An Enforced Eviction



Early this morning the sun shone on the wall-bound wisteria aiming for the en suite bathroom.

Raindrops on tulip Diamond Jubilee 1

Lingering early raindrops rolled around the Diamond Jubilee tulips,

Raindrops and fly on tulip Diamond Jubilee

onto which a thirsty fly dropped for a drink.

RhododendronRhododendron and pieris

Another rhododendron, leading the eye to the pieris on the grass, is beginning to bloom.

The day dulled over as it progressed. We spent the morning working on the garden. Jackie did some general planting and weeding, and sprinkled chicken pellets over the newly composted beds. Before you imagine otherwise, we do not keep chickens. The pellets come in a large bucket and are marketed as manure.


Vinca makes an attractive ground cover, but it does have a tendency to sprawl, take root, and make life very uncomfortable for bed-mates. So it has been for the Weeping Birch Bed. I therefore concentrated my efforts on that. Fast approaching is the warmer weather when a thinner duvet will be in order.

Ladybird on vincaSnail and ladybird on vinca leavesSnail on vinca leaf

A black-spotted ladybird and a tiny striped snail suffered an enforced eviction as I ejected  their shelter.

Brick pillar

Our stone urns and other containers are mounted on dry brick pillars. The ground under one of these subsided a bit last autumn and it fell over. We spent the last few minutes before lunch levelling a space and beginning to rebuild the column.

This evening we dined on succulent roast pork and apple sauce, roast sweet and savoury potatoes, with al dente carrots, cauliflower, and runner beans; followed by rice pudding and blackberry jam.  I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.



This morning we continued tidying the garden.

Daffodils in ginger jar

The lovely daffodils occupying this old ginger jar have such long, slender, stems that they are unable to support their heavy heads in the garden. Jackie has therefore trimmed and rehoused them.

Here are some more tulips. The white ones are ‘Diamond Jubilee’.

Garden across Cryptomeria Bed

Here are current views across the Cryptomeria Bed;

Garden across Margery's Bed

Margery’s Bed;

Garden view across Weeping Birch Bed

and the Weeping Birch Bed;


the pieris on the grass patch;

Owl on garden wall

and an owl for Pauline.

Here are some daffodils from the front garden that have not been posted before;

and others with delicate salmon-pink trumpets. Jackie considers their yellow companions to be interlopers,


much like the white fritillary.

Clouds behind weeping birch

For the first time this year we took drinks in the rose garden before dinner. I hope it is not too long before Laurie and Clif can do the same on their patio. The clouds behind the weeping birch had a silver lining.

Our dinner this evening consisted of haddock fillets on a bed of spinach; creamy swede and potato mash; crunchy carrots and broccoli; and piquant cauliflower cheese. This was followed by rhubarb pie and custard. Jackie drank Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Royale 2015 and I drank more of the merlot.

A Conundrum 2


We took it easy today. Prompted by today’s post from thebikinggardener I wandered around the garden to see how our Hellebores are doing.

Some way behind Geoff’s, ours are coming through.

Many primulas have so far survived the winter.

Mist on cherub

The shattered bits of cherub Jackie found in the undergrowth a couple of years ago have gained a fine coating of moss.

Honesty and weeping birch

The remnants of honesty, hollowing ovals on stems, blends well with the weeping birch bark.

The parent viburnum Bontantense and its two children are blooming well. One joins with a leycesteria in beginning to mask Aaron’s new fencing.

Winter flowering cherry

Alongside the winter flowering cherry


and beneath the crab apples, a blackbird dropped down for a change of diet.


This pieris takes my mind off the fact that the grass needs cutting.


A few youthful pink cheeks survive amid those ageing, wrinkly, and skeletal ones of this hydrangea.

Eggshells on new bed

Finally, the conundrum. Who has dragged a clutch of eggshells from the compost heap across the New Bed? Well, we did spot a rat, hands and nose pressed to the pane, peering, like Tiny Tim, through our window when we ate our Christmas dinner.

Just before 4.30 p.m., we dashed out to Barton on Sea to watch the sun sink into Christchurch Bay. I did not stage the photograph of the woman kicking it back up into the sky.

A while later we dined at Lal Quilla. My choice was lamb shatkora massala; Jackie’s prawn sallee. We shared an egg paratha, mushroom rice, and sag bahji; and both drank Kingfisher.

In The Garden Today

My gardening task today was cutting the grass.

View across grass patch

It is as well that I did carried that out before photographing this symphony in red provided by tellimas, rhododendron, pieris, mimuluses and petunias.


Another rhododendron that I photographed last week in a still closed and soggy state is now fully open and looking well refreshed;


as are the red and white tulips at the front of the house.

New arrivals are clematises

Clematis Niobe


Clematis Marie Boisselot

and Marie Boisselot;

Crane's bill geraniums

yet more Crane’s bill geraniums;

Pheasant's eye narcissus

 Pheasant’s eye, perhaps the last of the narcissi;


naturalised aquilegias;


and different alliums.

As has been noted before, the Hordle Chinese Take Away set meal for two can always be extended into the next day. So it was with yesterday’s, the seconds of which we enjoyed this evening, with profiteroles to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Bordeaux.

Before The Thunderstorm


For the best part of the day there were two consistencies in the weather: it was very warm and it was dry. This meant the overnight rain soon evaporated. The sun, however, vied for dominance with the clouds.

Sack barrow

Stopping on the way to buy a necessary sack barrow from Milford Supplies, we drove to Molly’s Den in search of two more stone urns for the rose garden. We were successful and installed them into position.

Planter in wrought iron

We also bought a red-painted wrought iron planter.

Front garden

Early on, in the front garden,

Tulip and raindrops

tulips’ in-built umbrellas protected their stamens.

Clematis Montana with bee

Bees preferred the pollen from the clematis Montana. If you can’t spot this insect filling its thigh sacs, you may choose to enlarge the image,

Bee on clematis Montana

or opt for this one instead.


Pearly drops slipped from aquilegias.

Viburnum plicatum 2Viburnum plicatum 1

The viburnum plicatum had benefited from the warmth and the rain.


Two years ago, outside the utility room door, stood the stump of a wisteria that had clearly been heavily pruned, we imagine to make way for the plumbing for the en-suite bathroom above. It has responded to nurturing the first year, and training the next, to produce a fine drapery which should increase even more next year.


Another stump, this time on the grass patch, has recovered to produce a pieris that now shows signs of feeling crowded by the Castle Bench.


Offspring of the erigeron, outside the French windows to the sitting room, have been adopted by various other parts of the garden.

Urn 1

Urn 2 (Jackie reflected)

Just before the thunderstorm hit at 4.30, after Jackie had planted up the urns, I joined her for cold drinks and a rest in the rose garden.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s prize chicken jalfrezi, now nicely maturing; meat samosas, egg fried rice, onion bhajis, and parathas. I drank more of the Cotes du Rhone, while The Cook abstained.

Could You Have Done That If You’d Tried?

Last night Andy drove us home from Spice of India in Danni’s car. We were some time getting under way. Perched on the front passenger seat, I was unable to fit the seat belt. Now, this is a fairly automatic task which doesn’t normally require too much attention. Stretching out the belt with my left hand, I passed it to my right, and groped for the receiving slot. The slot was unreceptive. Thinking my aim must be awry, I had several stabs at it. To no avail. In the gloom of the car park, I peered at the stubborn fixture. There seemed to be a coin therein. A search for a nail-file ensued. One was produced from a handbag in the back. Andy prised out the offending item, which revealed itself to be a button. It seemed, as was subsequently confirmed, likely to be one from my back trouser pocket. Andy dropped it on the floor. We didn’t find it. Could you have done that if you’d tried? Rose stem loosenedArch strut dislodgedRose stem retied Today’s gale force wind was even stronger than yesterday. The North West of our garden seems to suffer the most. As I wandered around today I noticed an untied rose stem hanging down from its arch, one of the struts of which had been blown loose. I refixed the the arch and tied the rose back up.Rose stem on seat 1 Rose stem on seat 2Rose stem hanging The buds on that particular section had remained intact, but others had been torn off. One rested on the Ace Reclaim bench; another hung by its neck. ClematisMagnolia Vulcan Nearby, an as yet unidentified clematis clings to the helping hands of a fir tree, and the magnolia Vulcan risks blooming. Clouds, too, were sent scudding across the sunlit sky, giving us alternating light and shade, which meant for shadows to appear and reappear, never in the same place. This can be seen in the two bench seat shots. In the first, foliage had been blown into position, not to return for the second. Weeping birch and beech The weeping birch was not permitted to droop its flimsy filigreed branches for long before they were tossed aloft. Japanese maple yellow Flames of a yellow Japanese maple flickered like those of the red one pictured yesterday. Bee struggling A solitary, hungry, bumblebee, struggled to gain purchase on a cluster of heucheras. It had about as much success as I did in keeping it in focus. Cow parsley We have what I consider to be an invasion of cow parsley, which also bent its back in the face of the violent gusts. I am all for pulling it up before it drops its seeds, but, unfortunately, the head gardener has overruled me, and I am no Alan Titchmarsh. Jessica, too, had found these plants attractive. She collected seeds from the wayside around Newark and scattered them in the orchard, where they rapidly germinated, flourished joyfully, and spilled their seed in turn. It took us several years of taking out the tops to eradicate it. PierisCalendula The pink-leaved pieris on the lawn shelters under the protection of the Nottingham Castle bench, and low-level plants like calendulas smile in the sunshine. Rhododendron Another rhododendron has battled its way through the North Breeze jungle next door. It is probably grateful now that it is surrounded by brambles. This evening we dined on Mr. Pink’s exquisite cod and chips and Garner’s pickled onions. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I finished the Bordeaux. It wasn’t a good idea to ruin the taste of the wine by contaminating it with the vinegar from the onions, but it had been open a day or two, and may soon have tasted of vinegar itself. Alternating it with water helped a bit.

Chinese Takeaway Pie

Scooby and roseFrost on rose

Before collapsing into bed last night we watched episode 5 of ‘Downton Abbey’. Only 37 more to go, not counting Christmas specials.

Over the festive season, the skin encasing Scooby’s stomach has become rather tight. He was off his food yesterday evening, and this morning he puked up on the kitchen floor. He perked up immediately afterwards, so, in order to liberate his nostrils from the aroma of disinfectant, Jackie took him out to smell the roses. These were frost-covered, as was a pieris that has risked blooming early. This latter plant is one I bought, potted and repotted whilst living in Sutherland Place. Left there until I removed my belongings, first to Michael’s house in Graham Road, and ultimately to Downton in April, it miraculously survived and has taken well to our garden soil here.Frost on pieris

LandscapeTreesWoodlandBacklit leavesReflections on streamAllowing the sun time to come up, I took the woodland walk, this time walking round the field before fording a muddy ditch leading to the stream. It was a little warmer today, so the frost dripped from the foliage onto felled logs and the forest floor. Sunlight streaked through the trees, setting the bracken alight and casting shadows on the rippling, sparkling water.

BrackenBacklit leafSun through trees

This evening’s meal was a miracle of mother/daughter invention. Becky produced Chinese Takeaway Pie. She took the left-over dishes from the meal of a couple of days ago, laid them in tiers along an ovenproof oval dish, and covered them with the pancakes that had been provided for the duck. This was gently heated in the oven, and was an enjoyable melange. Jackie’s contribution was Egg Foo Yung – well, all right, egg and bacon omelette. They went very well together. Peroni and J2O was drunk by all except me. My choice was Gran Famila Las Primas 2013.