Ponies At The Door

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After an exchange of e-mails this morning, I had sufficient information to make the bank transfer of payment for the unexpected French land tax demand. Jackie drove me to the bank at Lymington where I completed the process.

We then took a brief drive into the forest. Seeking colour under a sunless granite sky was a little optimistic, but the unusually warm temperature was pleasant enough.

Undershore, popular with intrepid pedestrians

links land alongside Lymington Reed Beds with Pilley Hill. A footpath signed before a picket fence follows the side of Lymington River. Road closures in Pilley, where we wanted to book a table at the Fleur de Lys for tomorrow night, meant we retraced our wheels to take this route.

Two of the usual hopefuls waited at the door of Greatham House at Brockenhurst for pony treats.

This evening Jackie and I dined at Lal Quilla. Jackie chose chicken sag as her main course; mine was chicken jaljala; we shared special fried rice and an egg paratha; we both drank Kingfisher. Jackie was given two large carrier bags full of chillis – enough to see us out. I hope there is enough room in the freezer.

Bedmaking

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This year we have enjoyed a bumper crop on the apple tree we inherited. Previously it has produced just a handful of weedy fruit which never came to anything. I picked a few after lunch.

On this gloriously warm and sunny day, Jackie continued with the refurbishment of the Weeping Birch Bed on which she has spent many hours over the last few days. Like many of the beds in the garden, this one has been laid over solid concrete, the soil gradually seeping through the dry brick and stone retaining wall onto the gravel which we laid down a couple of years ago. Most plants were now rooted in very few inches of earth. The Head Gardener has rebuilt the wall; sifted much soil and gravel; cleared an access footpath; replenished the soil with compost; weeded and replanted, along the way digging out stray rocks, including tufa.

Experts are now dictating that asters should now be called something long and forgettable, yet the Autumn Jewel variety now settled in its new home does not bear the new nomenclature. We will therefore continue to term the plants beside the rose that has no name, facing self-seeded bidens across the brick path, as we have done all our lives.

We are enjoying a variety of the once unfashionable dahlias,

some of which,

like these euphorbia and kniphofia, still attract bees and wasps,

as, especially, do sedums, now rivalling geranium in richness of red.

This Small White butterfly rented the verbena bonariensis on a short term lease from the bees.

Geraniums, lobelia, and Japanese anemones continue to thrive;

while, in the Rose Garden, Mama Mia and Absolutely Fabulous are among those furnishing further flushes.

This evening we finished Jackie’s splendid pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank Patrick Chodot’s Brouilly 2016.

 

Preparing For A Storm

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For the last couple of days Jackie has kept much garden furniture and many hanging baskets grounded against buffeting from the heavy winds. As this afternoon’s gusts swept towards the 60+ m.p.h. we are to expect overnight, there was no reason to lift tables, chairs, parasols, or baskets. Readers may care to spot the dropped baskets in this further collection of

experiments with my new Sigma 35mm lens.

Given that she exchanged contracts on her Pilley house purchase today, it was appropriate that we named the delicious spicy creation that Elizabeth produced for our dinner this evening Pilley Celebration Chicken. This was served with Jackie’s splendid savoury rice and crisp sugar snaps. My sister and I drank Parick Chodot’s Fleurie 2016; my wife drank Hoegaarden.

Life And Death

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This morning I employed several efforts at procrastination to defer my tackling the installation of the new Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner. Included were reading a book, dead-heading roses, and a bit of clearing in the garden.

Eventually, I got down to it, and am happy to say managed the job. I suspect the discs I was most scared of were actually for a Microsoft PC, because it seems the downloads were done on line with a Mac. Maybe Elizabeth will be able to enlighten me when she returns from a visit to Mum’s. A little sister is maybe a good enough replacement for a grandchild.

This afternoon I celebrated by wandering round the garden, which has reaped the benefits of Jackie’s splendid Autumn Clean.

She has weeded and swept paths including the Brick one.

Our colchicums, or Autumn crocuses, continue to spread each year.

The echinacea, however, are not doing so well. Jackie has tried these several times. None have survived, and these don’t look very well. Apparently they are prone to succumbing to sudden unexplained demise. Maybe the botanical world’s version of cot death.

We have many dahlias,

and numerous varieties of fuchsia. Bees were constantly diving into them. Here one grapples with Mrs Popple.

Another busy pollen gatherer swings on a yellow bidens.

Opulent begonias abound.

More dead-heading, as in Absolutely Fabulous was now required in the Rose Garden. Here we have the life-span of these blooms in one shot. Youngsters await their turn to beguile;

while blousy middle-age embraces a spider enswathing its prey, thus completing an opera of life and death.

Schoolgirl

and Golden Showers

scale the arbour.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans from the garden. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister, Becks Blue, and I, Albali reserva 2012.

The Bleeding Arch

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Jackie spent much of the day on giving the Rose Garden a thorough Autumn Clean. This involved extensive weeding, clearing all the paths, sweeping, pruning, thinning out, and dead heading. All the refuse was then carried to the Orange Bags for eventual transmission to the dump. Reducing the heucheras produced numerous plants for transplanting elsewhere. I rendered minimal assistance. The background paths and soil in these photographs is as worthy of perusal as the flowers.

Naturally, we took this evening’s pre-prandial potations in this space where, earlier, I had not noticed how the Ace Reclaim arch bled for Crown Princess Margareta.

This evening the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid pork paprika; super savoury rice; al dente mange touts; and sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and Elizabeth and I consumed more of the Fleurie.

 

If You Weren’t The Head Gardener

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Jackie has spent quite a bit of time in the last three days clearing up after the storm. This has involved sweeping up leaves and broken plants; tying up some of the taller flowers;  generally clearing the paths; and continuing to water the baskets and other containers. Before the rain she carried out most of the required dead-heading. The roses in particular have benefited from the generous precipitation from the heavily laden clouds, so a little more pruning was required. I continued with that this afternoon.

These general path views demonstrate that much has been recovered.

Madame Alfred Carriere has swooned over the bright red petunias in the nearby urn. She will need to wait for Aaron’s attention on Sunday. The full size gallery version of the first picture above contains a bee wallowing in Summer Wine.

Dahlias have largely survived, supported by the Head Gardener’s ties. Those mingling with gladioli Priscilla hold a great attraction for bees.

Tall, slender, verbenas bonarensis, were a particular worry for Jackie as they bent double in the high winds. They have, however, largely perked up, and remain strong enough to bear bees swaying in the gentle breeze.

Many more blooms are appearing in the Rose Garden. Here we have For Your Eyes Only, Absolutely Fabulous, and Just Joey.

Rudbeckia is in its golden prime.

The patio borders are mostly unscathed, as are

the hanging baskets, such as those along the kitchen wall, and large pots like the one at the South end of the garden.

All in all, if you weren’t the head gardener, you might think there had been no storm.

I am happy to report that, of the Two Historic Houses, Elizabeth made the choice that would have been ours, put in an offer, and had it accepted – on the Swedish house. She returned home here this evening and the three of us dined on Jackie’s splendid, hot, chilli con carne and wild rice. Elizabeth and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon. Jackie had consumed her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand.

War Of The Voles

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This afternoon I made a rather pathetic effort at clearing up some of the Head Gardener’s laborious pruning cuttings, then allowed myself to be diverted with a camera.

Leaving the house by the stable door gives a forked view down the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

We are led under the wisteria arbour which also supports a couple of clematises,

and beneath which lie other plants such as fuchsias and dahlias.

Other clematises scale the gazebo.

White sweet peas thrive on the arch linking the Weeping Birch Bed with the raised bed opposite.

Elizabeth's Bed

Elizabeth’s Bed is nicely fluffed up;

Bacopa in Florence's basket

Florence sculpture’s basket of bacopa is responding well to careful nurturing;

Phlox, petunias, lobelias, begonia

happy planting is displayed along the Shady Path where phlox in the bed; and petunias and begonias in the basket above  blend in a diagonal punctuated by lobelias.

Bees on alliums

Bees are particularly attracted to these purple alliums.

Clematis in Rose Garden

A true blue clematis climbs the potting shed in the Rose Garden;

Snapdragons

and a bright red snapdragon hangs by the kitchen window.

One evening recently Jackie spotted a little furry creature that we thought to be a vole. She has been nurturing an ailing Bishop of Llandaff  in the New Bed for a while now. This morning the whole plant had disappeared. Just behind the vacant space was a tiny tunnel. A vole had struck. They are apparently partial to dahlia corms. So far, others in the bed have survived. Apparently there is little defence possible against their tiny teeth.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak on Mexican burgers, fresh salad, coleslaw, and French fries. the meals were very good, as was the service. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Ringwood’s best.