We Thought It Best To Pull Over

Leaving the others asleep in their pits early this morning, Jackie and I took a drive into the forest in the vicinity of Burley.

Bluebells are cropping up on all the verges.

As I disembarked to photograph a stream and its reflections, a mallard shot under the bridge at a rate of knots leaving its wake serrating the surface of the water.

I exchanged waves with a bunch of cyclists while I prepared to cross to the other side of the road

in order to photograph fallen trees, their reflections, and banks of primulas, celandines, and violets,

all of which flourished beneath my feet.

I was hampered somewhat in photographing a large fallen tree with its tangled lichen-laden limbs still bearing fresh foliage. As I framed the shot the driver of the car decanting children, their Dad, and their bikes, clearly intending to ensure a bout of photobombing, reversed the necessary couple of metres. We indulged in friendly conversation and I wished the male members of the party an enjoyable ride as the mother drove away, leaving the track clear for us.

We returned home via Holmsley Passage alongside which a pair of ponies turned their backs on

a family group of cyclists on hired bikes as they struggled up the hill. The woman who towed the little trailer was not young. I don’t know about her, but I was mightily relieved when a gentleman changed places with her. We thought it best to pull over and wait until they had climbed their Everest.

This afternoon, Becky, Ian, and Louis returned to Southbourne where the young man was to catch a train back to his home.

This evening we dined on roast lamb, roast potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower cheese with which I drank more of the Merlot Bonarda and Jackie didn’t.

Back In The Garden

Stormy weather and a heavy cold have kept me indoors for the last week. Today the wind has dropped to 20 m.p.h. and the sun has shone. I therefore took a walk in the garden. Jackie now has the cold and is currently housebound.

Our winter flowering cherry remains bright against the blue sky above.

The copper beech and the weeping birch still display their skeletal frames;

pruned roses are biding their time to burst forth in bloom.

Golden forsythia glows beside the patio.

Whichever way you look at them, the old cart wheels and the gazebo arches have designs on the gravel path,

visible beyond this end of the Phantom Path.

Camellias still bloom and bud throughout the shrubberies.

Daffodils still abound. Those in the patio are accompanied by tulips, pansies, and violas.

Primulas, bergenias, hellebores, cyclamens, comfrey, alliums, grape hyacinths, and pulmonaria all await discovery in the beds.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese served with rashers of bacon, followed by lemon Bakewell tarts.

Snatching Snoozes

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In ‘The Card Case’, I spoke of the client who had no money to pay my fee, but brought me the occasional small gift, all of which I have treasured for almost 30 years. I am not a science fiction fan, so I have not read many of his paperback books. One of these is Poul Anderson’s ‘The Makeshift Rocket’. I finished this short novel this morning. It was a surprisingly entertaining work. Light-hearted, with a touch of dry humour, once I had ceased trying to decipher the author’s attempts at reproducing Danish and Irish spoken English, I enjoyed the book.

Afterwards I photographed garden views from upstairs windows and from the stable doorway.

Having decided to reduce the codeine element in my pain relief, I struggled a bit today. On the other hand it may have been the amount of walking on uneven terrain I undertook yesterday. Consequently I spent the afternoon alternately dozing over snatches of World Cup football and having brief forays into the garden.

Lily, marigolds etc

A new day lily has forced its way through the soil to join the marigolds beside the greenhouse.

Palm Bed to eucalyptus

Geranium palmatums lead us past more day lilies in the Palm Bed to the eucalyptus and beyond.

Cosmoses, geraniums, violas

Urns, like this stone one Jackie has planted up at the end of the Brick Path,

Garden view from Shady Path to kitchen window

and the pottery one standing on the filled in well, counteract what she call “The June Gap”, when there is not normally much colour around.

The hanging baskets on the kitchen wall and the two clematises in pots on the corner serve the same purpose.

Rose Ballerina dances in the bed beside the entrance to the Rose Garden,

Rosa Gallica and Mama Mia

where such as Rosa Gallica and Mama Mia continue to splash their colour.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea Swinging Sixties is another plant in a pot,

Linaria and valerian

opposite which Linaria and Valerian vie for space in the Oval Bed.

My final trip up the garden was via the Phantom Path to join Jackie taking a break on the decking. There I passed the Cryptomeria Bed with its clematis, geranium palmatums, and hot lips; a penstemon in Margery’s Bed; a planted pot on the corner of the Gazebo Path; and Florence sculpture with her basket of bacopa.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi and splendid special fried rice. She drank Hoegaarden and I didn’t.

 

 

Do You Like Butter?

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Base for greenhouse

This morning, while Jackie weeded and I cleared up, Aaron smoothed concrete edging around the greenhouse base and realigned a section of The Head Gardener’s Walk.

Oval Bed 1Oval Bed 2Oval Bed 3

At the other end of the garden the recent plantings in the Oval Bed have matured;

Weeping Birch Bed

honeysuckle swings among the day lilies and petunias in the Weeping Birch Bed;

Violas grimace appealingly in the barrier tubs;Violas

Rose Garden view

 in the Rose Garden lilies still sway beside the Potting Shed,

Petunias, penstemons among roses

while potted petunias and bedded penstemons offer accompaniment to the roses.

Garden view across Palm Bed

The view across the centre of the garden from the Shady Path has been opened up.

Sweet peas

Out of sight on the far side pink and white sweet peas climb for Bruce.

Fuchsia

Similarly hued fuchsias dangle from a pot beside the Gazebo Path.

Bee on bidens

I’m sure we were not the only children who held buttercups to friends’ chins, asking “Do you like butter?”. If your chin glowed yellow, you did. If not, you didn’t. Noticing this bee’s pollen coated butt, I asked the question.

Bee in flight

“I’m not listening to this”, cried the bee, buzzing off with alacrity

This evening we enjoyed a second sitting of Mr Chan’s fare, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank a delicious gold medal winning Saint Emilion grand cru,  a birthday present from Danni and Andy.

After this, prompted by Becky, I watched the highlights of the fourth day of the Test Match between England and South Africa. This turned out to be a good call.

 

A Little Bit O’ Bloomin’ Luck

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Today began dark, wet, and windy. Thinking we would be unable to do much more in the garden we transported the results of yesterday’s crab apple pruning to Efford Recycling Centre.

Plant pots

As is the Head Gardener’s wont, she bought two more fibreglass faux terra cotta plant pots from the sales area.

The sun did put in brief appearance this afternoon, so I was able to present a snapshot of the first official day of Spring.

Jackie has also started buying plants, like these violas,

Snakes head fritillaries

and these snake’s head fritillaries just plonked in an urn for the moment.

Kitchen bed 1

Both are visible in this shot of the kitchen bed.

Camellias 1

These camellias shed their confetti-like petals on the Dead End Path.

Garden view from Margery's Bed

Others are visible on either side of the decking in this view beyond Margery’s Bed;

Dragon Bed 1

more in the Palm Bed;

Head Gardener's Walk 1

and beside the Head Gardener’s walk which also displays cyclamens.

These two were buried in darkness when we arrived three years ago. Now they are able to flower,

Dragon Bed 1

being visible from across the Dragon Bed.

Head Gardener's Walk 2

Figures lining the walk include dragons and a cherub.

There are, of course, hellebores and daffodils everywhere;

Pulmonaria

and pulmonaria, such as these clambering over a brick boundary.

Mahonia

A small mahonia planted last year is thriving along the back drive,

Vinca and hellebores

where a periwinkle has been stencilled on our neighbours’ wall.

A little bit of luck is essential to a successful photoshoot. As I was focussing on the garden it was appropriate that mine today should be blooming.

Epimedium 1

I was unhappy with my first shot at the epimediums, so I went back out to make some more efforts.

Then came my first ‘little bit o’ bloomin’ luck’. A bee had decided it was now warm and dry enough to flit from bloom to bloom.

As I clicked away at this insect, I received a second stroke. More clicking above my head alerted me to the fact that a pair of long-tailed tits were using the weeping birch branches as trapezes.

This warranted a tribute to Stanley Holloway:

This evening we dined on our second helpings of yesterday’s Chinese takeaway with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Callia magna Malbec 2014.

Various Stages Of Life

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The experts on the antiques programme Bargain Hunt, which we generally watch at lunchtime, tell us that silver items should not be polished, for that activity eventually obliterates the hallmarks. Many antique book dealers also believe that uncut book pages should be left in their pristine condition because taking a knife to them reduces their value.

This poses the question whether treasures are to be preserved in figurative amber and never used, or to be enjoyed for what they are

Count Morin, Deputy 1

I had no qualms about taking a sharp kitchen knife to the pages of

Count Morin, Deputy cover

a delightfully told political fable.

It is always interesting to speculate on who has read an old book, or indeed whether it has been read at all. In the old days when books were still well made to last, the pages were often joined at the edges and required cutting, as indicated above, in order to read them. So, if, as in this 1921 publication, you found uncut pages, you knew no-one else’s fingers had left their marks on the virginal leaves. It is such a pleasure to know that you were the first, and gives you a responsibility to take great care of your chosen treasure.

Although this slender little volume from The Bodley Head is illustrated throughout, I have chosen to restrain any impulse to scan the internal pages; because straining the spine to flatten the book in the scanner seems too high a price to pay; and because the woodcuts don’t appeal to me, as they display the heaviness I associate with Black Forest carving, thus denying the elegance of the text in translation by J. Lewis May.

Wood Pigeon and Owl

Without our double glazing I may have been able to eavesdrop on this avian conversation through the sitting room window.

My contribution to the general garden maintenance of the day was to hold the steps and otherwise assist The Head Gardener in retraining clematises at the front.

Jackie reflected training clematis

This photograph was executed with one hand on the steps, and the other on the camera.

Clematis

Clematises such as this one don’t yet need such mountaineering feats to support them;

Violas in hanging basket

and the hanging baskets are within easy reach.

Bird's nest

While tidying her containers behind the shed, Jackie has found a nest from which the chicks have hedged and flown without our knowing it was there.

Thalictrum

She has also found the thalictrum’s true element in the Cryptomeria Bed.

Shady Path

Visible in the Dragon Bed in the centre of this Shady Path view,

Peony

we have a new peony bloom.

Phantom Path

This view along The Phantom Path leads us to the Rose Garden,

Rose Garden entrance

up the entrance of which Madame Alfred Carière and Summer Wine are speedily making their way;

Rose Jacqueline du Pré

and within, Jacqueline du Pré displays various stages of life.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious chicken jalfrezi with egg fried rice. She drank Hoegaarden, and I drank more of the Fleurie.

Particularly Partial To A Love Knot

Today will apparently be the last warm and sunny day for a week, so, naturally it was spent pottering in the garden.

Crab apple blossom

 

At the front two crab apple trees are blossoming,

Saxifrage 1

Front bed

and the saxifrages and other plants are beginning to decorate the stone edging which we hope they will soon festoon. Between the daffodils and the red tulips can be seen interesting ones that have yet to reveal their hues. We thinned out, and separated the libertia, one of which can be seen beside the drainpipe. Another cherry is blooming at top right.

Violas

Raised pots are employed to give height (and enable us to see the flowers, such as these violas filling a hanging basket, from our sitting room whilst still seated).

Castle Bench from path alongside North Breeze

The back path between the Brick Path and North Breeze affords an interesting perspective on the Castle Bench. In the distance at top left can be seen the new leaves on the beech tree. There is always a possibility that a colourful bin for collecting up weeds will find its way into the picture. I prefer to leave them as found. It is, of course, a working garden.

Tulip

Tulips are still emerging on the back drive.

Butterfly Small White on onesty

One busy Small White butterfly dashed from honesty to honesty. It was difficult to keep tabs on it. Can you?

Clematis Montana arch 1Clematis Montana arch 3Clematis Montana arch 2

Here are three more angles on the clematis Montana arch employed yesterday.

Euphorbia

These statuesque euphorbias were widespread throughout the garden. We have thinned them out a bit.

Greenfly on Love Knot Bud

While we sat in the rose garden, I noticed that we were already suffering an invasion of greenfly. They are particularly partial to a Love Knot bud. We set about them with a spray.

This evening we dined at Lymington’s Lal Quilla. We both drank Kingfisher and shared egg fried rice, egg paratha, and onion bhaji. My main meal was king prawn Ceylon; Jackie’s was chicken Haryali. We enjoyed the usual excellent quality food and warm and friendly service.