Storm Damage

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Begonias and lobelia in hanging basket on dead snake bark maplePlanting on dead Snake Bark Maple -solanum, begonias, petunias

This scene has featured in a number of posts over the years. The snake bark maple died in 2015, and has since been home to hanging baskets and climbing plants watched over by a wicker owl.

Sadly the avian guardian could not protect the living monument from last night’s severe winds.

The tree, complete with adornments, lay across the Brick Path this morning. Crashing down along the West Bed have come beams bearing a clematis Montana now lying along the West Bed. Fortunately, the blue solanum has a stout stem which looks to be intact.

This pot containing a red hydrangea had stood on the ground beside the Oval Path across which it now lies.

The rose Summer Wine has been freed from its moorings at the entrance to the Rose Garden, and will need a new set of stays.

Although much calmer this morning, winds have picked up again during the day, preventing any possibility of sensible recovery work. No real harm appears to have been inflicted.

Elizabeth was out this evening, so Jackie and I finished her delicious Pilley Celebration Chicken dish with Jackie’s special savoury rice and tender green beans. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Fleurie.

 

How Many Bees In This Post?

Snake Bark maple skeleton

Jackie and I spent the morning on an enforced feat of forestry. With the head gardener’s advice, guidance, and assistance I sawed off a myrtle branch that had been twisted by the gales, and then performed an autopsy on the snake bark maple. This latter tree has, sadly, died. We performed emergency amputations last autumn, but it failed to recover. I therefore cut down the highest branches, leaving the skeleton as a frame for climbing plants yet to be determined. I protected my left hand with a padded cycling glove purchased by Jackie in the lucky dip that is Lidl’s central aisle. With a certain amount of trepidation I teetered on the step ladders made stable with a wedge or two. It is amazing how hard this dead wood was to cut through.

The thinner limbs I chopped into combustible sections for the next bonfire. This afternoon I sawed up the thicker ones for our wood burner pile, and Jackie continued with her creative planting. After a few yards amble down the lane, I called it a day.

Bee on dandelion

In the lane, a bee flitted from dandelion to dandelion as I tracked it, eventually catching it.

Allium

Wherever you look in the garden, a wide variety of alliums is to be found.

Iris

On the back drive, we are hoping recently planted antique parchment pigmented irises will thrive, thus emulating

Valerian and wallflowersthe rather more strident valerians and wallflowers.

The Chilean lantern tree is a-whirr with leg-loaded worker bees.

Bees on Chilean Lantern tree 1

How many can you spot in this shot?

Bees on Chilean Lantern tree 2

And in this one?  Clicking on the images will help.

This evening we dined on tangy smoked cod, creamy mashed potatoes, piquant cauliflower cheese, firm sweetcorn and peas, and crunchy carrots. We both drank Heritage de Calvet white cotes du Rhone 2014, and a good accompaniment it was.

Smoked cod meal

Kingston Market Stall

When trying to phone Bev and John last evening, I could see a dialling signal on my new super duper Samsung Galaxy mobile, but heard nothing. The call ended sign then came up. Jackie phoned me. I got no ring tone. She was switched to Voicemail. She left a message. I did not receive the message, and could not ring Voicemail to receive it. This situation had probably been going on for a couple of days, since I last received a call.

This morning Jackie drove me to O2 at Christchurch where the problem was rectified. ‘What had I done?’, I asked. The helpful Philip replied: ‘Nothing’. He explained that the phone was like a computer, and every so often had a blip and had to be reset. Then it was necessary to locate the reset button and press it. I ask you! I had actually noticed this facility last night, but been scared to activate it.

After this we collected my dry cleaning from Johnson’s in New Milton, filled up with petrol, and returned home for a spell of tidying and watering in the garden before Jackie drove back to Christchurch via Walkford for lunch with her two sisters.

bee on eryngium planumHoverfly on eryngium planum 2The hot autumn sunshine this afternoon brought bees and hoverflies buzzing around, especially enjoying the blue eryngium planum.  Leaves of snake bark mapleThe turning leaves of the snake bark maple are as attractive as its fascinating bark. Unfortunately this exquisite specimen appears to be dying, despite the surgery we performed earlier.

By August 1972 I had left the Social Services Department of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, and was working in Southwark. We still lived at Amity Grove in Raynes Park and I was still in touch with former colleagues, all of whom I encouraged to attend a crafts stall in Kingston market. This stall, and its holders, form the subjects of the next pictures in my ‘posterity’ series, all colour slides taken that month, and scanned and reproduced later this afternoon.

Jackie crocheting 8.72Jackie, and her friend Linda, had spent months crocheting, knitting, and working with pottery, cotton cloth, felt, and leather to produce a dazzling display of wares for sale.Market stall 8.72

Clothes, mob hats, and shoes for children, pottery mugs and pendants, and the then fashionable chokers in various materials were tastefully arrayed in the sunshine. Jackie’s art-work provided the faces on the models. The prices reflect the then recently post-decimalisation era, heralded in by Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 15th February 1971, when, in effort to bolster the pound, sterling went metric.

Jackie with Michael, Linda and Joan at market stall 8.72Joan and Jackie at market stall 8.72Linda at market stall 8.72In one photograph, Jackie and Linda can be seen smiling at a studious eight year old Michael, while Joan Wilmot, one of my ex-colleagues, turns her back to examine the goods.

 

In the final photograph, Linda is rearranging some crocheted flowers.

This evening, we dined on fish, chips, mushy peas, and pickled onions. Mine was followed by a colossal cream slice Jackie had brought me back from Stewart’s Garden Centre where she had lunched with Helen and Shelly. We both drank Cuvee St Jaine, an excellent dry white table wine.

The Crab Pot

MapleMany attractive trees and shrubs, like this beautiful green-barked maple, are simply in the wrong place and require sadly severe treatment. This one was denying access to the potting shed and encroaching upon the path, forcing other plants to do the same. We trust it will recover from this morning’s extensive amputations.

Elizabeth drove Mum over from West End for lunch and to view our new home, with which she was very taken. Before lunch, we had a tour of the garden. Our mother, in her ninety second year was determined and delighted to see everything. Mum negotiating pathConcentrating hard on her Mum (Jackie and Elizabeth hidden)Elizabeth and Jackietwo sticks, she walked with me every step of the sometimes uneven paths, whilst Jackie and Elizabeth wandered rather more quickly at will.

Petunias in chimney potLysimachiaThe chimney pot planting is now well established, with such as scented petunias looking splendid. A Lysimachia, Jackie has also introduced, is in full bloom.

HeucheraHeucheras are grown for the beauty and variety of their leaves. Described by our resident horticulturist as ‘the gardener’s dream’, they are hardy plants which can tolerate shade and grow in any type of soil. Needless to say we now have a great many adding colour to most beds. Their clusters of small flowers, blending with their foliage, cling to long slender stems.

Snake bark maple autumn leavesThe snake bark maple is now beginning to wear its autumn colours which stand out well against the weeping birch leaves. We hope that this early display is not a sign of something sinister, and simply perhaps that it is a native of North America.

Lily with hoverfly

Another delicately hued yellow lily is attractive not only to us but also to hoverflies;Penstemon

a deep magenta penstemon is rewarding us for freeing it from choking brambles;Honeysuckle

and honeysuckle has now taken over decorative duties from the roses around the entrance to the front garden.

It is three years since our mother, who lives in a bungalow, has tackled any stairs at all, let alone our rather steep ones. She did, however, with me climbing ahead, and Elizabeth behind, manage to ascend to our first floor and suitably admire the rest of the abode. This was after we had enjoyed another of Jackie’s lavish salad lunches.

Back in the late 1980s, when she was much fitter, Mum regularly drove up to Newark for an annual two week holiday. One year she admired some artefacts in an architectural salvage establishment in the town, saying she would quite like to buy one. I had no recollection of this until she reminded me today, but I had bought it for her and taken it down to Horndean where she was living at the time.

She has developed a practice of, when appropriate, returning presents long since forgotten by the giver. Today, she and Elizabeth both brought me gifts for my birthday tomorrow. Crab potMum’s came with a card which apologised for returning ‘this’ in a tatty state, but perhaps I might like to make a project of it. It was that very same iron and rope crab pot I had given her about 25 years ago. Apparently it has lost its rope handle. But who cares?

After our visitors had departed it was a while before we felt like eating, when fish fingers provided a more than adequate snack.

 

 

A Pair Of Frogs

Path along back of house a.m.Path for clearanceJackie and I spent the whole of this gloriously sunny day on path clearance in the garden. She worked on the brick one at the back of the house, whilst I concentrated on a gravelled track further along our plot.

The plastic bucket on my path has no bottom. There are a number of such receptacles in the flower beds. Perhaps they had a protective role with seedlings.

Because this thoroughfare has a fabric lining and has been more recently trodden, my task was easier than when working on the last one. There was, however, much weeding and defining of borders to carry out, with the usual final raking smooth. A cotoneaster that had obviously been cut back a few times was quite an obstacle to progress. This is because I decided to remove it, first removing the branches, then extracting the tough old stump, following the same process as with the hollies. Here are a couple of photographs of the finished job:Path clearedPath cleared 2Poppies

We are fortunate that the glorious red poppies are still such a focal point, because they took quite a battering in the recent storms, but are now finding the strength to stand proud again.

The flower beds and shrubberies also need extensive weeding, but we have chosen to focus on the paths first because that gives a generally tended appearance if you don’t look too closely at the rampant brambles and suchlike elsewhere. Inevitably some of these other areas do receive some attention, if only to prevent further invasion of the paths. Garden through weeping birch leavesCrow on rooftopThe result is that it is not only the footpaths that are seen in a new light, but new vistas across the garden are opened up. Crow on chimney potsThe beautiful rhododendron in these photographs was largely obscured from across the garden just a few days ago.

I took some time out to watch a considerable corvine conflict on our chimney pots. There is usually one crow or another perched up there shouting the odds or playing sentinel. This afternoon there were often three of four flapping, croaking, and pecking at each other. They didn’t stay around to be photographed, so I had to settle for one lookout and one guardian portrait.

Jackie clearing up after crearing pathFrogsJackie made a beautiful job of her path, and went on to tidy up the surrounding areas. There are a number of small home made ponds in the garden stocked with aquatic plants. One of these was in the bed behind the patio. It needed clearing out and freshly watering for the sake of the atmosphere as much as for the plants. She did this, and in the process, not content with her recent amphibian discovery, found a pair of frogs hibernating in the undergrowth. She returned them, a bit mossy, to their rightful position on the edge of the pond. Rose climbing peachIrisThe whole area around this water feature needed tidying up, which she did, and went on to carry out some heavy pruning of various shrubs, thus liberating a mature peach climbing rose. I rather colourful iris was also exposed for the first time.

We dined on Jackie’s sausage and liver casserole, mashed potato, carrots and green beans. And very good it was too. I finished the Languedoc whilst she drank her customary Hoegaarden.

We finished our drinks on the garden bench. One of the many trees that we don’t recognise, has a rather colourful green and yellow sinuously striped bark. Snail on tree trunkWe noticed that a snail was hoping to use it as a camouflage.

Can anyone identify the tree? This is what the branches carry:Leaves of stripy tree                            P.S. Jackie’s research has revealed that the tree is a member of the snake bark maple group, probably Hers maple, native to China.