The Stumpery

Jill Weatherholt, in her comment on “The Path To Deadman Hill”, described Jackie’s young robin as a little nugget. His name is now Nugget.

She spent the morning conversing with him whilst tidying the Oval Bed.

After taking the above photographs I wandered round the garden.

Hydrangeas need a lot of water, but the Head Gardener is keeping them going.

Day lilies continue to thrive,

as do many lilies proper,

and, of course, roses like Gertrude Jekyll and Special Anniversary.

This sidalcea leads nicely to the red hydrangea beyond.

Now that the Wedding Day is over, gladiolus and clematis veil its arch.

Dahlia’s time is now.

This everlasting sweet pea has a scent which justifies its name.

Plants accommodated in containers during the last few weeks have proliferated. The iron urn’s examples happily spill and spread, while

the wicker chair by the Westbrook Arbour is occupied to overflowing.

A clematis shawl has been cast over the arch spanning the Phantom Path between the Cryptomeria and Margery’s Beds.

In the latter, yellow Lisymachia Alexander stretches across the gravel;

and at its western end clematis and day lilies cavort with the red bottle brush plant.

Phlox blend nicely with other plants in the Palm Bed,

alongside the Gazebo Path leading to the stable door.

From Charlie Dimmock, Jackie has been inspired to create a “stumpery”. She will clean up the face of this heap of griselinia stumps and give it a fern makeover.

Just as the one o’clock news was about to expand upon Mr Trump’s latest exploits, Malachi phoned me from Fremantle seeking my help with a word search. We were unable to obtain full reciprocal vision on FaceTime, so we began a game of Lexulous instead. Because they are seven hours ahead of us, my grandson had to go to bed before we finished.

Later this afternoon we drove to New Milton to buy some shoes for Jackie, then back to Milford on Sea for a repeat prescription.

This evening we dined at Totton’s excellent The Family House Chinese restaurant, where we enjoyed our favourite set meal and Tsing Tao beer.

First Donkey Foals

Jackie has not neglected the front garden in her clearing and planting of the last few days. This morning I gathered and bagged up her cuttings from the gravel path.

Erigerons, day lilies, Hot Chocolate rose and fuchsia feature here.

Clematises, nasturtiums, petunias, lobelias, and solanum currently bloom in front of the garage door.

This afternoon we left the sunshine behind at home as steady rain tracked us to the North of the forest.

Coats glistening, a trio of ponies took shelter among trees at Ibsley;

further on, at Frogham, more shaggy yet bedraggled donkeys, including our first foals of the season found their own shelter.

This evening we dined on minted lamb burgers; potatoes pulverised into a creamy mash; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and tender green beans with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Pinot Noir.

Spot the Bees

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Jackie continued watering the garden this morning. This afternoon we both carried out an extensive dead-heading session.

After this, I wandered among the flitting butterflies and the laden bees, occasionally sitting down, and photographing the still colourful range of flowers. The day lilies have been struggling, but some still survive. Look for the bees in some of the blooms. Captions to the gallery pictures offer identification.

This evening the three of us, including Elizabeth, dined on Jackie’s marinaded chicken fillets, pork rack of ribs, Plentiful vegetable rice, and ratatouille. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.

 

My Minimal Contribution

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A second brood of sparrows has hatched in our downstairs loo extractor fan.

 

In this corner of the patio this morning I made my minimal contribution to the massive daily watering operation;

Jackie, of course, did so much more, particularly ensuring that all the containers were filled, and that the more thirsty bedded plants did not dry out.

This afternoon Elizabeth, who is staying with us for as long as it takes for her to find a new house, moved in. We enjoyed a relaxing time together before decanting to the Rose Garden for pre-dinner drinks.

We dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb jalfrezi with pilau rice. The Culinary Queen consumed Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Track The Butterfly

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We took a mid-morning break in the patio where I admired the plantings, and Jackie watered a few she spotted looking a little thirsty. For a while I watched what I think was a Meadow Brown butterfly flitting from cosmos to bidens. This creature, and a bee that took its place on the cosmos when it wandered off, may be tracked by accessing the gallery as above.

Elsewhere, a smaller bee weighed down the tiny lobelias it preferred, while one sustained by the white everlasting sweet pea looked a little inebriated.

It was not until page 218 that I found a train ticket from London to Haddenham dated 8th March 2008 in my copy of David Lodge’s ‘Deaf Sentence’. Regular readers will realise that this signifies I have read the book before. I have absolutely no recollection of doing so. I finished it for the second time this afternoon. Will I remember it in another ten years? I rather doubt it.

Lodge has written much fiction, literary criticism, and a number of essays on the art of writing. He is skilled and this novel is well crafted. The blurb on the inside of the jacket tells us that ‘Deaf Sentence’ is ‘funny and moving by turns, being a brilliant account of one man’s effort to come to terms with deafness and death, ageing and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human life’.

Many contemporary issues are introduced into the melting pot. There are what feels like obligatory sexual passages. The writing appears effortless; even slick. Tragic the story is. I did not find it funny, but then, I am not a fan of sick humour. It seems at times as if the reader is being lectured on, for example, the effects of hearing loss; vocabulary; and linguistics. Apart from some rather boring sections the book does hold the attention. Others may like it enough to retain memories of it.

 

 

Where To Find A Drink

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This afternoon we drove into the forest in search of water. We hoped to find at least some areas where the animals could drink.

The bed of the stretch of Highland Water just outside Brockenhurst was unusually dry, yet provided enough water for cattle to drink and to paddle, and for dogs to play. Other photographers recorded the scene while I focussed on them.

From there we proceeded to Hatchet Pond where the levels were high, and, again, cattle stood in, or along, the far side of the lake.

The tide was high at Tanner’s Lane. This little boy couldn’t drink the water, but he could certainly play in it. Just after I took these photographs he was stripped off and paddling.

As we left the lane a Muscovy duck made its slow, ungainly, way across the road, practising the heel and toe technique that would please my physiotherapists.

Back home we had no trouble finding a drink. Ours were taken on the grass patch from where we could enjoy views across the garden; and hanging baskets and planters in and around the area. Jackie couldn’t resist making a few adjustments. Bees, like the one in the convolvulus in the last picture, were still very busy.

This evening we dined on a Margarita pizza embellished by Jackie with salami and cheese; and fresh salad.

 

War Of The Voles

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This afternoon I made a rather pathetic effort at clearing up some of the Head Gardener’s laborious pruning cuttings, then allowed myself to be diverted with a camera.

Leaving the house by the stable door gives a forked view down the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

We are led under the wisteria arbour which also supports a couple of clematises,

and beneath which lie other plants such as fuchsias and dahlias.

Other clematises scale the gazebo.

White sweet peas thrive on the arch linking the Weeping Birch Bed with the raised bed opposite.

Elizabeth's Bed

Elizabeth’s Bed is nicely fluffed up;

Bacopa in Florence's basket

Florence sculpture’s basket of bacopa is responding well to careful nurturing;

Phlox, petunias, lobelias, begonia

happy planting is displayed along the Shady Path where phlox in the bed; and petunias and begonias in the basket above  blend in a diagonal punctuated by lobelias.

Bees on alliums

Bees are particularly attracted to these purple alliums.

Clematis in Rose Garden

A true blue clematis climbs the potting shed in the Rose Garden;

Snapdragons

and a bright red snapdragon hangs by the kitchen window.

One evening recently Jackie spotted a little furry creature that we thought to be a vole. She has been nurturing an ailing Bishop of Llandaff  in the New Bed for a while now. This morning the whole plant had disappeared. Just behind the vacant space was a tiny tunnel. A vole had struck. They are apparently partial to dahlia corms. So far, others in the bed have survived. Apparently there is little defence possible against their tiny teeth.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak on Mexican burgers, fresh salad, coleslaw, and French fries. the meals were very good, as was the service. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Ringwood’s best.