Behind The Nottingham Castle Bench

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After a day in our mother’s garden, I wandered around ours.

Lamiums

Lamiums rise from the Dragon Bed, where

Rhododendron

the first of our rhododendrons is in full boom.

Margery's Bed grass-side

Another of these rich red shrubs, in Margery’s Bed,

Pieris, rhododendron and view across lawn

can be seen on the grass patch side,

Pieris

beyond the pieris

Pieris and view across grass patch

that stands behind the Nottingham Castle Bench,

Honesty

opposite which one of the ubiquitous honesty plants presages the hebe blooms with which it will soon blend.

Cyclamen

Cyclamens border the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Pansies

These particular pansies smile in the West Bed,

Hellebore, comfrey

where hellebores, like these among the comfrey and the tellimas, are adopting their maturer colouring,

Snakeshead fritillaries

and snakes head fritillaries hang their lanterns.

Japanese maple red and camellias

We thought we had lost the red Japanese maple from which I had removed dead material two years ago. Aaron cut some more away recently and fresh shoots are appearing.

Daffodils

Many later daffodils linger

Tulips

and our surprise collection of tulips has revealed yet another dramatic red striped variety.

Spirea

A white spirea cascades over the Palm Bed,

Prunus Amanogawa

and at the front of the house the prunus Amanogawa is now in full bloom. Should anyone wonder at the proliferation of piping on this side of our building, that is because this, we believe, was originally the back of the house.

This evening we dined on real fusion food – Jackie’s superb savoury egg rice, Mr Chan’s spring rolls and prawn toasts, Lidl’s pork rib rack in barbecue sauce; Belgium’s Hoegaarden beer and Argentina’s Trivento reserve Malbec 2017.

The Lion Is Rampant

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Today was heavily overcast, the sun only making momentary appearances this morning. I wandered around the garden investigating its current condition.

 

Different varieties of daffodil continue to bloom; some Jackie has planted with pansies in the new urn we bought a few days ago. As can be seen in the last of this cluster, flies seem to like yellow flowers.

 

A range of tulips are beginning to burgeon.

West Bed

Plants in the West Bed gain in height daily;

Japanese maple

Japanese maples are coming into leaf.

I don’t think one is expected to doze whilst finishing reading a thriller, especially when enjoying it, but I did this afternoon. Well, it was soporific, and yesterday was a different kind of heavy.

The book was ‘The Lion is Rampant’, the first, written in 1979, by Ross Laidlaw, a Scottish writer of historical, thriller and spy fiction. It is a fast moving dystopian novel set in the Britain of the 1980s. Laidlaw’s story imagines a rebellion over Scottish Independence, a less violent political conflict concerning which continues to this day. Clearly bringing his experience of the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya to his British fantasy, Laidlaw’s work has an air of credibility. He writes fluently, describing human emotions, the tough Scottish landscape, and harsh weather conditions. He uses dialogue well. The action scenes do have a touch of Daniel Craig’s James Bond about them, but they are none the worse for such exciting derring-do. It is a gripping story with a suitably understated thread of romance. I regretted having taken nearly forty years to read it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb chicken jalfrezi with pilau rice. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Shiraz.

 

 

A Dismantled Burglar Alarm

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Garden view from patio 1Garden view from patio 3Garden view from patio 4Garden view from patio 2Garden view from patio 5

These are some of the views from the patio that we enjoyed this morning whilst drinking our morning coffee.

I was in and out of New Milton today. This morning Jackie drove me to Barclays bank to attend to some executor business, and this afternoon to Birchfield Dental Practice for an appointment with the hygienist. After the second trip we travelled on to East End to see how the thatching was coming along.

Thatching 1

It is now a beautiful job nearing completion, demonstrating painstaking skill and artistry.

Thatching 2

Dave had finished for the day when we arrived,

Thatching tools

and had left his tools firmly in place for continuing tomorrow.

Clematis and Old Post House name

Back home one of the clematises in the front garden now curls over the ceramic house sign;

Roses pink rambler

the paler pink ramblers romp over the trellis;

Roses deep pink rambler

and the darker ones beribbon the porch roof.

Sparrows' nest in burglar alarm

One of our sparrow families, carefully disconnecting it first, has made use of a rather obsolete rusted burglar alarm. They had more success than I did dismantling one back in Soho. That adventure is recounted in my post ‘A Little White Lie’.

Clematis Marie Boisselot

The evening light on the patio gave us different views including Marie Boisselot,

Japanese maple

and the red Japanese maple.

Pigeon orgy 4Pigeon orgy 2Pigeon orgy 1Pigeon orgy 3Pigeon orgy 6Pigeon orgy 7Pigeon orgy 6

We were also treated to an avian orgy involving four wood pigeons. One by one these birds alighted on the cypress branch, formed a disorderly melee, and engaged in frantic flapping. There was no billing and cooing and It was all over rather too quickly for comfort.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese, fish pie, runner beans, carrots, and asparagus. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I consumed more of the cabernet sauvignon.

The Meteorologists Kept Their Promise

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Becky, Ian, and Scooby returned, last night, to their home in Emsworth

The wisteria, sharing its perch with a red rose, is now fully in bloom;

Acquilegias

and aquilegias (columbines in U.S.) are cropping up everywhere.

We live in a fascinating microclimate where, despite the vast improvement in the accuracy of weather forecasts, our experience is often better than we are given to expect by the meteorologists. Take today, for example. We were promised an afternoon of rain.

Our gardening was therefore done this morning.

My major task was to cut the grass, after which I reshaped the Japanese maple standing on it, so that the lower branches no longer restrict our access to the small sward, and  the chimney pot planter may be viewed from the Gazebo Path.

Jackie continued tidying and weeding. The wonderful pastel shades of the peeling eucalyptus bark lead us into the first of these pictures. Not having complete faith in the promise of rain from mid-day, the Head Gardener slaked the thirst of the drooping rhododendron beside her with several buckets of water. Naturally this ensured that the meteorologists kept their word. It rained all afternoon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, with boiled new potatoes and curly Kale. The Culinary Queen drank Peroni and I drank Reserve des Tuguets Madiran 2014.

P.S. Note exchanges with Mary and Gwen, below. We have Lemon Scented Gum ( Eucalyptus citriodora ),

Spot The Difference

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In today’s gardening division of labour my contribution was weeding the back drive, while Jackie continued planting, weeding, and watering.

My main focus was on the bed alongside the new fence.

This involved clambering between dead stumps and the fencing and digging out stubborn brambles and sticky Willies. I had not anticipated needing to use a fork on all this, but, most unusually for April, there has been so little rain that the ground is rock hard. Consequently I didn’t get very far. For those readers interested in the scale of things this drive is 75 yards long and the width of a terraced house plot.

Jackie filled the Rose Garden urns – one on the brick pillar we have just rebuilt – with compost

in readiness for these lilies bought from the Hordle Post Office a couple of days ago.

Other plantings in the Oval and Elizabeth’s Beds and the Rose Garden are mostly represented by labels.

Corner of Palm Bed at Fiveways

In this corner of the Palm Bed we have tulips; a yellow Japanese maple that clearly needs the pruning treatment;

Rhododendron 1

and a pink rhododendron just coming into bud.

Tree peony

A yellow tree peony competes with the latter over which will be the first in full bloom.

Daffodils, honesty, and hellebores continue to thrive.

This cream verbascum stands on the Back Drive bed,

Clematis Montana

and this clematis Montana spills over the front garden wall,

behind which a yellow potentilla is flowering. Can you guess what, when I put the first of these pictures of it up on the screen, got me rushing out there?

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s gherkins. I drank Doom Bar beer.

“That’s What Having A Horrible Daughter is Like”

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We spent the morning on garden maintenance tasks.

Jackie tidying Wedding Day roseDerrick tidying Wedding Day rose

Jackie, with minimal assistance from me, retrained the Wedding Day rose

Wedding Day rose on Agriframes Arch

on the Agriframes arch.

Japanese maple 1Japanese maple 2

We then reversed the process in that The Head Gardener weeded a route through to the red Japanese maple that was looking very poorly, if not somewhat wizened. She then stood ready for me to pass bits lopped or sawn off.

Japanese maple 3Japanese maple 4Japanese maple 5Japanese maple 6

The final result didn’t look too bad.

Urn on brick pillar

We then finished rebuilding the pillar for the urn in the Rose Garden.

View across grass from red tulips

Here is a view across the grass patch between tulips and the eucalyptus.

This afternoon we went for a drive in the forest.

Ford

A stream kept one of the Brockenhurst fords under water. That is probably one SLOW notice that is unlikely to be ignored.

Father, daughter, dog at ford 1Father, daughter, dog at ford 2

As I stood on the footbridge to take this shot, a family descended into view. Mother and son joined me on the bridge while father and daughter, dog in tow, entered into a coercive conversation. The dog appeared to want to go in the opposite direction.

Father, daughter, dog running through ford

It was not long before the reason for this became clear. These three dashed across the water filled ford. When I quipped “I didn’t get that. Could you do it again?”, Dad declined. However he did add “That’s what having a horrible daughter is like”. In the ensuing conversation I was given permission to post both the photographs and this statement.

Car driven through ford

An obliging motorist, without being asked, then drove his car through the water.

Child's shoe and socks

Further on, at Boundway, we spotted evidence that a child had left the woods sans socks and at least one shoe.

Woodland Shadows 1Tree shadows 2Tree shadows 3

The high sun cast shadows of the trees onto the undulating leafy terrain.

Brimstone butterfly in flight

A brimstone butterfly fluttered about. Can you spot it here?

Logs, gorse, trees 1LogsGorse

Loggers had been at work above the gorse laden hills overlooking Wilverly.

Cattle among gorse

I think the white figure here was one of a couple of cattle. They were a bit far away for me to be certain.

Wasps' nest 1Wasps' nest 2

Soon after we left this area, Jackie alerted me to a wasps’ nest on an outbuilding.

This evening we dined on Mr Chatty Man’s Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden while I drank more of the madiran.

A Sparrow in Swallow Drive

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Jackie continued with the weeding of the rose garden today, whilst I wandered with the camera.

Tulips are now in bloom.

Tulip 2

This one really did come from Amsterdam, courtesy of Danni and Andy who brought it back for us.

A bank of yellow primroses fronts this striated group at the entrance to the back drive,

Wallflowers

along which golden wallflowers are massing.

Rhododendron

Our first rhododendron is beginning to flower;

Japanese maple

 Japanese maples are coming into leaf,

Cherry blossom

and a deep pink cherry blossom is blooming.

Saxifrages

Saxifrages planted last year are thriving.

Wasp

Clearly confused as to the season. a sleepy wasp staggered about.

This afternoon we went for a drive.

The tide was high at Keyhaven, where the wreck was now submerged,

Boats and Hurst lighthouse 2

and the Hurst lighthouse clear beyond the line of moored boats.

Mallards (purple headf)

A purple-headed mallard and mate basked on a lichen covered wall;

Coot and white bird

and a white-headed coot paddled past a white bird hiding in the reeds.

In view of Hurst spit swans waded, foraged, and drank. One bore a tide-mark causing speculation about what it had been swimming in.

Among those silhouetted on the spit were a woman and two children,

and two young women. In each group there was one person engaged in a mobile phone conversation.

Sparrow

We took a diversion around a housing development in Milford on Sea. Given that these streets all bore the name of a different bird, I wondered what a sparrow was doing on Swallow Drive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb beef cobbler, sautéed potatoes and mushrooms, with crisp carrots, cauliflower and purple sprouting broccoli. The Culinary Queen drank sparkling water while my drink was San Andres Chilean merlot.