Caution Pigs

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I had been fortunate yesterday to photograph the spray of leaves still occupying this corner of the Phantom Path. This is because the Head Gardener has now cut down the foliage, consisting of crocosmias and day lilies, and replenished the soil, ready for next year’s burgeoning.

One day lily, somewhat careworn, still blooms opposite, in the Palm Bed.

As I took these two photographs, I spotted Jackie in her element, working on the Cryptomeria Bed.

My scanner has been ailing recently. It has now reached the stage where any items placed flat on the platform come out very smudged, if at all, yet it still works well with colour slides. I therefore ordered a new one, which we collected from Century 21 Business Products, Ltd. this afternoon. I’m always scared of new stuff of this nature, especially when it comes with three installation discs, I don’t know what I’m doing, and have no grandchild on hand. Perhaps I’ll have a look at it tomorrow. Or when I next need to scan a single sheet of paper.

On our way home warning signs through South Gorley reminded us that this is the season of pannage, when pigs are set free to forage for mast. The usual lone Gloucester Old Spot sow wandered silently along the through road; a cacophony of grunts and snorts from a couple of sows and a passel of piglets reverberated along Newtown Lane. The piglets especially rushed around at an alarming rate for someone not too steady on his pins into which they threatened to cannonade.

This evening the three of us dined on the Culinary Queen’s delicious, slightly spicy, beef in red wine with roast potatoes, crunchy carrots, and fresh runner beans from the garden. Elizabeth and I drank more of La Vieille Ferme. Jackie had drunk her Hoegaarden with our drinks in the Rose Garden

Just Too Short

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I took a couple of strolls around the garden with a camera this morning. Sculpture Florence turned her back on the early light streaming from the Rose Garden.

Overnight rain had refreshed fuchsias, geraniums, hydrangeas, and dahlias, in one of which

a bedraggled bee risked drowning.

Our red hot pokers are over now, but other kniphofias of more autumnal hues stand erect in the Weeping Birch and other beds.

White solanum continues to drape itself over the dead tree beside the New Bed.

Spiders lurk everywhere. Look closely at the close-up of the hanging basket at the corner of the Phantom Path.

This afternoon Jackie drove me into the forest.

Along the Rhinefield Road a rather young foal foraged far from his parent who looked to be away in the distance.

A little further along a forest sprite impersonated the upper section of a dead tree escaping the clutches of its parent body.

Along the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive dry layers of fallen leaves and pine cones offered a spring to my step and to those of a lone walker. A carved cone marked a route.

Passing the trough on Wootton Common we noticed that it was surrounded by cattle vying for a drink. By the time we had turned round to park the car near the animals, they were all trooping off along the moor.

Ah, not quite all. Just one diminutive creature had been left behind. In vain did this Marshmallow cow, time and again, circle the trough attempting to slake her thirst. Even her neck was just too short. Eventually she hit on a super wheeze. She tried the human spout. I wonder if the next two-legged drinkers will have any idea about who had preceded them.

This evening the three of dined on Jackie’s roast beef; Yorkshire pudding; pigs in blankets; roast potatoes, sweet and normal; crunchy carrots, tender runner beans; and gravy solid with onions and mushrooms. Elizabeth and I drank La vieille ferme 2017, while the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

 

 

 

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.

 

Spot the Bees

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Jackie continued watering the garden this morning. This afternoon we both carried out an extensive dead-heading session.

After this, I wandered among the flitting butterflies and the laden bees, occasionally sitting down, and photographing the still colourful range of flowers. The day lilies have been struggling, but some still survive. Look for the bees in some of the blooms. Captions to the gallery pictures offer identification.

This evening the three of us, including Elizabeth, dined on Jackie’s marinaded chicken fillets, pork rack of ribs, Plentiful vegetable rice, and ratatouille. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth and I drank Casillero del Diablo reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017.

 

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.

My Minimal Contribution

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A second brood of sparrows has hatched in our downstairs loo extractor fan.

 

In this corner of the patio this morning I made my minimal contribution to the massive daily watering operation;

Jackie, of course, did so much more, particularly ensuring that all the containers were filled, and that the more thirsty bedded plants did not dry out.

This afternoon Elizabeth, who is staying with us for as long as it takes for her to find a new house, moved in. We enjoyed a relaxing time together before decanting to the Rose Garden for pre-dinner drinks.

We dined on Jackie’s excellent lamb jalfrezi with pilau rice. The Culinary Queen consumed Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Track The Butterfly

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We took a mid-morning break in the patio where I admired the plantings, and Jackie watered a few she spotted looking a little thirsty. For a while I watched what I think was a Meadow Brown butterfly flitting from cosmos to bidens. This creature, and a bee that took its place on the cosmos when it wandered off, may be tracked by accessing the gallery as above.

Elsewhere, a smaller bee weighed down the tiny lobelias it preferred, while one sustained by the white everlasting sweet pea looked a little inebriated.

It was not until page 218 that I found a train ticket from London to Haddenham dated 8th March 2008 in my copy of David Lodge’s ‘Deaf Sentence’. Regular readers will realise that this signifies I have read the book before. I have absolutely no recollection of doing so. I finished it for the second time this afternoon. Will I remember it in another ten years? I rather doubt it.

Lodge has written much fiction, literary criticism, and a number of essays on the art of writing. He is skilled and this novel is well crafted. The blurb on the inside of the jacket tells us that ‘Deaf Sentence’ is ‘funny and moving by turns, being a brilliant account of one man’s effort to come to terms with deafness and death, ageing and mortality, the comedy and tragedy of human life’.

Many contemporary issues are introduced into the melting pot. There are what feels like obligatory sexual passages. The writing appears effortless; even slick. Tragic the story is. I did not find it funny, but then, I am not a fan of sick humour. It seems at times as if the reader is being lectured on, for example, the effects of hearing loss; vocabulary; and linguistics. Apart from some rather boring sections the book does hold the attention. Others may like it enough to retain memories of it.