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.

 

 

Back To Sleep

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE IT. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

At very brief intervals this morning the deceptive sun suggested it may brighten our day.

Chionoxa

We believe these little plants forcing their way between wet paving stones are chionodoxa. Just above them poppies are beginning to try their luck.

Pulmonaria

Hairy little pulmonaria seem to tolerate anything thrown at them.

Gazebo path

My walk down the Gazebo Path coincided with the sun changing its mind.

Margery's Bed and beyond

Later the daffodil at the far end positively glowed with pleasure at another change.

Dragon Bed

Heucheras and euphorbias lead the eye to camellias on the fence shared with Mistletoe Cottage.

Camellia blooms fallen

Earlier camellias have dropped buffeted blooms which continue to provide a pleasing display.

Crocosmia spears

Thrusting crocosmia spears caught the next bright beams. When gardening becomes possible again, many dead leaves will be removed.

Westbrook arbour

The Westbrook Arbour in the West Bed is now home to the chicken doorstops rediscovered in the cupboard under the stairs.

Daffodils and pansies

Here is the left hand side of that newly cultivated bed.

Across Weeping Birch Bed

From the Weeping Birch Bed with its blue vinca and yellow hellebore can be seen dancing daffodils.

Heuchera

Heucheras are beginning to brighten everywhere.

Brick Path

I do hope the Head Gardener will forgive my having taken this shot down the Brick Path without clearing up. It has been raining for days, after all.

Moss and sedum spectabalis

Moss covered rocks abound. Here one shelters a healthy sedum in the Cryptomeria Bed;

Cryptomeria Bed

another is about to be draped by vinca which will need keeping in check.

Pansies

Several hardy pansies have survived the meteorological vagaries;

Bee on pansy

one sleepy little bee had been persuaded to drag itself out of bed and into one of these where it appeared to have gone back to sleep.

Beef, mushroom and onion pie

This afternoon, Jackie made two beef, onion, and mushroom pies. This one is for the freezer.

Beef, onion, and mushroom pie meal

The second was served this evening with potatoes, carrots and cabbage, and thick, flavoursome gravy from the juices of the tender pressure-cooked beef. I finished off the 16 Little Black Pigs

 

The Kitchen Garden

CLICK ON ANY IMAGE IN THE CLUSTER TO ACCESS ENLARGED GALLERY

Here is another look  at our existing kitchen.

The section alongside the hobs is effectively the Culinary Queen’s current work surface. As shown in ‘Before The Makeover 1’ the oven, microwave, and fan occupy the other side of the small area at the back. The shelves to the right of the picture occupy a former fireplace. So encrusted with caked on grime were these hobs that, when we moved in, we did not know they were induction. Neither did we know how to use them, nor that we would need new saucepans.

This is how lunch is prepared on this surface.

When the hobs are in use, as for cooking tonight’s jalfrezi, life becomes somewhat more complicated, chopping room being rather limited.

For Your Eyes Only pruned

One of Aaron’s tasks this morning had been to prune some of the roses, like the prolific For Your Eyes Only.

This afternoon I took a walk among the flora. The winter flowering cherry, the bergenia, the pansies, the cyclamens, the iris, and the vincas have been in evidence for a while. The little yellow bidens have continued to self seed since they first occupied the garden last Spring. The camellias are covered in buds, their first blooms having appeared in recent days. Jackie is particularly excited about the prospect of the Daphne odorata’s scents bursting from their expanding cases. One solitary Winchester Cathedral bloom stands tall in the Rose Garden.

With the aforementioned chicken jalfrezi, Jackie served her special savoury rice and Tesco’s pakoras and onion bahjis. As can be seen, she drank Hoegaarden. I drank more of the Malbec.