Two Storm-Swept Overgrown Shrubs

Although the skies became overcast by mid morning, the day remained largely dry.

Martin began on today’s visit by tackling the overgrown and leaning pittosporum. The first two of these pictures show the tree tilted by the recent storms; the last, Martin’s trimmed result.

Leaving him in peace for a while, I wandered around and photographed tête-a-têtes; snowdrops and mahonia; and ipheions.

In the process I walked into another lurching overgrown shrub dislodged by the gales.

This euonymous would have to go, so

Martin set about it.

Leaving the leafy branches for us to burn, he took away the heavier pieces.

Afterwards he continued his work along the back drive. This involved straightening the edges, weeding the beds, and pruning roses supported by the dead stumps.

Although I was tempted by the aromas of chicken curry cooking all day, this was not for me. Jackie has prepared it for Sunday’s friends and relatives blitz on Elizabeth’s garden, postponed from last week’s which was rained off.

We therefore dined on Mr Chan’s excellent Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Douro.

Recycled Wrought Iron

Racing against the promised rain on this warm but gloomy morning we worked on providing freedom of expression for Compassion. Jackie assembled another Gardman arch for this rose that we have been trying fully to release from the clutches of myrtle and pittosporum. The heaviest pruning the plant has undergone for many years ensued. We then fixed the support in place and tied the remaining stems to them. A number of healthy buds remain.

Compassion Arch

That is not a weak sun peering through the pittosporum, but one of the drops of rain that sent us inside. Not before I had recorded the moment.

Neither of us can remember from where in the garden we had liberated the wrought iron structure that we had been using until now to support the rose. We had upended it and tied it to a beam suspended between the two trees, but we are becoming attached to arches, so it had to go. But where? Well, it might serve better to define the front boundary between us and North Breeze. So we transported it to the side of the house and laid it down.

In the drizzle of the day, I settled down into my chair. Not so the Head Gardener who didn’t seem to realise it was wet. I left her to potter, or so I thought. Until I heard the unmistakeable clang of hammer on metal, that could only mean one thing. She was banging in posts. I couldn’t let her do that alone, so I turned off my laptop and joined in the fray. The wrought iron was to be suspended from assorted metal posts taken from the growing collection of those found in the garden. I interred the posts, to which Jackie fastened the iron ornament. It is now intended to carry a clematis.

Wrought iron fencing

The reason, incidentally, that our neighbouring front garden is more visible than the back is that it was cleared a year ago.

Jackie planting

A quick trip to Otter Nurseries, and the bed was soon planted up with ferns, pansies, and anemones. A clematis, Queen Mother, is going in on the opposite side of yesterday’s new arch to the Campaniflora.

Owl lightYet another owl sneaked a lift back with Jackie, and, through the kitchen window, ogled our dinner which consisted of  succulent fillet steak, crisp cauliflower, and potatoes sauteed with peppers and onions. The Cook drank her customary Hoegaarden, and I drank La Ninadiere Beaujolais Villages 2014.

I have no idea how many owls The Head Gardener has thought it a hoot to introduce into our plot, but we certainly hear real ones away in the forest at night.

James Bird, who lived next door at Newark, once counted 25 birds’ nests in Lindum House Garden. Maybe he could come and hunt down the owls.

Let There Be Light

Last night, while just a few of us were still awake and beginning to tidy the kitchen, the lights went out. Quick as a flash, a still lively Poppy, dashed upstairs crying “I’ll get my Daddy. He’ll fix it.” She woke him. He said he’d deal with it in the morning.

True to his word, he did. Except that it took most of the day.

There are a lot of light switches and individual bulbs that needed to be checked, with constant trips to and from the fuse box in the hall. All were in good working order. Eventually our son discovered that the problem had arisen somewhere in the lights around the outside of the back of the house. He thought he would try the switch first. This entailed shopping at Christchurch for a replacement.

There was nothing wrong with the switch.

Matthew then examined and tested all the lights. There was nothing wrong with them. Observant readers will notice that we still have geraniums in hanging baskets.

The next possibility was the wiring between the switch inside the house and the lights outside. Eureka! The expert pointed out that the live wire had been exposed and water had dripped from this to the uncovered earth below. We have hardly ever used these lights, but did so last night because some our visitors had parked on the back drive.

Early this evening Ian, Jackie, and I repaired to The Royal Oak for a drink, some time later to be joined by Matthew, Becky, Tess, and Poppy who had visited the Byron Road Christmas lights. Having drunk Razor Back there, I, as did Tess, abstained from alcohol with dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice. The others drank Senza Tempo Pino Grigio.