War Of The Voles

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This afternoon I made a rather pathetic effort at clearing up some of the Head Gardener’s laborious pruning cuttings, then allowed myself to be diverted with a camera.

Leaving the house by the stable door gives a forked view down the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

We are led under the wisteria arbour which also supports a couple of clematises,

and beneath which lie other plants such as fuchsias and dahlias.

Other clematises scale the gazebo.

White sweet peas thrive on the arch linking the Weeping Birch Bed with the raised bed opposite.

Elizabeth's Bed

Elizabeth’s Bed is nicely fluffed up;

Bacopa in Florence's basket

Florence sculpture’s basket of bacopa is responding well to careful nurturing;

Phlox, petunias, lobelias, begonia

happy planting is displayed along the Shady Path where phlox in the bed; and petunias and begonias in the basket above  blend in a diagonal punctuated by lobelias.

Bees on alliums

Bees are particularly attracted to these purple alliums.

Clematis in Rose Garden

A true blue clematis climbs the potting shed in the Rose Garden;

Snapdragons

and a bright red snapdragon hangs by the kitchen window.

One evening recently Jackie spotted a little furry creature that we thought to be a vole. She has been nurturing an ailing Bishop of Llandaff  in the New Bed for a while now. This morning the whole plant had disappeared. Just behind the vacant space was a tiny tunnel. A vole had struck. They are apparently partial to dahlia corms. So far, others in the bed have survived. Apparently there is little defence possible against their tiny teeth.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak on Mexican burgers, fresh salad, coleslaw, and French fries. the meals were very good, as was the service. Jackie drank Amstel and I drank Ringwood’s best.

Presentable For The Camera

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This morning I wandered round the garden with camera and crutch, but no perch. I began with the patio, and its hanging baskets and planters. The bed and breakfast sign was a Christmas present from Becky and Ian; the basket at its base, Jacqueline’s birthday present to Jackie.

From there I walked along the Kitchen Path,

 

taking the Brick Path to the far end of the garden,

 

and round to the Rose Garden,

where Jackie, who spent the whole day on general maintenance, including much weeding, sweeping, and raking, went to great pains to make this area, on which she had been working, presentable for the camera.

The football World Cup has nudged Bargain Hunt off the TV schedules. This meant that I could not take my usual fix for a post-prandial snooze. So I opted for the match between Egypt and Uruguay. This fitted the bill perfectly.

This evening we dined on succulent pork chops, tasty gravy, new potatoes, runner beans, and crunchy carrots.

Meal Of The Day

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Susan Rushton’s post earlier today featured colchicums. There are a number of different varieties of these autumn crocuses.

Colchicums 1Colchicums 2Colchicums 3

Ours are different, and a bit battered by wind and rain. I think they are speciosum. Here they are Susan.

Spider 1

Whilst on my way to obtain the first two images above, I spotting a spider waiting on its web. As I watched it hauled itself up aloft and I just left it to get on with it.

Colchicums 3

Later, I walked the same way to capture the flowers in a different light.

Spider with bee prey

The spider was gloating over its meal of the day. That was one bee that would seek no more pollen.

Snapdragons and spider

It is, of course, the season for these insectile predators. I couldn’t even photograph these snapdragons without one poking its nose in.

Garden view through arch towards Oval Bed

The antirrhinums appear to the right of this view through the arch framing the Oval Bed.

Weeping Birch Bed

The kniphofia to the left is one of many in the Weeping Birch Bed

Kniphofias and begonia 2

blending with the begonia in a hanging basket behind.

Fuchsia 1Fuchsia 2

We still have many thriving fuchsias

New Bed

including one festooning the New Bed.

This afternoon I finished reading ‘Phineas Finn’, the second of Anthony Trollope’s six Palliser novels. This follows the fortunes of the eponymous hero as he ventures into the Victorian Parliamentary world. Without giving away any of the story I can say that, against the background of conflict over reform bills in the 1860s, we have love triangles; fraught courtships; political and matrimonial intrigue; and a view of social history of a time when Members of Parliament needed independent incomes in order to fund their campaigns and carry out their duties if elected; and when women were dependent upon submission to their husbands.

Trollope’s lengthy work is rendered readable by his elegant, flowing, prose, which may not suit some of today’s readers requiring shorter, more racy works.

The author is clearly in sympathy with the status of women, especially those trapped in unhappy marriages. Perhaps that is why, as stated by J. Enoch Powell – himself a controversial politician active a century after the period of the book – the female characters have rather more depth of study than do the males.

Powell’s introduction is sound, and he was aptly chosen by the Folio Society whose 1989 edition I was reading.

In my review of ‘Can You Forgive Her?’, I expressed my disappointment in the illustrations of Llewellyn Thomas. I am no less enamoured of those he has made for the current volume, so I won’t reproduce any.

This evening we dined at Lal Quilla in Lymington. My main meal was Goan lamb, while Jackie’s was Chicken shashlik. We shared special fried rice, a paratha, and onion bhaji; and both drank Kingfisher and the customary complimentary Bailey’s.

The Great Escape

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With the return of the sunshine I carried out a little more tidying in the garden, especially dead-heading of roses, including

Rose Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous,

Rose Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta,

Rose pink climber

and a pink climber recovered by Elizabeth.

Wisteria in Kitchen Bed

This wisteria occupied the Kitchen Bed when we arrived three years ago. Despite the Head Gardener’s best efforts it has never flowered.

Chilean lantern bush

The Chilean lantern bush, on the other hand, is once more producing blooms;

Pieris

and new shoots are emerging on the pieris on the grass patch.

Gazebo Path

Although the agapanthuses took such a battering from the recent storms that they wound up in a vase indoors, some still line the Gazebo Path.

Snapdragons, geraniums, lobelia

Little blue lobelias peep out from beneath rich red snapdragons and geraniums the Back Drive barrier,

Lobelia Queen Victoria

while their taller relatives named Queen Victoria tower in the Oval Bed.

Ginger lily

We have a number of ginger lilies.

Hummingbird moth

The warmth of the sun brought out numerous insects. Hummingbird moths hovered among the pink phlox. I needed many unsuccessful attempts to acquire this less than wonderful image of a constantly flapping creature I think is new to our country.

Red Admiral on verbena bonarensis

Verbena bonarensis blooms attracted both stable, lightweight, Red Admirals

Bee on verbena bonarensis 1Bee on verbena bonarensis 2

and bees that teetered somewhat.

Bee on salvia farinacea

Bees also plundered salvias,

Bee on bidens

bidens,

Bee on geranium palmatum

and geranium palmatums.

Insect on cosmos

I could not identify some tiny creatures like this one on a cosmos,

Insect on bronze fennel

or this one cleverly camouflaged by bronze fennel.

Sweet peas and gladioli whiteFly on sweet pea, gladioli

A fly was attracted by the ensemble of white sweet peas and gladioli.

Rudbeckia distributed

Rudbeckia snaked from bed to bed in this picture for which I must apologise to the Head Gardener because I did not remove the fallen branch before making it.

Spider 1

This spider was in for a disappointment.

Wasp on web line 1Wasp on web line 2

I could almost hear it licking its chops as it prepared its larder for the wasp that seemed ensnared by its web line.

Wasp and spider 1Wasp and spider 2Wasp and spider 3Wasp and spider 4Wasp and spider 5Wasp and spider 6

The tiny spider perfected the trap as its larger prey frantically twisted, turned, and span in its efforts to escape being drawn in.

Wasp and spider 7

Eventually the prospective dinner hauled itself to safety, and sped off, leaving the hungry spider to creep into hiding and lurk in wait for another victim.

This evening Jackie produced an excellent dinner of chicken Kiev, savoury rice, tasty ratatouille, and crisp runner beans. She drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom Of The Owl

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Aaron with tree roots

Two days ago views along the kitchen window and bed opposite featured a sawn tree trunk at the far end. Here Aaron is with the last of the stump he further sawed and removed. As usual, I printed him an A4 copy for his collection.

View alongside Kitchen Bed

This has provided a little extra space at the end of Jackie’s current work area.

Hebe and Brick Path

Here is another view of the gap, taken from a hebe on the corner of the Dead End Path.

Removing a tree is always a last resort. The branches of this one, however, were very brittle and constantly breaking when strong winds beset this whirlpool of a corner. The extra foot of space is also needed for the expected greenhouse.

Bottle brush plant 1

To the right of the above picture the yellow bottle brush plant has now turned brown. On the other side of the gazebo path a bright red variety has drawn its attention.

Bee on bottle brush plant 1Bee on bottle brush plant 3Bee on bottle brush plant 2Bee on bottle brush plant 1

Swarms of bees gather in the attempt to transfix themselves on the beds of nails that are its blooms.

Snapdragons, geraniums and petuniasSnapdragons and geraniums

Other strong reds of snapdragons, geraniums, and petunias blend in the plastic troughs forming the barrier at the start of the back drive.

Marigolds and black-eyed Susan

Equally vibrant are the marigolds and black-eyed Susans now clutching the orange globe.

Foxglove

It is almost a relief to encounter the cooler hues of this foxglove,

Hosta

these hostas,

Insect on hebe

or the hebes, this example of which has attracted a tiny flying insect I can’t identify.

Although its floor is of gravel, the patio at the South end of the garden is termed the Concrete one. That is because the surface beneath the pebbles was probably where the Post Office vans were parked.

Garden view from concrete patio towards Rose Garden

That is where our mid-afternoon water was taken and we enjoyed views looking towards the Rose Garden;

Garden view from concrete patio towards potting shed

towards the potting shed;

Day lilies and geranium palmatums

of this cluster of yellow day lilies flanked by geranium palmatums;

New Zealand flax

and the New Zealand flax that has flowered for the first time since our arrival.

I haven’t mentioned the wind in the last few days. I thought that if I ignored it it would go away. It hasn’t.

Upturned pot and parasol

A couple of hours after we had been sitting beneath this parasol a sudden gust wreaked havoc. Admittedly the parasol had not been fitted tightly into its base, but it took off like a kite, smashed down into the bed, tipped over the stand supporting the recently planted red geraniums, and dragged down the string of overhead solar lights.

Broken plants

We began by lifting the parasol over everything and slotting it securely into its stand. Then picked up the pot and pedestal. Chucked broken bits onto the compost, and placed what would be salvageable onto one of the tables.

Gravelly soil

It was, I thought, very sensitive of the owl not to give me the benefit of his wisdom as I placed him on a chair and used his table to take the gravelly earth I scooped up and, with fingers and sieve, separated the two ingredients, so The Head Gardener could repot the remains.

This evening we dined on a fusion of more of Hordle Chinese Take Away fare with vegetable samosas. Jackie drank Peroni and I opened Jessie’s delicious Georges Duboeuf Fleurie 2016 and drank some of it.

 

 

 

 

The Never Ending Summer

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This morning, Aaron and Sean finished their tree work. Our friend, of AP Maintenance, demonstrated that he has entered into the spirit of photography when he suggested I might make an action image of him felling a branch. I took two pictures which I cannot yet produce here. The reason for this inability is that six of the exposures I made today have been uploaded in CR2 format, which is not one of those accepted by WordPress. This is a mystery, because they were taken with the same camera in the same session as all the rest I here publish.

I had imagined that I would simply focus on clematises,

but there were so many other blooms, like roses pink Compassion, white Winchester Cathedral, golden Crown Princess Margareta, and another pink unidentified one.

Views like these across the Phantom Path and of the Dragon Bed still contain blooms. High up, left off centre in the first can be seen the Compassion rose; petunias and geraniums are included in both images.

Other flowers, such as white solanums, red snapdragons, yellow and red nasturtiums, pink geraniums, purple fuchsias, and pink phlox, are surprisingly long-lived occupants.

Dahlia

Some of the earlier dahlias have bloomed for months.

It really seems a never ending summer.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious pork paprika and wild rice, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Reserve des Tuguets madiran 2012.

 

 

Focus On The Back Drive

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While Jackie continued her creative magic in the garden, and between televised tennis sessions, I wandered around admiring the fruits of her labours, and, of course photographing them.

Day lilyDay liliesLilies

We have a number of different day lilies;

Water Lily

and the first water lily has now bloomed on the tiny cistern pond.

Ast

An astilbe thrives in the shady western bed.

Rose Penny Lane

In the Rose Garden Penny Lane adorns the potting shed,

Beetles on Margaret Merrill

And Margaret Merrill hosts a miniature beetle drive.

Back Drive barrier with robin

Looking through the Back Drive barrier towards the Rose Garden, I noticed a robin perched on the mid-way arch.

Robin

It flitted off, so I stalked it for a while.

Back drive 7

The barrier provides a floral frame for the drive,

Back drive 1

Back drive 2

Back drive 4Back drive 3

Back drive 6

which is now bordered by full length planting.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Poppies,

Snapdragons

snapdragons,

Achillea and snapdragons

and achillea, are just a few examples.

Back drive 8

Naturally there are also hanging baskets, better lit in the afternoon.

This evening we dined on fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms; baked beans and toast. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Gilbert & Gaillard Châteauneuf du Pape 2014. Well, why not?