a cheery scarecrow.

The sunshine has encouraged one of yesterday’s tulips to open wider,

to blend nicely with these marigolds.

Camellias continue to shine and to discard their heavy blooms, some of which persist in

growing old gracefully.

Varieties of wallflowers are blooming;

these yellow ones kneel at the feet of euphorbia in the back drive border.

Honesty is bursting out all over. It will be a brave individual who sits on this chair in the Weeping Birch Bed.

The burnished Japanese maple near the Fiveways corner

takes the eye across the Gazebo Path to North Breeze,

skirting the peeling-pastel-sheathed eucalyptus on the lawn, beside which

clematis Cirrhosa Freckles still festoons the iron gazebo.

Looking south east from the above-mentioned maple takes us into the Rose Garden whence

we have a view towards the house. I will be in dire trouble for leaving that blue plastic trug in the shot.

Given that during the Covid-19 pandemic bedding plants cannot be purchased

Jackie’s pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse are even more important than usual this year.

They are even attracting ladybirds.

 

This view from the Kitchen Bed leads to the Nottingham Castle bench;

this one across to the greenhouse.

It is through a kitchen window that I managed to catch Burt, the long tailed tit, playing on his honeysuckle trellis. Like a child who will run endlessly up the steps for another go on a slide, Burt swung through the air time and again, incessantly hopping back up for a repeat performance. The bird can be seen peering in beside the window catch – it is well worth bigifying.

The Head Gardener’s main task today was cleaning out the weedy Frog Pond. This is how she pictured it this morning,

and this with clear reflective water this afternoon.

This evening we dined on roast duck breasts; roast new potatoes; meaty sausages and fried onions; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, leeks, and runner beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

 

 

 

 

From The Greenhouse

Once again the weather today was bright, sunny, and cool.

Nugget posted a brief tweet: “I’ve just dropped down to let all my fans know that I am very well and rather preoccupied at the moment. Sorry, Jackie, I can’t stop while you collect your camera.”

While Jackie worked outside and, as in this picture, in the greenhouse,

I wandered around the garden. The above shot was taken from the Rose Garden,

where pansies and tulips are now blending nicely.

Other tulips bloom elsewhere.

Japanese maple leaves are now burgeoning.

Moss carpets the low stone walls.

Paths, such as that named the Gazebo;

the Brick;

the Heligan;

or the Dead End are now flanked by colourful plants.

The New Bed once accommodated splendid gladioli and dahlias decimated by voles. We have yet to see whether the replacements Jackie planted in the autumn will fare any better.

The Weeping Birch Bed on other side of the brick path seems unscathed.

Clumps of fritillaries are in several locations.

Shadows are cast across the lawn.

The sculpture Florence stands on Fiveways at the junction between five paths. She enjoys views such as those shown in the first two photographs above.

Through the greenhouse windows Jackie photographed the Head Gardener’s Walk and

pink and blue primulas;

inside she produced an image of Ammi Majus seedlings.

This evening we dined on pepperoni pizza; plentiful fresh salad; and garlic bread, with which I finished the El Zumbido Garnacha, Syrah.

 

 

Lathyrus Latifolius Jewels

Such minimal bright light as we enjoyed today graced us early this morning. Thereafter our vision became more and more dingy.

In order to provide me with as clear a view of the bird feeders as possible our friend from AP Maintenance cleaned our sand blasted windows. This is not the usual use of the phrase sand blasted. It is what happens when the gravel pit vehicles make their daily trips past the front of our house.

 

I did manage shots of a great tit partaking of peanuts

and suet balls a little earlier. Such is their timidity that these birds swivel around clinging to their perch after each peck in order to ensure their security.

Before the heavier rain descended Jackie alerted me to the bejewelled nature of our garden plants, such as

the outstretched Japanese maple

and drooping Weeping Birch branches;

the fuchsias like Delta’s Sarah;

the spiky New Zealand phormium;

rose bush petals;

fallen leaves;

and the calligraphic curlicues of the lathyrus latifolius (everlasting sweet pea).

When not eyeing his own robin feeder, Nugget, “Where’s Nugget?” (48),

foraged on a bed of crocosmia stubble cleared earlier by Aaron.

For this evening’s dinner, which I relished, Jackie produced succulent roast pork; crisp Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.

 

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.

A Year For Honesty

Today the weather was fairly gloomy. Early rain gave way to overcast clouds and oppressive warmth. Our own garden seemed the best venue.

Bees, nevertheless, were busy plundering the amanogawa cherry now in full bloom.

Tulips, which, until now have kept their collars tightly buttoned, are beginning to think about loosening their ties.

Avian courting continues in the weeping birch.

The golden Japanese maple glows despite the lack of sunshine.

Dicentra joins primulas, hellebores, daffodils, fritillaries, and honesty in the West Bed.

Honesty is a biennial bloomer. The transparent medallion-shaped seed pods, so attractive when backlit in the autumn, as effective as a careless sneeze, scatter the germs that raise these spires of colour everywhere in the spring. This is its year.

The daffodils in the above photograph of the Cryptomeria Bed are later blooms which will delight for some weeks more. Others are past their best.

The vinca is a plant which, given free rein, would dance over all the beds and consequently requires a certain amount of containment. When we first arrived the garden was choked with it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Juicy Assemblage.

A Surprise To Come

Beginning with the cherry trees at the front, I focussed on the garden this morning.

A crafty sparrow uses this holly tree as a diversionary tactic en route to its nest around the corner.

Despite the efforts of cumbersome pigeons and pelting hailstones, the pale pink winter flowering example has bloomed constantly since September;

a smaller tree has added the tones of a deeper pink blossom;

and the soaring amanogawa is now attracting bees. Can you spot the seeker after nectar homing in on the first picture and having landed in the second?

Some of the camellia petals are taking on the brown hues of weathered old age.

Like this tulip they have reacted to the recent heavy rainfall. The tulip just curled up its nose;

others, such as these standing proud in the Palm Bed, remain unperturbed.

A yellow Japanese maple stretches towards the Gazebo Path.

The first deep red rhododendron buds are opening in the Dragon Bed,

which carries clusters of yellow lamiums.

Snake’s head fritillaries are proliferating in the West Bed;

others, beside the stepping stones crossing the Cryptomeria Bed, we thought had failed. In fact they were just a little later than their neighbours.

Daffodils and hellebores dance to the right of the stones.

While I photographed the fruits of her labours, Jackie puzzled over a surprise to come. Normally she labels her greenhouse seedlings and bulbs. Sometimes she forgets to do this.

Elizabeth visited this afternoon and stayed to dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and tender green beans. Ian had brought a rather delicious bottle of Aguilla Chillando Garnacha 2017. I started on that, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth drank Becks Blue.

Empress Of The Senses

Winds had subsided overnight and sunshine has returned. Another very strong storm is predicted for tomorrow. In the meantime

the pink rose stays erect

and the Japanese maple leaves cling to their moorings.

This morning I finished reading:

The front jacket shows the French icon of the demi-monde as a young woman.

On the back she appears in her later years, by which time she had become a celebrity recognised by the literary establishment. The ISBN number of this 1991 publication can be seen beneath the photographs.

Herbert Lottman has written an engaging account. Unlike John Carey whose review was published in The Times Books of 17th March, 1991, I will not précis the life in case my readers will wish to read it for themselves. All I will mention is that Colette’s painful last years is one more reminder of how fortunate I am to live in an era where hip and knee replacements under anaesthetic are commonplace, at least in my culture.

Richard Willson’s excellent newspaper illustration probably reveals enough.

A brief obituary of this prolific caricaturist and political cartoonist appears in https://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/richard-willson-political-cartoonist-and-environmentalist-6281503.html on 26th December 2011

One of my methods of selecting books to read is the review. This one I had slipped inside the book where I will leave it as a marker.

My mother’s frailty has steadily worsened since she was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago. It is clear that she needs 24 hour care, either at home or in a residential establishment. This afternoon we are travelling to her home in the village of West End where we will join in Elizabeth’s discussions on the options with Mum. A Waking Carer will be on hand when we take my sister out for a meal. I doubt whether I will have time to follow this up until tomorrow.