The Early Evening Light

This morning I completed my mega filing task while Jackie carried out more planting under the watchful eye of Nugget

with whom she happily conversed. “Where’s Nugget?” (25).

Beside the Weeping Birch Bed with its kniphofias, petunias, heleniums, and pelargoniums.

The yellow kniphofia is Popsicle Mango; the terracotta one has attracted a wasp.

Small White butterflies and bees still cluster around the verbena bonariensises.

continue to thrive.

Autumn crocuses have arrived.

The Rose Garden, the Palm Bed, and the Oval Bed glow with aureate colour;

spiders have spun fine chains for golden seeds;

Virginia creeper is beginning to take on a ruby hue,

with which penstemons are trimmed.

Early this warm and sunny evening we took a drive into the forest.

I disembarked from the car on the road between Brockenhurst and Beaulieu.

I walked along a gravelled path and over the dry terrain,

the sweeping sounds of my sandals answering those of the jaws of the ponies cropping the grass they shared with a few cattle joining them on their way in from the verges.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s usual fine fare with which Jackie drank Blue Moon and I drank sparkling water.

Decidedly Not Smart

A number of terra cotta and yellow kniphofias have self-seeded at various places in the garden and have recently chosen to bloom rather late. These are in the Kitchen Bed, accompanied by hibiscus, petunias, Japanese anemones and fennel.

This begonia and the pelargonium are recovering from near death with the benefit of Jackie’s tender care.

Like the white Marie Boisselot glimpsed in the bottom of the Kitchen Bed picture, this pink and blue clematis and the wisteria are producing their third flushes of the year.

I paused, this morning, to photograph this happy planting of pelargoniums, fuchsias, and Japanese anemones in the front garden before embarking into the car for a trip to Woodpeckers to visit

Mum, now well enough settled into her room to have hung her favourite pictures, one of which is a drawing I made in about 1958 when my sister would have been four and I would have been sixteen years of age.

It portrays Elizabeth watching the family’s first decidedly not smart dodgy black and white TV set.

Leaving Mum to her lunch we took a diversion around Burley on our way home for ours. On Bisterne Close we trailed a young woman riding a white horse.

Although dull, it was another warm day, which brought out flies again prompting ponies to cluster under the trees.

Jackie spent the afternoon in the company of her avian under-gardener who continually converses in the sweetest, almost imperceptible gentle whisper. We can just watch his throat pulsating. He spent some time in the cryptomeria above her head, dropping down to a terra cotta lantern beside her.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (21)

This evening we dined at The Wheel in Bowling Green. The food and service were as good as ever. We both chose tempura prawns as starters, with salad so fresh as to have possibly been immediately picked from the garden. Jackie’s main course was thick meaty burger with chunky chips, salad, and onion rings; mine was an excellently cooked rib eye steak with chips, mushroom, tomato, peas, and onion rings. Jackie drank a guest lager which we can’t remember and I drank a good Malbec.

When we arrived a robin greeted us from a hedge in the car park. For a moment we wondered whether Nugget had arrived before us.

Back at home I watched the recorded highlights of the first day of the final Ashes Test match.

Sparkling Jewels

Today dawned bright and sunny. Taking her camera with her, Jackie photographed the garden, glistening after yesterday’s rain. I joined her after a while, adding a few images of my own. We have merged our results.

Raindrops bejewelled individual blooms,

and sunshine brightened every view.

While Jackie was working on the lawn, Nugget did, of course arrive to inspect the works.

He took up a viewing station in his favourite New Zealand hebe,

then dropped down onto a bench to carry out a preening session within inches from the Head Gardener. Suitably satisfied with his ablutions he went into hiding in broad daylight.

“Where’s Nugget?” (19).

This evening we dined on tangy fish pie; crunchy haddock goujons; wholesome champ – an Irish dish consisting of mashed potato and spring onions – tender runner beans; piquant cauliflower cheese; and moist ratatouille. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Gajewski Shiraz 2018 – an excellent Australian wine brought by Elizabeth on Saturday.

Bembridge

Jackie rose early this morning and sat in a chair on the patio with a cup of instant coffee.

In an instant Nugget was on a paving stone peering hopefully up at the rim of the cup.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (16).

Today’s weather was blustery and damp. The Test Match was delayed until after lunch. I spent the afternoon listening to the BBC Sport broadcast and scanning the first batch of a set of prints from negatives I have lost from a holiday with friends in August 2000. This was at the home of Sarah and Howard at Bembridge. Although we live so near the Isle of Wight this was the last time I visited it.

Jessica and Heidi towed Emily and Oliver in our dinghy;

Howard wandered

along the shore

and helped Jessica into their small yacht,

while Michael took over dinghy duties.

The skies had brightened a bit by the end of the afternoon when we visited Otter Nurseries to buy two more bags of compost and somehow came away with four more phlox plants and another bag of tulip bulbs. We continued on for a short forest drive.

Many of the verges, like these along Sandy Down, are already carpeted with cyclamen.

This gnarled fungus has more right to be there than

this shiny drink can.

Moody skies glowered over Sway Tower.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy chicken jalfrezi and boiled rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017.

None Of That Nonsense

Late this afternoon rain had brought abandonment to the first day of the fourth Ashes Test match, but here it was reasonably warm and sunny.

Jackie, hindered by Nugget, continued planting, while I wandered around the garden.

Clematis Marie Boisselot, in her third flush, has now toned down her blue rinse.

Other clematises, such as Polish Spirit,

and the tiny white campaniflora, have weathered the storm.

A Lidl pink one still climbs the arch spanning the Brick Path beyond the pelargoniums flanking the Nottingham Castle bench.

Here are some of those pelargoniums.

Begonias are in their prime.

Fuchsias, like these two chequerboards, continue to thrive.

Mama Mia, Absolutely Fabulous, Winchester Cathedral, Festive Jewel, Crown Princess Margatera, and Hot Chocolate are all examples of roses still holding up their heads.

Long shadows streak across the tiny lawn.

Honesty and Hollyhocks are displaying seed pods.

Earlier in the summer Aaron moved the miscanthus from the edge to the centre of the Palm Bed. It has survived.

Pelargoniums drape many of the hanging baskets.

Petunias and bidens are equally prolific.

The New Bed and Elizabeth’s Bed still offer much colour.

The first of this set of pictures show cosmos and echinacea alongside Elizabeth’s Bed, the second is of the Weeping Birch Bed, and the last two lead us towards the house.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (14)

Jackie can’t settle to drinks on the patio without taking a trowel to stir the pudding for her little friend.

This evening he looked askance at her first effort and

took up a stance on a stone above some slate chips as if, like a stroppy toddler, to say “I don’t like that dinner. Get me something else”. I can assure you that the Head Gardener had none of that nonsense from her own children.

I certainly didn’t turn up my nose at our delicious dinner of spicy pork paprika, mushroom rice, and runner beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

Nugget, You’ve Got Mail

This morning while Jackie applied herself to unearthing food for Nugget, I occupied myself with dead-heading roses. The two photographs above are a day’s relief for eyes which struggled with yesterday’s “Where’s Nugget?”.

Hearing Jackie clearly speaking Avian I thought at first she had been addressing her little robin, but in fact it was “those ruddy randy pigeons”.

Here are two examples of the Head Gardener’s happy planting. We have pink Japanese anemones fronting similarly hued phlox in the first picture and a melange of begonias, pelargoniums, fuchsias, more of the anemones in the patio bed.

Lwbut has requested close ups of the Japanese anemones. There you go, Bob.

There is evidence from their webs that we are breeding vegan spiders – either that or they are currently constantly being disappointed.

Bees are busy with cosmoses, and sampling various vintages of Summer Wine.

Clematis has granted her presence to the Rose Garden arbour.

Although we have flotillas of Small White butterflies fluttering throughout the garden, we have very few other species, but we do have humming bird moths in phlox.

This afternoon Nugget received his first piece of snail mail.

This card, when opened, plays a recording of a robin’s song. The words inside, in Auntie Becky’s handwriting, state that she chose the card for the words – i.e. the birdsong.

Jackie and I spent a considerable amount of time getting our heads round how to record stuff on her camera. We managed it. I uploaded it into my computer and WordPress wouldn’t support the file format. I was, of course, my usual phlegmatic self on discovering this.

With the late afternoon growing duller and cooler, my chauffeuse drove us on a short trip into the forest.

A colourful range of heathers and bracken beginning to brown spread carpets across the moorland beside Holmsley Passage.

We thought it best to allow this beefy bovine free passage on the Burley road.

We spotted these rather splendid mushrooms along Bisterne Close.

Jackie produced a lovely lamb’s liver casserole with creamy mashed potatoes, crunchy cauliflower and carrots with tender green beans for our dinner this evening. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Malbec.

Sweeping Up

Today Jackie was mostly refurbishing and tidying pots and hanging basket plantings.

She has completed the Shady Path where all is now well, except for

windburn on this white lobelia;

and on this yellow tree peony whose healthy seed pods offer optimism for next year.

Beyond this small triangular bed before the wisteria arbour

Mrs Knight continued her work on the greenhouse area.

The life of the sweet peas on the kitchen corner could not be extended, but the tomato plant over which the force of the winds had flung them, has survived.

It remains be seen whether this hydrangea in the patio will recover from its blisters.

After lunch the Head Gardener applied herself to stripping out dead parts of the patio’s potted plants and tidying the rest.

Nugget assisted her in sweeping up – the disturbed insects, that is. For those readers new to the “Where’s Nugget?” feature or whose robins are different from ours, notably lacking the distinguishing red breast, there follows

a selection of portraits of our little gardener’s friend.

Now, can you see “Where’s Nugget?” (5), from when he joined us later on the patio for drinks.

Soon after I had begun to draft this post, Jackie came inside complaining that her little companion was not letting her get anything done.

This evening we dined on coriander and garlic coated chicken kebabs; Jackie’s spicy omelette-topped savoury rice; and moist ratatouille with our own runner beans. The Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

I will now wait half an hour for the TV Channel 5 broadcast of the cricket highlights to finish so that I can watch my own recording advertisement-free.