Playing Cat And Mouse

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Until late afternoon I rather dozed the time away today. Jackie then drove me to the north of the forest and back. I was able to swing my left leg into the car without falling foul of the bottom of the passenger door.

As we approached Ibsley we were held up by ponies blocking the road. The first of these photographs was taken through the windscreen. Jackie wasn’t really able to manoeuvre the car into a position for me to use my passenger seat window, so I nipped onto the verge to take the second shot.

Knowing that these animals were likely to cross the now dry ford, we decided to position ourselves ahead for them and wait for their arrival. The first of these images was made while standing beside the car; the second, after I had settled back inside, through the driver’s window.

We crossed the ford ahead of the ponies, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. The creatures remained beside the bank of the stream. Once more I disembarked and advanced on the horses with the aid of my crutch. Giving me just time enough to reach the other bank, the beasts, en masse, rounded the corner, crossed the ford, and  surrounded the car. By the time I reached it they were wandering into the shade. They may not have known that we were playing cat and mouse, but they won anyway.

A little further along the road a pale ochre cow, as if in a rugby ruck, picked its way over a heap of prone players before settling down to chew the cud. Jackie had positioned the car suitable for me to take these through my own window.

Donkeys on the road at Hyde were unusually frisky. I took the first of these pictures  through the windscreen, the other two through Jackie’s open window.

The pond at Abbots Well is looking quite dry, but it still attracted cattle for a drink. Two calves, like any other pair of playful infants, bounded round to the far side of the water before slaking their thirst on their own.

We dined this evening on beef burgers, fried onions, creamy mashed potato, crunchy carrots, and cabbage, with tasty gravy.

 

A Wildlife Garden

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CLICK ON IMAGES (ESPECIALLY THE CRICKET) TO ENLARGE. REPEAT (ESPECIALLY THE CRICKET) IF REQUIRED.

DID I MENTION THE CRICKET?

It is two years since we were last assisting our friend Giles in opening his garden in Milford on Sea. Once more, today, we took the first stint in his rota.

Jackie on the door

Overnight rain had only recently desisted at 11 a.m., so Jackie, on the door, had plenty of opportunity to work on her puzzles,

Giles and visitors

while Giles and I chatted until the first visitors arrived.

Wildlife Gardening Award Certificate

Blu-tacked onto the entrance window is a well-deserved certificate.

Giles's sculpture 1

Beneath this is one of the gardener’s creative sculptures, made from found objects. The upright stone was once part of a window in Southwell Minster.

Giles's sculpture 2

Here is another from the bottom of the garden.

Giles's sculpture 3Giles's sculpture 4

This one contains examples of his stained glass work,

View through sitting room window

as does this view from the sitting room, showing the artefact on which stands his tree encircled by butterflies.

Giles's sculpture 5

A further creation on the decking is seen through the French windows.

Giles's garden 1

Visitor

Pebbles and granite sets creating paths and other features were all collected over a number of years from on and around the nearby beaches.

Giles's garden 3Giles's garden 4Giles's garden 5Giles's garden 6Giles's garden 7

Seventeen years ago, this rambling haven was almost completely grassed over. It is now packed with trees, shrubs, and other features attractive to wildlife.

Raindrops on smoke tree

Raindrops still pilled on the fibres of smoke tree;

Raindrops on foxgloves

foxgloves;

ClematisClematis, thistle, wildlife hotel

clematis;

Raindrops and cricket on osteospermum

and osteospermum – even on the little cricket’s antennae.

Wild Life Hotel

A notice visible in the second clematis picture indicates and lists the uses of the wildlife hotel;

Viper's Bugloss

another extols the value of viper’s bugloss to bees.

Lupins

I expect these latter enjoy delphiniums, too, although blue is Giles’s favourite flower colour.

Hut

Had the rain persisted, no doubt this hut, with its natural seat, would have filled up with visitors;

Pond

certainly the pond would have topped up with water.

This evening we dined on the rest of the Chinese Takeaway, and both drank Kingfisher.

We Could Have Done A Runner

Frost lay on the bright, sunlit, garden this morning;

Frost on bench

glittering on benches,

Frost on gernaium leaves

and on geranium leaves;

Frozen pond 1

and the Waterboy pond was frozen. Abstractedly.

This afternoon Jackie drove Becky and me to The Beach House via Milford on Sea Post Office where I posted the prints to Frances.

This hotel, formerly Westover Hall, was built in 1897 from a design by the famous Victorian architect Arnold Mitchell for Alexander Siemens. The magnificent building was a beach house looking across the Solent to The Isle of Wight.

Firs backlit

I have often photographed the firs in the front garden, but never before against the lowering sun.

The Needles and lighthouse 1

The Needles and lighthouse 2Isle of Wight, The Needles, lighthouse

Similarly, this view of The Needles and their flashing lighthouse, is no stranger to my lens. It is the pastel shades of the scene that appealed today.

Cyclist at sunset

Isle of Wight, Needles, cyclist

A cyclist,

Isle of Wight, Needles, walkersSunset walkers

and walkers promenaded alongside the changing palette.

Sunset reflected

Reflecting a new meaning to solar lighting, the sky appeared to have illuminated some neighbouring rooms.

Fir gnarled

Near these modern homes, in The Beach House Garden, a gnarled pine has staggered to the ground and created a Hobbit house with similar internal lighting.

When I had finished wandering I joined the ladies inside for tea and cakes. Becky said I should get outside again because the light had already changed. I handed her the camera. She went off to collect some images of her own. They included

Dovecote

a dovecote;

Anchor

an anchor;

Herringbone path

a herringbone path;

Sunset 1Sunset 2

and more sunsets,

Walkers in sunset 3

one of which was a backcloth to further walkers.

Fire escape

Turning to the building itself, she spotted the fire escape outside,

Mirrors

and, inside, the hall of mirrors from which all the loos lead.

One of these doors was labelled

Bottomless Pit

She was unable to resist trying the door which was locked. Anyone fancy writing a story about it?

PS. Poet Rummager took up the challenge, with a beautiful poem. See the pingback on her comment below

About to put the car key in the ignition, Jackie asked: ‘Has anyone paid?’ at which Becky and I both leaped (poetic licence here) out of the car and sped to the reception desk. The man who had served us had binned our bill because he assumed his female colleague had taken our money. He had to put it all back into the computer. We thought the charge very reasonable and exchanged jokes about having missed the opportunity to do a runner.

This evening Ian drove us to Dynasty Indian restaurant in Brockenhurst where we enjoyed excellent food and service. My choice was Lamb Tikka jalfrezi with special fried rice. We all shared onion bhajis. Becky drank rose wine and the rest of us drank Kingfisher.

That’s One I Made Earlier

The Milford Conservation Volunteers have developed a Wildlife Garden Project. LeafletsGiles's gardenGiles's garden 2This morning, as we travelled to Studland Drive, couples were seen walking all over the village clutching brochures which gave them admission to 25 gardens in the small coastal town. One of these was the home of our old friend Giles Darvill, coordinator of the project. Giles himself has, in sixteen years, transformed a garden, except for a few extant mature trees, fully laid to lawn, into a haven for insects, birds and small animals. The local badger is not particularly welcome, as it eats hedgehogs. We were there to take the first 90 minute stint on the ‘door’. One of our tasks was the distribution of leaflets.

Giles and visitorsGiles and visitors 2Giles’s garden, not manicured enough to pass muster for the National Gardens Scheme, is nevertheless truly inspirational, and drew a steady stream of visitors.Long grass

Viper's buglossDead woodThe gardener has provided several useful notices, like that placed in front of the viper’s bugloss, a favourite of bees, giving informative ideas about installations to encourage various fauna.

Hibernating and nesting messDead wood provides hibernation and nesting facilities for insects, whilst heaps of branches provide something similar for other small creatures. Creepy crawlies and bees are at home in the long grass.

PondTranslucent blue damselflies flitted and hovered above the small pond bearing artefacts from our friend’s yachting activities. Other, smaller, containers of water are strategically placed around the delightful creation. One small pan contained two large pebbles. Pan of waterRealising that they would be for a particular purpose I asked Giles what this was. His answer was ‘mice’. These would be the field variety, such as the one I saw climbing and swaying on our poppies this morning.

Aesop’s crow had to work out how to bring the water in the pitcher to the level at which it could access it to drink. Giles’s mice have no need to scratch their heads for a solution.

Stone and wood installationCotoneaster stemBird feederThe garden also contains many examples of its owner’s penchant for creating sculptural effects from found stone and wood. He has, for example, simply planted a cotoneaster stem to make its meandering way skywards.

I have mentioned before that Old Post House is decorated with a number of pieces of Giles’s stained glass. So is his own home. When we admired a bird feeder featuring one, he said ‘I made that last night’.

Pony and trapBack home this afternoon, I walked down to the postbox and back, meeting a pony trotting up the hill drawing a trap and its occupants.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak, our neighbours. I enjoyed roast pork followed by blueberry cheesecake and ice cream; Jackie’s choice was mushroom stroganoff with ice cream to follow. She drank Becks. Doom Bar was off, so I settled for Ringwood Best.

 

A Tale Of Two Climbers

Today was another wet one. That put paid to any continuation of the pathfinding project, but we worked on others in brief spells between the rains.Gladiolus

An interesting variety of gladiolus has emerged outside the back door to the kitchen.

Jackie drove off to Everton Garden Centre to buy some annuals. She returned with quite a few. There were enough to plant up the urn and the chimney pots, and to provide marginals for the pond.

Butchers blocks potting shedFirst, she needed a potting shed. Our predecessor used a sand tray in the garage for this, but that was one of the many items removed to make way for the utility room. Among the pieces left for us by the previous owners, thinking they might be useful, were two butchers’ blocks. They were relegated to the skip pile from which they were retrieved this morning to make an improvised potting shed.

Three extremely heavy stoneware chimney pots had been brought from Amity Grove via 4 Castle Malwood Lodge. They had stood in our front garden since 31st March. They needed two of us to lift each one into a wheelbarrow, and to manoeuvre them into place. Chimney triangleThe awareness that they now formed three corners of a triangle caused Jackie once more to reflect on the lack of one in the kitchen.

While Jackie planted her purchases, I wandered around randomly weeding, then brightened up yesterday’s path with a partial application of gravel.

I have mentioned before the nature of the boundary between our home and the unoccupied bungalow to our right. This is sometimes rather problematic, as in the case of the Lonicera which has been so invasive as to push our neighbouring shrubs right out of position and across the patio. BoundaryOne particular climbing rose has been forced to extend leggy limbs above and beyond what is sensible. It is tied to a tall wooden stake that, in turn, is tied to a metal one. It looks to me as if the thick honeysuckle-like stems and branches are all that is keeping anything in place at all. Bird's nestI found an empty birds’ nest in the tangled mess. Seeing this object, as if floating on the reflecting metal garden table, alerted me to the fact that I was becoming a little damp.

Pondering how to dispose of the mounting pile of pruned plant pieces, I thought of my good Newark friend and neighbour, Malcolm Anderton, and another climbing rose which was itself perpetrating the invasion.

A long, high, stone wall separated our two properties. Covering this, on our side, were three large red climbing roses which tended to peep over to Malcolm’s. When, around the turn of the millennium, some of the boughs were found cut, and on the ground in our driveway, Jessica approached our neighbour to see if he knew anything about it. Indeed, he did. He had been pruning the invader whose stems he was chucking back over the wall. He informed us that that was the legal thing to do.

Our next door garden here is completely overgrown, so no-one would probably notice if I tossed the limbs of Lonicera back where they came from. I am grateful to Malcolm for the idea.

Having given up on the garden after lunch, I just nipped out to get wet photographing Jackie’s planting:Pond plantingUrn plantingChimney pot plantingDinner at The Jarna was as good as ever this evening. We know, because we enjoyed some, both drinking Cobra.

A Pair Of Frogs

Path along back of house a.m.Path for clearanceJackie and I spent the whole of this gloriously sunny day on path clearance in the garden. She worked on the brick one at the back of the house, whilst I concentrated on a gravelled track further along our plot.

The plastic bucket on my path has no bottom. There are a number of such receptacles in the flower beds. Perhaps they had a protective role with seedlings.

Because this thoroughfare has a fabric lining and has been more recently trodden, my task was easier than when working on the last one. There was, however, much weeding and defining of borders to carry out, with the usual final raking smooth. A cotoneaster that had obviously been cut back a few times was quite an obstacle to progress. This is because I decided to remove it, first removing the branches, then extracting the tough old stump, following the same process as with the hollies. Here are a couple of photographs of the finished job:Path clearedPath cleared 2Poppies

We are fortunate that the glorious red poppies are still such a focal point, because they took quite a battering in the recent storms, but are now finding the strength to stand proud again.

The flower beds and shrubberies also need extensive weeding, but we have chosen to focus on the paths first because that gives a generally tended appearance if you don’t look too closely at the rampant brambles and suchlike elsewhere. Inevitably some of these other areas do receive some attention, if only to prevent further invasion of the paths. Garden through weeping birch leavesCrow on rooftopThe result is that it is not only the footpaths that are seen in a new light, but new vistas across the garden are opened up. Crow on chimney potsThe beautiful rhododendron in these photographs was largely obscured from across the garden just a few days ago.

I took some time out to watch a considerable corvine conflict on our chimney pots. There is usually one crow or another perched up there shouting the odds or playing sentinel. This afternoon there were often three of four flapping, croaking, and pecking at each other. They didn’t stay around to be photographed, so I had to settle for one lookout and one guardian portrait.

Jackie clearing up after crearing pathFrogsJackie made a beautiful job of her path, and went on to tidy up the surrounding areas. There are a number of small home made ponds in the garden stocked with aquatic plants. One of these was in the bed behind the patio. It needed clearing out and freshly watering for the sake of the atmosphere as much as for the plants. She did this, and in the process, not content with her recent amphibian discovery, found a pair of frogs hibernating in the undergrowth. She returned them, a bit mossy, to their rightful position on the edge of the pond. Rose climbing peachIrisThe whole area around this water feature needed tidying up, which she did, and went on to carry out some heavy pruning of various shrubs, thus liberating a mature peach climbing rose. I rather colourful iris was also exposed for the first time.

We dined on Jackie’s sausage and liver casserole, mashed potato, carrots and green beans. And very good it was too. I finished the Languedoc whilst she drank her customary Hoegaarden.

We finished our drinks on the garden bench. One of the many trees that we don’t recognise, has a rather colourful green and yellow sinuously striped bark. Snail on tree trunkWe noticed that a snail was hoping to use it as a camouflage.

Can anyone identify the tree? This is what the branches carry:Leaves of stripy tree                            P.S. Jackie’s research has revealed that the tree is a member of the snake bark maple group, probably Hers maple, native to China.