Under The Weather

Not having yet experienced frost, the nasturtiums still climb the garage door trellis.

The crab apple trees are losing their leaves, revealing their fruit, still eschewed by blackbirds not yet hungry enough to eat them.

The sun was so weak this morning as to be imperceptible in these photographs of the garden views in which autumn colours, especially of Japanese maples, attempted to brighten the gloom.

I, and the garden, felt somewhat under the weather today. As limp and lacklustre as these leaves lying on the gravel, I alternated between reading and dozing on the sofa.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank sparkling water.

A Little Autumn Colour

For the last couple of days marauding rooks have raided Nugget’s robin feeder, ripped it off the Japanese maple, and robbed him of his food.

Jackie has baffled the thieves with a pair of hanging basket frames.

In contrast to yesterday’s dismal weather, today was clear, bright, and cold, taking every opportunity to display a little autumn colour.

Here is Margery’s Bed seen from the Cryptomeria Bed,

and sculpture Florence’s view of the house.

Weeping Birch leaves still linger

and the white solanum goes on forever.

 

Some Japanese maples have retained their leaves,

others have carpeted the lawn and paths with them.

The last scene above can be seen from the Fiveways end of the Phantom Path.

Jackie focussed on the grasses in the Palm Bed named for

the Cordeline Australis which is in fact evergreen.

Mrs Popple is one of the hardier fuchsias,

another of which, Delta’s Sarah, still attracts no doubt confused bees.

A number of pelargoniums still look down from hanging baskets, like this overlooking the Dragon bed in which

Ivy twines herself around one of the eponymous mythological figures.

Jackie spent much of the morning trying not to tread on Nugget while they were cobbling together a winter cold frame.

“Where’s Nugget?” (44a and 44b)

Wherever she moved to another location he was there first. Fortunately she took her camera.

“Where’s Nugget?” (44c and 44d)

Jackie also focussed on a sparrow with,

a pied wagtail,

and a white wagtail on the rooftop. I trust one of our birder readers will correct any errors in identification.

Late this afternoon Elizabeth visited to gather up bags of files that had remained in our single spare room since she moved out last year. She stayed for dinner which consisted of chicken marinaded in mango and chilli sauce; savoury rice topped with an omelette; and tender runner beans. My sister finished the Cotes du Rhone and I drank Chateau Berdillot Cotes de  Bourg 2018, while Jackie abstained.

 

 

 

 

A Variation On “Where’s Nugget?”

While I was drafting yesterday’s post Jackie nipped into the garden for a matter of minutes to take photographic advantage of

the last rays of the setting sun. From this end of the Back Drive (take note of the larch beyond the compost bins on the right) she focussed on

the Virginia creeper and accompanying Japanese anemones.

She also caught a pink rose with which I hadn’t been successful earlier on.

 

The golden light in the background picked up the the tips of the cypress tree;

the weeping birch,

Japanese maples,

and more.

Today, while the Head Gardener continued with her bed clearance, taking occasional trips to make sure she was safe, Nugget kept the enemy from the gate.

He perched on a tree midway,

puffed himself up,

had a good shake,

and a preen;

until he decided he looked hard enough to take on

his rival who was switching between the hawthorn and the larch on the Back Drive.

So, for a little variety “Where’s Nugget’s Rival?”

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured liver and bacon casserole; crisp Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, and butternut squash; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts and green beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

 

The First Foal

We took an early morning trip into the forest today.

A favourite route takes us through Holmesley Passage which links the A35 with the Burley Road.

Each time we drive along this slender, serpentine, disintegrating rat run we wonder if it will be our last – so rapidly is the tarmac crumbling.

Nevertheless, the landscapes it affords, with its resident ponies and cattle, makes the risk of winding up in a ditch worthwhile. The intrepid creature in the last of this set of photographs has sunk up to its knees in soggy turf.

On Bisterne Close, Burley, we encountered our first foal of the season. Already steady on its feet, just two or three days ago this infant would, having emerged unaided from its mother’s womb, have immediately, in ungainly fashion, tottered to its feet on the end of stick legs, and maybe wobbled a bit on its first visit to the milk bar.

The couple walking down the lane told me they had seen the new-born the day before and thought it could not have been much more than a day or so.

It had been the first of the year for this horse rider, too. She confirmed the newness.

At the junction of Bisterne Close and Bennets Lane a tree, probably precariously placed in the recent windy weather, had been felled.

It was in Bennets Lane that we came across Abbotsfield garden open today as part of the National Gardens Scheme in which approved gardens are open to the public for an entrance fee donated to charity.

For me, the highlights were a splendid display of tulips in most of the beds.

I was also impressed by the erythronium pagodas.

Jackie was disappointed that there was no scent to an unknown shrub, but she did enjoy the cherry blossom.

The garden views included magnolias and Japanese maples.

The honesty in Abbotsfield was of the white variety.

I probably didn’t need to be enjoined to be careful, but this was a helpful sign placed at ground level.

This evening we dined on zesty lemon and herb chicken, creamy mushroom risotto, spicy ratatouille, crunchy carrots, and tender mangoes touts and green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I enjoyed Toro Loco Superior Organico 2017, given to me for Christmas by Shelly and Ron.

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.

Regeneration

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Today I was mostly digging up brambles and pruning dead branches from a yellow Japanese maple in the Palm Bed,

seen here beyond the Cryptomeria Bed stepping stones.

The red one was looking rather splendid in the morning light.

Magnolia Vulcan

The magnolia Vulcan, one of a row of shrubs lining the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage, is about to flower for the first time. Like the others this was choked by the jungle that was the garden when we first moved in.

Rhododendron 1

Similarly a poor, spindly, little rhododendron that Jackie brought back to life, now shines its beacon in the middle of the Palm Bed. The roots of this were, like those of so many shrubs we inherited, pot-bound, and not properly planted.

Rhododendron 2

The pink rhododendron

Tree peony

and the yellow tree peony, have tied in the race to full bloom.

Iris

I am happy to say that my weeding of the Back Drive borders has freed rows of irises.

The viburnum plicatum is now brightening the West Bed shrubbery,

Weigela

and weigela drapes the south fence.

Apple blossom

Today’s final example of our efforts at regeneration has been affected by the light frosts we have been experiencing recently. The apple blossom suggested the tree has benefited from pruning, but the petals are now somewhat charred.

Hardly credible in April, the traditional month of showers, Jackie has today performed a considerable amount of watering.

The Raj is the current incarnation of the Indian restaurant constantly changing hands in Old Milton. Tonight we dined on their good quality takeaway food. My main choice was prawn Ceylon with special fried rice. We shared poppadoms, paratha, and onion bhajis. I drank Château Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

The Garden Map

Come for a further wander down the garden paths.

Rose

Stepping out of the utility room stable doorway, we meet this little rose that was bramble-bound last year.

Poppy

This frilly new pink poppy sits quite well against the red Japanese maple, visible from the kitchen window.

Grass patch

Opposite our small patch of grass, we think designed for a dog loo,

Penstemon, thalictrum, New Zealand flax, Japanese maple

against the backdrop of a yellow Japanese maple, speckled New Zealand flax arches over red penstemon and budding thalictrum.

Phantom path

Passing the other end of the Phantom Path, at the far end we see a yellow-green-leaved tree, only one branch of which seemed alive last year, before we lopped out all the dead wood.

Orange Hawkweed

Jackie transplanted the outspoken orange hawkweed, regarded in other parts of the world as an infestation, from the former kitchen garden. It now enlivens the Oval Bed.

Sambucus

This Sambucus, planted not so long ago, now blooms behind the potting shed.

Back drive

The back drive is now framed by new planted troughs. In the top right hand corner of the picture can be glimpsed a basket suspended from the slender arch through which we now walk into the garden. Please don’t tell the head gardener that I keep banging my head on it.

From the end of the drive we turn left to see how Hallmark Builders are getting on with their ‘massive’ project on the recently sold The Spinney at number 11.

Wall building

Two men are building a beautifully curved wall.

Rodgersia

Back down our own brick path we see the delicate pink rodgersia, yet another member of the saxifrage family.

Dead End Path

Just past this plant lies the Dead End Path.

Rosa Gallica

Back at the house, the pink striped Rosa Gallica is now blooming against the kitchen wall,

Rosa Glauca

and the Rosa Glauca soars above the patio.

Taking visitors on a meandering trip is rather easier than the task on which the head gardener has been engaged during much of the last two or three days. Jackie working on garden map

John Whitworth recently expressed his need of a garden map.  We are not lovers of straight lines, but, had we had a few more, Jackie’s task would have been so much easier. When she proudly presented the finished chart, I then had the task of reproducing it. Since it had been drawn on A3 paper, which is too large for my scanner, I had to photograph it with my little SX700 HS Canon. Having the benefit of neither Ken Morse’s equipment nor  his expertise, it was difficult to achieve an unwarped rectangle from above. Here is the finished masterpiece:

Garden map

Later this afternoon I had transferred the bonfire ashes to the compost heaps, and raked back the shingle that I’d scraped out for a makeshift hearth.

It is hardly surprising that there had been no time for cooking. There was nothing for it but to go out for dinner. It was Spice of India that was graced with our presence, for which we were rewarded with an excellent meal. My main course was naga chicken with special fried rice; Jackie’s was chicken shaslik and salad. We shared a paratha, and both drank cobra.