Hanging Baskets And Other Containers

The sun shone for a few hours this morning. Thereafter we experienced sudden heavy showers falling from an overcast sky, until all cleared late in the afternoon.

Pulling up a few weeds while carrying out a dead heading session providing me with olfactory delights as I reached into the sweet scented rose bushes was my contribution to garden maintenance whilst Jackie continued with the planting. Such was the rate at which she and Flo have been emptying bags of fresh compost and refilling hanging baskets and other containers we needed a mad dash to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy three more large bags.

Here are some examples of the work in progress.

This evening we dined on Red Chilli Takeaway fare. My main course was Naga Lamb; Jackie’s, Chicken Saag; Flo’s, Makhani Lamb. We shared Paneer Tikka, Saag Paneer, Pilau and Egg fried rices, plain paratha, and peshwari naan. Jackie drank Hofflegen and I drank Castellore Barolo 2017, both brought by Angela yesterday.

The Plant Pulley

Today was very hot and sunny. Until fatigue forced me inside I put in

more work on the stones of the Weeping Birch Bed footpath.

It is now possible once more to sit on the chair beneath the tree and look across to the Rose Garden. A raised stone sits in the foreground of this picture. I picked it out of the undergrowth with the intention of using it on the path. When the Head Gardener informed me that it was part of another path leading in the direction of the crow’s flight from the chair, I was somewhat disappointed. Ah, well.

In the Rose Garden we have, among others, Altissimo, foxgloves, Gloriana, Madame Alfred Carriere, and For your Eyes Only.

Red and white mimuluses are blooming in a hanging basket over the Heligan Path; yellow ones in a tub beside the decking.

White petunias share a pot with angels wings, and blue pansies in a hanging basket beside the greenhouse are almost fluorescent.

Planting was again Jackie’s main occupation today. Here she displays a tomato grown from seed.

She has also installed one of Shelly’s Christmas presents, namely a retractable plant hanger which, when attached to the top of the Gazebo can be applied to a hanging basket and retracted to a position giving the required headroom for passing husbands. This one certainly appreciates it.

We have a number of clumps of Erigeron and various peonies.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice topped with an omelette and served with two preparations of prawns – one tempura with sweet chilli sauce, the other hot and spicy. We both drank Concha y Toro Reserva Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2020.

Gardener’s Law


It was a matter of luck that I chose the least overcast part of a drizzly day to join Jackie in the garden today.

Ace Reclaim bench

Aided by a crutch, I walked along the Shady Path to the Ace Reclaim bench which I made my first perch

Jackie carrying perching stool along Shady Path

while Jackie followed with Mum’s stool.

Palm Bed

My eye was drawn to a poppy in the Palm Bed which I could only see from a standing position.

Jackie pulling up cow parsley

In order for me to photograph the scene from the stool, the Head Gardener was kind enough to bend down and pull out mature cow parsley to reveal

the poppies,

Geranium palmatums

without disturbing a host of geranium palmatums.

Oval Bed from Ace Reclaim bench

Red roses in the Oval Bed were also visible from this viewpoint.

Moving alongside the decking, I focussed on a pale blue clematis; the deep red climbing rose above the bench; and planters containing mimuluses, begonias, and petunias.

Jackie explaining 'Gardener's Law'

As she gathered up the cow parsley Jackie explained  Gardener’s Law, which holds that whenever you bend to pick up anything from the ground you will be standing on the other end of it.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s excellent Indian takeaway meal.



I Must Not Assume There Will Be No More Surprises


It was very rash of me to assume that I would know the entirety of the group at our meal at Lal Quilla last night, and to predict what I would eat and drink.

On our entrance the staff, with their usual warm and friendly greeting, said that someone had telephoned the night before to add two people. We didn’t know anything about that, and in any case, Ian had made the booking. He had a quiet word with Raj and we were whisked to a larger pair of tables, according to the manager so we could spread ourselves out a bit. He presented us with a bottle of Beaujolais, so I did not drink Kingfisher. After a while I received a kiss on the cheek. Elizabeth had joined us. Soon afterwards, Danni and Andy came through the door. We were nine plus Poppy after all.

Finally, as we gathered ourselves to depart, a small cake with two lighted candles advanced towards our table followed by the entire staff group who led the family in singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me.

I’ve no idea why I felt rather muzzy all day. I dozed through a bit of Wimbledon tennis on TV, and managed a little weeding, watering, eradicating a few brambles, and tidying up after Jackie’s work on the rose garden. We took a rest with water on the patio from which I enjoyed

Garden view across Kitchen Bed

This view across the Kitchen Bed with its day lilies in the foreground and verbenas in a hanging basket beyond;

Petunias, geraniums, erigeron

pot planted petunias and geraniums over an erigeron carpet;

Mimulus and feverfew

and self seeded mimuluses and feverfew.

Dahlia and clematis

A dahlia nods to the clematis on the wisteria arbour;

Diascia, geraniums, bidens

 pink discias, red geraniums, and yellow bidens flow over the iron urn at the entrance to the Gazebo Path;

Crocosmia Lucifer etc

while blazing crocosmia Lucifer leads us into the Palm Bed.

rose Special Anniversary

As can be seen from this Special Anniversary rose, I haven’t dead-headed the Rose Garden today.

Clematis and solanum

White solanum and a bright blue clematis stream down from the dead tree at the end of the Brick Path.

This evening we dined on Mr Chan’s Hordle Chinese Take Away with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank tap water.

The moral of this post is that when I say I will report on an outing the next day, I must not assume there will be no more surprises.




Spoiler Alert


We were both reprieved from gardening duties this morning by the rain.

I scanned a few more colour slides from 1981/2.

Sam in hammock 8.81

Here Sam enjoys swinging in a hammock at the Drapers’ home in Meldreth near Royston in Cambridgeshire. This was August 1981.

Matthew, Becky, and snowman 12.81

In December that year we had a rare heavy fall of snow in Gracedale Road, Furzedown, South London. Matthew and Becky made the best of it. That was probably the only time in their childhoods that it was possible to create such a magnificent snowman.

Sam 12.81

Another Cambridgeshire venue was the home of Nigel and Judy Pearson at Pastures farmhouse in Caxton. At a Christmas party there, Sam tucked into his first pheasant. I remember biting a piece of shot. This was also the first time I had sampled such fare.

In September 1982 we spent a couple of weeks at the Vachettes’ chateau at Fontaine in Normandy.

Arnoux, Marie- Helene, Jessica, M. et Mme. Vachette 9.82

This is the garden in which Jessica basks in a deckchair with Arnoux, Marie-Helene, and the Vachette parents. As can be seen by the colour of the grass this was a very hot autumn.

Jessica 9.82

Lying at Jessica’s feet

Louisa 9.82 2Louisa 9.82 1

is Louisa in her carrycot;

Sam 9.82

while Sam enjoys the toys she will soon grow into.

This afternoon the sun shone, not only here in Downton, but also in Wimbledon where a tense Gentlemen’s Final took place. I watched it on television.

Andy Murray, trophy, and wife

I will not reveal the winner, but his wife looks on.

Afterwards I wandered around the garden, doing some sporadic dead-heading, whilst Jackie watered some more hanging baskets


Petunias, mimuluses, lobelia, geraniums, owlPetunias 2

containing petunias, mimuluses and lobelia.

Urn, petunias, begonias, bidens,

She also slaked the the thirst of this urn containing petunias, trailing geraniums, and bidens, with penstemons at the side,

Rose Garden

suspended in the Rose Garden.

Hydrangea, geraniums, poppies, pansies, verbena bonarensis

The hydrangea at the corner of Elizabeth’s Bed is thriving;

Clematises, lilies, dahlias, fuchsia, solanum

as are the lilies and clematises in the New Bed;


and the hebes are coming into bloom.

This evening we dined on Mister Chatty Man’s Hordle Chinese Take Away. Jackie drank a blend of Hoegaarden and Bavaria non-alcoholic beer, while I consumed more of the Carignan Vieilles Vignes.

Baskets And Pots


On an overcast day I alternated between watering hanging baskets and pots, dead heading, and watching the television coverage of the men’s semi-finals at Wimbledon. I would pop outside at what seemed reasonable intervals in the matches, fill a few cans, water a few containers, and return to the TV hoping I hadn’t missed anything too crucial. This proved rather more risky in the first event.

Here I present a small token selection of the recipients of the water:

Petunias 1Petunias, sweet peas, lobelia, bidens, geraniumsLobelia, bidens, mimuluses, geraniumsPansies and geraniumsPetunias and lobelia 1Petunias, mimumuluses and lobeliaPetunias and lobelia 2Cosmos and petuniasClematis, sweet peas and geraniumsLobelias, petunias, bidensPetunias, mimuluses, lobelias, geraniumsPetunias, bidens, lobelias, geraniumsPetunias, lobelias, bidens, sweet peasDiascia

Readers will find examples of petunia, lobelia, pansy, bidens, clematis, sweet pea, geranium, mimulus, diascia, and no doubt many more.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and boiled rice, followed by Helen’ rich chocolate roulade. The Culinary Queen drank diet Pepsi and I began an intriguing wine curiosity. This was present from Helen and Bill; a label called Rare Vineyards; a red wine, Carignan vieilles vignes (old vines), 2015. It is enjoyable.

The Dymo Marker


Well, I did cut the grass, and wander round the garden, but that was along time ago. The rest of the day was spent preparing my finances for my very efficient accountant. Had I done even a modicum of filing any time during the last seven months, the task may have been a little more exciting. But I didn’t. So it wasn’t.

Jackie, however, may have found her own awesome effort, rather more satisfying.

Jackie working on Dragon BedDragon Bed

She spent the whole day resuscitating a small section of the Dragon Bed. This involved the usual method of improving the soil with compost; finger-fishing for thousands of tiny allium bulbs; prising out buried lumps of stone which now form the access path you see here; and planting new residents.

Tree peony

We have also been clearing the Palm Bed; enough to allow a glimpse of a hidden peony.


The inherited clematis on the Shady Path is doing well,

rose Special Anniversary

as is the rose Special Anniversary, in the Rose Garden where

Rose garden

Festive Jewel begins a bid to compete with the fluorescent heucheras.


I swear that wherever there is a breeze we can hear the jingling of Spanish doubloons.

Mimuluses self-seeded

The red mimuluses in the hanging basket slung here, not only survived the mild winter, but also self-seeded in the camouflaged blue painted Butler sink below.

Viburnum plicatum

The viburnum plicatum becomes daily more glorious.

View from Waterboy

This is a view from the Shady Bed towards the Waterboy;

Revived tree

and another across the Phantom Path, leading to the revived yellow-leaved tree, on which, when we arrived, only the bottom right hand branch bore foliage.

Rose garden evening

Winchester Cathedral As we sat in the Rose Garden with our pre-dinner drinks I reflected from my chair on what it would look like when all these plants were in full bloom.

Now, boring as my day mostly was, it did have one major benefit. Jackie has painstakingly written her plant labels in black permanent marker. Unfortunately this is not proof against the wind and the rain. My files are all labelled with a Dymo Marker, which I thought would be longer lasting. So I showed her how to work it, and she was away.

Mister Chatty Man, proprietor of Hordle Chinese Take Away, provided our dinner this evening. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012.

Out On Their Feet Amid The Confetti

Yesterday I forgot to mention the outcome of my visit to Simon Richards, the hand surgeon. That can only be a good sign. He has discharged me, but physiotherapy will continue for some time. The middle joint on the little finger remains bent rigid. He has advised me to practice straightening it with brute force from my right hand. That’s painful. And scary. Rather like holding a newborn baby, I don’t want to break it. But it seems to be working.

Wind still gusts around the garden, but we do have sunshine and showers. Rhododendron

A new rhododendron is in bloom;

Ant on allium

an ant perches on the first of our colourful alliums to arrive;

Thyme and erigeron

the thymes I rescued from the blue sinks last year have thrived;

Spiky shrub

as has the heavily Corokia cotoneaster outside the back door;

clematis Niobe

and the clematis Niobe enlivens the kitchen wall.

The rain, reinforced by a fierce fusillade of hailstones, soon returned and watered my charges for me.Mimulas and cosmos

These mimuluses, hosta, heuchera, and cosmos have yet to be planted up.

I returned to the task of identifying and scanning the prints retrieved from Elizabeth.

Michael and Sam 6.83

Here, Michael and Sam are seated in the garden of Gracedale Road in June 1983.

Sam 1983

Later that year, Sam tucks into refreshments after completing the Furzedown mini-marathon.

This was a fund-raising event for the children’s nursery school. Clearly the professional-looking number tags had been donated by the organisers of the Farnham Castle Marathon, sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken. I made a complete black and white portfolio of the occasion for the school. Some parents bought copies. If I ever find the negatives, I think the pictures would warrant their own post.

(I did find the negatives. This post and the next two feature the pictures)

Michael 1984

Sometime in 1984, Michael appears to be watching telly in the lounge of Gracedale Road. Probably an Arsenal football match.

Becky 1984 001

Also in 1984 we attended Tony and Liz’s wedding. Here is a portrait of Becky taken there.

That was the period in which I was converting colour negatives to black and white prints, using an enlarger and chemicals. Goodness knows how, I certainly don’t remember. Now I can do it at the touch of a mouse, so who cares?

Becky 1984 002

This, from the same set, was scanned from a 10″ x 8″ print.

Louisa 1984

Louisa was there too. Here, putting me in mind of the bridesmaid from 1970, she, too, seems to be out on her feet, and contemplating whether the confetti would soften the paving stones sufficiently to provide a feather bed.

There was more than enough of Jackie’s delicious beef stew for my meal this evening. I also finished the Madiran wine.