Negotiating The Levels

Today’s weather was dull, dry, and warm.

This afternoon we ventured into the forest, finding ourselves in MacPenny’s Garden Centre where Jackie shopped for a climbing hydrangea and sat in the car with her puzzles while I wandered around the open garden.

Offering free access all the year round with proceeds of donations dedicated to the National Garden Scheme, I have to say that this splendid facility was looking very much in need of care. A notice at the entrance warns of uneven surfaces which need negotiation, but my impression is that these are more precarious, the steps lacking handrails once in place.

It is of course comparatively early in the year. Last year I spoke to a gentleman volunteer who was tending some of the beds. Today there were heaps of compost awaiting spreading, but no real signs of activity.

Nevertheless shrubs such as camellias,

rhododendrons,

and magnolias bloomed happily, while

hellebores and

snakes head fritillaries flew the flags for smaller species.

A small tree I didn’t recognise

bore pendulous fruit.

One was never very far from a bench

or steps, most of which I thought best avoided.

Paths wound around and between banks offering vistas on different levels.

Rotting stumps made offerings to the garden ecology;

a probably currently redundant hose lay coiled on a leaf-laden path;

branches of naked trees writhed against the skies.

Any readers concerned about my safety may be reassured by the walking stick that Elizabeth gave me for my birthday last year which does wonders for my balance.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s well-filled toothsome beef pie; roast potatoes and butternut squash; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cotes de Bourg.

Scenes Of Devastation

We were promised further heavy winds today. They were postponed until tonight, which may explain why we saw no free roaming animals on our trip to the forest.

On our way to the Milford pharmacy we stopped to watch

the waves surging with spray and crashing on rocks as they practised for the races they would be engaged in later.

Although shifting the lens just a few degrees to the right gave streaks of sunlight on the horizon,

the Isle of Wight remained invisible to the eye, despite a glimmer of blue sky, and enough light to catch the

lifebelt on a post.

Afterwards we progressed to Boldrewood via Lymington. Traffic lights on Southampton Road facilitated my photographing this pink magnolia set against the blue wash and fine Georgian window of an elegant terraced house of the period.

On the approach to Boldre Lane a couple of field horses showed eagerness to see what was occurring over their hedge.

The woodland itself presented

scenes of devastation such as are in evidence throughout the forest.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, pickled onions and gherkins with which we both drank Wairau Cove Sauvignon Blanc 2019.

Jackie’s photo story from this afternoon warrants a separate post which forms a sequel to this one.

 

No Discount For Amusing Dog

This afternoon, with Elizabeth and her friend, Cathy, we visited Spinners Garden in Pilley, open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme. Jackie and I had visited four or five years ago when the steep slopes and terraces of this wonderful, well established, venue were of no consequence. Not so today.

The long downward path between splendid varieties of rhododendron and camellia was more than I could manage without continuous pauses.

As soon as possible I sat on the edge of a decking platform and photographed a tree peony, a very large magnolia that had suffered from the attention of the recent Storm Hannah, and the neighbouring landscape.

I watched others, including Elizabeth and Cathy who had made their way down the sloping lawn to a pool with a wooden bridge at the bottom.

I did my best to avoid the attentions of the owner’s dog, keen to have his ball thrown for him. This was something else I had forgotten from our earlier visit. There was unfortunately no discount for amusing him. Cathy had the right idea. Her throw was so powerful that the ball landed in the pool. The owner had a spare to hand.

Jackie photographed the other three of us after we had taken refreshments on the patio. She then went up to the street to collect the car and bring it down for me – this at the suggestion of a member of the team.

There is a very attractive woodland walk up to the highest level which I was unable to contemplate on this occasion. Before entering the Modus, while my Chauffeuse waited patiently, I photographed this terraced scene rising from a pool containing yellow irises;

and other visitors climbing the path to the top.

With a last look at the beds at the bottom of the entrance road, I entered my waiting carriage.

Elizabeth joined us for dinner this evening, for which, after an amuse bouche of tasty spinach soup, Jackie produced her choice chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, followed by apricot crumble and custard. My sister and I drank more of the Pinot Noir while The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

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.

Giving A Hand

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Just before lunch today, Jackie and I arrived at Mum’s home in West End where we joined Mum and Elizabeth. Jackie had packed a plentiful picnic lunch of sandwiches, tomatoes, cakes and jam tarts; Elizabeth brought salad. These were enjoyed when Danni and Andy joined us a little later. We were a gardening party to spend the afternoon working on our mother’s garden.

Elizabeth began by assembling the new lawn mower and cutting the grass;

while Jackie pruned the shrubbery on the drive to the

front garden with, among others, its magnolia, heathers, and muscari. Perched on Mum’s raised garden chair, I helped to fill the bags with the cuttings

I offered similar assistance in cutting up the photinus that the Head Gardener pruned in the back garden. By cutting out the lower branches she gave the tree shape, and, in the process, revealed the hiding place of a blue cockerel.

Danni and Andy concentrated on weeding and redefining the edges of the flower beds.

In truth, I spent most of my time watching the others work. Well, someone had to take the photographs.

The penultimate photograph in the lawn mowing sequence contains an ailing rose with muscari at its feet. Jackie dug out the rose and set the smaller, healthy, plants aside for replanting while Elizabeth raked out and bagged up photinus leaves.

Until she began to feel cold and wish to go back indoors, Mum kept an eye on proceedings. She had been helped out without her walking frame. Elizabeth gave her a hand as far as the door, after which she made her own way inside.

Back home this evening Jackie and I consumed some of the lunch that had been surplus to requirements.

 

Behind A Vinca

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Jackie spent the morning working on the garden beds. I finished aerating the scrawny grass patch and did a little clearing up.

At the house end of the Gazebo Path weeded by Aaron last week, Jackie worked on tidying the Triangular Bed;

and, alongside the Dead End Path, the West Bed.

Magnolia

Viewed from our back drive, the splendid magnolia still soars above the vacant North Breeze jungle.

Pansy

Runaway pansies from last year’s hanging baskets have seeded at will.

Head Gardener's Walk

The Head Gardener’s Walk, laid down two years ago, threads through the then non-existent Dragon Bed.

Almost by the hour, tulips are opening out everywhere.

Shield bug on Vinca

This shield bug vainly hoped to hide behind a vinca.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausage casserole, creamy mashed potato and swede, fresh spring greens and runner beans. Neither of us imbibed.

Blue Ice Cream

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Forget-me-nots

Forget-me-nots are now blooming throughout the garden, especially, like these, springing up through the paths.

Our resident robin began the day in the shrubbery before taking up his station and serenading us in the weeping birch.

We spent a sunny morning that began quite chilly, but managed to reach temperatures in double figures, driving around the forest.

The first stop was

Whitten Pond sign

Given the restrictions applied to activities there I can only assume that the numerous muddy, rutted, tracks leading to it had been made by thirsty ponies.

Lying off Pound Lane on the way to Ringwood, this pond, with its choppy wavelets slapping and bubbling against the banks, looked attractive enough,

although the surrounding moorland was pretty wet.

Cyclists were out in their numbers speeding across the moorland roads and the winding lanes. Some, in large groups, switched from single file to two and three abreast in what seemed a rather aggressive attempt to hold drivers back. At one point the third in a trio headed straight for Jackie who, not speeding anyway, had already slowed down.

I wondered whether the man in the red jacket had noticed the ponies to his left.

This spot is not far from Burley at which we arrived before most shops had opened. The village’s pair of geese patrolled the rather empty car park.

Magpie Antiques

10 a.m. is the usual opening time. Magpie Antiques already welcomed visitors,

Jackie buying fudge

as had Burley Fudge which, after sampling the wares, Jackie patronised.

Ice cream tubs

In the forecourt of the antiques shop stands an ice cream stall. This photograph is for Maximus Octavian who likes blue ice cream.

Honey Lane

Honey Lane in Burley Street is as enticing as ever.

Horses in the corner field to the right of the entrance still wear their winter rugs.

At Bramshaw donkeys shared the task of cropping the grass verges with ponies of differing sizes.

Magnolia

Magnolias are blooming throughout the villages. This one near these animals is rather splendid.

We took a diversion around the bottleneck that is Lyndhurst during the holiday seasons.

Along Bolderwood Road I debarked and wandered among the trees, crunching on the dry leaves underfoot, admiring the long shadows, and examining the fallen trees and crumbling stumps.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi, special fried rice and vegetable samosas; followed by apple pie and custard. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Beaujolais.