Back Gardening

Yesterday evening we watched the second episode of series 3 of The Crown, which contained more scenes and dialogue stretching credulity/

Opposite the field occupied by our gimlet-eyed equine friend on South Sway Lane are heaped bags of free horse manure.

We brought one back on 20th and I tipped it out onto the most recent garden compost bin.

Today I added two more.

This of course may not seem much of an effort but the enforced dereliction of my Under Gardener duties consequent upon two knee replacements has ensured that this is the first decent task I have carried out in two years. It involves lifting the savoury material from the back of the Modus, transporting the individual bags to the back drive, lifting each one, turning it topsy-turvy, dropping the contents falling in a solid bag-shape, and raking it level.

It is early days, but it feels ss if I am back gardening.

Wherever we look in the garden today we see daffodils, snowdrops, hellebores, and other spring blooms – and an owl or two.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby internationals between Scotland and Italy, and between Wales and France.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s roast lamb; sage and onion stuffing; crisp roast potatoes; crunchy carrots; tender cabbage; soft butternut squash; and Coleman’s mint sauce with which the Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank Concha y Toro Casilliero del Diablo Shiraz 2017.

“Did Someone Mention Carrots?”

Although Dennis kept the wind up throughout the night and the morning, the rain desisted and some of the rainwater subsided.

The swirling skirts of the weeping birch gave testimony to the strong breezes.

Aaron had cleared up much of the garden debris yesterday, and no further untidiness manifested itself. Daffodils, snowdrops, camellias, and more, have survived.

With followers like mine it was clear what our afternoon’s drive should entail. We dutifully made our way to South Sway Lane and our equine friend in the sodden field.

Much of the water had returned to the river and the pony was happily once more chomping on grass,

taking time to polish her hooves

and drink from the normal stream.

I must admit to feeling somewhat rejected as she determinedly pursued her grazing.

It was when Jackie called to ask me if I had the carrot that the mood changed. The animal lifted her head, whinnied “did someone mention carrots?”, and trotted over to the barbed wire fence.

She was quick to relieve my outstretched palm of an extra-long Tesco’s finest root vegetable.

Far too quick for the Assistant Photographer who hadn’t enough time to focus her camera and had to settle for my subsequent question about the subject’s satisfaction with her meal.

We returned home through driving rain.

This evening we dined on succulent fillet steaks, luscious ratatouille, and crisp potato wedges coated in herbs and garlic. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

Comparatively Unscathed

Jackie produced a few photographs of dawn this morning.

Although the skies would darken with rain squalls and the windspeed increase at intervals after lunch the morning was brighter and the speed 45 m.p.h.

I toured the garden investigating what turned out to be very little damage.

The patio planters in front of the French windows were unscathed;

a few pots, like this one on the Kitchen Path,

and this beneath the clematis Cirrhosa Freckles, had toppled;

a few slender branches had been ripped from the copper beech and the weeping birch;

the already disintegrating rose arch had lost a piece of its top;

the back drive gate had shed some of its screen;

empty compost bags had been blown about a bit;

but many areas, such as the Shady Path were unscathed.

Nugget’s Wisteria Arbour was intact. “Where’s Nugget?” (67)

This afternoon the weather alternated between dark sleet showers and bursts of sunshine during which

darting blue tits took what opportunities they could to grab a peck

between those squabbling sparrow trapeze artists swinging on the swaying feeders

from which they spilled more than they consumed.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy pasta arrabbiata plentifully packed with peppers, mushrooms, onions and garlic. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Still Before The Storm

This morning, fearing for the garden during the very heavy storm we are due to experience tomorrow, Jackie wandered around our plot with her camera in order to record such an unusual array of blooms for this time of the year.

First, she had to pander to Nugget who was convinced that his fans would like to admire his back view.

Tete-a-tetes and irises were doing well,

as were snowdrops, primulas, and bergenias.

We hope a variety of camellias will survive.

The autumn sculpture has sprouted lichen curls to blend with his mottled skin.

Dragons and hellebores are hoping for the best.

Daphne odorata marginata,

wood anemones,

crocuses,

pulmonarias,

and euphorbias all add their splashes of colour which we hope will not be watered down.

For lunch we joined Mum and Elizabeth at Woodpeckers, Colton Care home.

It is my sister’s birthday.

She complimented our mother on

enjoying lasagna which is ‘foreign food’ to someone of her generation. The others also chose lasagna; my choice was cod in parsley sauce. We all enjoyed lemon tart with cream or ice cream.

After the meal Elizabeth drove Mum on a trip into the forest while we

left the birthday present on the Pilley doorstep.

A little later the two ladies arrived at our house to finish the afternoon with tea and Victoria sponge.

Jackie and I dined this evening from bowls of Hordle Chinese Take Away’s delicious fare on trays on our laps while watching recordings of the afternoon’s Six Nations rugby Internationals between Wales and Ireland and between England and Scotland. The second match took place in swirling gales and lashing rain such that neither side deserved to lose. It is a wonder that anyone could play at all. I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2018.

 

 

Raindrops

It was a shame that we were only due sunshine and lack of rain this morning, because I needed to be at home for the Openreach engineer engaged by BT. I won’t dwell on this, but, although the man turned up on time the problem is not resolved. It didn’t help that he hadn’t been told what Friday’s engineer had done and that he had been sent for an installation rather than a repair. Another technician is to attend tomorrow.

I did manage to wander round the garden before heavy rain set in for the afternoon.

We have numerous hellebores;

a prolific variety of camellias;

iris reticulatas;

and snowdrops coming into bloom throughout.

One of the occupants of the Dragon Bed cradles her egg;

another has recovered well after Aaron’s spinal surgery.

After lunch, with raindrops splattering on the roof of the car and slaloming down the windscreen, we took a drive into the forest.

The watery Black Lane, in the murk, lived up to its name.

Many of our roads are now irrigated by overflowing ditches and waterlogged fields.

Braggers Lane, with its

rippling reflective bubbling pools stretching alongside, is a good example.

 

Despite the banked verges, the fields are very generous with their excess water.

Woodland is a little meaner.

A group of horses, some wearing waterproof rugs, simply tolerated the downfall.

Further along, on Thatchers Lane, fallen. lichen-coated branches, recently at home on dry land, are reflected in their own pools. Drinks cans now bob beside them.

Long haired goats foraged in the grass alongside Fish Street. One inquisitive creature raised its head briefly before getting on with its late lunch.

Sheep sheltering on London Lane wondered why I was standing there getting wet.

At Avon thatchers seemed to have called it a day. It seemed a good idea, so we set off for home.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured sausage casserole; crisp roast potatoes; firm Brussels sprouts; and tricolour carrots with which I finished the Malbec.

 

 

 

A Bracken Ribbon

This morning we shopped at Everton nurseries for composts, seeds, bulbs, and some potted primulas; then drove on into the forest.

Sunlit landscapes were in sharp contrast to yesterday’s murky views. These were seen from

Lower Sandy Down, one of our narrow undulating winding lanes where we would not relish meeting oncoming traffic careering down the slope.

Long shadows streaked the terrain

littered with last autumn’s fallen leaves;

snowdrops scaled steep verges,

some of which reflected sunlit trees above.

Giving me a quizzical look a be-rugged horse chomped on the contents of its hanging hay bag.

Although still mud-caked ponies were much more in evidence on the moors outside Brockenhurst;

a bay leisurely ambling across the road

permitted itself a smug grin as it hampered a group of cheery cyclists.

Settling into foraging on the other side

it sported a nice new bracken ribbon decorating its tail.

We followed a rather splendid vintage vehicle for some way on the road home

hoping it would turn off left so I could obtain a side-on view.  The driver eventually obliged.

Sway Tower was also basking in the sunshine.

This afternoon, admittedly fuelled by a bottle of Doom Bar, I dozed through the Six Nations rugby match between Wales and Italy. The later contest between Scotland and Ireland held my complete attention.

For our dinner this evening Jackie produced her tasty liver and bacon casserole; creamy mashed potatoes, firm Brussels sprouts and carrots in three colours. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I drank San Juan Argentine Malbec 2019.

Backing Up

Knowing that we were to expect further stormy weather today, Jackie helpfully took her camera into the garden at dusk yesterday and photographed

primulas,

cyclamens,

bergenia,

hellebores,

camellias,

clematis cirrhosa Freckles,

a pelargonium,

a mahonia with accompanying New Zealand flax,

snowdrops,

and Daphne odorata marginata all in bloom.

The Generous Gardener rose set to climb the recently heavily chopped cypress has taken well.

While she was at it the Assistant Photographer also added a fern owl for Pauline’s benefit.

Just about avoiding the rain that was to follow we drove early into the forest.

On Barrows Lane a row of daffodils were already in flower.

We were, yer honour, proceeding at a gentle speed along the narrow, winding Lower Mead End Road when

distant headlights reflecting on the wet tarmac alerted us to the approach of an oncoming vehicle,

As always in such a situation someone has to back up. Jackie is of the opinion that this is very rarely a BMW driver. So it proved today. My Chauffeuse did the gentlewomanly (You are chauvinist, WP – I did not type gentlemanly) thing and reversed until there was some degree of passing space.

Polite waves were exchanged as the gentleman in the other vehicle sailed by and we continued driving through the pools ahead.

The woodland and Boundary obscured grazing ponies,

yet cattle were quite visible among the moorland gorse.

You could be excused for imagining that this picture of Sway Tower against streaky pastel skies was produced either at sunset or sunrise. In fact it was 11 a.m.

After lunch Jackie brought back my first Easter egg from Tesco’s where these delicacies had been on sale for at least a week. Like the pictures that began this post her intention had been that I might like to “put it on the blog”.

This evening we dined on succulent roast beef, crisp Yorkshire pudding, creamy potato and swede mash, and firm, tasty, Brussels sprouts and carrots with which I drank more of the Garnacha Syrah and Jackie drank Maury 2013.