Escape From Alcatraz

LilyPlate on bed headToday’s Lily, yet another different variety, has two layers of petals.

After Jackie, making use of a couple of plates from the rail of the too large IKEA wardrobes, had repaired the bed head screwed to the weeping birch, we spent a long day completing the work on the clematis montana fence in the kitchen garden.

Fortunately, when clearing the bed head bed of brambles, crocosmia luciferI had managed to preserve what turned out to be crocosmia lucifer, now blooming above the erstwhile wooden ornamental feature.

Had I not been familiar with what the DIY efforts of our predecessor had perpetrated inside the house, I may have had trouble believing what, once we had cleared away enough foliage, he had attached to our neighbour’s fence. Nail through bar on fenceBar and netting on fenceBut there was no mistaking his technique for putting in awkward nails. A stout post had been driven into the ground from our side, and a beam attached to it at one end of the fence. He must have possessed only one sustaining post because the other end of the long strut was nailed directly into the top of the fence. The diagonally driven nail wasn’t really doing much by now, and was fixed in exactly the same manner as a rough-hewn piece of deal placed across the jamb of one of the kitchen doors which had been blocked up by our vendors’ fridge.

Derrick hacking wire on fenceWhat I described yesterday as wire netting was more like the grille at a prison window. Framework off fenceEven Clint Eastwood, as Frank Morris, in the 1979 film ‘Escape from Alcatraz’, would have had trouble getting through that. Heavy duty staples had bound it both to the upright wooden post and to the horizontal beam. A smaller variety, driven into the planks of the fence, Jackie had been able to tap out with a hammer and screwdriver. The large, thick, ones would not budge. The grille itself was going to have to be cut.

Some kind of black plastic material had been wound around the clematis and bramble jumble at the top of this structure. I can only imagine its purpose was to prevent the brambles that had rooted on the other side of the fence from returning home.

Milford Supplies once more had the benefit of our custom, as Jackie drove off to buy a suitable implement, whilst I continued to move brushwood to the site of the bonfire and chop it up. She returned with mini bolt cutters which looked just the job. No such luck. They barely dented the metal. I had to hack off with a saw each piece held by a staple. Eventually we pulled the whole frame towards us, left it standing, and had some lunch. Afterwards I broke up the frame and hacked off all the bits of grille.

kitchen garden entrancePatch in kitchen gardenLong after I was done for the day, Superwoman continued to open up the entrance to this part of the garden even more. In doing so she discovered that underneath the earth and rubble are signs of a brick pavement.

After that, she fed us on chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and onion, peas and sweetcorn rice, with which we drank Cobra beer. This was followed by Post House Pud, with summer fruits as the base.

Owling With Attitude

The blackbird still sits on her nest. Peering through shrubs at a safe distance, sometimes her bright little eyes are visible to the viewer, sometimes her upturned tail.

Brambly bedToday’s task for me was to clear one bed of brambles and other unwelcome growth. Simple enough for a day’s work. I thought. In fact the wild blackberry bushes were the least of my problems.

As I began to feel my way into the undergrowth I came across a number of previously unseen plants. Passion flower chokedOne was a heavily-budded passion flower which had become entwined in a hebe, and, of course brambles. The necessary disentanglement was a most delicate operation.Passion flower support Having carried out the surgery I gave it a leg-up by means of netting attached to a metal post set in concrete that Jackie had found elsewhere in the garden. Another such climber had clung to the weeping branches of the birch tree, but had many stems trailing in and out of the bed grasping at anything in its path. Further similar treatment was required. This time the netting was strung between two wooden stakes.

Two types of tree that are abundantly self-seeded in this garden are hawthorn and bay. There was one of each in this bed, their roots, as always, taking shelter among those of  other plants; in this case the weeping birch and some lilies that have not yet flowered.Bed head screwed to birch I had no chance of reaching them unless I removed the wooden bed head nailed to the tree. No doubt this once had a decorative purpose of sorts.  I couldn’t prise it off. Once the rust had been scoured off the nailhead it turned out to be a screw, so dilapidated as to be bereft of a slot. I tried to make one with the trusty hacksaw. I couldn’t get it deep enough.

Then along came Superwoman, who saw that if we removed the rickety slats and the other end, we could leave the post where it was. D’oh!

That is what we did. I dug out the offending trees and replaced the rest of the bed head. Two of the joints had by now disintegrated, so nails will have to be used, when I have bought some of sufficient length. In order that it does have a decorative function, I optimistically fed a passion flower stem through the secure bit.

Jackie speaks of the June gap, which is that unproductive time between the finishing of the spring flowers and before the arrival of those of the summer. The planting here has been so well planned that there is no such hiatus. Water lilyPhiladelphusWhite bush roseRose - pink abundancePetuniasPetunias - magentaDiasca and pelargoniumBegoniaPoppiesVerbascumRodgersiaClematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalI took a break after lunch and photographed water lily, philadelphus, roses, petunias, diasca, pelargonium, begonia, poppies, verbascum, rodgersia, and clematises which are just a few of those we currently have flowering.

Our blackbird is still awaiting the emergence of her chicks. Not so the owl in my friend Hari’s tree. Her two are about three weeks old, and able to reach the ground, but do need to be returned to their Mum. If I am able to photograph our fledglings I am confident that my pictures would not be as striking as the one Hari e-mailed me today.Owling by Harri She believes the creature was displaying a mind of its own when it stared back at its rescuer. I rather like her term for a baby owl, especially one with attitude, which has provided today’s title.

This evening’s meal was Jackie’s beef and mushroom pie with mashed carrots, swede, and potatoes; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. Tiramisu ice cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the tempranillo.

If you have a shop that can sell you ready prepared pastry and have saved enough beef casserole (recipe) you, too could make the pie. Simply drain off the sauce from the casserole and use it as gravy; roll out the pastry, insert the filling into it, and bake it in the oven for about half an hour on 200. The chef, when pressed for her timing, said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t time it, I just stood and looked at it until it was the right brownness’. I don’t expect she did this for the whole time, but I think that gives you the idea.