The First Of October

My Under Gardener tasks this cooler, more cloudy, morning consisted of a little clearing to compost and a lot of rose decapitation.

Among the regular bloomers like the White Winchester Cathedral,

the prolific bright yellow Absolutely Fabulous, and the fulsome Lady Emma Hamilton a number of repeat performers are taking the stage.

Just Joey has risen from

the red carpet that continues to attract bustling bees.

The peachy velvet Schoolgirl graces the arbour

beneath which Gertrude Jekyll stretches from sleep, while

budding Deep Secret is currently keeping us in the dark.

This afternoon we drove to the less touristy east of the forest.

We had been promised a 30% chance of rain today. The nearest we got to that was a distant fall when driving along St Leonards Road.

The skies on the opposite side, across The Solent over the Isle of Wight, had no rain to drop.

The roof of the ancient St Leonard’s granary, which, as explained in once served Beaulieu Abbey, glows a rich rusty orange;

a pigeon surveys the scene from a ruined arch bearing similarly hued highlights.

Our mighty oaks do suffer in the heavy winds. Here, one huge limb has recently been wrenched off. The stump in the fourth picture has been a more distant casualty.

Further along a covey of juvenile pheasants were possibly discussing the approaching 1st of October when their shooting season starts.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork ribs in a rich barbecue sauce, mini spring rolls, Jackie’s tasty egg fried rice, and tender green beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Trapiche Pure unoaked Argentinian Malbec 2019 – a birthday present from Helen and Bill.

Meet Nugget Junior

This morning while gardening Jackie photographed

rose Emily Gray, a highly scented rambler gracing

the back drive border out of sight in this shot;

clematis Doctor Ruppel climbing the weeping birch;

a row of blue irises with the bonus of a yellow stowaway in the bag of bulbs;


and his son Junior, still not qualified to wear the red jersey.

After lunch I managed the photoshoot.

On the kitchen corner of the patio we have delicate magenta gladioli Byzantinus blending with deep blue verbena Vectura and pink pelargoniums,

in turn reflecting similarly hued diascia potted above cascading Erigeron.

Nearby stands this peach rose we inherited.

Ornamental alliums of a number of varieties are gradually un-peeling throughout the garden.

Nugget attempted to encourage his son to feed from the suet pellet tray, but the youngster was deterred by my wandering around

the vicinity of the wisteria arbour.

I therefore focussed on this from above, showing how the rose Paul’s Scarlet and the clematis Star of India are poised to replace the fading pale blue blooms.

Later Jackie came in for her camera when Nugget and Junior both occupied the tray. Unfortunately they were gone by the time she returned.

Later, Nugget left Junior to his own devices while he flew off with a pellet for the next brood. Apparently robins are such prolific breeders that they can produce 3 to 5 clutches of up to five eggs a year. As soon as the youngsters earn the red jersey they are chased off by their father, so Junior will soon go and find someone else’s garden.

The marigolds in the Oval Bed continue to proliferate.

In the Rose Garden For Your Eyes Only is bushing out nicely, while Gloriana towers above it;

Schoolgirl vaults the arbour;

and flamboyant Festive Jewel,

sprightly Summer Wine and middle-aged Madame Alfred Carriere

carelessly cavort in concert.

This evening we dined on minted lamb steaks, boiled new potatoes; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and firm Brussels sprouts with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the El Zumbido Garnacha, Syrah.



Shots For Scale

Jackie and Nugget continued planting and bed making this morning while I cleared up some of the debris. Our little robin has even begun to get under my feet. He has begun to think ahead and, knowing where we are likely to go, arrives there before us. He only has to see me scoop up a trug full of clippings and he will be awaiting my arrival at the compost heap.

The normal size bricks in this photograph indicate what a diminutive creature he is. With secateurs in hand Jackie needs to be careful not to amputate anything.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (32).

Jackie plonked these starlike allium seed heads for their decorative quality.

Elsewhere we have plenty of varieties of dahlia; yellow self-seeded bidens;

flaming sedums;

delicate fuchsias;









pretty petunias;

roses, such as magnificent Mama Mia,

pure white Winchester Cathedral,

and blousy Schoolgirl,

all still keeping company with planted urns in the Rose Garden.










Vibrant splashes of colour enhance garden views such as this one across the lawn with its basket hanging from the eucalyptus, petunias in the chimney pot, and Japanese anemones on the far side;

the stepping stones across the Cryptomeria Bed with its Michaelmas daisies and clematis scaling the arch that spans the Phantom Path;

the Gazebo Path, again sporting a clematis in its third flush, hanging baskets, and more.

The Patio Bed gloried in the morning sunlight.

Before lunch we took a short drive into the east of the forest.

Autumn leaves clung to damp fungus.

on the verges of Lower Sandy Down where the Modus puts the width of the winding lane into perspective.

While a curious field horse looked on

I photographed the opposite landscape where freer equine cousins could be glimpsed in the distance.

Further on a woman walking her dog provided a further shot for scale.

This afternoon I watched the recording of the World Cup rugby match between South Africa and Italy.

This evening we dined on succulent pork chops; crisp roast potatoes, one sweet; crunchy carrots, and tender cabbage and runner beans, all flavoured by tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.


Almost Too Quick

Heavy rain this morning gave way to bright, sunny, spells; in one of which I photographed some raindrops

on roses, dahlia Puerto Rico, a begonia, a pelargonium, fuchias, and penstemons.

Japanese anemones had managed to stay dry.

It didn’t take Nugget long to join in, and

he was almost too quick for “Where’s Nugget?” (29)

Becky and Ian joined us late this afternoon and accompanied us to the Regent Centre in Christchurch where we watched “Downton Abbey”, then drove to Bowling Green to dine at The Wheel Inn. I will report on this tomorrow.

Life And Death

This morning I employed several efforts at procrastination to defer my tackling the installation of the new Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner. Included were reading a book, dead-heading roses, and a bit of clearing in the garden.
Eventually, I got down to it, and am happy to say managed the job. I suspect the discs I was most scared of were actually for a Microsoft PC, because it seems the downloads were done on line with a Mac. Maybe Elizabeth will be able to enlighten me when she returns from a visit to Mum’s. A little sister is maybe a good enough replacement for a grandchild.

This afternoon I celebrated by wandering round the garden, which has reaped the benefits of Jackie’s splendid Autumn Clean.

She has weeded and swept paths including the Brick one.

Our colchicums, or Autumn crocuses, continue to spread each year.

The echinacea, however, are not doing so well. Jackie has tried these several times. None have survived, and these don’t look very well. Apparently they are prone to succumbing to sudden unexplained demise. Maybe the botanical world’s version of cot death.

We have many dahlias,

and numerous varieties of fuchsia. Bees were constantly diving into them. Here one grapples with Mrs Popple.

Another busy pollen gatherer swings on a yellow bidens.

Opulent begonias abound.

More dead-heading, as in Absolutely Fabulous was now required in the Rose Garden. Here we have the life-span of these blooms in one shot. Youngsters await their turn to beguile;

while blousy middle-age embraces a spider enswathing its prey, thus completing an opera of life and death.


and Golden Showers

scale the arbour.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy beef in red wine; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots, and tender runner beans from the garden. My wife drank Hoegaarden, my sister, Becks Blue, and I, Albali reserva 2012.

Drinks In The Rose Garden


We have recently subscribed to a joint funeral plan which offered a free will writing service. It is a distinct example of my ability to grasp ambivalence that I can prepare for the inevitable whilst at the same time feeling it is not going to happen to me.

By appointment today, the will writer telephoned and gleaned all the necessary information for her to draft up documents for both of us. As the Administration Department of our marriage I then prepared Jackie’s application for a renewal of her driving license. She signed it, of course. It hasn’t found its way to a post box yet.

This afternoon I watched the Wimbledon quarter final tennis match between Roger Federer and Kevin Anderson. I will not give away any details for those who may have recorded the game, save to say that there was a certain amount of consternation that it might continue long enough to clash with England’s World Cup football semi-final contest with Croatia.

Have no fear, we even had time for drinks in the Rose Garden, where, in addition to the many roses, we could enjoy other plants such as lilies and the Lanarth White lace cap hydrangea.

We watched the first half of the football on the sofa with bowls of Jackie’s superb pork paprika on our knees. This was served with new potatoes and chantenay carrots. I drank a Mendoza Malbec 2017 and the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden. Now we are going to see the second half.

Sleeping Beauty


Today, I continued redistributing the gravel on the back drive. This involved shifting barrow loads of the material from one end to another, and raking them smooth. There is more to be done.

rose Félicité Perpetué

Whilst I was there, I noticed, swaying in the breeze, the one Félicité Perpetué bloom that has yet arrived on what should soon be a splendid display draped over the dead stumps.


On the compost corner the rescued rhododendron is now quite prolific.

Brick path

Does Wedding Day rose, on the Agriframes arch, bloom whilst the viburnum plicatum, visible beneath the arch, is still flowering? If so, the two plants will be in tune.

Rose Garden 1

The Rose Garden now burgeons daily. On the wall of the shed hangs the bird bath Vicki made for us.

rose Schoolgirl

A Schoolgirl has come out to play;

Rose Gloriana

and Gloriana is living up to her name.

Kitchen window view

In the morning this was a view from the kitchen window,

Patio 3

before Jackie removed the honesty to the right, thus revealing the large white clematis Marie Boisselot to anyone sitting in the patio. I put that particular heap of seeding plants onto the compost, because there are plenty more hanging up to dry, ready for scattering later in the year. The frog king, and his princely son ogle Jattie’s sculpture, the sleeping beauty.

Patio 1

Patio 2

We took a short break on the patio with our fizzy lime squash, and surveyed one of Jackie’s myriad of maintenance tasks, namely the tidying up of the corner shingle bed, into which she has set an attractive piece of stone.

Geranium palmatum

Until now, the honesty has carried the purple torches throughout the garden. The batons have now been passed to geranium palmatums.

This evening we dined on our second helping of Chinese takeaway, with which I drank Patrick Chadot Fleurie 2014, and Jackie drank Hoegaarden.

Entering Bridgetown

When you have been a townie all your life and you take up residence in an area that has none of the mains services that you have taken for granted, you tend to forget things. Like oil for the central heating. Because there is no gas. Then you tend to run out at a Bank Holiday weekend. And, being Easter, it is still chilly.


Fortunately we have a wood-burning stove. We have never before used it, but did have the chimney swept last autumn. And did have logs from the many pruning jobs we’ve carried out. All I had to do was get my head round operating it. Probably, if I had moved the church candle a bit further away from the heat it would not have melted. Hopefully we are not roasting the jackdaws that clatter the metal plate above the stove with nesting materials and, no doubt, a few jewels they have nicked. And no, I’m not going up there to find out.

Today was the first of a typical British Bank Holiday weekend, cold, wet, and windy. Just not the job for all those Egg Hunts. It was suitable for what Paul Clarke calls a ‘rainy day post’. Consequently I travelled back in my archives to a rather different day in March 2004 in Barbados, and scanned the next batch of the Bridgetown walk negatives.

bougainvillea 1bougainvillea 2

Bougainvillea continued to spread its various shades of magenta and pink along the roadsides. In the first of these two pictures, the rambling plant seeks the protection of the thorns of the plant to which it clings.

Wall collapsingBougainvillea and building

Others ramble around buildings that have seen better days.


I passed a slender schoolgirl complete with backpack on her way to her classes. Her hair had received the typical close attention that the turn-out of all these young people displayed.

Fencing in undergrowth

Although some of the roadside buildings remained rather unkempt,

Tree by roadsideHouses by roadside

others were smarter,


and even grander.


Those steps, and the increasing traffic informed me that I was nearing the Bajan capital. Was the young woman with her arms folded pondering boarding the taxi/bus?

Traffic policeman

Had she done so, she would probably know what offence the hapless driver went on to commit.


Other flowers in the hedgerows and gardens were frangipanis


and hibiscuses.

This evening we dined on a rack of pork ribs in barbecue sauce, prawn gyazas, and vegetable fried rice topped with omelette. Jackie drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the madiran.





‘That’s A Fork’

Unidentified Fir Bed 3

Today I joined The Head Gardener in the continuation of the clearance of the Unidentified Fir Bed. This meant tackling it from the Phantom Path side. Once freed from the rampant, choking, vinca, shrubs such as hebes had to be cut down to compensate for the legginess that had developed. The unnamed tree itself now revealed the base of its trunk for the first time.

Unidentified Fir Bed 1Unidentified Fir Bed 2

In order to promote healthier growth, Jackie cut back a splendid ornamental grass, some of which has been placed in the vase which is an old chimney pot.

Opening out a bed to this extent is quite scary. It is our intention to retain a sense of surprise each time one turns a corner in our garden. This means it would be best not to be able to see right through certain beds to whatever lies beyond. It is an act of faith that, after regrowth and new planting, The Unidentified Fir Bed will regain its height.

The recent rains have given some of the rose blooms such as

Rose Love Knot

this Love Knot,

Rose Mamma Mia

or Mamma Mia, a motley appearance.

Rose Schoolgirl

Schoolgirl, however, retains the bejewelled freshness of youth.

This afternoon we left the garden to its own devices and drove to the bank in New Milton and thence to Ray and Daphne’s to deliver prints of the photographs I had been unable to e-mail. At least one reason for this failure was that I had the wrong e-mail address.

Jackie produced an excellent meal of chicken in black bean sauce and egg fried rice of which the chef at Royal China would no doubt be proud. She drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the cabernet sauvignon.

Chicken in black bean sauce

There is, perhaps, nothing more chastening than when you insist on using chopsticks and your dining companion asks: ‘Wouldn’t it be easier to use a spoon?’, and you know that it would be. On this occasion I eventually succumbed and used my spoon. We then decided to have a Post House Pud, which long-term readers will understand consists of meringue nests topped with whatever is available. This time it was rhubarb crumble flavoured yoghurt. I had used the spoon pictured above, but still had my fork, which I considered adequate for extracting the yoghurt from its pot. ‘Now you haven’t got a spoon’, said Jackie, getting up and placing one beside me. Somewhat absent-mindedly I continued to start my dessert with the fork. ‘That’s a fork’, she said.