Fruits Of Labour

I am close to deciding on my final cut for the Everton Festival Photographic Competition. Many painful decisions are being made now, concerning which shots to leave out.

In order seriously to consider the deer having her nose scratched I have converted this image to Black and White, thus giving a sharper silhouette. This is, incidentally, quite a small crop from the original picture. Does anyone have an opinion?

Jackie has been working very hard all this week on planting and replenishment of soil.

Here she tidies what she has achieved against the kitchen wall;

this side of the patio, all of which has been repotted, leads through the Dead End Path,

Earlier plantings include this allium in the Palm Bed and clematis climbing the Wedding Day (formerly Agriframes) arch.

While I think of it, I have been calling the clematis wandering up the wisteria arbour Niobe; we now think it should be named Star of India.

It faces the bright red Chiliean Lantern tree.

Rose Altissimo stands sentinel between Elizabeth’s Bed and the

Rose Garden where Laura Ford’s yellow pigment splashes onto the heuchera border, and

Special Anniversary

nods to the numerous gloves the foxes have scattered therein.

Creamy yellow Summer Time makes its bid to support the peeling old shed;

Jacqueline du Pré plays on;

and the deep pink climber Elizabeth rediscovered races Roserie de la Haie to the skies.

The Weeping Birch Bed bursts with burgeoning blooms.

This evening we dined on chicken breasts roasted in sweet chilli sauce; creamy mashed potatoes; and ratatouille with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah.

Soil Transfusion

Dawn

An early bird atop the oak across Christchurch Road admired this morning’s dawn sky which presaged a fine day.

Washing in garden

And so it was. Warm enough to put the washing out.

North Breeze garden 1North Breeze garden 2North Breeze garden 3North Breeze garden 4North Breeze garden 5North Breeze garden 6

My meagre task of the day was to begin the ongoing battle with the triffid invasion from our neighbour, North Breeze.

Bramble uprooted

It is important to tackle the aliens early enough to prevent them from rooting on our side of the ramshackle border, as had this bramble.

Greenhouse

When they burst through the greenhouse glass, as they did in the film (see the above link), then we will surely need to watch out.

It is a sad aspect of this jungle that it was once a wonderful garden, where the ghosts of such as

Rose

this rose,

Blossom

this fruit tree,

Magnolia 1

this camellia,

Magnolia

and this magnolia, battle through to the light.

North Breeze garden 7

North Breeze neighbours the whole of the West side of our property, and turns the corner along the North side of the Back Drive,

Sparrow

where, watched by a sparrow,

Jackie planting back drive

Back Drive border 1

Jackie was putting the finishing touches (just for the moment) to her creative planting.

Soil transfusion

Another regular operation she performs, on which she was engaged later, is soil transfusion. Much of the soil in the garden is rather anaemic and needs replenishing. Here, the surgeon has cut out a poorly section, removed the spent matter, and inserted a healthy supply.

She will then sift through the choked plants she has carefully preserved, extracting the smelly allium bulbs, and replant what she wishes to keep.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lamb jalrezi with savoury rice and parathas. She drank Hoegaarden whilst I drank Kingfisher.

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.

Before And After: Disposal And Recycling

 

Front bed 1

Jackie had, of course, not been idle during my trip to Nottingham. She has almost completed preparing the front garden beds for winter. It fell to me this morning just to extract a few stubborn euphorbia roots and reset some of the edging stones.

Front bed 2

The Head Gardener completed the task this afternoon.

Griselinia cuttings

Aaron, too, had been busy. He has brought half the griselinia trees down to a reasonable height. By the time he has finished, the burning pile will be even larger.

This leads me to the next section of the garden story.

Derrick at cuttings heap

Disposal of cuttings and sawn limbs is a continuing problem. The first pile, here photographed on 17th June 2014, was just the tip of the iceberg. In my prime I was 6’3″. I don’t know what my height is now, but that should provide an idea of scale.

Bonfire in wheelbarrow

Bonfire on back drive

 

We will probably always need to be lighting fires. The first were contained, after a fashion, in a discarded wheelbarrow, which was, in that sense, recycled from its original purpose. Eventually it collapsed, and was transported to the Efford Recycling Centre. The first of these two photos was taken on 23rd June 2014, and the second on 25th February 2015.

Broken tiles

Usable stone, as has already been seen, was dug up and recycled elsewhere in the garden. We would occasionally come across pits of broken tiles and other rubble. This we bagged up and disposed of in the municipal dump. After extracting a good third of a metre’s depth of these tiles, I gave up and piled earth on top. It is not an area where we are ever likely to grow anything.

We would almost qualify for a season ticket to the dump.

Bath in gardenBath emptied

 

 

 

When writing of the preparation of the rose garden, I omitted to mention the bath I found buried against the south wall. This was full of earth and invasive plants, and hidden behind a box hedge, the only purpose of which seemed to be to conceal the plumbing. I had to dig into it to discover what it was, then empty it in a confined space, and carry it to the utility end of our plot.

Bath cold frame

It now sits behind the Head Gardener’s shed, where last winter it was successfully recycled into a cold frame, and will be used again as such this year. The top is a recycled sheet from ‘greenhouse unassembled’.

Soon, we will be off out, the purpose of which will be disclosed tomorrow.

Before And After: From Unidentified Fir Bed To Cryptomeria Bed

This morning we continued planting up the Cryptomeria Bed. Once again, this proved more difficult than anticipated. Jackie came across more vinca roots growing between the border rocks, and had to get down on her kneeler to dig them out. My task was to bore holes for the shrubs that needed deeper soil. I invariably came across more slabs of constituted rock. With a view to her stepping stones, The Head Gardener’s  eyes glinted when she spotted ‘a good one’.

Rock

This one had to be prised from under a tree root.

Jackie watering Cryptomeria Bed 1Jackie watering Cryptomeria Bed 2Cryptomeria Bed planting 1Cryptomeria planting 2Cryptomeria Bed planting 3

Jackie completed the job this afternoon while I watched the Rugby World Cup on TV.

I also spent quite a time researching earlier photographs for the before and after collection.

View from decking

This view from Fiveways shows the full bed on 23rd July 2014. It equates roughly to the first bed image above, featuring Jackie and a watering can.

House through fir

That of the house, from a similar point to the fourth, demonstrates the overgrown nature of the area on 14th August the same year. We do trust, however, that, next spring, there will be more to peer through.

The afternoon matches I watched were between Scotland and Samoa, and between Wales and Australia. Both were superb; the first the more entertaining, the second admirably fought out.

We then dined on Jackie’s superb chicken in black bean sauce; sweet and sour chicken; and special rice with chopped pork. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the pinotage.

I then watched England’s rugby match against Uruguay, which was somewhat painful to witness.

A Virtual Photoshoot

Unidentified Fir BedBroken tiles

During a morning interlude between the rains, Jackie continued her work on the Unidentified Fir bed. Plants, including more than fifty spring bulbs were put in place; more broken tiles were dug out; and choked shrubs were freed from a rampant vinca. I did some clearing up.

I then made a virtual trip to Fremantle in Western Australia where I photographed my grandchildren. This is how it came about. At first I had been on the phone to Sam on his hands-free while he drove home. When he arrived there Malachi and Orlaith launched themselves into the car and both began shrieking at a million decibels.

Orlaith and DerrickOrlaith

Once in the house Orlaith entertained me for a while and mentioned that if we were on Skype she could show me her owl. This prompted Sam to introduce me to the joys of Facebook VideoCall. He talked me through the process, and I conversed with both children before Malachi read us all a bedtime story.

Malachi and DerrickMalachi, Sam and DerrickMalachi, Derrick, and Orlaith's Owl

 

Mal was keen to show me the pictures in his book. Orlaith hampered this somewhat by thrusting the owl into the foreground.

I have been having trouble e-mailing Ray Salinger some of the photographs taken on 19th September. They have been timed out in transmission. I therefore printed some for him this afternoon.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole, creamy mashed potatoes, and crisp carrots and cabbage. I drank Louis de Camponac cabernet sauvignon 2014, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Pushmi – Pullyu

Topsoil

Yesterday, Jackie made an unfortunate discovery in the Weeping Birch Bed. Roughly half this plot has been raised on top of the concreted area that we think must have been laid for Post Office vans in the past. It was therefore only a few inches deep. This also explains why water escapes from the un-cemented brick retaining wall. This meant that the border of the back drive had to be further plundered to lift the level. The Head Gardener began the task yesterday and I finished it this morning. The toad that I disturbed hopped away at the speed of an Olympic athlete. The warm weather must have kept it awake.

Jackie planting chrysanthemums

This afternoon I supported Jackie in replenishing this bed. She made a support for the honeysuckle, plonked a fuchsia, and planted various smaller plants, such as yellow chrysanthemums. I helped spread the new topsoil, dead-headed some roses, and divided the libertia.

Libertia division

UnknownThis latter task required the application of two forks in  emulation of Dr Dolittle’s Pushmi – pullyu; the insertion of a fairly useless sharp knife; and strenuous manual prising and tugging.

For those unfamiliar with this creature, Wikipedia informs us  that ‘the pushmi-pullyu (pronounced “push-me—pull-you”) is a “gazelle-unicorn cross” which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. In The Story of Doctor Dolittle, the grateful monkeys in Africa persuade it to accompany Dr. Dolittle to England to earn money for him (in Doctor Dolittle’s Circus and Doctor Dolittle’s Caravan.) The pushmi-pullyu usually only uses one of its heads to talk, reserving the other for eating (thus allowing it to eat while speaking without being rude) and claims that its great-grandfather was the last unicorn.

In the 1967 film, the pushmi-pullyu was instead portrayed as a double-headed llama. The doctor can immediately speak to the pushmi-pullyu, knowing that llamas speak a dialect of camel language.’

I did my best to persuade the garden’s insect life that we are now into October, but they just carried on regardless. Perhaps the talking llama could have interpreted for me.

Honey bee drinking from verbena bonarensis

This honey bee simply continued siphoning nectar from a verbena bonarensis.

This evening I burnt much of the recent clippings in the incinerator.

Sunset and bonfire

The rays of the setting sun frolicked with the smoke from the fire.

As is often so, Jackie made enough sausage casserole yesterday for several meals. I was more than happy to sample it again today, with crisp carrots and cabbage, and creamy mashed potato. We had both enjoyed a beer whilst watching the incinerator, so we abstained from drinking with the meal.

Now I am going to watch a recording which will let me know how Wales got on against Fiji in the Rugby World Cup.