Fireworks

The sun today made fleeting, peeping, appearances in the garden.

These elegant, slender, gladioli are proliferating outside the kitchen door;

as does clematis Marie Boisselot in-urned in the Kitchen Bed alongside a deep red peony,

single petalled examples of which stand in the Dragon Bed.

Other clematises include Niobe on the corner of the kitchen wall, and on the wisteria arbour,

also home to Paul’s Scarlet;

and flamboyant Doctor Ruppel climbing the arch spanning the Brick Path beside the West Bed.

Delicate pink rose Penny Lane shares the arch.

One view from the Kitchen Bed leads to the distant entrance to

the Rose Garden, where

Festive Jewel, For Your Eyes Only, Love Knot, and Gloriana are among the parade.

Splendid Fireworks alliums burst forth in the Weeping Birch Bed,

while gentler pink stars mingle with Erigeron and euphorbia in the Kitchen Bed.

From the Weeping Birch Bed we are led through the Cryptomeria Bed to the eastern fence.

Pink campion and a bright red rhododendron stand sentinel on the south west and south eastern corners of the grass patch.

The red rhododendron emblazons these views down the Gazebo Path.

Elizabeth popped in this afternoon for a cup of tea.

This evening Jackie and I dined on pork spare rib chops on a bed of her mushroom rice fried in sesame oil. Mrs Knight drank Hoegaarden and I drank The Long Way Round Reserve Carmenere 2018.

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.

Pruning

Aaron’s main task this morning was taking shrubs in hand.

He began with the camellia beside the Dead End Path. He pruned lower branches to lift the plant which has continued to bloom for at least two months.

The prolific Compassion rose has persistently refused to drape the arch spanning this path. Our friend from A.P. Maintenance therefore staked it up enabling it to continue in the direction in which it is determined to lurch. Here he discusses the finished project with the Head Gardener.

Finally he tidied the viburnum Plicata.

Last autumn Aaron had heavily pruned the roses in the Rose Garden, except for Rosarie de la Haie which is the only one currently fully in bloom. The host of heucheras brighten the borders and buds adorn the other specimens.

Elsewhere rhododendrons, phlox, honesty and aquilegias thrive; white clematis Marie Boisselot is opening out and diurnal yellow poppies demanded dead-heading.

This evening we dined on tempura prawns followed by Jackie’s spicy pork paprika and savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda.

A More Manageable Garden

Our own garden is rather more manageable for dodgy knees than yesterday’s veritable undulating park. I took an amble around it this afternoon.

Jackie thought that this very small daffodil, in one of the stone troughs resting on the front wall, had come up blind. In fact it has bloomed later than most.

Behind the troughs rambles a clematis Montana, one of several we have.

One shares its perch with a blue solanum on the arch to the south end of the Brick Path;

another cosies up to the lilac.

This one, adorning the Gazebo was a shrivelled little specimen, barely alive, until Jackie came along and nurtured it. In the foreground of this shot we have a bottle brush plant ready to burst open.

The clematis will soon festoon the top of the arch.

The first of these aquilegias stands beneath the wisteria; the second is at the south end.

This phlox subulata is the sole survival of six planted last year.

Jackie savages this toadflax whenever she finds it growing like the alleged weed it is. There is no doubt, however, that it makes good ground cover.

Another plant whose name escapes the Head Gardener is this rather beautiful little bulb – one of a cluster in the Cryptomeria Bed.

We have two different rhododendrons in the Palm Bed.

The viburnum Plicata now blooms in the West Bed.

Many of our bluebells are either of the incoming Spanish variety or hybrids. Fortunately we do have some native English specimens.

This miniature azalea has accompanied me in all my abodes since it came in a pot presented to me by the foster carers of Parents for Children in 2003. It has now taken up permanent residence in the Kitchen Garden.

For dinner this evening we enjoyed Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice followed by strawberries and cream.

No Discount For Amusing Dog

This afternoon, with Elizabeth and her friend, Cathy, we visited Spinners Garden in Pilley, open in aid of the National Gardens Scheme. Jackie and I had visited four or five years ago when the steep slopes and terraces of this wonderful, well established, venue were of no consequence. Not so today.

The long downward path between splendid varieties of rhododendron and camellia was more than I could manage without continuous pauses.

As soon as possible I sat on the edge of a decking platform and photographed a tree peony, a very large magnolia that had suffered from the attention of the recent Storm Hannah, and the neighbouring landscape.

I watched others, including Elizabeth and Cathy who had made their way down the sloping lawn to a pool with a wooden bridge at the bottom.

I did my best to avoid the attentions of the owner’s dog, keen to have his ball thrown for him. This was something else I had forgotten from our earlier visit. There was unfortunately no discount for amusing him. Cathy had the right idea. Her throw was so powerful that the ball landed in the pool. The owner had a spare to hand.

Jackie photographed the other three of us after we had taken refreshments on the patio. She then went up to the street to collect the car and bring it down for me – this at the suggestion of a member of the team.

There is a very attractive woodland walk up to the highest level which I was unable to contemplate on this occasion. Before entering the Modus, while my Chauffeuse waited patiently, I photographed this terraced scene rising from a pool containing yellow irises;

and other visitors climbing the path to the top.

With a last look at the beds at the bottom of the entrance road, I entered my waiting carriage.

Elizabeth joined us for dinner this evening, for which, after an amuse bouche of tasty spinach soup, Jackie produced her choice chicken jalfrezi and savoury rice, followed by apricot crumble and custard. My sister and I drank more of the Pinot Noir while The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden.

Spot The Partridge

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Jackie

While I lurked with a lens, Jackie continued, carefully, to cultivate the garden this morning.

Red tinges through garden

I had been struck by the trail of red from near tulips at the window to distant rhododendron.

Other touches of red are provided by the geraniums in the iron urn at the head of the Gazebo Path, rhododendrons, tulips, pieris, Vulcan magnolia, and heucheras;

Fly on poppy

little orange poppies have now opened out,

Forget-me-nots

Vinca

and forget-me-nots and vincas are ubiquitous.

Today there was no lull in the gloriously sunny weather when we went for a drive this afternoon.

We took a short walk round MacPenny’s garden at Bramsgore where rhododendrons and azaleas are beginning to enliven the beds and the pathways.

Most fields of cattle, like these at Thorney Hill, contain cud-chewing cows and languorous calves. They seem to be able to ignore the flies that surround their eyes and noses.

Partridge

Elusive partridges seemed to be darting everywhere. Can you spot this one?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy lamb biriani with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the pinot noir.

 

 

First Foal

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We enjoyed another beautifully sunny day today.

 

In the front garden the columnar prunus Amanogawa now reaches the top of the house and looks down onto the crab apple blossom, which is currently a magnet for bees;

 

the crimson red rhododendron brightens the corner beside the eucalyptus tree, and in the Palm Bed on the opposite side of the Gazebo Path a pastel pink variety is beginning to bloom.

 

Bluebells have now joined the honesty and the alliums beneath the red Japanese maple in the Kitchen Bed.

Garden view from above

The weeping birch now has its foliage.

Fern at dead trunk

We have been trying to save a dying yellow-leaved tree. The main trunk is hollow at the base, but another clings to its side. Jackie has filled the gaping hole with a fern planted yesterday.

Poppies

From now until well into the autumn a proliferation of yellow and orange self-seeded poppies will pop up all over the garden. Each bloom lasts a day but there are plenty of buds hanging around to replace them.

This afternoon Jackie drove me to Everton Post Office where I posted a small parcel to the new owner of my French house. We travelled on into the forest where

there was still much water on the moors, and enough moisture lay on the tarmac at the end of Jealous Lane to reflect the pillar box perched on a post.

Ignoring ponies of all shapes and sizes eating and drinking beside the road, a stately pheasant trotted across the moor.

Further along Shirley Holms, we met our first foal of the season. As is usual, the youngster, adhering to its mother’s flanks, found me worthy of interest, whilst the mare focussed on the grass.

A pair of mallards who appeared to have fallen out, and a colony of feeding rabbits occupied fields beneath the railway at the corner of Jealous Lane.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tender chicken curry and pilau rice garnished with fresh coriander. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Paniza.