Guarding The Nest

During a suitable break in the showers this morning I focussed on the refreshed flora in somewhat bedraggled bees in the garden.

Examples are antirrhinums and foxgloves;

Several bees, in their waterproofs, can be seen among these roses, petunias, geraniums, rhododendrons, poppies, and bottle brush plants.

Danni and Ella came to lunch bearing a packet of gloriosa vine corms for Jackie’s birthday. Naturally the Head Gardener planted them immediately.

During the pleasant afternoon that ensued, Danni reflected on Jackie photographing Derrick and Ella.

Later our great-niece slept on the sofa and was photographed by her mother.

Through the window above Ella’s head another proud parent, in the form of a cock sparrow, could be seen, head rapidly swivelling, guarding his nest by the side of the house,

This evening we dined on Jackie’s super spicy pasta arrabbiata and tender runner beans with which she drank Blue Moon and I drank Chateau des Maures Lalande de Pomerol 2016.

Up And Down The Garden Path

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE GROUP TO ACCESS ITS GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

Between phone calls wrestling with internet connection problems, while Jackie began the process of moving the less hardy plants to their winter quarters in the greenhouse, I wandered around the garden inspecting the surprises it still holds for us. Being a natural optimist I hoped I would be able to post my findings later.

We have a profusion of prolific fuchsias, not all of which I can name. A bee clambered dozily into one of the Delta’s Sarahs.

Cyclamens grace the stone tubs on the front wall, and various beds, such as that of the Weeping Birch, also home to asters, begonias, geraniums, petunias, bidens, and a red carpet rose.

Begonias

 geraniums and petunias also bloom in other beds and containers.

 

The primula survives in the West Bed; a little blue iris reticulata in the raised bed; a clematis once again scales the potting shed trellis;

the ubiquitous verbena bonariensis, such as that in a container in front of the garage, stands proud beside its neighbouring nasturtiums, and the honeysuckle and solanum ascending the right hand trellis.

This morning glory may have been a late developer, but it is making up for lost time; hot lips are persistently, provocatively, pursed.

My wanderings involved a few trips up and down the Brick Path.

It must be more than thirty years since I bought our now threadbare but structurally sound Chesterfield sofa from Heal’s. This afternoon it was removed for reupholstering.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent pork chops with mustard and almonds; new potatoes; crisp carrots; tender cabbage and sautéed peppers and onions. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth drank Hop House lager and I drank Réserve de Bonpas 2016. This meal prompted me tell the relevant story that was told in ‘Chamberlayne Road’.

 

“I’m Sure I Can’t Allow That”

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE GROUP TO ACCESS THE GALLERY, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT

I dozed through the early parts of the day. At 4. p.m. Jackie set me up on Mum’s perching stool at a vantage point beside the bricked-in well, and I emerged, blinking, into strong sunlight to the sweet, sonorous, symphonies of vibrant birdsong.

While she continued to labour away in the sweltering heat, I perched and photographed what met my eye. When she caught me standing unaided and shifting the stool to give me a better angle down the Brick Path, she exclaimed: “I’m sure I can’t allow that.”

My choice of this evening’s ready prepared meals was suitably bland cod mornay with mashed potato and peas.

A Touch Of Frost

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS GALLERIES THAT CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE.

Early this crisp and bright morning I walked around our sub-zero garden.

Petunia

Except for this sheltered petunia,

all the plants were now frost damaged;

December haze hovered over the paths;

wood and metal harboured the white precipitation;

Frost on table

and the patio table bore memories of patterns found inside the winter morning bedroom windows of my pre-central heating childhood.

Frances at The Ship

Jackie drove us to The Ship in Wiltshire’s Upavon, for a most enjoyable lunch with Frances.

Log fire

The small grate, originally designed to take coal, now burned logs.

My choice of meal was fish pie, followed by apple and ginger trifle. Frances also opted for fish pie, while Jackie chose burger and chips. I drank Wadsworth’s 6X. That was our main meal of the day

Having passed Salisbury Cathedral on our return home, we turned off the High Road to look back at the splendid building. The frosted grass of the verges of the lane had seen no sun at all.

On home territory we diverted to Ferndene Farm Shop to buy a Christmas tree, then to Barton on Sea to catch the sunset.

Isle of Wight, The Needles and lighthouse

The eye of The Needles lighthouse glowed white today.

Planting Continues

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

My contribution to garden maintenance today was to accompany Aaron to Mole Country Supplies to buy more fencing materials with which he and Robin virtually completed their job; to cut the grass; and to dead head some roses. Jackie did a lot of watering.

Rose Emma Hamilton

In the Rose Garden Emma Hamilton basked in the sunshine,

Hydrangea Lanarth White

and Hydrangea Lanarth White tolerated the shadow of the orange shed.

Bee on bidens

A bustling bee explored a bidens;

Butterfly Small White on petunia

a Small White butterfly sought refuge in the camouflage of a petunia;

Butterfly gatekeeper

and a rather tattered  Gatekeeper took a rest in the Weeping Birch Bed.

The Head Gardener had also purchased a few more plants, including

New Guinea impatiens, lobelia, geraniums in chimney pot

the New Guinea impatiens introduced to the chimney pot on the grass that it shares with lobelia and geraniums.

By request, for our dinner this evening, Jackie produced fried eggs, bacon, and mushrooms; chips and baked beans. Lovely. She drank Hoegaarden and I didn’t.

Knighton Park

On a continuing balmy morning I picked a December bouquet from the garden – photographically speaking, of course. We have:

Rose Festive jewel

Festive jewels,

Violas

violas,

Petunia

petunias,

Geranium redGeranium white

geraniums,

Snapdragon

snapdragons,

Solanum

and solanums.

Jackie went on a massive ‘operation fill the freezer up’ shop; Aaron finished off the bathroom; and I completed our last batch of cards that we posted on the way to lunch at Helen and Bill’s.

Helen produced an excellent roast venison meal for us; for Shelly and Ron; for herself and Bill; and for their delightful son, David and his lovely wife, Jen. The starter was tasty pate with redcurrant jelly and salad. The meat was served with plentiful carrots, Brussels sprouts, green beens, and roast potatoes and parsnips. Chocolate roulade with strawberries, melon and cream was for dessert. Cheese and biscuits was to follow. Afterwards we just about managed coffee and mint chocolates. Various red and white wines were the accompaniment.

Convivial conversation with a sprinkling of reminiscence kept us going well into the evening. Ron told us about a terrace of houses in Knighton Park in Barton which sported splendid Christmas decorations, so we decided to visit it on our way home.

Singing reindeer

We were treated to a staggering display, complete with a singing reindeer strapped to a post.

Christmas lights 1

Other people, such as the little family in this shot, had come out to see the show. I was asked to photograph them on the mother’s phone.

Christmas lights 2Christmas lights 4

Christmas lights 5

The whole of this terrace was festooned with coloured lights representing numerous motifs, and the tiny front gardens were crammed with glowing figures, including a few cribs, snowmen, and Santas.

Christmas lights 3

None of the facades or sides of the dwellings was neglected.

Christmas lights reflected in car

The street was lined with parked cars on which the scenes were reflected.

No further sustenance was required after we returned home.

Isle Of Wight Tomatoes

Early this morning the crow, having adopted the back of the bench as its new taking off strip, flew directly onto the top of the bird feeder, but didn’t stay. It can only scavenge from a tray in the construction, not the closed containers. Jackie is wise to that, so isn’t filling it at the moment. The blackbird, with her partner perching guard on the snake bark tree,  continues to sit on her eggs.Garden to kitchen garden entrance It is now possible to see through the entrance to the kitchen garden from some distance away. Path before clearancePath before clearance 2Pictured here are two sides of a path surrounding an oval flower bed at the far end of the garden, as they appeared at the beginning of the day. They are in there somewhere. It was my task to begin restoring them to their former glory, whilst Jackie continued transforming the central gravelled walkway. Here, the brambles were rampant and well established. A certain amount of eradication of them from the beds was required. Bloodsucker on day lilyThis revealed more hidden plants, like the day lilies, the colour of one of which seems to have confused a bloodsucking insect into thinking it was clamped on to my forearm.Central path Oval path intermediate satgeBamboo coming through pathWith some painstaking sifting of earth and gravel Jackie completed the central path today. I, on the other hand, although making a good impact on the left hand side and far end of the ovoid ring, came to an abrupt halt when I encountered the bamboo. A number of strong stems had penetrated the path and defied my fork. That was a battle I was prepared to fight another day. It had taken three months completely to eradicate a clump of the insidious roots of this grass at The Firs, so I wanted to be fresh for the job. Mañana.

On a sunny day such as this, the light streaming through the kitchen windows at lunchtime is stunning. Placed at random at the end of the table when preparing it for the food were a vase of tulips Shelly had given Jackie, an accident pot containing alliums and a petunia,   and a bowl of tomatoes. Pots on kitchen table These tomatoes were a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. And they were delicious. Jackie had purchased them at Setley Ridge Farm Shop, to which a couple from the Isle of Wight travel weekly to supply them. Apparently supermarkets cannot sell them because they are not uniform in size, redness, and rotundity.

We received a very warm welcome from the family at The Family House Chinese restaurant in Totton where we dined this evening on the usual good food and Tsing Tao beer. SunsetThe streaks in the sky on our way home were of the equally warmest hues.