Not Quite Mid-May

Today’s tour of the garden began with

clematis Marie Boisselot in the Kitchen Bed which also contains an as yet small wisteria, clusters of ferns, Japanese maples, the now ubiquitous erigeron, and self seeded bronze fennel which will have to go when it outgrows it’s welcome.

Other clematises include Niobe, now rivalling the fading wisteria and the burgeoning rose Paul’s Scarlet for space above the Wisteria Arbour; and Doctor Ruppel, one of which is beginning its ascent up the arch facing the Westbrook Arbour.

At the Brick Path corner of the Dragon Bed a deep red peony prepares to top off the happy planting of phlox and geraniums.

At the far side of this bed the magnolia Vulcan is beginning to relish the light now permitted into its corner.

The pink rhododendron in the Palm Bed sits opposite the deeper variety in Margery’s Bed.

There are a number of vantage points along the Brick Path.

The yellow diurnal poppies alongside the Gazebo Path

can be seen slightly above the centre of this view through the Cryptomeria Bed.

Before Aaron left this morning he had mown the grass patch which is beginning to warrant the epithet lawn.

Rose Madame Alfred Carriere soars above the entrance to the Rose Garden; Jacqueline du Pré adds harmony; Laura Ford a splash of yellow beside Roserie de la Haie; and Gloriana a touch of majesty to the side fence.

Aquilegias dance with ferns in the South Bed;

weigela festoons the fence above them.

Three hawthorn trees, swathes of libertia, and carpets of erigeron give a distinctly white hue to the Back Drive borders.

These are glimpses of the garden in not quite mid-May.

While we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks on the patio a pair of pigeons settled down for the evening in the copper beech.

For our dinner we travelled around the world in 60 minutes. We enjoyed Jackie’s special fried rice with Japanese tempura prawns, Chinese pork spare ribs, Indian tandoori chicken, Belgian Hoegaarden beer and more of the Chilean Carmenere wine.

Pruning

Aaron’s main task this morning was taking shrubs in hand.

He began with the camellia beside the Dead End Path. He pruned lower branches to lift the plant which has continued to bloom for at least two months.

The prolific Compassion rose has persistently refused to drape the arch spanning this path. Our friend from A.P. Maintenance therefore staked it up enabling it to continue in the direction in which it is determined to lurch. Here he discusses the finished project with the Head Gardener.

Finally he tidied the viburnum Plicata.

Last autumn Aaron had heavily pruned the roses in the Rose Garden, except for Rosarie de la Haie which is the only one currently fully in bloom. The host of heucheras brighten the borders and buds adorn the other specimens.

Elsewhere rhododendrons, phlox, honesty and aquilegias thrive; white clematis Marie Boisselot is opening out and diurnal yellow poppies demanded dead-heading.

This evening we dined on tempura prawns followed by Jackie’s spicy pork paprika and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda.

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.

Where To Find A Drink

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This afternoon we drove into the forest in search of water. We hoped to find at least some areas where the animals could drink.

The bed of the stretch of Highland Water just outside Brockenhurst was unusually dry, yet provided enough water for cattle to drink and to paddle, and for dogs to play. Other photographers recorded the scene while I focussed on them.

From there we proceeded to Hatchet Pond where the levels were high, and, again, cattle stood in, or along, the far side of the lake.

The tide was high at Tanner’s Lane. This little boy couldn’t drink the water, but he could certainly play in it. Just after I took these photographs he was stripped off and paddling.

As we left the lane a Muscovy duck made its slow, ungainly, way across the road, practising the heel and toe technique that would please my physiotherapists.

Back home we had no trouble finding a drink. Ours were taken on the grass patch from where we could enjoy views across the garden; and hanging baskets and planters in and around the area. Jackie couldn’t resist making a few adjustments. Bees, like the one in the convolvulus in the last picture, were still very busy.

This evening we dined on a Margarita pizza embellished by Jackie with salami and cheese; and fresh salad.

 

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.

Russell Is Definitely Imprinted On Jackie

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I was first in the garden this morning. I wanted to check on our crow.

Hebe in Dragon Bed

This is a good year for hebes, as exemplified by this one in the Dragon Bed, where the crow was not.

Beside Shady Path

Our avian visitor was not along the Shady Path.

Brick Path

He was neither to be seen on the Brick Path;

nor in the Rose Garden, with its poppies and carpet roses, including the white, scented, Kent;

nor anywhere near the New Bed sporting clematises and erigerons.

Day lilies and geranium palmatums

The day lilies and geranium palmatums at the south end

Phlox Blue Paradise

and the phlox in the West Bed all reported his absence.

Crow

Silly me. I should have begun my search nearer the house. There he was, foraging among the paving stones. He was so keen to follow me about

that it took me a while before I could gain sufficient distance to focus on him with a long lens.

He remained firmly on the ground, so I didn’t feel he thought I was his Dad.

This all changed when his mother came out. He was on her in an instant.

No longer was it funny. Not wanting to be pecked again in the young bird’s effort to provoke her into regurgitating food for him, Jackie shoved him off and rushed inside. He followed her in and resumed his onslaught. The same thing happened when she went outside again.

The creature is definitely imprinted on Jackie. Perhaps fortuitously, Shelly, a little later, arrived to take her sister off to Somerset for the annual three day camping trip the three sisters share. We will see what effect the absence will have on Russell.

Russell? Well what else should we call him?

This afternoon I watched the momentous World Cup football match between Germany and S. Korea. After this, Becky arrived to take over administering to her Aged P while her mother is away. This will be the first time ever we have had a few days on our own.

We dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away fare.

 

What’s This Beetle?

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Supplementing this morning’s work on ‘A Knight’s Tale’ were my posts ‘Auntie Gwen’ and ‘One For Rebeckah’,

from which this photograph was included.

This afternoon the weather was dry, overcast, and humid, with the sun sometimes sneaking a peek at what I was up to. This was watering, dead-heading, and a little weeding.

I then experienced considerable difficulty in loading new photographs into WordPress.

Bee on hebe

Pollen-dusted bees favoured the pink and purple hebes;

New Bed garden view

Deep red Bishop of Llandaff dahlias nod to the lilies in the New Bed. (See Head Gardener’s comment below – we don’t know the name of the dahlia, but it’s not the Bishop)

Gaura

We live in hope that this gaura, a plant with which we have so far been unsuccessful, will flourish in the Weeping Birch Bed.

'Pineapple' plant

On the other hand, Jackie has had great success with what we call ‘Pineapple’ plants, prised up from paving and placed in the Kitchen Bed.

Early this evening the sun reemerged and shed new light on the garden, bringing, incidentally, a cessation to loading problems. Maybe this was because the Head Gardener had returned and there was no further reason to sulk.

Echinaceas

A glow was lent to echinaceas

Phlox

and to phlox in the palm bed;

Crocosmia Lucifer

to the crocosmias, like this Lucifer;

Day lilies

to a much wider range of day lilies than we remember having;

Clematis 1Clematis 2

and to various clematises,

Clematis 3

including this one in which the Head Gardener can justifiably take great pride. As long-term readers will know, what is now the Rose Garden, was, three years ago, a concrete-bound, overgrown kitchen garden of sorts. This is where this raggedy specimen started life. Jackie lifted the wizened little plant, placed it in a pot adopted by the front garden trellis, and returned it to its roots in its birthplace.

Strawberries

Inherited wild strawberries are bearing fruit for the first time.

Beetle on liliesBeetle on lilies 2

As I passed the sweetly scented lilies in the New Bed, an iridescent green glint in the centre of one of the blooms flashed enticingly. Does anyone have any idea as to the beetle’s identity?

Miss Coleoptera on Twitter offers this suggestion: ‘Probably a Cetonia aurata or a Protaetia’. Uma offers this, in his comment below: ‘To me that looks like a Bombardier Beetle. Or perhaps the fellow is an oil beetle’. Google images confirms Cetonia aurata, which Oglach, below, has named as a chafer beetle..

If I had any sense I wouldn’t struggle when there’s a blip in the system. I’d just ignore it until it went away.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious lamb jalfrezi and savoury rice topped with an omelette. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Georges DuBoeuf Fleurie 2016.