Cheers Laurie And Clif

My contribution to Jackie’s general garden maintenance this morning was

making a start on weeding the gravelled Gazebo path. I will need to consult with the Head Gardener about these forget-me-nots spilling under the iron wheels.

Brick Paths will need to wait their turn;

I am not looking forward to the Back Drive which I may resort to spraying with something unpleasant – the gravel, not the borders.

In the front garden the crab apple blossom is chasing the last of the remaining cherry flowers.

Accompanied by the magnolia Vulcan, several camellias continue to bloom,

as do numerous tulips.

Daffodils and honesty are keeping pace.

Bluebells are becoming prolific.

The rescued red maple in the Pond Bed is again brightening the views.

After lunch, Jackie cut my hair.

While we enjoyed our pre-dinner drinks on the patio, Jackie photographed a pair of rooks on the copper beech, wondering whether Russell had found a mate; the now lonely preening collared dove who has lost hers to a predator; and the starling bringing food to his family in the eaves.

We then toasted Laurie and Clif, our blogging friends in Maine.

Jackie’s drink was Hoegaarden, mine more of the Malbec, continued with our dinner of fried chicken, mushrooms, onions and potatoes, served with boiled carrots, cabbage, runner beans, and tasty gravy.

Surviving The Cold Weather

Having progressed comfortably past the halfway point in Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’, this morning I scanned the next six of Charles Keeping’s imaginative and skilful illustrations.

In ‘Mrs Hominy stalked in again; very erect, in proof of her aristocratic blood’ the artist perfectly displays her haughtiness.

‘Three or four meagre dogs; some long-legged pigs; some children, nearly naked; were all the living things he saw’ sprawls across a splendid two page spread.

Two more leaves are partially occupied by ‘In a moment the stick was spinning harmlessly in the air, and Jonas himself lay sprawled in the ditch’, thus depicting a sense of distance.

Mrs Gamp, being ‘Only a little screwed’, i.e. somewhat inebriated as usual, clearly afforded her young witnesses a sneaky source of amusement.

‘He stood at his shop-door in even-tide’ is one of Keeping’s authentic period street scenes.

‘That fiery animal confined himself almost entirely to his hind legs in displaying his paces’ bursting out of the text shows the horse’s stubbornly combative nature. The artist faithfully demonstrates the driver’s diminutive stature.

The day remained cold with occasional sunny periods, one of which lasted for only the first of the photographs I produced on a walk around the garden this afternoon.

This was a fanning euphorbia providing shadows; we have a plethora of primroses and pansies, some of which are now planted in an owl flown in from Mum’s garden. The other ornamental raptor pictured is the Head Gardener’s latest purchase. Later daffodils continue to bloom, as do tulips and camellias. Honesty is widespread; spirea sprays forth; fritillaries flourish. I think it is safe to say that the garden is surviving the cold weather.

This evening we dined alfresco at The Lamb Inn, Nomansland. I will report on. that tomorrow.

The Garden As April Begins

On a warm day with sunny intervals it was time to record the garden as it comes alive.

The Brick Path and the Back Drive borders each hold some of the plants I am about to show, like the euphorbia fronting one of the dead stumps on the Back Drive.

We have many tulips in pots and in the beds.

Varieties of daffodils proliferate.

Camellias have been blooming since last November, and are now accompanied by magnolia Vulcan.

Hellebores hang about everywhere.

Japanese maples are coming into leaf.

Spring snowflakes are spreading nicely; forget-me-nots; primroses; pulmonaria; white fritillary; epimedium, wood anemones; cowslips; chionodoxa; and mahonia are further delights.

Unfortunately, on my rounds I found the body of the ailing dove, which had suffered no further damage.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken and vegetable stewp and fresh crusty bread, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Red Blend.

“Where’s Derrick?”

Knowing that the temperature would drop and the leaden canopy overhead become a leaky colander throughout the day, we held back Jackie’s sunlit images from yesterday afternoon.

She had transformed this second footpath across the Rose Garden from a few days ago

to this, having also re-fixed the windblown mirror to the back fence. The poppies in the first picture have all been relocated.

Elsewhere backlit borage;

sunlit azalea;

and shadowy lily of the valley also caught her eye.

After lunch today I took advantage of a minor lull in the precipitation from above and photographed raindrops

pendant from solanum;

pearling  libertia;

pooling pelargoniums;

douching heuchera leaves;

bejewelling rosebuds;

caressing Queen of the Night;

refreshing rhododendrons;

purifying pale pink pieris;

cleansing clematis;

and slithering down Viulcan magnolia.

Some flowers, such as hellebores,

pansies,

and diurnal poppies, bowed their heads against the weight of the crown jewels.

While I was wandering around the garden Jackie, from the dry warmth of the kitchen,

photographed me in action.

She even managed “Where’s Derrick?” (1)

and (2)

This evening we dined on prawns: tempura prawns; prawns in hot, spicy batter; seeded prawn toasts; and Jackie’s savoury prawn, egg, and vegetable rice, followed by mixed fruit crumble and custard, with which she drank Heineken and I drank Piemonte Barbera 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avian Courtship

Jackie spent this, the hottest afternoon of the week, continuing her work of tidying and planting the garden,

I spent some time collecting up debris for the compost bin and sweeping paths like those named Brick

and Gazebo.

 

The strong sweet scent of the swinging wisteria penetrates

the closed stable door during the evenings.

A pair of Orange Tip butterflies seeming to savour honesty flittered about.

The clematis Montana Mayteen planted to mount the

now limbless cypress overlooking the Dragon Bed.

The light magenta blooms of Magnolia Vulcan beside the tree have benefited from the light revealed by the amputations;

while this red climbing rose we inherited, no longer having the arboreal arms to reach for, may follow the Head Gardener’s directions.

The velvet petals of these deep mauve tulips Queen of the Night

were intended by Mrs Knight to blend with the potted varieties planted in the Rose Garden at the same time.

Unfortunately the recent winds stripped the earlier blooms until, almost overnight the late risers yawned, stretched, and opened their eyes a couple of days ago.

These red wallflowers complement various locations;

similarly hued rhododendrons,

like these in the Palm Bed, are beginning to burgeon –

bench, box, and bluebells indulge me by continuing the alliteration.

This evening, as we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks on the patio, we witnessed an avian courtship.

On the far side of the garden a wood pigeon who didn’t fancy his chances, turned his back on the proceedings on the eaves where

another, attempting to look suave, winked

at his prospective mate – for life – prostrated himself

and gradually nudged towards her. She feigned enough interest for him to repeat the movement until he became close enough for her to fly off teasingly. Naturally he played his part and followed in pursuit.

We dined on tender roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and Yorkshire; crunchy carrots; tangy red cabbage; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Mezquiriz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Sad Sign Of The Times

Jackie had a reasonably smooth shop this morning, after which she worked in the garden until the temperature became too hot. The Co-op was selling bedding plants, some of which she naturally bought, although she will have need of

all her pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse.

After lunch I took a tour with my camera and deposited some debris into the compost bin.

Even these white daffodils turned their backs on the bright sunlight.

The younger tulips in the patio pots are in hot pursuit of their elders,

more of which are fully opened;

others continue to grace the Rose Garden

and the foreground of this view from the concrete patio leading towards that area.

The species Lilac Wonder attracted a rather small bee,

This is time of year when, before coronavirus, we would have visited local bluebell woods, however we do have

plenty of our own.

Lavinia Ross spotted pot marigold calendulas in yesterday’s post. Here is another variety of the genus for her.

Our Magnolia Vulcan is now coming into bloom.

Camellias brighten many views like this one of the Brick Path;

they form a sympathetic backdrop to the red Japanese maple;

and come in a variety of hues.

Spirea sprays spread across the Palm Bed;

pieris leaves flame over the lawn;

self-seeded Erigeron has leaped to cascade from the Kitchen Bed obelisk;

and spring daffodils nod to summer snowflakes across the Cryptomeria Bed.

Caterpillar-like catkins wriggle on the tips of Weeping Birch branches.

Tiny epimedium blooms cast their shadows on the West Bed.

The borders of the back drive

contain unusual daffodils,

sympathetic snapdragons,

and vinca colour-coordinated with honesty.

The far end of this drive stands opposite the car park of The Royal Oak which bears a sad

sign of the times, advertising their spring menu for which no-one is able to stop and enjoy until the pandemic rules are relaxed.

This evening we dined on tempera prawns with sweet chilli sauce, diet garlic bread, and fresh salad with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Mezquiriz. We had planned a houseful for Easter so stocked up on items such as these before panic buying had cleared the shop shelves.

 

 

Not Quite Mid-May

Today’s tour of the garden began with

clematis Marie Boisselot in the Kitchen Bed which also contains an as yet small wisteria, clusters of ferns, Japanese maples, the now ubiquitous erigeron, and self seeded bronze fennel which will have to go when it outgrows it’s welcome.

Other clematises include Niobe, now rivalling the fading wisteria and the burgeoning rose Paul’s Scarlet for space above the Wisteria Arbour; and Doctor Ruppel, one of which is beginning its ascent up the arch facing the Westbrook Arbour.

At the Brick Path corner of the Dragon Bed a deep red peony prepares to top off the happy planting of phlox and geraniums.

At the far side of this bed the magnolia Vulcan is beginning to relish the light now permitted into its corner.

The pink rhododendron in the Palm Bed sits opposite the deeper variety in Margery’s Bed.

There are a number of vantage points along the Brick Path.

The yellow diurnal poppies alongside the Gazebo Path

can be seen slightly above the centre of this view through the Cryptomeria Bed.

Before Aaron left this morning he had mown the grass patch which is beginning to warrant the epithet lawn.

Rose Madame Alfred Carriere soars above the entrance to the Rose Garden; Jacqueline du Pré adds harmony; Laura Ford a splash of yellow beside Roserie de la Haie; and Gloriana a touch of majesty to the side fence.

Aquilegias dance with ferns in the South Bed;

weigela festoons the fence above them.

Three hawthorn trees, swathes of libertia, and carpets of erigeron give a distinctly white hue to the Back Drive borders.

These are glimpses of the garden in not quite mid-May.

While we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks on the patio a pair of pigeons settled down for the evening in the copper beech.

For our dinner we travelled around the world in 60 minutes. We enjoyed Jackie’s special fried rice with Japanese tempura prawns, Chinese pork spare ribs, Indian tandoori chicken, Belgian Hoegaarden beer and more of the Chilean Carmenere wine.

Dressing Chef

I wandered around the garden in today’s early morning light.

Alongside the magnolia Vulcan stand the first of our rhododendrons in full bloom.

The small diurnal yellow and orange poppies that crop up everywhere have woken up;

forget-me-nots also thrust through soil and gravel at will;

even more ubiquitous are honesty,

and bluebells.

Iberis, aubretia, dicentra, hellebores, daffodils, and primulas are thriving, although perhaps the ant has nibbled the last of these.

Rusty Duck keeps an eye on some of the primulas and the lamiums.

Hairy pulmonaria breathes in the sunshine.

Florence sculpture has a good view of the yellow Japanese maple.

The Shady Path catches the sun.

Camellia petals carpet the soil.

Greenhouse geranium cuttings will soon be planted out.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline came for coffee and stayed for lunch for which

Jackie mixed the coleslaw, after which, she regretted that she hadn’t left it for the superbly competent Louis who

mixed the salad and its dressing. It was only after he had crushed peppers using a couple of dishes that he realised we had a pepper mill. Each ingredient to the dressing was carefully added with a little tasting.

Seven of us sat down to the meal. I am not in my place because I was behind the camera.

My two sisters left to visit our mother this afternoon. The rest of us dined this evening on roast duck; roast potatoes; yellow and orange carrots; cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli; sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, and tasty gravy. Louis drank Corona, I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017, and the others drank Portuguese Rosé.

Spot The Partridge

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Jackie

While I lurked with a lens, Jackie continued, carefully, to cultivate the garden this morning.

Red tinges through garden

I had been struck by the trail of red from near tulips at the window to distant rhododendron.

Other touches of red are provided by the geraniums in the iron urn at the head of the Gazebo Path, rhododendrons, tulips, pieris, Vulcan magnolia, and heucheras;

Fly on poppy

little orange poppies have now opened out,

Forget-me-nots

Vinca

and forget-me-nots and vincas are ubiquitous.

Today there was no lull in the gloriously sunny weather when we went for a drive this afternoon.

We took a short walk round MacPenny’s garden at Bramsgore where rhododendrons and azaleas are beginning to enliven the beds and the pathways.

Most fields of cattle, like these at Thorney Hill, contain cud-chewing cows and languorous calves. They seem to be able to ignore the flies that surround their eyes and noses.

Partridge

Elusive partridges seemed to be darting everywhere. Can you spot this one?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy lamb biriani with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the pinot noir.

 

 

Mirrors

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Mirror and mantelpiece

Yesterday morning Jackie visited Molly’s Den where she bought a mirror for the wall above the fireplace. On the left of the mantelpiece stands the miniature mock Ordnance Survey Map that Becky made for us almost two years ago. Please ignore the fact that we have not redecorated since the fireplace was put in.

It seems a crime to obtain the bevelled glass and wonderfully hand-carved frame for £40, simply because such craftsmanship is now out of fashion. Observant readers may have observed the finial to the left hand vase. When these ornaments were in Jackie’s parents’ home her father had used plasticine to make good the break. She has made good the break with Blu-Tac.

Reflected drawings

The reflected images in the glass are of two family portraits. That on the viewer’s left has appeared before, on May 3rd 2014:

The other

is one of my proudest possessions. It was produced by Flo when she was about 8 and asked at school to draw something that made her happy. The placement of herself is quite brilliant. The drawing stayed on the wall for a year and was presented to me at the end of that time.

Magnolia Vulcan

In the garden the blooms of the Vulcan magnolia are now opening out;

Clematis Lidl blue

and the clematis Lidl blue, so named because it was an unnamed cheapie from that store,

Rose Penny Lane

and the rose Penny Lane, benefitting from one of the Rose Garden mirrors, climb up one side of the potting shed.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious liver, bacon, and sausage casserole, with creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots and green beans. Jackie drank Peroni, and I finished the Madiran.