Should I Be Concerned?

The garden was refreshed by early morning rain.

Passion flowers and honeysuckle

This failed to dampen the ardour of the passion flowers eyeing the red hot honeysuckle,

Sweet peas

and gave sweet peas a welcome drink.

Rose Aloha

The climbing rose Aloha,

Rose Margaret Merrill

and the bush Margaret Merrill are both in full bloom.

A comment on Houzz GardenWeb forum, posted in July 2007 states that  ‘the Margaret Merrill rose was named [in 1977] after a fictitious character in British advertising, but Harkness had to track down various Margaret Merrills for permission to complete naming the rose’. Margaret Merrill was the nom de plume of a beauty advisor who helped Oil of Ulay (now Olay) sell its beauty products. If you wanted cosmetic advice you wrote to this woman.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Chandlers Ford for her physiotherapy. I settled down to an hour with Primo Levi’s ‘The Periodic Table’, but I didn’t get very far in my hoped-for completion of this, my current book. Jackie soon emerged with a happy face. She had been told she was doing brilliantly and didn’t need to go again.

Patrick's Patch

On our return we stopped for a visit to Patrick’s Patch in Beaulieu.

Marigold pathFlower beds

LavenderScarecrows and bedsThis is the community garden’s peak time. Marigolds, dahlias, gladioli, sunflowers and lavender are just a few of the flowers we observed as we wandered along the paths, where various imaginative scarecrows were drafted into service.

Annual borderJackie smelling annual border

The Annual Border, with its Painted Lady runner beans, was particularly stunning and, as Jackie discovered, sweet pea scented. We didn’t see a weed anywhere.

Courgettes

Produce like apples and courgettes looked ripe and plump.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chilli con carne, egg fried rice, and green beans, followed by chocolate eclairs. I finished the bordeaux, whilst Jackie drank Hoegaarden, this last of which, whilst I completed my post, she took up to the rose garden for what has become a nightly drink with Alan Titchmarsh. Like many women of a certain age she is in love with the man. Should I be concerned?

It’s only a rose.

Furnishing The Shed

Becky put this on my Facebook page early this morning:

11411850_10153170361428999_594653639751612138_oClever, isn’t she?

We began with a trip to the municipal dump, now upgraded to Efford Recycling Centre. Included in the rubbish we took there was a green plastic table we had bought from there in the first place. The Head Gardener, now she has a shed, has no further use for it. I got quite excited when I thought this might be the first time we would leave the tip without making a purchase. This was not to be, for Jackie spotted a hanging window box and just had to buy it.

Fergusson's van

Off we then drove to Highcliffe, and our old favourite, Fergusson’s, in search of a suitable chest of drawers to double as a work surface and storage for packets of seeds, tools, ties, plant labels, and almost anything else you can think of. Elsa and Boyce produced the very thing, that would probably have got the Bargain Hunt experts very excited. This addictive televised antiques programme involves two pairs of punters shopping in normal retail outlets in the hope of making a profit at auction. We have learned that G-plan, the iconic furniture of the ’50s and ’60s, is in at the moment. The Ercol piece that we found would definitely have been in the money. But we weren’t going to auction, and Dad, Dave Fergusson, accompanied by Elsa, delivered it for us and helped me place it in the shed.

This friendly family firm is to be recommended.

Dave Fergusson delivering chest of drawersErcol chest of drawersShed furnishings

Shed

Jackie had already begun to make herself at home.

Dave had first delivered furniture to us last May, when the garden was still a jungle. He and Elsa went on an amazed and delighted tour. He asked for a notification when we open to the public. Here is a selection from what he saw today:

Rose pink

From the bed by the wisteria, this small pink rose has a good view of the new acquisition.

View along kitchen window path

This is the view along the outside of the kitchen window. The rose above lies in the bed at the end.

Dragon's view

Obscured by the planting in the centre background, the dragon stands on a concrete plinth. This is his view through to the urn and beyond.

geraniums and maple

Near the start of the brick path, geraniums and Japanese maple form a pleasing swirl;

Geraniums and grasses

and a different variety of geranium hangs at one end of the Phantom Path.

Petunias on edge of brick path

A concrete building block lifts a pot of pink petunias taking us across another section of the Brick Path.

Pergola path view

We also walked along the Pergola Path. Like any of the others, this view changes daily.

Rose Kent

In the new rose garden, Kent is now in bloom.

Passion FlowerClematis Margaret Hunt

At the far south end of the garden, passion flowers cling to the support arches we erected last year, and clematis Margaret Hunt ascends those Jackie fixed in her new boxes at the start of the back drive.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla, where we enjoyed the usual ambiance, service, food, and Kingfisher. I chose Purple Tiger and Jackie chose Navrattan Korma. We shared lemon rice and a naan, and both drank Kingfisher.

A Marvellous Achievement

Passion flowerThe passion flower rescued recently is now blooming. Stop clockLouisa & Claire & RichardEarly this morning we learned that the intrepid trio attempting the Three Peaks Challenge were, having completed Scafell Pike in three and a half hours, doing well. Louisa has sent some stunning photographs.Louisa & ClaireScafell PikeScafell Pike 2Scafell Pike 3Scafell Pike 4Louisa, Claire & Richard Signs of excited tiredness are evident at the summit, but when you think they had to be driven, by Paul Scott, from Nottingham to Ben Nevis before they could even start, unless they managed to get their heads down in the car, they will have been without sleep for a deal more than the 24 hours target time. For those unfamiliar with the geography, Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, is in Scotland; Scafell Pike 5Scafell Pike in England’s Cumbria; and Louisa abd PaulSnowdon in Wales, Paul ScottPaul, who should not be forgotten in this venture, had a fair amount of driving to do in the Nottingham – Lochaber – Cumbria – Snowdonia – Nottingham quadrilateral. Golden hopsI imagine lap 3 (6 hours+) in the timer photo represents the drive from Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike.

Soon after 9 a.m. Louisa changed her Facebook Profile picture to the silhouetted image above. Possibly not from the mountaintop itself, but…… what mastery of technology.

Golden hops 2Whilst eagerly awaiting news of the completion of the challenge climbs, I continued battling with the invading lonicera and brambles at the front from next door. I also shortened a hawthorn by some length. Several new upright trunks had sprouted from one curtailed some years ago. Jackie unravelled golden hops from a cherry tree they were choking and trained them onto the fence.LouisaSnowdonSnowdon 2

 

Having taken fifteen minutes out for a swim in her favourite waterfall pool, Louisa and her friends completed the challenge in 23 hours, 43 minutes. What a marvellous achievement, says the proud father.

Tests of endurance rather run in the family. Sam rowed the Atlantic and I ran 18 marathons. But I am sure Louisa’s brother would agree that she’snow-capped us both. When Sam collected his boat in 2003 and rowed it to Newark from Henley, I walked alongside him. The last leg of this was the 25 miles from Nottingham. Sam having already arrived at his destination, Louisa met me at Newark Castle with a pint of beer for me in each hand. So……Cheers, my passionate flower, and the team.

We will be having roast beef followed by gooseberry and apple crumble for dinner, but I can’t wait until afterwards to post this.

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.