A Little Autumn Colour

For the last couple of days marauding rooks have raided Nugget’s robin feeder, ripped it off the Japanese maple, and robbed him of his food.

Jackie has baffled the thieves with a pair of hanging basket frames.

In contrast to yesterday’s dismal weather, today was clear, bright, and cold, taking every opportunity to display a little autumn colour.

Here is Margery’s Bed seen from the Cryptomeria Bed,

and sculpture Florence’s view of the house.

Weeping Birch leaves still linger

and the white solanum goes on forever.

 

Some Japanese maples have retained their leaves,

others have carpeted the lawn and paths with them.

The last scene above can be seen from the Fiveways end of the Phantom Path.

Jackie focussed on the grasses in the Palm Bed named for

the Cordeline Australis which is in fact evergreen.

Mrs Popple is one of the hardier fuchsias,

another of which, Delta’s Sarah, still attracts no doubt confused bees.

A number of pelargoniums still look down from hanging baskets, like this overlooking the Dragon bed in which

Ivy twines herself around one of the eponymous mythological figures.

Jackie spent much of the morning trying not to tread on Nugget while they were cobbling together a winter cold frame.

“Where’s Nugget?” (44a and 44b)

Wherever she moved to another location he was there first. Fortunately she took her camera.

“Where’s Nugget?” (44c and 44d)

Jackie also focussed on a sparrow with,

a pied wagtail,

and a white wagtail on the rooftop. I trust one of our birder readers will correct any errors in identification.

Late this afternoon Elizabeth visited to gather up bags of files that had remained in our single spare room since she moved out last year. She stayed for dinner which consisted of chicken marinaded in mango and chilli sauce; savoury rice topped with an omelette; and tender runner beans. My sister finished the Cotes du Rhone and I drank Chateau Berdillot Cotes de  Bourg 2018, while Jackie abstained.

 

 

 

 

Where’s It All Gone?

Apart from a brief spell of red-gold sunshine enlivening the last of the Weeping Birch leaves we worked in drizzling rain on the final heavy pruning in the Rose Garden. It is very sad to cut off healthy buds in an effort to ensure the plants’ winter security.

This does, however, bring the bonus of cut flowers such as

Absolutely Fabulous rose of a couple of days ago

and today’s For Your Eyes Only roses and Mrs Popple fuchsia . Otherwise Jackie doesn’t pick her own flowers.

Despite the fact that I filled the bird feeders, Nugget, paying us a visit demonstrated his preference for live worms. Watching the rapid disappearance of this one I wondered “Where’s it all gone?”.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (43).

Flitting from larch

to hawthorn, Muggle kept to his own quarters.

Meet Muggle

Weather-wise this was a gloomy, but largely dry, day which Jackie began by photographing

her now completed work on preparing the New Bed for winter.

Her lens also produced images of the stumpery;

roses including Super Elfin still scaling the Gothic arch;

Mum in a million,

Absolutely Fabulous,

and Just Joey gracing the Rose Garden;

and Doris Tysterman embellishing the back drive,

the borders of which cheer us still.

 

The textures of ferns and grasses appeal to hot lips in Margery’s Bed, which displays autumn colour,

while hebes are blooming early – or is it another late flowering?

Camellias have produced buds already,

while the patio planting does not yet appear to be on the way out.

 

Dahlias still thrive,

as do numerous fuchsias, including Hawksmoor,

Army Nurse,

Chequerboard,

and others.

A blue salvia survives. It is hardy enough not to need a place on

the new shelving that has increased the number of cuttings that can be overwintered in the greenhouse.

One of Jackie’s first tasks was to fix up a nesting box for Nugget’s rival.

Although showing considerable interest in the proceedings this little fellow didn’t keep still long enough for many photographs. He can be seen in the centre of this picture. Our very good blogging friend, Uma, has named him Muggle, on the grounds that Nugget is certainly magical but he must be more earthbound. Therefore, meet Muggle.

Nugget, of course, takes a dim view of this. He made his feelings known when he cocked his head from the top of the Rose Garden fence, muttering “what do you think you are doing”.

“Where’s Nugget?” (40)

This evening we dined on flavoursome pork cutlets; breaded chicken;  crisp roast potatoes, including the sweet variety; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender runner beans, with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Fronton 2017.

A Variation On “Where’s Nugget?”

While I was drafting yesterday’s post Jackie nipped into the garden for a matter of minutes to take photographic advantage of

the last rays of the setting sun. From this end of the Back Drive (take note of the larch beyond the compost bins on the right) she focussed on

the Virginia creeper and accompanying Japanese anemones.

She also caught a pink rose with which I hadn’t been successful earlier on.

 

The golden light in the background picked up the the tips of the cypress tree;

the weeping birch,

Japanese maples,

and more.

Today, while the Head Gardener continued with her bed clearance, taking occasional trips to make sure she was safe, Nugget kept the enemy from the gate.

He perched on a tree midway,

puffed himself up,

had a good shake,

and a preen;

until he decided he looked hard enough to take on

his rival who was switching between the hawthorn and the larch on the Back Drive.

So, for a little variety “Where’s Nugget’s Rival?”

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured liver and bacon casserole; crisp Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, and butternut squash; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts and green beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

 

Lacework

Early this morning Jackie ventured into the garden with her camera to

sweep some cobwebs. Lingering raindrops reveal the arachnid lacework and the length of their funambulist ropes.

The Assistant Photographer also photographed colourful coreopsis in Margery’s Bed;

vibrant Virginia creeper draping the Westbrook Arbour;

and the moisture-laden Rose Garden with its backcloth of mist.

Later in the morning we drove to Milford on Sea pharmacy for a repeat prescription, then to Wessex Photographic in Lymington for a spare ink cartridge.

Shortly before noon we continued to Beaulieu Heath, atop a small hillock on which stood three walkers.

It must have been a relative of Nugget’s perched on a prickly spire because we had left him at home.

There was sprinkling of assorted mushrooms among the browned heather, the spiky gorse, the rough grass and the trailing brambles.

Jackie also photographed a model plane enthusiast with his aircraft.

 

 

A pair of ponies, one chestnut and one grey, blended and contrasted with the russet bracken.

As they each ambled across the road, passing the 40 m.p.h. sign painted on the tarmac, I reflected as so often that impact from a vehicle travelling at this speed would surely result in fatal injury.

Some quite large foals, like this one at East End, are still being suckled by their mothers.

Early morning mist usually results in sunny afternoons. So it was today when Nugget supervised Jackie’s planting of tulips.

“Where’s Nugget?” (36).

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent sausages in red wine; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Fleurie.

 

Wait!

Watching birds arriving at Jackie’s feeding station this morning, I was struck by the different approaches they exhibit.  The tits perform an undulating swoop across the sweeping lawns, reminiscent of Ducks and Drakes.  It is as if they bounce on thermals much as children’s flat stones do on still water surfaces during the game of that name. Robins pop up from anywhere.  Bright yellow-billed blackbirds, perhaps too large for the feeders, patrol the surface of the box hedge beneath the containers, picking up fallen scraps.  This is exactly what the pigeons do on the grass at The Firs.

After coffee I walked to Lyndhurst via Mill Lane and the A337; and back through Emery Down. Gorse Gorse, of course, flowers throughout the year, but the sunlight on a bright day such as this bestows a golden glow to the shrubs.

All around our new environment there are permanent road signs warning of queues ahead. Traffic queue A337 Easily outpacing vehicles headed for Lyndhurst as early in the year as 2nd April, I received an inkling of what we will experience in the high season.

My main purpose in visiting Lyndhurst was to collect the euros for my forthcoming trip to Sigoules.  The NatWest bank in the town is situated on a very dangerous corner bend. On emerging from the door of the building it is impossible to see what is coming round on the near side from your right.  There is a traffic island offering some refuge for people wanting to cross here and walk up the hill that is the main street.  The best approach is to wait for a gap in the stream of cars, walk to the kerb, lean forward, crane round, then nip across, hoping for the best.  I had reached the nipping across stage and made it halfway to the refuge when a cry of ‘wait!’ somewhat startled me.  Well, I was committed.  There was no turning back.  And something in the tone suggested that it was unlikely that the cry was addressed to me.  As I dived onto the secure area I came face to face with our neighbours Ari and Jackie.  Their little brown miniature dachshund seemed to have been rather to keen to go to the bank.  Replying to Ari’s question as to my well-being, I said ‘I’m fine now I’ve got across the road.  When I heard your ‘wait!’,  I thought ‘what? what?’.

Before Becky, Ian, and Scooby left for Mitcham, leaving Flo to spend more time with us, we all dined on Jackie’s chicken curry followed by apricot and rhubarb crumble.  I drank Kingfisher, Ian drank Peroni, and Flo drank milk.

Spring Is In The Air

PrimrosesMat, Oddie and I walked the ford loop via the churchyard path.  Primroses are now abounding in the hedgerows and daffodils mirror the lichen on the gravestones.

Churchyard daffodils

The Herdwick lambs were arousing the interest of a couple of neighbours.  One is quite black, the other pure white.  The farmer explained that Herdwicks normally ‘throw’ black lambs.  A white one is very unusual.

The Furzey Gardens alpacas normally pretty well ignore me when I pass. Alpacas Today they showed a great deal of attention.  It wasn’t until later that I realised they must have picked up Oddie’s scent, which is often not too savoury.

This afternoon there was a definite sense of spring in the air.  The sun shone and the garden birds flitted and swooped about.  I am beginning the recognise the languid loping line of the various tits aiming for the feeder.  I was able to stand very close without frightening them away.  It is amusing how they make for the shrubbery behind their food; perch there until they are sure it is safe to dive for the seeds, nuts, or fat balls; grab a morsel and flit away. Long tailed tit Indeed, one particular long tailed tit seemed less timid than a robin I startled.  Interestingly, there seem now to be three robins vying for territory.  We wonder which one will win out.

While Mat, Jackie and I played Scrabble this afternoon, we watched a number of large rabbits bounding and chasing each other across the lawns.

Later, Becky, Flo, and Ian joined us and we all dined on Jackie’s shepherd’s pie followed by Sainsbury’s sticky toffe pudding and custard.  Jackie drank Latitude 35 degrees S; Tess and I drank two different red wines; Ian had Peroni; and Mat, Becky and Flo abstained.