Seeking Solutions


This afternoon I kept my eyes open for most of the football World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico. In order to wake me up at half time I wandered around the garden,

Spraying penstemon and salvias beneath petunias and geraniums in hanging basket

where Jackie was spraying the flower beds by hose.

Petunias, begonias etc in cane chair

The cane chair planting

and other containers were still benefitting from recent irrigation.

A variety of nasturtiums are in pots in the front of the garage door,

and solanum and honeysuckle have joined clematis Mrs N. Thompson on the trellis.

We have many other clematises.

Several different day lilies occupy the Dragon Bed, which leads towards petunias in a hanging basket over the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Rose Mamma Mia  blends well with some of the lilies.

Before they returned home Becky and Ian sat in the garden seeking solutions to a crossword.

Later, Jackie and I dined on a little of Becky’s chicken curry and rice; rack of pork spare ribs in barbecue sauce; and fresh salad.



In The May Garden (2)


Brick Path

Among his other tasks this morning, Aaron finished weeding the original section of the Brick Path,

Iris 1
Irises 1

and sprayed herbicide along the gravel of the Back Drive where an old gold iris has bloomed.


Many plants, like this pansy-like mimulus, have happily self-seeded from last year,


others like two mulleins threatening to dwarf the roses among which they have taken root, may themselves be quite content, but their neighbours are not so.


We may have left it too late to move these two giants to the rear of the Back Drive border.

Rose Gloriana

Rose Gloriana is far more prolific in this, its third year in the Rose Garden,

rose Madame Alfred Carriere 1
rose Madame Alfred Carriere 2
rose Madame Alfred Carriere 3

the faded blue entrance arch to which bears creamy Madame Alfred Carriere.

rose Altissimo

Altissimo stands sentinel at the corner of The Rose Garden and Elizabeth’s Bed,


where this sturdy fuchsia suspends its delicate pink flowers.


Cheerful erigeron cascades from the wall of the New Bed that contains


this pink-striped clematis,

Clematis 2

as healthy as this, one of Jackie’s rescued spindly little twigs, mounting the front fence.

This evening we dined on pork medallions in barbecue sauce, with crunchy carrots, broccoli, and new potatoes. I drank Parra Alta Malbec 2016. Jackie had already imbibed her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

A New Fashion Print

Jackie working on bed from above 2

Jackie spent most of another fine spring day working on her soil replenishment project. Can you spot her?

Jackie through eucalyptus

You certainly can now

Jackie working on bed

that the sunlight has provided her with a new fashion print.


To the left of the eucalyptus can be seen one of the freshly planted mimuluses. Here is another.

View from frog pond

The red Japanese maple stands at the bottom right of the opening picture. It is also evident in this view from the frog pond. Actually the pond is a filled cistern containing water lilies and no frogs. It acquired its name when Jackie unearthed the stone amphibians in the undergrowth.

Clematis lost label

I provided a modicum of assistance in the soil replenishment process; carted compost about; did some watering; and dug a big hole, filling it with more nutritious matter, for a lost label clematis. The benefit of such a buy is that you get much more for your money, and the fun of waiting to find the answer to more of what. Behind the plant is our insect hotel.

Crane's bill geraniums

Different crane’s bill geraniums are coming into bloom,


as is the small convolvulus cneorum on the back drive.

Bee on ajuga

The bees are still preferring the pulmonaria to anything else on offer.

Grass bed completed 1

Just as the morning light illuminated the start of Jackie’s final day on this particular soil transplant, the evening sun cast shadows across the finished job.


It was greenfinches, resting from feverish flitting from tree to tree, that overlooked our evening rose garden drinks; this one from the relative safety of a neighbour’s garden.


Jackie is beginning to worry that the splendid heucheras she planted as a border to the roses might overawe the main attraction.

Our dinner this evening consisted of Mr Pink’s fish and chips, and  pickled gherkins and onions from jars in the cupboard, followed by Jackie’s apple and sultana crumble with cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the cabernet sauvignon.

The Last Of The Summer Wine?

As a break from working on the garden album, I took a wander around.

Clematis Campaniflora

In the front, the tiny clematis Campaniflora quivers in the breeze, festooning the shrubs outside the window. The sepals of this plant just about span my thumbnail.


In the bed opposite lies perhaps autumn’s biggest surprise. Foxgloves, we understand, flower once, drop their seeds, then die. This one’s giant spiralling stem bloomed all summer, rebuffing the gale force winds we experienced. All these new flowers are gathered on spurs from the original. What could be going on?


Mimuluses still abound. These are just outside the kitchen door.

Today’s offerings from the rose garden are:

Rose Festive Jewel

Festive Jewel,

Rose Summer Wine

and, could this be the last of the Summer Wine?

This afternoon an engineer from Premier Electrics called to fix the washing machine. Given that I only phoned them at 11.30 a.m. and the job was done by 4.00 p.m. we were rather impressed with the service. Their number had been gleaned from Village Voice, the Milford on Sea community magazine.This was a good result because Jackie had been wondering whether we would be able to get the sheets washed, and I was concerned lest I run out of underpants.

This evening we dined on a massive mushroom omelette, chips, and baked beans. We both drank sparkling water.

Destruction Of Tulips

When I was ill earlier in the year, our friends Margery and Paul gave me a copy of ‘Winespeak’, Ronald Searle’s illustrated ‘Wicked World of Winetasting’. The author, a highly original artist, claims that ‘All the phrases in this little book have been plucked from unacknowledged but absolutely authentic sources’. Souvenir Press’s 1983 edition presents Searle’s ( until I insisted, WordPress changed this to Seattle) grotesque caricatures alongside his chosen phrases.

Here is one example: This is an excellent coffee table book. I dipped into it again last night. This morning Jackie drove me to our G.P.’s surgery in Milford on Sea, where the practice nurse removed my stitches. As, razor sharp unpicker poised, she approached my hand, she said, ‘I think I’ll get my glasses’. ‘Please do’, I laughingly replied. She explained that she didn’t really need them, but found that the off-the-counter pair beautifully magnified the knotted spiky strands of stiff line sticking out of my hand as if it were a pin-cushion. The wavy course of the blue material looked like a design for my Mum’s cross-stitching. This filled me with confidence, and she carried out a perfect operation, slipping the tiny knife under the tight knots, slicing through the thread, and drawing out any hidden residue with her gentle fingers. As my palm is rather scenic, and thinking that a description of the procedure presents the picture, I will spare my readers a photograph. Today’s gale force winds were running at about 40 m.p.h. when we made this trip. On the way back we stopped and parked by the cliff top.

In order to photograph the violent seas below, I braced myself, attempting to remain upright against the gusts tearing across The Solent. The thrift clung to the ground far more securely than I did. I wasn’t about to stand too close to the edge. Actually, I couldn’t really see what I was doing. By mid afternoon the gusts reached more than 50 m.p.h.,   

setting the Japanese maples aflame, foliage flickering in the sunlight.

Some flowers, such as aquilegias partnering bluebells in enforced fandango, survived the gales.

Sheltered mimulus and libertia simply basked in warmth.

The clematis Natcha, gyrating wildly, nevertheless kept its head.

Not so those tulips that, yesterday, had stood proud atop their chimney pot.

When we left at 9.30 this morning, they had begun to shed petals,

by lunchtime revealing their stamens,

Tulips 4

becoming even more exposed as the afternoon progressed.

By 6.30 p.m., when we left with Elizabeth, Danni, and Andy to dine at Spice of India, this is what was left of them:

On the left of this picture stands a crinodendron hookerianum, otherwise known as the Chilean lantern tree. It will soon be in bloom. (Last year I erroneously termed this the Chinese lantern tree.)

The food and service at the restaurant, owned by Andy’s friend Sid, was excellent. My starter was succulent prawn puri, and my main course Naga chicken with special rice. I drank Cobra. I didn’t really take in what the others had.


Some Interesting Strands

I began the day with a wander around the garden in search of new flowers. It wasn’t difficult to find some not yet photographed.

In the bottom right hand corner of the aerial photograph is a tree with

fascinating variegated leaves that we have not yet identified. Above it, a rosa glauca has really benefited from the pruning we have undertaken around it. This one has no thorn and flowers abundantly.
A different mimulus than that displayed two days ago looks as if it has been scissored by a snail.

We have many different poppies fluttering in the breeze.

Here is a hebe.

The spirea gold mound, named for its yellow leaves, looks like a cluster of gems set around a flamboyant finger.

Some delicately striated irises I have not seen before are cropping up everywhere, and among those roses taking full advantage of their unaccustomed sunlight is the pink abundance overlooking a section of the renovated brick path, which, with all due deference to the suppliers label we are now quite sure is in fact apricot abundance.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Wroughton, near Swindon, to visit Chris and Frances. My niece Fiona was also visiting, and went off to collect great-nephew James and bring him back to see us before taking him home. Elizabeth was also present as she is staying for a few days discussing research for the family history Chris has been working on for many years. We are nearing the time when the painstaking work can be turned into a book. Taking in the lines of both our parents, there are a number of very interesting strands going back three centuries. For some reason, my two siblings have decided that I am the author who should take on the work. Whilst this is most flattering, it comes with Chris’s judgement that I have verbal diarrhoea. Well, he is my younger brother, so it is appropriate that a compliment should come with trimmings. I expect I shall soon be inundated with documents.

On our way home Jackie and I dined at The Jarna, which was rather full for a Monday. This surprised the staff because football World Cup season always keeps people at home. This evening we sat near this tableau that I have not noticed before:

Painted Into A Corner

While we have been working on the main garden, the back drive has taken advantage of our negligence, and become rather out of hand. Jackie has decided that, far preferable to getting down on her hands and knees to weed it, she will apply a weedkiller. Since this area is the size of a large town back garden, the task will require goodness knows how many trips from the house to the undergrowth with a small can of diluted poison.

In the photograph she is seen making her way to the far end. At least a start was made.
The front garden has also rather burgeoned. After transporting a few more sets to finish yesterday’s border, I made a start on that.
After leaving off the poisoning, Jackie set those last few blocks of granite, and continued planting and watering.When she called me for lunch,

I had not even finished clearing the brambles breaking through the trellis by the entrance, and clambering over any plants in their path. As the second picture shows, it became apparent that I had painted myself into a corner. I found another way out.
This afternoon I managed to clear the trellis area, and heavily to prune a sloe tree that was encroaching onto the footpath outside our property, and putting unnecessary pressure on the latticework of the trellis. I had to sacrifice nascent fruit of both the brambles and the tree, but I can live with that.
Before I could put my feet up at the end of the day I needed to clear the severed branches and uprooted blackberry bushes from the garden and the street outside. It was then my turn to make long treks down the garden path. The vast pile of cuttings that all the clearances are accumulating, lies at the far end of the main path, near the gate in today’s first photograph. Backwards and forwards, knackered, I tramped. Adding material to the heap is rather like tossing the caber.
Afterwards, I had a wander around with my camera.

A new variety of poppy has revealed itself in the bed I weeded yesterday, and a pink climbing rose has taken off since we gave it more space and light.

We have a number of varieties of verbena which are seemingly happy with life. The tall stemmed bonariensis blends beautifully with the clematises on the new arch, and the surrounding geraniums. Its shorter, scented, cousin, aptly named strawberries and cream, makes a welcome companion for diascia and pelargoniums, especially the nutmeg flavoured one. That is why Jackie has placed their pot alongside the bench.

Petunias, such as these in a hanging basket, come in a variety of colours, as does the mimulus, nestling on the margin of the tiny pond.
For dinner, Jackie produced gammon baked in a nest of whole mushrooms; swede, carrot and potato mash; cauliflower; and a positively piquant melange of onions and tomatoes for    a sauce to provide juiciness. I didn’t drink any of her Hoegaarden, or anything else for that matter.
For the onion and tomato sauce:
Take four medium onions, finely chopped. Fry them with one clove of garlic in butter with a little oil to stop the butter burning.
When they are well done, add a can of chopped Italian tomatoes and gently fry until blended in well.
Try it. It’s delicious.