Battle For Brunch

This was a morning of brief showers alternating with bright sunshine giving way to a gloomy afternoon.

As we drove out of our front garden I noticed that Félicité Perpétue is thoroughly confused about whether she is six months early to bloom, or six months late.

We started along the coast road where a couple walked along the clifftop and the Isle of Wight and The Needles sparkled beneath a moody skyscape. Soon we returned back up Downton Lane where we

noticed tractor tyre tracks leading to the stubble of Roger Cob’s field.

We were setting off to Lakeside Café at nearby Bashley for brunch, after which we intended to continue a forest drive. This was to take some time waiting for various traffic holdups and diversions to clear. Our blocked lanes were too narrow for us to see why vehicles in front kept exercising three or four point turns.

On Hordle Lane we eventually saw the police had closed the road because a van had mounted the verge, crossed a small garden, and ended up in a field. Backtracking we tried Arnewood Bridge Road

where an enormous Bugler Coach, far too big for the road, had stopped traffic in both directions as it tried to negotiate a bend. I have imported this different model from the company website.

Finally we were ensnared on Silver Street where the Honda in front of us skilfully negotiated a turn leaving us enough room to follow suit and pass the tailback who had no idea what they would soon encounter.

A rainbow blessed us on Brockenhurst Road and we eventually

reached our goal where I tucked into a beef burger and chips while Jackie enjoyed her cheese and onion toastie and matching crisps.

When we arrived rain fell filling the lakes and the muddy pools on the approaching gravel paths. Each fisher sported a large umbrella unfurled as we left for home, pausing en route to observe

the waterfowl on the banks of Ballard Lake.

This evening we all dined on Jackie’s succulent lemon chicken, her colourful savoury rice; tender broccoli stems; and tangy macaroni cheese with which she drank Wairau Cove Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022, and I drank Paarl Shiraz 2022.

Antipodean Visitors

Warm sunshine was the order of the day.

Jackie spent much time in shade tending to potted plants, many of which have survived the winter but needed shaves and haircuts.

She has suspended some of these from the lopped cypress.

My contribution to the general maintenance was a little watering, weeding, and transporting debris to the compost bin.

Our first peony blooms are appearing

as are those of roses Emily Gray

and Félicité Perpétue, both along the back drive

which also sports splendid hawthorns.

Our Antipodean visitors include the bark-shedding eucalyptus,

several sculptural New Zealand flaxes,

and the Cordyline Australis now sending forth its bud stems.

Small white butterflies flutter everywhere at the moment. This one had the decency to keep still for a moment.

Currently flourishing clematises include the bosomy Marie Boisselot;

the robust Dr Ruppel;

the novel Daniel Deronda:

and this anonymous character.

This radiant rhododendron refreshes the Palm Bed.

Nugget and Lady continue jointly to feed their brood. It is now really only behaviour that enables us to distinguish between them. For example when one drops down onto the wheelbarrow with which Jackie is working, something with wings in his beak, cocks his head on one side; inspects the offerings she has on display, and flies off in disinterest, that is undoubtedly our friend.

I am fairly sure this in Nugget perched on his favourite patio chair.

The pair of them were collecting suet pellets at this point. Unfortunately I only photographed one of them. Nugget, we think.

Later this afternoon a fledgling robin swooped after Jackie as she entered the rose garden and began tipping spent compost onto the beds for mulch. In a flash this baby cocked his head and began the investigations exactly as his father had done a year ago. Soon we really will have an identification problem.

This evening we dined on more of yesterday’s crusty bread with her wholesome soup of chicken and bacon added to the Culinary Queen’s vegetable base.

Reflective Mood

It wasn’t until about 4 p.m. the afternoon that I realised on glancing through the window beside my desk that the sun had made a fleeting appearance as,

against the still indigo skies, it lit the pink rambling rose rising from the front trellis.

Its deeper pink companion soared above the porch, and the first of the Félicité Perpétue blooms which will drape themselves over the opposite fence has opened out.

I had spent the morning reading and responding to the letters of condolences it has taken me three months to complete. We posted these from Everton Post Office and drove on further into the forest.

Royden Lane took us to

Lower Sandy Down. On the left hand side of this shot stands

a large oak tree the bole of which is home to ferns, ivy, and mosses.

An unusual number of ponies grazed around Hatchet Pond, normally the realm of donkeys.

Stately swans disturbed the surface of the lake which mirrored their images.

A black headed gull was in an equally reflective mood.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; boiled new potatoes; breaded mushrooms; and green beans. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

Parts I Haven’t Been Able To Reach

On a hot, sunny, afternoon, aided by a crutch, I walked down the Brick Path to the top of the Back Drive, where Jackie provided me with three more perching spots.

I couldn’t resist periodically stopping en route for a few shots from a standing position, sans crutch.

Once settled at the top of the drive I photographed two types of Erigeron in the New Bed; planting of solanum, begonias, and petunias in baskets hanging from the dead Snake Bark Maple; Félicité Perpétue and poppies beside the compost bins; and clematis in one of the barrier tubs.

Moving to the other side of the barrier gave me views across the Weeping Birch Bed; the urns at the head of the Brick Path; and the Oval Bed with its two varieties of rose.

With the perch a bit further along the concrete patio I could view more day lilies; the Oval Bed with its Peach Abundance roses; and pale pink New Dawn clambering over the arbour in the Rose Garden.

A yard or two further forward I was able to picture Jackie’s newly planted alliums, repeated in the Palm Bed, opposite the poppies in Margery’s Bed.

Once I had had enough and returned indoors to rest my leg, Jackie took over the photographer’s mantle, producing her versions of the poppies; the Phantom Path with its flanking beds; and the view beside the Gazebo Path looking back to the house.

Today, I explored parts of the garden I haven’t been able to reach for a while.

This evening we dined on another excellent Forest Tandoori takeaway. Once again my main course was prawn jalfrezi; Jackie’s was chicken bhuna.




A Tutorial


This morning Jackie virtually completed her planting up of the pots and hanging baskets.

Petunias 2Petunias 1Petunias 3Petunias 4Petunias 5

Petunias 6Petunias 7

Here are just a few of the numerous varieties of petunia,

Head Gardener's Walk

more of which feature in this shot of the Head Gardener’s Walk.

Shady Path 1

The Shady Path also has its share of these and of begonias,


another variety of which lies beside the patio in a Butler’s sink,


in full view of this striking primula.

Clematis on dead prunus

The prunus pissardi in the Oval Bed has died, and now provides a climbing frame for a couple of clematises and the Peach Abundance rose.Félicité Perpétue

We have two rampant rambling Félicité Perpétue roses. This one is at the Eastern end of the Back Drive.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Prize poppies, like these two in the herbaceous border, are cropping up everywhere;

For Your Eyes Only

and For Your Eyes Only romps around the Rose Garden.

Jessie and her friend Claire came to visit for the weekend. We spent a most entertaining afternoon and evening reminiscing and putting the world to rights.


The mandatory garden tour was undertaken. Here is Jessie admiring the Rose Garden.

Clare 1Clare 2Jackie and Clare 2Jackie and Clare 1Jackie and Clare 3

Claire, a keen gardener, appreciated what she termed a tutorial from The Head Gardener,

Clare 3

and particularly enjoyed a wander down the Back Drive.

This evening we dined on Mr Pink’s fish and chips, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s gherkins followed by chocolate eclairs and Fortnum and Mason’s classy mints provided by Claire, accompanied by Jessie’s excellent Les Caillottes Sancerre 2015.

Defying Gravity


Today I divided my time between wandering idly around the garden hunting down piles of weeds and clippings deposited by the Head Gardener; transferring four barrowloads of compost from the south end of the garden to the ficus hole in the Dragon Bed; and, of course, making photographs. Jackie continued with her weeding, clearing, and planting.

Garden view from iron urn

This view from the iron urn features two paths and the yellow bottle brush plant now coming into bloom. The chimney pot on the grass patch is still to receive its portion of the contents of the plant trays to be found in abundance.


These begonias are among those still to be given a tenancy.

Phantom Path 1

This splendid rhododendron flanks the Phantom Path,

Rhododendron and geranium palmatum

and has a happy relationship with a geranium palmatum,

Geranium palmatum

one of many to be found all over the garden.

Brick Path

Rodgersias lurch across the older section of the Brick Path,

South end of garden

at the south end of which can be seen the clematises and gladioli in the window boxes and the weigela on the fence beyond.

New Bed

The join with the newer section of that path can be seen in the opening between two foxgloves in the New Bed.

View from Rose Garden

This garden view extends from a corner of the Rose Garden featuring pink aquilegias; the rose Summer Time at the corner of the painted shed; and, halfway up on the left-hand edge,

Rose Ballerina

Ballerina, who trips merrily across her stage.

Orange theme on chimney pot

The orange theme of black-eyed Susan and marigolds atop this chimney pot was determined by the finial of this obelisk. Susan should soon wrap herself around it.

Raindrops on geranium

This geranium sheds a tear or two.

Rose on wisteria arbour

Now that the wisteria has finished flowering, its companion red rose has taken over floral duties;

Clematis and white climber

and the white rambler has now joined clematis Star of India on the arch spanning the Brick Path at the corner of the Phantom Path.

Roses Festive Jewel

Even before we reach the Rose Garden the scent of the prolific Festive Jewel drifts into our nostrils.

Rose Peach Abundance

Peach Abundance,

Roses Peach Abundance and red, and valerian

sharing this shot of the Oval Bed with a large red sky-climber and vibrant valerian, does have a delicate scent completely snuffed out by the more powerful fragrance.

Day Lilies

Day lilies, on the other side of the bed, are now enjoying their twenty four hours of glory.

Clematis Hagley Hybrid

Two clematises offering their first bloom are Hagley’s Hybrid in the Rose Garden,

Clematis Piilu

and Piilu against the redundant garage door.

Félicité Perpétue 1

Félicité Perpétue along the back drive has also produced its first flower;

Rose Félicité Perpétue 2

rather further on is the one in the front garden,


which also has an abundance of foxgloves.

Bee on erigeron

Bees are now somewhat busy. Here is one exploring the larger erigerons;

Bee on bottle brush plant

another sampling the aforementioned bottle brush plant;

Bee on heuchera

and finally one defying gravity while sipping from a swaying heuchera.

For our dinner this evening we supplemented Mr Pink’s exceedingly good Fish and Chips with Tesco’s gherkins and Garner’s pickled onions. We both drank Cimarosa Special Edition sauvignon blanc 2015.


Félicité Perpétue

A white rambling rose that we rescued from the jungle, and that Jackie trained along the front garden fence last year, is now blooming rampantly. The head gardener has now identified it as Felicite Perpetue.

Name that Plant website has this to say about its origins:

Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ is a delicate yet vigorous Rambler which has been known since the early 19th century. Antoine A. Jacques  was the head gardener to Louis Phillipe, Duc d’ Orleans  for many years and took care of his estates which included Chateau Neuilly. Duc d’ Orleans( later the king of France) loved plants and had a vast collection for A.A. Jacques to work with. At Chateau Neuilly Jacques made some crosses of roses and named at least 3 which have gone on to become famous on their own. Those roses were  ‘Adélaïde d’Orléans’ in 1826, Rosa ‘Félicité Perpétue’ in 1827 and the less famous ‘Princesse Louise’ was introduced in 1829. 

Our white rambler was named in memory of two black Christian martyrs who died in Carthage in the Roman province of Africa in the year 203.

Perpetua was a young patrician, Felicity a young slave. They had both been baptised by the Bishop of Carthage. The emperor Septimius Severus had forbidden Christianity. The group of catechumens, of which they were part, was arrested with Sature, Saturninus, and Revocatus Secondule. For several months, they experienced harsh prison conditions, worsened by uncertainty about the fate that awaited them. Perpetua was nursing her child, and Felicity was pregnant. Perpetua’s father made a vain sacrifice to the gods in an attempt to save his daughter and her child. Felicity gave birth to a little girl in prison. Three days afterwards, she was martyred and the child was adopted by a Christian of the city. Like their companions, Perpetua and Felicity were sent into the circus of animals, wrapped in a net, and delivered to an enraged cow. The audience, aroused to pity, pleaded for an early end to the torture. The women were then slain. Witnesses reported that, “their faces were radiant and very beautiful, being marked not with fear but with joy.” (This is my effort at translation from articles in French, amended after comments from my poof redders)

The same rose straggles the dead stumps lining our back drive. It will be impossible from now on to pass either plant without sparing a thought for these two young women and their children.

I wrote this piece this morning before Sam came for a visit, all the way from Perth in Australia. He is only in England for a week, and is doing a tour. He will leave us tomorrow morning. Consequently I knew I wouldn’t spend much more time on internet, when we had so much catching up and reminiscing to do.

Becky joined us later this afternoon. She presented Jackie with a laminated miniature mock Ordnance Survey Map containing a reduced copy of her map of the garden. The covers measure 9 x 4.5 centimeters.

From the other side of the room she e-mailed me these images. The official series numbering stops at 204.. The layout and type of information covered exactly replicates the Landranger series.

This evening, the four of us dined on the sausage casserole with which I tempted you yesterday; carrots; peas; and mashed potato; followed by marvellous mixed fruit crumble and custard. Sam and I shared a bottle of Teroldego Rotaliano superiore riserva 2011; Becky drank Black Tower rose; and Jackie drank sparkling water.