Cold Soup

Jackie took advantage of the early morning sunlight to photograph

a variety of colourful daffodils;

a striking range of hellebores;

a bee probing pulmonaria;

my dwarf azalea, still thriving after twenty years and several moves;

pale yellow primroses

and their brighter primula relatives;

mahonias,

companula,

wood anemones,

summer snowflakes;

and burgeoning tulips blending with light blue pansies.

When Jackie delivered my muddy red jacket to White’s cleaners last week she was diverted by the purchase of a weighty brass owl, now perched on a lurching post. Its relatives may be glimpsed throughout the beds.

We collected the dry cleaning this afternoon and went on to visit Mum, who, although not quite aware of the global nature of the pandemic, is certainly fully au fait with the precautions at Woodpeckers and the reason for them. Conversation included Spanish flu and the death of Mum’s aunt Holly.

We were required to wash our hands on arrival when our temperatures were taken and pronounced perfect.

As we approached Brockenhurst we spotted a contented pony enjoying the now familiar New Forest vichyssoise soup.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent cottage pie; crisp Yorkshire pudding, sweet potatoes, cauliflower carrots, and broccoli: and tender runner beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Marlborough Pinot Noir 2016.

Back Gardening

Yesterday evening we watched the second episode of series 3 of The Crown, which contained more scenes and dialogue stretching credulity/

Opposite the field occupied by our gimlet-eyed equine friend on South Sway Lane are heaped bags of free horse manure.

We brought one back on 20th and I tipped it out onto the most recent garden compost bin.

Today I added two more.

This of course may not seem much of an effort but the enforced dereliction of my Under Gardener duties consequent upon two knee replacements has ensured that this is the first decent task I have carried out in two years. It involves lifting the savoury material from the back of the Modus, transporting the individual bags to the back drive, lifting each one, turning it topsy-turvy, dropping the contents falling in a solid bag-shape, and raking it level.

It is early days, but it feels ss if I am back gardening.

Wherever we look in the garden today we see daffodils, snowdrops, hellebores, and other spring blooms – and an owl or two.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby internationals between Scotland and Italy, and between Wales and France.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s roast lamb; sage and onion stuffing; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage; soft butternut squash; and Coleman’s mint sauce with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casilliero del Diablo Shiraz 2017.

Witchcraft With Acorns

The light today was gloomy and the slate-grey overhead colander-canopy constantly leaked drizzle.

Jackie reported that this morning while Muggle tweeted in her ear she realised that there was another exchange of battle cries between

Nugget and someone else who occupied the garden of No 5 Downton Lane. There are now three robins setting out their territory. Later, when Jackie tried to engage Nugget in conversation while he was perched on the rose garden fence, he turned his back on her. “Aren’t you talking to me?”, she asked. He peered over his shoulder, fixed her witheringly,  and turned away again.

“Where’s Nugget?” (41).

Given the date, we thought a trip to Burley, the village of witches, might be order.

In Everton Road the New Zealand flag fluttered limply at half mast. This was clearly in mourning for the All Blacks’ defeat by England last Saturday in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final. The New Zealanders have been the acknowledged best team in the world throughout my lifetime. Three times world champions, they had not lost any match in the tournament for twelve years.

Nearby a cross-eyed pumpkin face sat on a wall.

Despite the dismal drizzle Holmsley Passage managed to put on a bright face,

even though someone had dumped a sofa on the verge.

Jackie photographed me as I wandered along for a while.

Landscapes on the moorland section were misted by dripping precipitation.

At Burley a pair of guinea fowl created their own mix of havoc, amusement, and trepidation, as they wandered back and forth across the through road.

One young lady crouching with her mobile phone graphically expressed her concern as they stepped off the kerb;

two young cyclists seemed a bit bemused.

While I concentrated on these two, Jackie observed a chicken eating an ice cream.

Shop windows venerated the season;

we both pictured The Mall,

guarded by a pumpkin witch.

 

All the little shops in this small street sported suitable  adornments.

Jackie entered a gift shop in search of stocking fillers. She emerged with two owls, which, if Orlaith got her sums right, makes the current garden total 93.

This evening we dined at The Wheel at Bowling Green. Jackie enjoyed tempura prawn starters followed by a rack of ribs, fries, onion rings, and plentiful fresh salad; my choice was equally good breaded whitebait, salad and toast followed by rib-eye steak, chips, mushroom, tomato, and peas. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Malbec.

 

 

Meet Muggle

Weather-wise this was a gloomy, but largely dry, day which Jackie began by photographing

her now completed work on preparing the New Bed for winter.

Her lens also produced images of the stumpery;

roses including Super Elfin still scaling the Gothic arch;

Mum in a million,

Absolutely Fabulous,

and Just Joey gracing the Rose Garden;

and Doris Tysterman embellishing the back drive,

the borders of which cheer us still.

 

The textures of ferns and grasses appeal to hot lips in Margery’s Bed, which displays autumn colour,

while hebes are blooming early – or is it another late flowering?

Camellias have produced buds already,

while the patio planting does not yet appear to be on the way out.

 

Dahlias still thrive,

as do numerous fuchsias, including Hawksmoor,

Army Nurse,

Chequerboard,

and others.

A blue salvia survives. It is hardy enough not to need a place on

the new shelving that has increased the number of cuttings that can be overwintered in the greenhouse.

One of Jackie’s first tasks was to fix up a nesting box for Nugget’s rival.

Although showing considerable interest in the proceedings this little fellow didn’t keep still long enough for many photographs. He can be seen in the centre of this picture. Our very good blogging friend, Uma, has named him Muggle, on the grounds that Nugget is certainly magical but he must be more earthbound. Therefore, meet Muggle.

Nugget, of course, takes a dim view of this. He made his feelings known when he cocked his head from the top of the Rose Garden fence, muttering “what do you think you are doing”.

“Where’s Nugget?” (40)

This evening we dined on flavoursome pork cutlets; breaded chicken;  crisp roast potatoes, including the sweet variety; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.

A Touch Of Snow

Jackie needed to be as nippy as the air outside to photograph her aerial garden views in the rapidly melting snow this morning.

Her next subject was the snowcapped owl first captured in the patio through the sitting room window. Having wrapped herself up he became her first subject as she continued outside in the garden.

Yesterday’s frost-touched frogs were now also capped with snow.

Another view across the Kitchen Bed towards the Rose Garden reveals the protective shrouds placed as preservation over the more vulnerable plants.

The Rose Garden can be seen beyond Sculpture Florence, standing with dry feet on gravel. The Winter Season figure has collected an appropriate amount of precipitation.

From the Oval Bed beside the Rose Garden our eyes take us across the Weeping Birch Bed down the Back Drive.

Another snowy owl perched on the low wall surrounding the Palm Bed.

The owl could have been contemplating the wheels on the opposite side of the path.

This evening we dined on grilled gammon steaks; roasted butternut squash; potato and swede mash; sautéed peppers, onions, and red cabbage; tangy broccoli and cauliflower cheese; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans.

Soon I will be settling down to watch BBC’s coverage of the first match of this year’s Six Nations rugby tournament – that between France and Wales.

Jackie Frost

Although it wasn’t to last long, we awoke to our first proper frost of the season

Jackie photographed the panoramic views from the dressing room and from the garden bedroom upstairs.

She then toured the garden and brought back this gallery of images. As usual titles are given on accessing the gallery with a click on any of the pictures. The sun soon brought the temperature up and each one of the wilted plants on display had returned to its full glory by midday.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s splendidly matured succulent sausage casserole; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; tender curly kale; and red cabbage imbued with the piquancy of vinegar and soy sauce.

Our Joint One Good Knee

Last night I watched a recording of Saturday’s breathtaking rugby match between Wales and South Africa; after lunch today the soporific contest between Scotland and Argentina.

Bright sunshine had taken me into the rather cold garden this morning.

Winter pansies and trailing ivy adorn hanging baskets on the sitting room walls.

Geraniums

and Japanese maples brighten several vistas.

Surprises include lingering snapdragons

and nascent honeysuckle.

Ubiquitous flamboyant fuchsias continue to flounce among the beds.

Clematises needing warmer weather have died back from the gazebo, but the Cirrhosa Freckles will enliven their support right through until spring.

Carpet roses, like this one in the Weeping Birch Bed, pile on the blooms.

Serpentine stemmed bobbles of Japanese anemones cavort before a spider web in the Rose Garden.

A few crinkly leaves are still to fall from the copper beach;

the Weeping Birch has shed all hers.

Being possessed of our one joint good knee, it fell upon Jackie to fit a new toilet seat in the print room.

This evening we dined on Jackies’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice followed by profiteroles. My wife drank Hoegaarden; sister Elizabeth drank Hop House lager; and I drank Tesco’s finest Médoc 2016.