Garden News

Early this morning I watched an ITV recording of the Women’s Rugby World Cup match between England and Fiji.

Afterwards, I spent some time with “Clarissa”, and again every time I really struggled to load the following pictures.

Later, Jackie and I began to tackle the recent garden storm damage and autumn clearance.

A number of solar lights have been smashed;

ornaments, like this owl, dislodged;

planted pots fallen;

shrubs broken;

sedums bent.

I transported Jackie’s clippings to the compost bins at the far end of the garden.

We still have many blooming plants like this fuchsia “Garden News”.

When I returned to the kitchen I couldn’t resist the shadows on the kitchen floor.

This afternoon we received our autumn Covid booster jabs at Ashley Pharmacy.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken and vegetable soup with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,


heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.


La Chouette

Jackie was able to confirm the neighbourly status of our two resident robins. As she worked on the New Bed Nugget pottered around unconcernedly while his rival quietly chirped from the larch along the back drive.

An owl, strictly une chouette, or perhaps un hibou, now stands on the retaining breeze block wall. Some years ago, Mum began sticking labels beneath gifts she had received stating the name of the donor who would receive them when she departs this earth. Not so long ago I told her I wouldn’t give her anything I did not want back when the time came. Now she lives in Woodpeckers Care Home in Brockenhurst and her own bungalow is being cleared for sale to fund her care, we are receiving these presents prematurely. I bought la chouette de ma mere in France a few years ago.

At about 10 a.m. we set off in the direction of Eyeworth Pond, but became diverted en route.

Jackie pulled over onto the verge of Roger Penny Way so that I could photograph

a small Shetland pony blending in with the autumn palette.

Within just a few yards from this cropping creature I focussed on three discarded drink containers nestling among the fallen leaves. I could have captured more.

From the opposite side of the road I noticed a pair of golfers apparently oblivious of the pony.

The forest scenes,

including those featuring fallen roots

and branches making their own ecological contribution, set me on an impromptu

fungal foray. As I squelched among uneven damp terrain, ducked prickly holly limbs, and, like the fungi, clambered over arboreal refuse, I considered that, piercing the fallen foliage carpet; nibbled by forest fauna; scaling severed ivy still clinging to living trees, these natural overnight miracles had far more to offer that detritus lobbed from vehicles.

These delectable morsels made me savour the thought of poached eggs for breakfast. As I am no mycologist I wasn’t tempted to take them home.

We didn’t proceed to Eyeworth, but returned home for lunch.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy hot pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz, 2016.



The Garden Stirs

Did you know that when someone else washes your feet they tickle mercilessly? Well, they do, and this is not funny when you are trying not to jerk your knees.

This afternoon whilst I watched the recorded highlights of the spellbinding Women’s Australian Open Final between Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova, Jackie toured the garden with her camera.

She brought me back a pictorial record of the garden stirring. As usual, titles of the pictures are given in the gallery.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork spare ribs; plentiful, well dressed, salad; and tasty new potatoes.

Samuel Beckett Defaced

Knowing we were in for heavy rain this afternoon, Jackie ventured out on this drizzly morning to tackle the storm damage. The idea was that she would free what she could from the entanglements of the fallen tree, then call me to lift it. She seemed to be taking quite a long time, so I wandered out to join her.

She had freed the baskets from beneath the tree which she had hoisted out of the West Bed, and unravelled the still rooted solanum from the trunk

which she had dragged onto the back drive path.

The wicker owl, sans nose, perched on a low stump,

and the hanging baskets found a temporary home on a brick pillar in the recently thinned out Weeping Birch Bed.

The fallen hydrangea terra cotta pot had been righted.

While I surveyed the Head Gardener’s efforts, she furnished the owl with a new beak.

Elizabeth soon came out to lend a hand, which was used to retie the rose Summer Wine.

Jackie had gathered up many fallen branches to add to the few I plucked yesterday. My sister continued until lunchtime when she dripped indoors having cleared the rest.
As the rain hammered down this afternoon, I took a virtual reality tour of the Streets of London, scanning a baker’s dozen of images from colour slides of May 2008.

St Mary’s Hospital in Praed Street, W2 is where, a little over a year later, I would be given a replacement left hip.

Was this a group of student medics? If so, were any of them in attendance at my surgery?

Architectural reflections may be viewed in Bayswater’s Cleveland Terrace W2

The hollyhocks in this garden on the corner of Scarsdale Villas and Earls Court Road W8 suggest that this slide is an interloper and must have been taken a month or two later. I wasn’t cataloguing quite so carefully during this period of one of life’s hiccups. The road mending sign blends nicely with the vibrant blooms.

Nahals Newsagent stands near Westbourne Park Tube Station at 114 Talbot Road on the corner of Powis Mews W11;

Powis Square is not far away;

nor is Westbourne Park Road W11. I wonder whether this fascinating kneeler still stands on the first floor ledge we see.

Nu-Line Builders’ Merchants have produced very professional tromp l’oeil users of their products to mask their windows on the corner of Kensington Park Road W11.

Elgin Mews W11, in a right angled bend, links this road with Ladbroke Grove,

off which we find Bassett Road W10, where there seems to be pruning of plane trees under way;

Faraday Road W10 with its very modern Fire Station;

and St Charles Square W10, on the corner of which someone appears to be in trouble.

Sadly, Samuel Becket had recently been defaced in Blenheim Crescent W11 at its junction with Portobello Road. This 2006 work by Alex Martinez was based on a photograph produced by Jane Bown in 1976. It has now been painted over.

Jackie normally labels pre-cooked meals that she stores in the freezer. When she produced tonight’s protein item she had been distracted from doing so. The crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender spring greens; rich red cabbage were served with fish, not cottage pie. The meal was, nevertheless, most enjoyable. The Culinary Queen had prepared her splendid beef gravy, but refused to give it to us. She drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo Reserva 2016.

Storm Damage

Begonias and lobelia in hanging basket on dead snake bark maplePlanting on dead Snake Bark Maple -solanum, begonias, petunias

This scene has featured in a number of posts over the years. The snake bark maple died in 2015, and has since been home to hanging baskets and climbing plants watched over by a wicker owl.

Sadly the avian guardian could not protect the living monument from last night’s severe winds.

The tree, complete with adornments, lay across the Brick Path this morning. Crashing down along the West Bed have come beams bearing a clematis Montana now lying along the West Bed. Fortunately, the blue solanum has a stout stem which looks to be intact.

This pot containing a red hydrangea had stood on the ground beside the Oval Path across which it now lies.

The rose Summer Wine has been freed from its moorings at the entrance to the Rose Garden, and will need a new set of stays.

Although much calmer this morning, winds have picked up again during the day, preventing any possibility of sensible recovery work. No real harm appears to have been inflicted.
Elizabeth was out this evening, so Jackie and I finished her delicious Pilley Celebration Chicken dish with Jackie’s special savoury rice and tender green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

Poppy Does Watering


As we sat on the patio chairs with Aaron and his partner Leah, discussing the morning’s gardening, Poppy appeared in the kitchen doorway. Matthew soon followed, completing the pleasant surprise.

Jackie and Poppy

Granny was soon enjoying a cuddle.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Poppy pottered around playing with pebbles and a car given to her by Akram at Lal Quilla on her last visit there.

Poppy 12Poppy 9

Poppy 3Poppy 6

Poppy 4

Displaying a rapid two-gun draw, she then began irrigating the paving

Poppy 5

and washing an owl

Poppy 11

Jackie employed a novel method of keeping the cans filled,

Poppy 7Poppy and JackiePoppy 8Poppy 10and Poppy trotted off to water the flowers in the Kitchen Bed.

Poppy 13

For our dinner this evening, Matthew and Poppy joined Jackie in a trip to Mr Chatty Man Chan at Hordle Chinese Take Away, and returned with a scrumptious selection including our granddaughter’s favourite noodles.

Poppy 14

She sampled most other items, including spare ribs.


An Owl Hunt


Back Drive

This morning I made a little more progress on weeding the back drive.

The new lilies have begun to flower.

Matthew arrived with Poppy just before lunch. Our granddaughter was quickly into all the familiar toys, playing with her Dad and Grannie,

Poppy 4

but a little more sceptical about Grandpas face extension.

Poppy studying photographs

She certainly recognises pictures of herself, but whether or not she links them with the camera is a moot point.

Poppy, Mat & parrot

Norman’s parrot had to be released from his perch suspended from the ceiling.

This afternoon Becky took her niece on an owl hunt in the garden. This involved lots of pointing and exclamations from Poppy and expressions of amazement from Becky.

Poppy was particularly enamoured of the blue-bespectacled bird alongside the Heligan Path.

This evening we all dined at Lal Quilla, where the food and service was as excellent as ever, and Poppy was a delight, My main choice was lamb Ceylon, with which I enjoyed a share of  special fried rice, onion bhaji, and paratha.  The ladies drank diet Coke, the gentlemen, Kingfisher, and Poppy. water.

Mat and Poppy returned home to Upper Dicker and the rest of us came back to Downton.



This morning we continued tidying the garden.

Daffodils in ginger jar

The lovely daffodils occupying this old ginger jar have such long, slender, stems that they are unable to support their heavy heads in the garden. Jackie has therefore trimmed and rehoused them.

Here are some more tulips. The white ones are ‘Diamond Jubilee’.

Garden across Cryptomeria Bed

Here are current views across the Cryptomeria Bed;

Garden across Margery's Bed

Margery’s Bed;

Garden view across Weeping Birch Bed

and the Weeping Birch Bed;


the pieris on the grass patch;

Owl on garden wall

and an owl for Pauline.

Here are some daffodils from the front garden that have not been posted before;

and others with delicate salmon-pink trumpets. Jackie considers their yellow companions to be interlopers,


much like the white fritillary.

Clouds behind weeping birch

For the first time this year we took drinks in the rose garden before dinner. I hope it is not too long before Laurie and Clif can do the same on their patio. The clouds behind the weeping birch had a silver lining.

Our dinner this evening consisted of haddock fillets on a bed of spinach; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and piquant cauliflower cheese. This was followed by rhubarb pie and custard. Jackie drank Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Royale 2015 and I drank more of the merlot.

We’re Off Out


Today we are travelling to Leatherhead for the annual Gilbert and Sullivan production of the Godalming Operatic Society directed by Jackie’s cousin Pat O’Connell.

We intend to make our leisurely way there; join Helen, Bill, Shelly and Ron at the Travelodge hotel where we will be staying the night; watch the second half of the Six Nations rugby match; dine at an Italian restaurant with Pat, Christine, and their daughter Olivia; watch Iolanthe; repair to the bar; go to bed; get up in the morning; all breakfast in the same café; then go home. I might expand this tomorrow. If I can remember.

Before leaving I had a look at the front garden.

Outside there is a SLOW sign. Like many another traffic sign it has been left in the hedgerow after roadworks have been finished. The normal limit is 40 m.p.h. Which is largely ignored. So is the SLOW sign. Even when there are works around the bend up ahead.

Front garden tubs and owl

Although the arch has been partially demolished by Doris Day,


the tubs on Jackie’s makeshift platform have survived.

Tete-a-tetes, snowdrops, and hellebore

Tete-a-tetes, snowdrops, and hellebores share the beds.


The bergenias are beginning to show signs of age.


Behind this hellebore lies a profusion of trachystemon orientalis.


Meanwhile, alongside the Dragon Bed which did not exist when we arrived, towers a pastel pink camellia. It was only when we cleared the bramble jungle that covered it that we discovered that the plant was there. This is the first year it has born a profusion of blooms.