The Oval Bed Today

The earlier third of the day was overcast but warm.

On my way through the garden to set out on a walk down

Downton Lane

I photographed several newly opened tulips,

one of which bore a sleepy bee.

Even 30 m.p.h. on our eponymous winding lane is probably too fast at any time, yet it seems necessary to reinforce the limit with plenty of notices along the way.

Prolific primroses,

golden dandelions,

dancing daffodils,

and buttery celandines bear out Susan Hill’s view of spring as ‘the yellow season’ expressed in ‘The Magic Apple Tree’.

Along with hardy white daisies

and rambling purple vinca, they decorate the burgeoning verges,

while bristling blackthorn

adorns the hedgerows.

A felled tree hosts ageing tree fungus.

The downward stretch of Downton Lane is a mostly manageable gently sloping descent.

I turned back at the steepest bend

and made my way home.

A pair of friendly cyclists, two abreast, had at least crossed to the other side as they passed me but I did wonder whether I should carry an estate agent’s snazzy measuring device to ensure a safe distance in these self-isolating times.

On 27th March Jackie had begun revamping the Oval Bed which she photographed.

Later this afternoon she produced images of her finished work.

She also photographed these leaves of crocosmia and day lilies,

and aroused bronze fennel setting off to soar above prize primroses and primulas.

This evening we dined on roasted sausages and new potatoes served on a bed of fried onions; a soft melange of cabbage and leeks; tender runner beans; and crunchy carrots with tasty gravy. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Benguela Bay Shiraz 2018.

Jackie’s having to add a little oil to the sausages because they held no fat reminded us of the gristly and cereal-filled apologies that had put us off bangers for life when we were young. Walls offerings were the anathema of our childhood. It was in France that I first experienced sausages with sufficient meat content.

 

A Closer Look

Elizabeth popped over this morning to collect some wood and nails to repair a fence on a temporary basis until Aaron can do it for her. She fixed a time with him.

Having concentrated on general garden views yesterday I took a closer look at

a variety of daffodils;

primulas and

primroses;

hellebores;

camellias;

anemone Blandas;

 

vinca;

viburnum;

and Amanogawa cherry blossom.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations rugby international between Scotland and France. Just before half time the game erupted into a 30 man handbags session. One player threw a punch and was sent off. The game deteriorated after that.

Elizabeth, Danni, Andy and Ella came to dinner.

Before hand the usual fun ensued. Elizabeth and Danni graced the white sofa.

Ella has taken a shine to the bell with which Jackie wakes me when I have fallen asleep during Bargain Hunt.

She also has a new game which involves a tender “Aahh” as she settles her Teddy down to sleep;

she is not averse to ditching him when distracted by her Dad.

The meal consisted of Jackie’s sublime beef pie; roast potatoes; crunchy carrots, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts; tender runner beans, and tasty gravy. This was followed by rhubarb crumble and custard. Elizabeth, Danni, and I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon, The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden, and Andy drank Diet Coke,

Jackie served up to eager participants.

 

 

Ella tucks in beside her mother.

Jackie took the two photographs of the infant enjoying her Kit Kat dessert.

 

 

A Quarrel Of Sparrows

Stealth bombers dominate our front garden feeders.

Silently they crowd the seed provider, with a

considerable amount of spillage

cleared up by robin Ron for whom this particular container was provided,

and larger birds like blackbirds

and woodpigeons.

The voracious field sparrows dart onto any vacant perch. They engage in fearsome face-offs. Spreading or violently flapping their wings and viciously pecking they dive-bomb their rivals to take their places at the trough.

It is hardly surprising that a collective noun for sparrows is a quarrel.

This afternoon Jackie went into the garden in search of Nugget, who she photographed as he cocked his head awry.

“Where’s Nugget?” (60)

She thinks the solitary crow on our rooftop is Russell, who latched onto her in its infancy in June 2018.

She also photographed

an iris,

the Weeping Birch,

a vinca,

an owl on the stumpery,

an osteospermum,

campanula,

heuchera leaves,

and emerging snowdrops.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s succulent beef and mushroom pie; creamy potato and swede mash; firm carrots and Brussels sprouts; tender cabbage; and thick, tasty, gravy. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Garnacha Syrah.

 

The Holly And The Ivy

 

Our white sofa, being a sofa bed, is extremely heavy. In order to avoid damaging the new flooring, this morning Connor called upon

Mark to help him lift it into place.

Jackie ventured into the garden on this much brighter day than yesterday, announcing “I am going into the garden to photograph some loveliness.”  Her results included

raindrops on oak leaf pelargoniums,

on nasturtiums – only the red ones -,

on roses including Hot Chocolate,

Winchester Cathedral,

and pink carpet variety,

on vinca,

 

on cyclamen,

 

on camellia,

and on branches of Japanese maple,

weeping birch,

and the stems of Félicité Perpétue.

She also pictured primroses,

bidens,

solanum,

marguerites,

cyclamen leaves,

weeping birch bark,

viburnum,

 winter flowering cherry,

and generous pansies sharing their trough with next spring’s burgeoning tete-a-tetes.

Finally she thought her collection would not have been truly seasonal – not that much of it actually is – without

the holly

and the ivy.

The blackbirds have eaten all our berries.

Apart from working on this draft, I wrote out a batch of Christmas cards which Jackie posted later.

By the end of the afternoon, Connor was working on the final corner, which he soon finished.

One of the benefits of not being able to get into your kitchen for three days is that you can eat out in one of your favourite restaurants each day. This evening it was the turn of The Family House Chinese at Totton where we enjoyed our usual M3 set meal with Tsing Tao beer.

A Year For Honesty

Today the weather was fairly gloomy. Early rain gave way to overcast clouds and oppressive warmth. Our own garden seemed the best venue.

Bees, nevertheless, were busy plundering the amanogawa cherry now in full bloom.

Tulips, which, until now have kept their collars tightly buttoned, are beginning to think about loosening their ties.

Avian courting continues in the weeping birch.

The golden Japanese maple glows despite the lack of sunshine.

Dicentra joins primulas, hellebores, daffodils, fritillaries, and honesty in the West Bed.

Honesty is a biennial bloomer. The transparent medallion-shaped seed pods, so attractive when backlit in the autumn, as effective as a careless sneeze, scatter the germs that raise these spires of colour everywhere in the spring. This is its year.

The daffodils in the above photograph of the Cryptomeria Bed are later blooms which will delight for some weeks more. Others are past their best.

The vinca is a plant which, given free rein, would dance over all the beds and consequently requires a certain amount of containment. When we first arrived the garden was choked with it.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome sausage casserole; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender green beans, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Juicy Assemblage.

Nothing For It

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN ONE OF THE PAIRINGS TO ACCESS THE GALLERY, EACH MEMBER OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT. PHOTOGRAPHS LACKING A PARTNER CAN BE VIEWED WITH A CLICK THAT MAY BE REPEATED

I spent a considerable number of frustrating hours attempting to secure internet access today. I will not bore anyone with the details. Looking on the bright side, I decided to tackle the paperwork for my annual tax return. This went quite well until I tackled my bank statements, which I receive on a quarterly basis. The most recent batch has not arrived. “No problem.” I thought. “Now I bank on line I can take the necessary details from there”. …………… “Ah……..”.

There was now nothing for it but to wander round the garden with my camera in hand and a mobile phone in my pocket. There are, of course, less pleasant ways of spending my time.

The clematis Montana now drapes the front wall upon which a trough of blue pansies smile; the potentilla now dances with the vinca.

The sweet scent of the wisteria pervades the area beneath its arbour.

Buds of blue irises and red poppies are simply biding their time.

While I wandered and emptied a trug or two into the compost, Jackie continued replenishing soil and planting in beds and containers.

These verbascum look down on similarly hued Erigeron,

Cow parsley in Dragon Bed

just as the cow parsley soars above everything else in the Dragon Bed.

pansies and clematis Marie Boisselot buds

In the Kitchen Bed’s stone urn white pansies bridge the season of faded white daffodils and that of clematis Marie Boisselot, whose buds can be observed in the obelisk behind.

Geranium Palmatum

The first of the geranium Palmatums, which will soon arrive in abundance, has lined up along the Shady Path in line with heucheras,

Shadow on heuchera

on the leaves of which a hebe casts its shadow.

Erigeron, aquilegia, vinca, alliums, silenes

Erigeron, aquilegias, vinca, alliums, and silenes crowd each other in the Weeping Birch Bed,

aubretia and wild strawberries

as do aubretia and wild strawberries in the Oval Bed opposite.

Butterfly Small White, honesty

Small White butterflies flitted about.

Rosariae de L'Hay corner of Rose Garden

Rosariae de L’Hay enlivens its corner of the Rose Garden.

This afternoon, until I was back on line, I continued reading John Le Carré’s The Night Manager.

Dinner this evening consisted of Jackie’s excellent pasta arrabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I consumed A Dark Apothic 2015 Californian red.

 

 

 

 

Spot The Partridge

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN A GROUP, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT. SINGLE IMAGES CAN BE ENLARGED WITH A CLICK.

Jackie

While I lurked with a lens, Jackie continued, carefully, to cultivate the garden this morning.

Red tinges through garden

I had been struck by the trail of red from near tulips at the window to distant rhododendron.

Other touches of red are provided by the geraniums in the iron urn at the head of the Gazebo Path, rhododendrons, tulips, pieris, Vulcan magnolia, and heucheras;

Fly on poppy

little orange poppies have now opened out,

Forget-me-nots

Vinca

and forget-me-nots and vincas are ubiquitous.

Today there was no lull in the gloriously sunny weather when we went for a drive this afternoon.

We took a short walk round MacPenny’s garden at Bramsgore where rhododendrons and azaleas are beginning to enliven the beds and the pathways.

Most fields of cattle, like these at Thorney Hill, contain cud-chewing cows and languorous calves. They seem to be able to ignore the flies that surround their eyes and noses.

Partridge

Elusive partridges seemed to be darting everywhere. Can you spot this one?

This evening we dined on Jackie’s juicy lamb biriani with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the pinot noir.