Summer Wine For My Birthday

The weather remained cool and breezy today with barely a glimmer of sunshine. We received welcome visits from Shelly this morning, and from Elizabeth this afternoon, each bringing birthday presents.

One of my sister-in-law’s gifts was a little pocket dead header which I employed on my photographic afternoon ramble round the garden.

It enabled me to produce a presentable picture of Doris Tysterman.

The rest of these photographs can be identified by clicking on any one to access the gallery. Don’t miss the bee and the hoverflies.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla where we both started with Prawn purees; Jackie’s main course was chicken sag, and mine King Prawn naga; we shared a plain paratha and special fried rice, and both drank J. Tourville Rosé d’ Anjou 2018. The food and service was as good as always.

Now I am going to watch the Euro 20 football semi-final between England and Denmark.

For The Bees

Between stints in the garden today, which varied from overcast-gloom to sun-bright, I finished reading Chekhov’s engaging story entitled ‘Teacher of Literature” (1894).

Essentially tracing the journey from childhood hardship to the consequences of unearned comfort the tale is told with human insight and with delightful bucolic descriptions. I will not reveal the changes in the main protagonist’s thoughts, but I accept the judgement of translator Elisaveta Fen that ‘The theme is among Chekhov’s favourite ones – the emptiness of mere material prosperity with no prospect of change, [and] the tedium of provincial life….’

There is no drawing to this story in my Folio Society edition.

My first spell in the garden, before lunch, involved clearing, bagging up, and transporting to the compost bin the refuse from the Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings.

The air was brighter after lunch when I weeded

another of the narrow brick footpaths between the Rose Garden beds. Silent woodlice slipped away from my scraping tools, and the water feature bubbled whenever the sun peeped out. Once again the path was too wet to sweep clean.

Even after another night of rain, many floppy blooms are beginning to raise their heads. Here we have the prolific peach-coloured Doris Tysterman; Festive Jewel, Aloha, and For Your Eyes Only in various shades of pink; the white Créme de la créme; the blushing Shropshire Lad; the prolific Gloriana; a rambling Ballerina; the aptly named Peach Abundance; a spreading Perennial Blush; and rich red Ernest Morse.

The elder shrub Sambucus nigra now rivals Altissimo in height.

While I wandered around with my camera Jackie, from her perch in the Weeping Birch Bed, pointed out the buds on the sculptural New Zealand flax.

Some three or four years ago our friend Giles, who has his own welcoming wildlife garden, gave us a twiggy stem of Vipers Bugloss with which to attract bees.

This boon for bees now dominates the far end of the Back Drive and lives up to its magnetic billing.

This evening we dined on tender baked gammon; new potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and piquant cauliflower cheese with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Precipitation Photoshoot

Beneath a constantly percolating cloud colander parky temperatures prevailed throughout the day.

I stayed at the computer while the Assistant Photographer produced the

precipitation photoshoot. Click on any image to access the gallery where each picture bears it own title.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy mango and lime piri-piri chicken served with chilli-potent savoury rice topped with omelette, followed by apricot jam tart and custard, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Antipodean Visitors

Warm sunshine was the order of the day.

Jackie spent much time in shade tending to potted plants, many of which have survived the winter but needed shaves and haircuts.

She has suspended some of these from the lopped cypress.

My contribution to the general maintenance was a little watering, weeding, and transporting debris to the compost bin.

Our first peony blooms are appearing

as are those of roses Emily Gray

and Félicité Perpétue, both along the back drive

which also sports splendid hawthorns.

Our Antipodean visitors include the bark-shedding eucalyptus,

several sculptural New Zealand flaxes,

and the Cordyline Australis now sending forth its bud stems.

Small white butterflies flutter everywhere at the moment. This one had the decency to keep still for a moment.

Currently flourishing clematises include the bosomy Marie Boisselot;

the robust Dr Ruppel;

the novel Daniel Deronda:

and this anonymous character.

This radiant rhododendron refreshes the Palm Bed.

Nugget and Lady continue jointly to feed their brood. It is now really only behaviour that enables us to distinguish between them. For example when one drops down onto the wheelbarrow with which Jackie is working, something with wings in his beak, cocks his head on one side; inspects the offerings she has on display, and flies off in disinterest, that is undoubtedly our friend.

I am fairly sure this in Nugget perched on his favourite patio chair.

The pair of them were collecting suet pellets at this point. Unfortunately I only photographed one of them. Nugget, we think.

Later this afternoon a fledgling robin swooped after Jackie as she entered the rose garden and began tipping spent compost onto the beds for mulch. In a flash this baby cocked his head and began the investigations exactly as his father had done a year ago. Soon we really will have an identification problem.

This evening we dined on more of yesterday’s crusty bread with her wholesome soup of chicken and bacon added to the Culinary Queen’s vegetable base.

Visiting Restrictions

This morning I printed a set of photographs for Aaron of his grappling with the erection of the Agriframes Bower.

After this Elizabeth dropped in to return a hammer and drink a cup of tea. She stayed for lunch after which we engaged in a wide-ranging discussion much of which centred on the coronavirus. This pandemic now seems to be following a geometric progression throughout Europe with consequences that are beginning to effect us all.

Andy, Elizabeth’s beloved son-in-law, despite asthma and diabetes,  has trained steadily for this year’s London marathon which has now been postponed to October.

Louisa and her family are booked to visit her brother, Sam, and his family in Australia in a couple of weeks’ time. It must be touch and go whether they will be able to fly.

With 41 cases of the virus now in our county the inevitable procedures have yesterday been implemented in Mum’s care home. Only near relatives can visit: we have to ring the bell for admission; wash; and have our temperature taken when inside. It can only be a matter of time before visits will be banned altogether. On leaving us, my sister would go on to see Mum and report back on the smoothness of the procedure.

Apparently those of us over 70 will be ordered to self isolate within a matter of weeks. The courage of the villagers of Eyam should never be forgotten.

After rain during the rest of the afternoon spent reading I wandered, camera round neck, while the weak evening light still held.

It only takes a twitch from me for the birds to scatter from the feeders suspended from the prunus Autumnalis in the front garden which contains a range of plants including

euphorbias, also found elsewhere, such as

on the back drive borders.

Ipheions persistently push through the patio paving;

Numerous hellebores,

and daffodils add their splashes of colour. The peach-centred beauties above are from a trough Jackie planted up for Mum when she was still in her own home.

Primroses appear throughout the garden, but there are still some waiting for a permanent place.

We now have some idea of the tints of the tulips sharing their pots with purple pansies.

Grape hyacinth spears stand proud. These are fronted by New Zealand flax.

The more cultivated hyacinths transplanted from gift pots continue to thrive.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s beefy cottage pie; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage and runner beans with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot 2018.

 

 

Modelling Daphne’s Dress

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

My 75th birthday was very pleasurable. Matthew, Tess, and Poppy woke up here in the morning, and Shelley and Ron,  Becky and Ian visited in the afternoon. We all sat in the garden after lunch.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

The first present I opened was from Poppy, who had chosen it. A certain amount of self-interest was rapidly confirmed.

Mat and Tess 1

Our granddaughter provided her parents with their own party hats.

Poppy 3Poppy 4Tess and Poppy 3

Matthew obligingly assembled a colourful bird house that Louisa and Errol had sent me. Poppy saw it as a handbag and commandeered it for a tour of the garden she undertook with Tess;

Poppy and poppy

she was intrigued to be introduced to one of her floral namesakes,

Tess and Poppy 1

and to many other blooms,

Tess and Poppy 2

with some of which she picked and adorned herself.

Kitchen Bed

This was one view of the Kitchen Bed,

Garden view across Margery's Bed

and another seen across Margery’s Bed, each containing

Day lilies 1Day lilies 2

a number of day lilies, some of which Jackie dug up for Tess along with several other plants.

Garden view from Heligan Path bench

This scene is beyond the Heligan Path bench.

New Zealand flax

Being a Kiwi, Tess was able to describe exactly how to propagate New Zealand flax, and to explain the haka.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiKFYTFJ_kw&w=560&h=315]

Pigeons on roof 1Pigeons on roof 2Pigeons on roof 3Pigeons on roof 4Pigeons on roof 5

The reason for this was that I understand that this war dance also represents other events such as courtship, and I had no idea whether the capers of the pigeons on our roof represented war or love.

Poppy 5Poppy 6Poppy 7

Becky brought over a beautifully hand stitched and embroidered dress that her niece Poppy had left behind at her home. Poppy couldn’t wait to strip off and model it. This treasured possession had been made by Tess’s friend, Daphne Harris.

This evening, except for Shelly and Ron who had left earlier, we are all going to dine at Lal Quilla. Regular readers will understand that that means I will enjoy a hot curry and drink Kingfisher, and at the end of the meal will be past caring what anyone else consumed. Should anything out of the ordinary occur, I will report on that tomorrow.

The Wisdom Of The Owl

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Aaron with tree roots

Two days ago views along the kitchen window and bed opposite featured a sawn tree trunk at the far end. Here Aaron is with the last of the stump he further sawed and removed. As usual, I printed him an A4 copy for his collection.

View alongside Kitchen Bed

This has provided a little extra space at the end of Jackie’s current work area.

Hebe and Brick Path

Here is another view of the gap, taken from a hebe on the corner of the Dead End Path.

Removing a tree is always a last resort. The branches of this one, however, were very brittle and constantly breaking when strong winds beset this whirlpool of a corner. The extra foot of space is also needed for the expected greenhouse.

Bottle brush plant 1

To the right of the above picture the yellow bottle brush plant has now turned brown. On the other side of the gazebo path a bright red variety has drawn its attention.

Bee on bottle brush plant 1Bee on bottle brush plant 3Bee on bottle brush plant 2Bee on bottle brush plant 1

Swarms of bees gather in the attempt to transfix themselves on the beds of nails that are its blooms.

Snapdragons, geraniums and petuniasSnapdragons and geraniums

Other strong reds of snapdragons, geraniums, and petunias blend in the plastic troughs forming the barrier at the start of the back drive.

Marigolds and black-eyed Susan

Equally vibrant are the marigolds and black-eyed Susans now clutching the orange globe.

Foxglove

It is almost a relief to encounter the cooler hues of this foxglove,

Hosta

these hostas,

Insect on hebe

or the hebes, this example of which has attracted a tiny flying insect I can’t identify.

Although its floor is of gravel, the patio at the South end of the garden is termed the Concrete one. That is because the surface beneath the pebbles was probably where the Post Office vans were parked.

Garden view from concrete patio towards Rose Garden

That is where our mid-afternoon water was taken and we enjoyed views looking towards the Rose Garden;

Garden view from concrete patio towards potting shed

towards the potting shed;

Day lilies and geranium palmatums

of this cluster of yellow day lilies flanked by geranium palmatums;

New Zealand flax

and the New Zealand flax that has flowered for the first time since our arrival.

I haven’t mentioned the wind in the last few days. I thought that if I ignored it it would go away. It hasn’t.

Upturned pot and parasol

A couple of hours after we had been sitting beneath this parasol a sudden gust wreaked havoc. Admittedly the parasol had not been fitted tightly into its base, but it took off like a kite, smashed down into the bed, tipped over the stand supporting the recently planted red geraniums, and dragged down the string of overhead solar lights.

Broken plants

We began by lifting the parasol over everything and slotting it securely into its stand. Then picked up the pot and pedestal. Chucked broken bits onto the compost, and placed what would be salvageable onto one of the tables.

Gravelly soil

It was, I thought, very sensitive of the owl not to give me the benefit of his wisdom as I placed him on a chair and used his table to take the gravelly earth I scooped up and, with fingers and sieve, separated the two ingredients, so The Head Gardener could repot the remains.

This evening we dined on a fusion of more of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with vegetable samosas. Jackie drank Peroni and I opened Jessie’s delicious Georges Duboeuf Fleurie 2016 and drank some of it.

 

 

 

 

The Garden Map

Come for a further wander down the garden paths.

Rose

Stepping out of the utility room stable doorway, we meet this little rose that was bramble-bound last year.

Poppy

This frilly new pink poppy sits quite well against the red Japanese maple, visible from the kitchen window.

Grass patch

Opposite our small patch of grass, we think designed for a dog loo,

Penstemon, thalictrum, New Zealand flax, Japanese maple

against the backdrop of a yellow Japanese maple, speckled New Zealand flax arches over red penstemon and budding thalictrum.

Phantom path

Passing the other end of the Phantom Path, at the far end we see a yellow-green-leaved tree, only one branch of which seemed alive last year, before we lopped out all the dead wood.

Orange Hawkweed

Jackie transplanted the outspoken orange hawkweed, regarded in other parts of the world as an infestation, from the former kitchen garden. It now enlivens the Oval Bed.

Sambucus

This Sambucus, planted not so long ago, now blooms behind the potting shed.

Back drive

The back drive is now framed by new planted troughs. In the top right hand corner of the picture can be glimpsed a basket suspended from the slender arch through which we now walk into the garden. Please don’t tell the head gardener that I keep banging my head on it.

From the end of the drive we turn left to see how Hallmark Builders are getting on with their ‘massive’ project on the recently sold The Spinney at number 11.

Wall building

Two men are building a beautifully curved wall.

Rodgersia

Back down our own brick path we see the delicate pink rodgersia, yet another member of the saxifrage family.

Dead End Path

Just past this plant lies the Dead End Path.

Rosa Gallica

Back at the house, the pink striped Rosa Gallica is now blooming against the kitchen wall,

Rosa Glauca

and the Rosa Glauca soars above the patio.

Taking visitors on a meandering trip is rather easier than the task on which the head gardener has been engaged during much of the last two or three days. Jackie working on garden map

John Whitworth recently expressed his need of a garden map.  We are not lovers of straight lines, but, had we had a few more, Jackie’s task would have been so much easier. When she proudly presented the finished chart, I then had the task of reproducing it. Since it had been drawn on A3 paper, which is too large for my scanner, I had to photograph it with my little SX700 HS Canon. Having the benefit of neither Ken Morse’s equipment nor  his expertise, it was difficult to achieve an unwarped rectangle from above. Here is the finished masterpiece:

Garden map

Later this afternoon I had transferred the bonfire ashes to the compost heaps, and raked back the shingle that I’d scraped out for a makeshift hearth.

It is hardly surprising that there had been no time for cooking. There was nothing for it but to go out for dinner. It was Spice of India that was graced with our presence, for which we were rewarded with an excellent meal. My main course was naga chicken with special fried rice; Jackie’s was chicken shaslik and salad. We shared a paratha, and both drank cobra.

Immigrants

In suggesting the Japanese kawazu zakora as a possible identification for yesterday’s pink flowering cherry, arlingwoman said that her first thought had been kwanzan. We do, we then realised, have one of those. It was featured in ‘The Gate Of India’

Still fairly sluggish in the morning, I worked on Jackie’s garden plans.

No. That doesn’t mean I did any gardening. What the head gardener has produced is several lists and a chart. She likes to be able to check items off when she has carried out the essential tasks. For the time being, at least, she will be weeding alone, so this becomes more necessary. She wanted copies on which she can write her ticks.Weeding list

I scanned and printed some.

Garden plan

The chart had been created by tracing Google’s satellite map. It is a bit rough because trees and brambles had obscured some of the detail when the spies in the sky photographed the plot. Jackie needed a larger version from which to make a more detailed drawing. I was able to do this on A3 plain paper that had been included in a pack of A3+ photographic paper that Paul Clarke had given me.

Spanish omelette

The Spanish omelette Jackie cooked for lunch cried out to be photographed. Who was I to ignore its plea.

After each consuming a portion of this, we spent quite some time watering tubs, pots, and newly bedded plants. This routine task would not normally warrant mention, but, unusually for April, it has become a daily necessity. Later, Jackie planted some new shrubs where the log pile had been, and we watered those in.

New Zealand flax

Tulipa saxatilis

Japan is not the only country from which originated many of the plants that came with the house. Among other immigrants are the New Zealand flax, a plant grown for the colourful, speckled, sculptural, quality of its leaves; and the tulipa saxatalis, a very hardy variety of tulip from the mountains of central Asia. I was particularly pleased to get this shot because, like equally tough Shetland ponies, they stand on very short stems, so I had to extend in a downward direction my one good arm and press the shutter whilst unable to see what I had in the screen. Fortunately I am right handed. However, the dodgy knee is on that side, which makes bending it an operation I wasn’t prepared to embark upon. I captured a number of images suffering from the problems of parallax, before securing this one.

Ajuga

Even our ajugas could have been native to Australia, or parts of Europe, although I’m not sure about that.

Jackie was required to cut up my share of the spicy pizza we enjoyed with various salads for our dinner, She was, however, unable to assist me in retrieving a piece of the chocolate meringue that I had allowed to topple over the edge of my dish onto the table. This is because she was helpless with laughter as she watched me chase it around the cloth with a spoon. She drank her customary Hoegaarden, and I drank Doom Bar.