He Lent His Hat

This morning Aaron, with his usual concentrated accuracy, assembled and installed

a new flat packed wooden arch across the Shady Path. This was to replace a cheap metal one that had collapsed.

As the morning warmed up he lent his hat to Florence sculpture who remained in the shade,

Camellias continue to splash colour across the eucalyptus framed garden canvas,

as do numerous narcissi,

primulas and bergenias.

Proud tulips begin to open.

Ladybirds were spotted, along with tiny hoverflies investigating ipheions.

On a gloriously sunny spring afternoon we went driveabout. We began at Mudeford Quay which was so crowded that we had nowhere to park. We then aimed for the forest.

A calf suckling at Holmesley spilled much of the milk on the ground, jumping back as we arrived, leaving a white strand swaying in the breeze;

Ponies practiced topiary by the roadside;

two more grazed among pine cones at Bisterne.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender green beans and peas.

Ladybird, ladybird…….

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Solanum and honeysuckle

As shown from the solanum and honeysuckle on the trellis, our front garden remained free of ash from next door’s bonfire,

Ash on pulmonaria leaves

and, although some the precipitation, such as this on the pulmonaria

Ash on Japanese anemones

and Japanese anemones, remains,

Dragon Bed

the fire has died down and we are able to see the garden views again, and beds like that of the Dragon are able once more to savour the sunlight.

Dahlia

This decorative dahlia

Oval Bed 2

sharing the Oval Bed with orange hawkweed,

Oval Bed

bidens, phlox, and rampant rudbeckia, basks in a more pleasant source of warmth.

Gladiolus and sweet peas 1

Gladioli and sweet peas retain their pristine whiteness;

Iron urn

contents of the iron urn cascade over the Brick Path;

Chrysanthemums 1

and these potted chrysanthemums enjoy the increase of light provided by the removal of the North Breeze jungle.

Stinging nettle in Elizabeth's Bed

Splendid stinging nettles, like this one in Elizabeth’s Bed, are making their presence felt. They will have to go.

Tomatoes

Little cherry tomatoes are ripening;

View across grass patch

the grass looks lush;

View from Phantom Path across Weeping Birch Bed

and the Weeping Birch Bed,

Kitchen Bed

Kitchen Bed,

Rose GardenMirror in Rose Garden

and Rose Garden, fresh again.

Ladybird on dahlia

Now, what do we have here? “Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home; your house is on fire and your children are gone.”

This afternoon we are on our way to Emsworth for a family celebration of Becky’s birthday. We will stay overnight and I will report on that tomorrow. It will be an Italian meal at Nicolino’s.

 

 

An Enforced Eviction

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Wisteria

Early this morning the sun shone on the wall-bound wisteria aiming for the en suite bathroom.

Raindrops on tulip Diamond Jubilee 1

Lingering early raindrops rolled around the Diamond Jubilee tulips,

Raindrops and fly on tulip Diamond Jubilee

onto which a thirsty fly dropped for a drink.

RhododendronRhododendron and pieris

Another rhododendron, leading the eye to the pieris on the grass, is beginning to bloom.

The day dulled over as it progressed. We spent the morning working on the garden. Jackie did some general planting and weeding, and sprinkled chicken pellets over the newly composted beds. Before you imagine otherwise, we do not keep chickens. The pellets come in a large bucket and are marketed as manure.

Vinca

Vinca makes an attractive ground cover, but it does have a tendency to sprawl, take root, and make life very uncomfortable for bed-mates. So it has been for the Weeping Birch Bed. I therefore concentrated my efforts on that. Fast approaching is the warmer weather when a thinner duvet will be in order.

Ladybird on vincaSnail and ladybird on vinca leavesSnail on vinca leaf

A black-spotted ladybird and a tiny striped snail suffered an enforced eviction as I ejected  their shelter.

Brick pillar

Our stone urns and other containers are mounted on dry brick pillars. The ground under one of these subsided a bit last autumn and it fell over. We spent the last few minutes before lunch levelling a space and beginning to rebuild the column.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork and apple sauce, roast sweet and savoury potatoes, with al dente carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans; followed by rice pudding and blackberry jam.  I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Ladybird Or Ladybug Fly Away Home….

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The sun stayed away today until it was time for it to go to bed.

My share of the garden clearance, under the necessary direction from the Head Gardener, was eradicating or truncating dead stalks from last year’s plants, such as nicotiana sylvestris.

Jackie continued such work that required more specialist knowledge, and completed her work on bringing the Waterboy’s pool back to life.

Viburnum

We have a number if different snowball shaped viburnums that we can’t specifically identify. They are all in bloom.

Sparrow

I wonder if our little roof bound sparrow was guarding nest building this morning. He certainly seemed to be casting an eye in the direction of a piece of straw that had no business being up there.

Camellia

Some of the earlier camellias are turning their beautiful golden brown, giving us the impression that we have varicoloured flowers.

Beech branches

As usual, the beech will be the last to clothe its skeletal framework.

Leaves and catkins have begun to appear on the weeping birch, although it is still possible to view Elizabeth’s Bed through the slender branches.

Ladybird in catkins

A ladybird appears to have taken up residence in the fruit of the tree. As there was no response when I recited the popular nursery rhyme, I can only assume this is intended to be permanent.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beef, peppers, mushrooms and onions cooked in a rich red wine sauce and served with sauteed potatoes, spinach, leeks, carrots, and cauliflower. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Chateau Plessis grand vin de Bordeaux 2014.

Rain Stops Planting

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It was Jackie who was up with the dawn this morning.

Frost and cherry blossom

She was struck by the frost on the Modus whilst the cherry was blooming, as the early sun lit the field behind the oak-lined hedge.

Frost on bench

The Castle Bench also had its share of white coating, although the sun had not yet reached the back.

Ladybird on euphorbia

By the time we drove off to buy 15 more packs of compost from Lidl, a ladybird (or ladybug if you are across The Pond) had been coaxed out to bask on euphorbia.

Palm Bed

We dug three bags of the compost into another section of the Palm Bed, and, until driven in by needle-sharp chilled rain, began inserting plants Jackie bought yesterday.

These evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious steak pie, new potatoes, and crunchy carrots, cabbage and cauliflower. She drank Blanche de Namur and I drank Axis Margaret River cabernet sauvignon 2014.

On The Road To Bridgetown

Ladybird

Ladybird in window box

I very rarely stage a photograph, so I probably wouldn’t have thought of Jackie’s ladybird shots this morning. She spotted a somewhat sleepy ladybird – not literally of course, because this one already wore its spots – on a rounded pebble in a colourless corner. Thinking it needed something red to set it off, she picked up the pebble perch and plonked it among primulas in the window box on the front wall. The obliging insect stayed put.

We then filled two more canvas bags with hedge clippings and took them to the dump. Our spoils included two large pots and three folding wooden chairs.

Through the medium of donations of plants, seeds, gardening book and tools, the forthcoming First Gallery exhibition intends to raise funds for Southampton public libraries. Jackie will be donating some of the many seedlings that crop up in our paths and elsewhere in the garden. One of these is the geranium palmatum, a splendidly shrub-like perennial.

Geranium palmatum

I made some small prints with which to enable buyers to know what they were purchasing.

Path - dead end

This image of The Dead End Path shows the scale of the plants.

This afternoon I scanned another dozen colour negatives taken on my walk along the road to Bridgetown, Barbados, in March 2004.

Bougainvillea 1

Bougainvillea 2Bougainvillea 3

Most gardens contained a brightly coloured, prolific, bougainvillea, which also adorned the roadside.

Taxi in road

Taxis were really people carriers who happily held the centre of the road as they careered along,

Woman boarding bus

occasionally stopping to pick up passengers at bus stops. Were they actually a variety of bus, I wondered?

Egret

An elegant egret, craning its neck in the undergrowth,

Plane BWIA

seemed oblivious of the BWIA passenger plane flying overhead.

Like the shady tree in the bus stop picture above

Flower unknown 1Flower unknown 2Flower unknown 3Flower unknown 4

I could not identify many other blooming flowers.

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev, creamy mashed potato, green beans, and ratatouille; followed by chocolate sponge pudding and cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank reserve des Tuguets madiran, 2012

Exhuming Queen Victoria

On a bright, sunny, morning I rambled around the garden, down the lane, along Roger’s footpath and back.

Garden from patio

From our patio can be seen a rhododendron, geranium palmatums, petunias, foxgloves, and fennel.

Garden from Phantom path

The centre of the Phantom Path gives a view towards that shown above. We can also see that the clematis Star of India and an unnamed white rose frolic together on the Gothic Arch.

Rose, red climber

This red rose, aptly named Altissimo, climbs between Elizabeth’s bed and the rose garden.

Garden back path

 a sentinel to the Back Path.

Ladybird

The morning sun burns out detail on the right hand side of Downton Lane, glinting on the back of a shade-seeking orange ladybird,

Backlit leaves

just filtering through shrubbery on the left.

Gate

This gate must have once led into a garden beyond it.

Barley

Roger is growing barley this year.

Christchurch bay, yacht, ship, barley

Across the left hand field a large vessel sedately traversed the horizon as yachts skimmed along a deep blue Christchurch Bay.

Clouds over DowntonClouds over Downton, rusting artefact

To my right clouds slid silently over Downton.

All I could hear were the strings of countless insects’ wings.

Slurry

The pong of fermenting slurry filled my nostrils.

Sausage casserole cooking

Back home, a far more appetising aroma greeted me. Jackie was preparing a sausage casserole for Sam’s visit tomorrow. I suppose I can defer my gratification until then.

This afternoon we planted other flowers, such as heucheras and penstemons into the rose garden, offering some variation.

Rose Deep Secret

The rose Deep Secret has now revealed all.

During my childhood, we used to brighten our copper pennies by rubbing them on the bricks of the school wall. Old bricks, not modern paving ones that don’t crumble into dust on the application of friction. So, when Jackie unearthed a tiny coin encrusted with thick verdigris, I was off in search of an old brick. They are not hard to find in the garden of Old Post House. I cleaned enough to know what a treasure we had found, but, since we were now afraid of scrubbing off any more detail, Jackie finished the job with Hob Brite, a rather gentler abrasive.

We had exhumed a small coin, bearing, on the obverse, the somewhat pockmarked head of Queen Victoria; on the reverse, Britannia, the date 1893, and its denomination. So soon after the previous post, we had found a farthing. Serendipity or what? How long had that lain in the soil? Who had dropped it? We will never know. Farthing Victoria obverse

Farthing 1893 reverse

The previous posting featured a wren, which did not appear on the reverse until the pattern coin of Edward VIII (so called because it had not yet been approved by the time of his abdication in 1936). The little bird first replaced Britannia in 1937, during the reign of the father of Queen Elizabeth II, King George VI, who succeeded his older brother.

For tonight’s dinner, barbecue sauce flavoured the spare ribs; Jackie’s rice and green beans came with it. She drank Hoegaarden and I slurped Dao. This last verb was Jackie’s suggestion, when she pointed out that I had quaffed more than once recently. Not exactly couth, but there you have it.

P.S. Further research suggests that our coin is in fact bronze.