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.

A Year For Honesty

Today the weather was fairly gloomy. Early rain gave way to overcast clouds and oppressive warmth. Our own garden seemed the best venue.

Bees, nevertheless, were busy plundering the amanogawa cherry now in full bloom.

Tulips, which, until now have kept their collars tightly buttoned, are beginning to think about loosening their ties.

Avian courting continues in the weeping birch.

The golden Japanese maple glows despite the lack of sunshine.

Dicentra joins primulas, hellebores, daffodils, fritillaries, and honesty in the West Bed.

Honesty is a biennial bloomer. The transparent medallion-shaped seed pods, so attractive when backlit in the autumn, as effective as a careless sneeze, scatter the germs that raise these spires of colour everywhere in the spring. This is its year.

The daffodils in the above photograph of the Cryptomeria Bed are later blooms which will delight for some weeks more. Others are past their best.

The vinca is a plant which, given free rein, would dance over all the beds and consequently requires a certain amount of containment. When we first arrived the garden was choked with it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Juicy Assemblage.

No Passenger Seat Was Vacated

This morning Jackie drove me to the GP surgery in Milford on Sea where I was relieved to learn that my lingering symptoms are probably due to stress – I can certainly agree with that, and just continue to take it easy.

This afternoon my Chauffeuse took me on a trip to the north of the forest.

A motley array of pigeons set off flying from the colourful tiles of the roof of Moyles Court School as we travelled through Rockford.

In a field across the road the more delicate domestic horses still sported their rugs as protection against the cold nights.

The sturdier New Forest breeds have no need of such raiment.

I closed my window before this chestnut at South Gorley could stick its nose through it.

As always, a pair of mallards took up occupation in a pool at North Gorley.

Donkeys lined the verges at Ibsley and on the Gorley Road,

where deer lounged in the sunshine, also frisking beneath Abbots Well Road,

where grazing ponies enhanced the landscape.

It is normally impossible to stop the car on Roger Penny Way. Today was the exception that enabled me to snatch this shot before following traffic arrived.

No passenger seat was vacated in the making of this post.

This evening we dined on excellent chicken shaslick, salad, and paratha from Forest Tandoori, followed by ginger ice cream.

The Bit Between Her Teeth

Each morning at dawn, as I work on my laptop, I watch pigeons

sizing each other up on the telephone cables,

or atop the blighted oak on the opposite side of Christchurch Road.

Later in the morning, Jackie walked into the garden to bring back photographs of her cyclamens lining the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Having got the bit between her teeth she continued with daffodils,

with camellias,

and with hellebores.

Our sister in law, Frances, came over for a visit this afternoon. This was very supportive.

Later, Sam joined us from Australia. We enjoyed fond reminiscences punctuating our shared sadness.

We dined on Jackie’s splendid cottage pie, crisp carrots and cauliflower; tender cabbage, leaks, and runner beans. I managed a small portion.

Pigeon Posts

The Head Gardener has become less enamoured of our Lucky pheasant who has clearly taken up permanent residence. Unfortunately, he tends to redistribute her careful placement of shells and peck new shoots off her heucheras. She now tends to attempt to persuade him to depart. He is, however, very smart. Yesterday he led Aaron a merry dance around the potting sheds. Humans are bound to stick to the paths. Lucky can nip across the beds from one to another.

On this, the warmest afternoon yet, as I moved from one bench to another basking in the sunshine,

our ring-necked strutter followed me around as if to enquire what I was doing here.

Meanwhile, overhead, taking up vantage posts in the still naked trees, well-fed pigeons dozed, preened, and stretched in readiness for the mating season to come.

This evening we dined on Forest Tandoori’s excellent takeaway fare. My choice was chicken jalfrezi with special rice; Jackie’s was chicken biriani.

I’ll Give You A Clue

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Today the sun slunk back behind the newly whitewashed ceiling from which occasional leaks did spring.

In July 2005 the weather was finer, so I took a trip back there in the form of scanning another dozen colour slides of the Streets of London series.

Sandwich Street WC1 7.05

Unless they’ve relocated to much grander property in Wisconsin, Double K’s Snack Bar in the aptly named Sandwich Street WC1 is probably no longer trading.

Havelock Street N1 7.05

The mural on this corner of the Lewis Carroll Library in Islington’s Havelock Street has not escaped the attentions of a graffiti spray can. Its premises in Copenhagen Street N1 currently appear to be rather more splendid. This is a popular educational resource for children and adults.

Freeling Street N1

A palette and bags of building materials in Freeling Street serve as a seat for a worker taking a break for refreshments and phone conversation.

Chapel Market/Penton Street N1 7.05

A typical London corner shop stands on this corner of Chapel Market and Penton Street.

At the close of the 18th century townhouses with rear gardens were built along what was then Chapel Street, when it formed the eastern boundary of the new suburb of Pentonville. A fire engine house was erected in 1792 and heightened in 1822; it survives today but in poor condition.

http://hidden-london.com/gazetteer/chapel-market/ gives us this information about the market:

‘The essayist Charles Lamb lived at two addresses in Chapel Street in the late 1790s.

To the annoyance of the well-heeled residents, costermongers began to sell their wares along the street during the 19th century and by the 1860s a fully-fledged and relatively reputable market was in operation. Official designation as a street market came in 1879.

Chapel Market in March 2014*

Three years later John James Sainsbury opened his first Islington store at 48 Chapel Street, managed for a while by his eldest son, John Benjamin. The venture was so successful that the Sainsburys opened three more shops in the street, including their first branch specialising in poultry and game.

By the 1890s Chapel Street had one of the two largest markets in the Clerkenwell and Islington areas, divided roughly equally between food and non-food stalls. Furniture, earthenware, second-hand clothing and drapery were among the most popular merchandise. The council renamed the street Chapel Market in 1936.

A few mainstream retailers and fast food outlets now occupy premises towards the eastern end of the street but for the most part this remains a traditional and unpretentious market, selling mainly household goods and food. It is open every day except Monday. Despite its continuing popularity, Chapel Market is vulnerable to a future change of use owing to the high value of land in Islington.’

The Victorian Royal Free Hospital began life as The London Fever Hospital. By the 1990s this redundant facility was redeveloped for varying types of residential accommodation. http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/islington/royalfree/ has much interesting history on this site, modern manifestations of which include

Old Royal Free Square N1 7.05

Old Royal Free Square N1

Southwood Smith Street N1 7.05

and Southwood Smith Street N1

Battishill Street N1 7.05

London’s feral pigeons are ubiquitous. Here a trio dice with death near a corner of Battishill Street.

Kember Street N1 7.05

I do hope the driver of this Urgent Courier in Kember Street had managed to deliver his package before his van was clamped.

Bernard Street WC1 7.05

The gentleman on the balcony in Bernard Street WC1 appears to have scaled great heights in search of a mobile phone signal.

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

Now, can you spot Louisa and Errol outside the Victoria Palace Theatre?

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

I’ll give you a clue. The woman in white conversing on her mobile stands beside them when the traffic crossing figure is green. It becomes red while she approaches me, still apparently engrossed in the screen.

Victoria Street SW1 7.05

These three shots were all taken from outside an Indian restaurant where the three of us had enjoyed a pre-theatre meal before seeing the show, aptly described on the board as ‘The Greatest British Musical I’ve Ever Seen’.

Once more, by late afternoon, the sun shone from a gently clouded blue sky.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s superb sausage casserole and mashed potato flecked with carrot. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank Barossa Valley Shiraz 2016.

Modelling Daphne’s Dress

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My 75th birthday was very pleasurable. Matthew, Tess, and Poppy woke up here in the morning, and Shelley and Ron,  Becky and Ian visited in the afternoon. We all sat in the garden after lunch.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

The first present I opened was from Poppy, who had chosen it. A certain amount of self-interest was rapidly confirmed.

Mat and Tess 1

Our granddaughter provided her parents with their own party hats.

Poppy 3Poppy 4Tess and Poppy 3

Matthew obligingly assembled a colourful bird house that Louisa and Errol had sent me. Poppy saw it as a handbag and commandeered it for a tour of the garden she undertook with Tess;

Poppy and poppy

she was intrigued to be introduced to one of her floral namesakes,

Tess and Poppy 1

and to many other blooms,

Tess and Poppy 2

with some of which she picked and adorned herself.

Kitchen Bed

This was one view of the Kitchen Bed,

Garden view across Margery's Bed

and another seen across Margery’s Bed, each containing

Day lilies 1Day lilies 2

a number of day lilies, some of which Jackie dug up for Tess along with several other plants.

Garden view from Heligan Path bench

This scene is beyond the Heligan Path bench.

New Zealand flax

Being a Kiwi, Tess was able to describe exactly how to propagate New Zealand flax, and to explain the haka.

Pigeons on roof 1Pigeons on roof 2Pigeons on roof 3Pigeons on roof 4Pigeons on roof 5

The reason for this was that I understand that this war dance also represents other events such as courtship, and I had no idea whether the capers of the pigeons on our roof represented war or love.

Poppy 5Poppy 6Poppy 7

Becky brought over a beautifully hand stitched and embroidered dress that her niece Poppy had left behind at her home. Poppy couldn’t wait to strip off and model it. This treasured possession had been made by Tess’s friend, Daphne Harris.

This evening, except for Shelly and Ron who had left earlier, we are all going to dine at Lal Quilla. Regular readers will understand that that means I will enjoy a hot curry and drink Kingfisher, and at the end of the meal will be past caring what anyone else consumed. Should anything out of the ordinary occur, I will report on that tomorrow.