We Thought It Best To Pull Over

Leaving the others asleep in their pits early this morning, Jackie and I took a drive into the forest in the vicinity of Burley.

Bluebells are cropping up on all the verges.

As I disembarked to photograph a stream and its reflections, a mallard shot under the bridge at a rate of knots leaving its wake serrating the surface of the water.

I exchanged waves with a bunch of cyclists while I prepared to cross to the other side of the road

in order to photograph fallen trees, their reflections, and banks of primulas, celandines, and violets,

all of which flourished beneath my feet.

I was hampered somewhat in photographing a large fallen tree with its tangled lichen-laden limbs still bearing fresh foliage. As I framed the shot the driver of the car decanting children, their Dad, and their bikes, clearly intending to ensure a bout of photobombing, reversed the necessary couple of metres. We indulged in friendly conversation and I wished the male members of the party an enjoyable ride as the mother drove away, leaving the track clear for us.

We returned home via Holmsley Passage alongside which a pair of ponies turned their backs on

a family group of cyclists on hired bikes as they struggled up the hill. The woman who towed the little trailer was not young. I don’t know about her, but I was mightily relieved when a gentleman changed places with her. We thought it best to pull over and wait until they had climbed their Everest.

This afternoon, Becky, Ian, and Louis returned to Southbourne where the young man was to catch a train back to his home.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower cheese with which I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda and Jackie didn’t.

Dressing Chef

I wandered around the garden in today’s early morning light.

Alongside the magnolia Vulcan stand the first of our rhododendrons in full bloom.

The small diurnal yellow and orange poppies that crop up everywhere have woken up;

forget-me-nots also thrust through soil and gravel at will;

even more ubiquitous are honesty,

and bluebells.

Iberis, aubretia, dicentra, hellebores, daffodils, and primulas are thriving, although perhaps the ant has nibbled the last of these.

Rusty Duck keeps an eye on some of the primulas and the lamiums.

Hairy pulmonaria breathes in the sunshine.

Florence sculpture has a good view of the yellow Japanese maple.

The Shady Path catches the sun.

Camellia petals carpet the soil.

Greenhouse geranium cuttings will soon be planted out.

Elizabeth and Jacqueline came for coffee and stayed for lunch for which

Jackie mixed the coleslaw, after which, she regretted that she hadn’t left it for the superbly competent Louis who

mixed the salad and its dressing. It was only after he had crushed peppers using a couple of dishes that he realised we had a pepper mill. Each ingredient to the dressing was carefully added with a little tasting.

Seven of us sat down to the meal. I am not in my place because I was behind the camera.

My two sisters left to visit our mother this afternoon. The rest of us dined this evening on roast duck; roast potatoes; yellow and orange carrots; cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli; sage and onion stuffing, bread sauce, and tasty gravy. Louis drank Corona, I drank Dragon Hills Pinot Noir 2017, and the others drank Portuguese Rosé.

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.

A Surprise To Come

Beginning with the cherry trees at the front, I focussed on the garden this morning.

A crafty sparrow uses this holly tree as a diversionary tactic en route to its nest around the corner.

Despite the efforts of cumbersome pigeons and pelting hailstones, the pale pink winter flowering example has bloomed constantly since September;

a smaller tree has added the tones of a deeper pink blossom;

and the soaring amanogawa is now attracting bees. Can you spot the seeker after nectar homing in on the first picture and having landed in the second?

Some of the camellia petals are taking on the brown hues of weathered old age.

Like this tulip they have reacted to the recent heavy rainfall. The tulip just curled up its nose;

others, such as these standing proud in the Palm Bed, remain unperturbed.

A yellow Japanese maple stretches towards the Gazebo Path.

The first deep red rhododendron buds are opening in the Dragon Bed,

which carries clusters of yellow lamiums.

Snake’s head fritillaries are proliferating in the West Bed;

others, beside the stepping stones crossing the Cryptomeria Bed, we thought had failed. In fact they were just a little later than their neighbours.

Daffodils and hellebores dance to the right of the stones.

While I photographed the fruits of her labours, Jackie puzzled over a surprise to come. Normally she labels her greenhouse seedlings and bulbs. Sometimes she forgets to do this.

Elizabeth visited this afternoon and stayed to dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s classic cottage pie; crunchy carrots, cauliflower, and tender green beans. Ian had brought a rather delicious bottle of Aguilla Chillando Garnacha 2017. I started on that, Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and Elizabeth drank Becks Blue.

Tanners Lane

This afternoon I ambled round the sunlit garden.

Pink and red camellias, which first bloomed in January, appear to be going on for ever.

Tulips, like these yellow ones, are now replacing some fading daffodils, while

a variety of others are still in the bloom of youth.

Jackie planted these leucojum vernum last Autumn.

The amanogawa cherry came with the house.

Primulas, hellebores, and euphorbia are regular visitors;

Snake’s head fritillaries have so far survived a year or two.

Shortly before closing time we drove to Streets ironmongers in Brokenhurst to order a tap fitment. We took a leisurely route home.

Beside the road to Beaulieu a group of small deer disappeared into the woodland.

It wasn’t far from sunset when we arrived at Hatchet Pond.

I’ve never seen a galloping donkey before, but the one silhouetted against the skyline near the group grazing opposite the pond, crossed the ground at a fair lick when a young woman began photographing its companions. As I explained, the creature had come in search of treats.

Nearer sunset we diverted to Tanners Lane in search of a scene such as this.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent, short crust, beef, onion, and mushroom pie; boiled potatoes; crisp carrots and broccoli, followed by sticky toffee pudding and vanilla ice cream. I drank Outlook Bay Central Otago Pinot Noir 2017 and my lady drank more of The Quintet.

He Lent His Hat

This morning Aaron, with his usual concentrated accuracy, assembled and installed

a new flat packed wooden arch across the Shady Path. This was to replace a cheap metal one that had collapsed.

As the morning warmed up he lent his hat to Florence sculpture who remained in the shade,

Camellias continue to splash colour across the eucalyptus framed garden canvas,

as do numerous narcissi,

primulas and bergenias.

Proud tulips begin to open.

Ladybirds were spotted, along with tiny hoverflies investigating ipheions.

On a gloriously sunny spring afternoon we went driveabout. We began at Mudeford Quay which was so crowded that we had nowhere to park. We then aimed for the forest.

A calf suckling at Holmesley spilled much of the milk on the ground, jumping back as we arrived, leaving a white strand swaying in the breeze;

Ponies practiced topiary by the roadside;

two more grazed among pine cones at Bisterne.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s scrumptious cottage pie; crunchy carrots; tender green beans and peas.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.