On The Brink Of May

Before watching the Women’s Six Nations rugby decider between England and France this afternoon I wandered around the garden to look at the flowers.

Blossom cascades from two crab apple trees at the front, where pink climbing roses

pink climbing roses cling to the trellis opposite the smiling pansies against the garage door.

Libertia and bluebells are both now ubiquitous,

As are these poppies which start the day in bloom and end it stripped of petals. My job is to dead head them so they will come again tomorrow.

White erigeron and pink honesty are also found everywhere, as in the Cryptomeria Bed, shared with

osteospermum.

We have a number of clematis Montanas, one of which shares the limbs of this lilac.

Various wallflowers are cropping up.

This wisteria has flowered for the first time, while the weathered camellia is showing it age.

Rhododendrons are in their prime.

Camassia and ajuga are more examples of small blue flowers.

We inherited this white blooming shrub from our predecessors. Can anyone identify it? Thanks to Carolyn (doesitevenmatter 3) for Snowmound or Spirea Nipponica

Finally, a few days ago this gravel would have harboured forget-me-nots and other little flowers which will settle anywhere. Now, it has been just one area in which Flo has undertaken strenuous weeding.

This evening we dined on Hordle Chinese Take Away’s excellent fare with which Jackie drank Hoegarden, I finished the Cabernet Sauvignon, Flo drank Kombucha Raspberry and lemon, and Becky abstained.

Water Feature In Situ

This morning I scanned the next half dozen of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to Charles Dickens’s ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’.

In ‘Even her weeping and her sobs were stifled by her clinging round him’ her dress flows like her tears.

Dickens’s description of the attendant, complete with whiskers, is faithfully depicted by Keeping in ‘Mrs Prig began to rasp his unhappy head with a hair-brush’

‘ ‘Pray, pray, release me, Mr Pecksniff’ ‘

The identifiable Mr Pecksniff, ‘Looking like the small end of a guillotined man, he listened’, as the artist runs with the writer’s image of the eavesdropper’s head above a pew.

In ‘ ‘He comes and sits alone with me’ ‘ Keeping demonstrates the unfortunate desperation of the couple skirting around engagement.

As hollow-cheeked as the writer describes the man, the artist captures him as ‘He sat down on the chest with his hat on’

This morning I transported the larger water feature from the patio to its permanent place in the Rose Garden, then photographed a few of our current blooms.

We still have a range of daffodils; numerous tulips; various wallflowers; forget-me-nots, primroses, lamium, wood anemones, honesty, and euphorbia.

This afternoon I watched the funeral service for the Duke of Edinburgh.

(Yvonne, you may skip the next paragraph.)

This evening we dined on Jackie’s most flavoursome liver, bacon, and onion casserole; creamy mashed potatoes; crunchy carrots and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the red blend.

A Garden Snapshot

On an albeit cool day of sunny interludes on which

winter flowering and amanogawa cherry blossoms flourished alongside each other, I produced

a snapshot of the garden. As usual titles of the individual pictures will be found when accessing the gallery with a click on any one image.

This evening Elizabeth came to dinner which consisted of succulent roast pork, with cracking crackling; crisp Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes and parsnips; crunchy carrots; firm broccoli and cauliflower; and meaty gravy. Dessert was cherry pie and custard. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while my sister and I drank Pinha Ribiero Santo Dao 2019.

The Ubiquitous Red Jacket

Jackie spent all this day of intermittent sunshine and clouds continuing her

weeding and watering, mostly in the Rose Garden.

I rendered minimal assistance while wandering round with a camera listening to the avian orchestral matins.

More clematises are now blooming;

Marie Boisselot blends with Erigeron cascading at her feet;

one we cannot name has scaled the gazebo;

pale pink Montana vies with blue solanum flung across this arch

 

over the Brick Path.

Splendid rhododendrons compete for attention in various locations such as

the Palm Bed with its spirea and cow parsley also seen

in front of the greenhouse in the Dragon Bed.

The Viburnum Plicatum stretches wide its ivory arms in homage to the West Bed.

Beautifully crocheted Hydrangea petals cap a container

beside the lawn.

Fuchsias like the delicate white Hawkshead;

Delta’s Sarah with her pastel pinks;

and this bright red bud bowing to the moon which will remind me of its name when it opens fully, provide their pendulous pleasure.

Variably hued heucheras extend their miniature Christmas trees.

Laura Ford graces the Rose Garden

over the entrance to which

sprawls Madame Alfred Cariere.

This garden bears much evidence of work in progress;

Jackie’s red jacket

seems to be everywhere.

The green plastic trug remains on the Gazebo Path where I deposited it yesterday while collecting up cuttings.

The path between the kitchen wall and the Pond Bed is still reasonably tidy.

Wallflowers, silene, companula, and aquilegias are happily blended in the Weeping Birch Bed which also contains some of prolific

libertia.

The Copper beech is now quite well clad.

I returned to my computer in time to receive a FaceTime visit from the Australian branch.

It was so dark in Fremantle on the way back for Sam and Holly and their children that Malachi needed to empty special effects to penetrate the blackness.

When they arrived home everything was much clearer. I think.

This evening we dined on second helpings of yesterday’s sausages in red wine, with fresh vegetables. Jackie finished the Sauvignon Blanc and I finished the Rheinhessen.

 

 

 

 

Cleaning Out The Frog Pond

Jackie spent most of this gloriously sunny and warm spring day working in the garden.

In the front she photographed budding Amanogawa

and crab apple blossom,

and a row of different coloured cyclamens.

I took tours before and after lunch, choosing to focus first on a variety of daffodils;

these, alongside the Dead End Path, are strongly scented and aptly named Park Perfume;

 

iberis cascades over the New Bed wall in front of more;

nodding to the dreaded all-pervading white allium another masquerades as a cheery scarecrow.

The sunshine has encouraged one of yesterday’s tulips to open wider,

to blend nicely with these marigolds.

Camellias continue to shine and to discard their heavy blooms, some of which persist in

growing old gracefully.

Varieties of wallflowers are blooming;

these yellow ones kneel at the feet of euphorbia in the back drive border.

Honesty is bursting out all over. It will be a brave individual who sits on this chair in the Weeping Birch Bed.

The burnished Japanese maple near the Fiveways corner

takes the eye across the Gazebo Path to North Breeze,

skirting the peeling-pastel-sheathed eucalyptus on the lawn, beside which

clematis Cirrhosa Freckles still festoons the iron gazebo.

Looking south east from the above-mentioned maple takes us into the Rose Garden whence

we have a view towards the house. I will be in dire trouble for leaving that blue plastic trug in the shot.

Given that during the Covid-19 pandemic bedding plants cannot be purchased

Jackie’s pelargonium cuttings in the greenhouse are even more important than usual this year.

They are even attracting ladybirds.

 

This view from the Kitchen Bed leads to the Nottingham Castle bench;

this one across to the greenhouse.

It is through a kitchen window that I managed to catch Burt, the long tailed tit, playing on his honeysuckle trellis. Like a child who will run endlessly up the steps for another go on a slide, Burt swung through the air time and again, incessantly hopping back up for a repeat performance. The bird can be seen peering in beside the window catch – it is well worth bigifying.

The Head Gardener’s main task today was cleaning out the weedy Frog Pond. This is how she pictured it this morning,

and this with clear reflective water this afternoon.

This evening we dined on roast duck breasts; roast new potatoes; meaty sausages and fried onions; crunchy carrots and cauliflower; and tender cabbage, leeks, and runner beans, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

 

 

 

 

Precipitation

Yesterday Jackie tidied up the area fronting the garage door trellis. This involved clearing away last year’s plants that were beyond their best-before date, especially the still blooming nasturtiums that should have shrivelled and died months ago. She then added new life to the pots.

Today was one of steady, light, rain. Starting with the Head Gardener’s new planting of perky primulas and pansies

I photographed pellucid precipitation on diverse daffodils;

on fresh tulips;

on other pansies;

on hellebore brollies;

on winsome wallflowers:

on camellia petals;

on slender summer snowflakes;

on pink pelargoniums;

and on a closed clematis Cirrhosa Freckles.

Floral lichen on the back of the Nottingham Castle bench is developing nicely.

This afternoon, Valentine from HSL brought a sample chair,

one of which he tried out for size for each of us. Having taken an order he returned this one to his van and, for the first time in two years, I was able to rise from a seat without using my arms.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s luscious lemon chicken; crisp roast potatoes; and crunchy cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, with tasty gravy. I drank Carinena El Zumbido Garnacha Syrah 2017, while the Culinary Queen abstained.

 

 

Six Trains

This post by Linda at shoreacres, https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/32382/posts/2281944455 took me back this morning to my 1940s childhood.

Linda has eloquently described steam railways in America.

From 1947 to 1954 the magical – to us children at least – The Devon Belle steamed past our kitchen window in Raynes Park on its way from Waterloo station to the West Country. Details of the train and its history can be found in http://railway.g3w1.com/The_Devon_Belle/devon_belle.htm

I was intrigued to read that the author of this piece lived in Raynes Park until he was three and a half, and has memories similar to mine, although I was 5 years old in the inaugural year.

My entire childhood from the age of two in1944 to 1960 was spent in the maisonette at 29a Stanton Road, alongside which ran the railway path. The family ate in the kitchen where we could watch the trains. Chris and I would collect the numbers of those driven by electricity at any time during the day. But our favourite was https://youtu.be/XPpqD3GUmSA

This was, of course, because of the steam engines, but also the Pullman carriages which gave us something else to collect. Each of these first class cars bore a different name, usually of a woman.

When eating we were not expected to wolf down our food, leave the table, and get on with whatever else in which we had been engrossed. No, we had to wait for six trains to go by before we were permitted to “get down”.

When I open the back gate for Aaron on a Sunday morning this involves a walk down the gravelled back drive.

Beyond the gate on the south side we have a range of wallflowers and valerian;

on the opposite side there is currently a heap of the redundant griselina stumps, and more yellow wallflowers.

The dark patch of soil a bit further along, beside another stump and a spray of libertia, consists of spent compost from Jackie’s pots. This is being used to fill the holes left by the removal of the overgrown hedging.

Further still, a clump of Johnson’s Blue geraniums is found beside erigeron and bronze fennel.

This afternoon Jackie drove us into the forest for a brief journey before the rain set in.

Forest Road Burley was the venue for an equine mothers and babies group, only occasionally divided by the traffic with which they played havoc. Observant readers may spot the foal featured in ‘Aquatic Surface Cover’ of May 8th.

A young man with a video camera also stopped to film the scene. We enjoyed pleasant conversation.

For this evening’s dinner the Culinary Queen roasted duck breasts in plum sauce and served them with mushroom wild rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Carmenere.

P.S. Our friend Barrie Haynes has made this comment on my Facebook page:  ‘Unfortunately, the Devon Belle was not a commercial success. The Observation Cars had to be turned on the locomotive turntable at Ilfracombe and the station was badly sited for the town. I believe the Pullman observation cars were later used in Scotland and I think at least one of them is still with us. Because there were no water troughs on the Southern, engines were normally changed at Wilton.’

Number 32

One of Aaron’s tasks today was to reinforce the

wobbly posts on the entrance to the Rose Garden,

cerinthes have proliferated by self-seeding.

The Oval Path curves round the bed beyond that entrance.

Shadows fall across the Gazebo and Brick Paths.

The yellow and orange diurnal poppies are preparing for my daily dead-heading routine.

The rejuvenated red Japanese maple rescued first by me and then by Aaron a couple of years ago blends well with honesty and the background camellia.

The eucalyptus enhances a number of views.

A spreading white spirea graces the Palm Bed.

Honesty, bluebells, daffodils, and a variety of daffodils add their points of colour.

Bees busy themselves gathering pollen from the crab apple blossom.

This afternoon we all drove to The Beachcomber at Barton on Sea. This had clearly been a most popular idea. The café itself was virtually empty, but the garden was packed out. We managed to find a table and wait for our drinks. A rather wearied staff member would come out with a tray and call the relevant number of the order.

I watched one young gull preening on a rooftop, while

a black headed gull seemed taken aback by the sight of

a most glamorous dog-walker.

Smaller birds, such as sparrows, hoped to find crumbs on the tables.

Bolder starlings emptied the plates of left-overs. When they carried off their prey they were lucky if it was not snatched by the marauding gulls. This group was feasting on the scraps of number 32.

This evening we dined on succulent roast lamb; crisp roast potatoes and parsnips; multicoloured carrots; green beans; Yorkshire pudding; sage and onion stuffing; piquant cauliflower cheese; mint sauce; redcurrant jelly; and flavoursome gravy. Jackie and Becky drank Western Cape Chenin Blanc 2018, Ian drank Kronenbourg, Louis drank water, and I drank Moravista Merlot Bonarda 2018.

Nest Building

For some time now, Aaron, our very own Green Man, has been working his way through the removal of the stumps of the old grizelinia hedging that he cut down a year or two back. This morning he completed the task.

We now have several clusters of snake’s head fritillaries;

orange and yellow epimedium, which here blends well a fading daffodil;

the ubiquitous honesty;

a range of hellebores preparing to drop their seeds;

and these wallflowers fronting euphorbia.

Birds such as darting goldfinches in the cypress, and cumbersome pigeons in the copper beech just coming into leaf are busy nesting.

Reminding me of ‘And What Came Next?‘, a Red Admiral butterfly and a fly slumber alongside each other beneath

catkins dangling from the weeping birch.

For a long, leisurely, lunch Mat, Tess, Poppy, Jackie, and I joined Sam, Holly, Malachi, and Orlaith at Hoburne, Bashley, holiday home site. The food, service, and facilities were excellent. I chose a fishcake and salad starter followed by a plentiful roast beef dinner. Others also enjoyed their selections. We shared Prosecco, one glass of which was free for each of the Mothers on their day. None of us could eat a dessert. Afterwards the adults sat in the sunshine while the children played football and generally ran about.

“It’s Their Road, Not Mine”

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Eucalyptus shadow

We enjoyed another splendidly sunny summer’s day. In the garden the eucalyptus cast its welcome shadow across the grass;

while tulips, daffodils, wallflowers, and cowslips glowed in the sunshine.

At lunchtime I received a date for my first knee replacement. It is 18th May. I have never heard of anything so fast. This afternoon I undertook the blood test for the hip replacement check. Jackie having driven me to Lymington Hospital for the latter, we continued into the forest.

The primrose bank alongside the stream in Royden Lane was also streaked with shadows. A pair of cyclists happily rode by at an opportune moment.

Horses in field

I imagine the hay heaped in the field opposite was essential food for the horses a week or so ago. Now the grass is coming through again.

This land may have dried out now, but parts of the forest, like this area outside Brockenhurst, were still waterlogged. Instead of shadows we were treated to reflections of trees, some of which had fallen. After such wet periods as the terrain has recently endured, there are always more fallen trees. Often the roots rot and the giants topple.

Two ponies, dozing under a railway arch may, perhaps, two or three weeks ago have used this shelter as an umbrella; today it was a parasol. A pair of cyclists skirted the animals in order not to disturb them. “It’s their road, not mine”, said the leading woman.

Orange berberis flamed in the hedgerows outside Exbury Gardens, while white wood anemones, yellow celandines, and little violets festooned the banks of a dry ditch opposite.

This evening we dined at The Royal Oak. Jackie enjoyed a huge portion of chicken tandoori, while I tucked into an excellent rib eye steak cooked exactly as I asked. Jackie’s drink was Amstell, mine was a rather good Argentinian Malbec.