Unashamedly Odious

CLICK ON A SINGLE IMAGE TO ENLARGE. CLICKING ON THOSE IN GROUPS ACCESS  GALLERIES, INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF WHICH CAN BE VIEWED FULL SIZE BY SCROLLING DOWN AND CHECKING BOX AT BOTTOM RIGHT.

Once hailed as ‘one of Hampshire’s loveliest gardens’ we last visited Apple Court Garden, under its previous ownership in the spring of 2014. Elizabeth had also viewed it before then. Today it was open under the NGS (National Gardens Scheme) which raises money for charity. The three of us went along to be profoundly disappointed. Certainly we have endured a very dry summer, but that was no reason for the general air of decay and lack of care, especially as the entrance fee and prices of rather sad plants for sale were high.

My camera worked hard to find things of beauty to photograph.

Jackie and Elizabeth studying plants for sale

Jackie and Elizabeth studied the plants for sale, on the way to the entrance hut.

Spiderwort

Such colour as there was on this stretch – or anywhere else for that matter, appeared in  scattered spots, like this spiderwort tradescantia,

Crocosmia

or this attractive two-tone crocosmia.

Jackie

Elizabeth having paid our £5 a head entrance fee we scoured the beds for interest. Here Jackie contemplates the parched earth.

Agapanthuses

The distant agapanthuses looked well enough;

Phormium

This bright phormium sent up reddish feathered foliage;

Turk's Head lily

a decorative Turk’s Head lily swayed to

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is attractive to bees. We noticed none in the garden.

A modicum of interest was engendered by the emergence of other visitors in the gaps between the beech hedges.

Water lily

At least, we imagined, the water lilies

and the carp in the Japanese garden would sparkle. Sadly the once clear water was too murky for the lens to penetrate to any depth; spiders’ webs festooned the wooden screen;

the surrounding path had become overgrown and the gravel so sparse as to offer raised circular stones as booby traps.

Comparisons are odious – so the old saying goes. Well, in our view this is no longer a lovely garden. A glance at the last two images in the post highlighted in the first paragraph above will show the difference in the carp’s pool. Our own garden, containing far more colour per square metre, is about a quarter of a mile from Apple Court. I am unashamed in making these two comparisons.

This evening Jackie produced, for the three of us, succulent roast lamb; perfectly crisp roast potatoes; Yorkshire pudding; runner beans from the garden with crunchy carrots and soft mange touts; and onion gravy so thick as to require a spoon for serving. Jackie having drunk her Hoegaarden on the patio beforehand, abstained from alcohol, while Elizabeth and I drank Castillero del Diablo reserva Merlot 2017.

Focus On The Back Drive

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE. REPEAT IF REQUIRED.

While Jackie continued her creative magic in the garden, and between televised tennis sessions, I wandered around admiring the fruits of her labours, and, of course photographing them.

Day lilyDay liliesLilies

We have a number of different day lilies;

Water Lily

and the first water lily has now bloomed on the tiny cistern pond.

Ast

An astilbe thrives in the shady western bed.

Rose Penny Lane

In the Rose Garden Penny Lane adorns the potting shed,

Beetles on Margaret Merrill

And Margaret Merrill hosts a miniature beetle drive.

Back Drive barrier with robin

Looking through the Back Drive barrier towards the Rose Garden, I noticed a robin perched on the mid-way arch.

Robin

It flitted off, so I stalked it for a while.

Back drive 7

The barrier provides a floral frame for the drive,

Back drive 1

Back drive 2

Back drive 4Back drive 3

Back drive 6

which is now bordered by full length planting.

Poppy 1Poppy 2

Poppies,

Snapdragons

snapdragons,

Achillea and snapdragons

and achillea, are just a few examples.

Back drive 8

Naturally there are also hanging baskets, better lit in the afternoon.

This evening we dined on fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes, and mushrooms; baked beans and toast. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Gilbert & Gaillard Châteauneuf du Pape 2014. Well, why not?

Owling With Attitude

The blackbird still sits on her nest. Peering through shrubs at a safe distance, sometimes her bright little eyes are visible to the viewer, sometimes her upturned tail.

Brambly bedToday’s task for me was to clear one bed of brambles and other unwelcome growth. Simple enough for a day’s work. I thought. In fact the wild blackberry bushes were the least of my problems.

As I began to feel my way into the undergrowth I came across a number of previously unseen plants. Passion flower chokedOne was a heavily-budded passion flower which had become entwined in a hebe, and, of course brambles. The necessary disentanglement was a most delicate operation.Passion flower support Having carried out the surgery I gave it a leg-up by means of netting attached to a metal post set in concrete that Jackie had found elsewhere in the garden. Another such climber had clung to the weeping branches of the birch tree, but had many stems trailing in and out of the bed grasping at anything in its path. Further similar treatment was required. This time the netting was strung between two wooden stakes.

Two types of tree that are abundantly self-seeded in this garden are hawthorn and bay. There was one of each in this bed, their roots, as always, taking shelter among those of  other plants; in this case the weeping birch and some lilies that have not yet flowered.Bed head screwed to birch I had no chance of reaching them unless I removed the wooden bed head nailed to the tree. No doubt this once had a decorative purpose of sorts.  I couldn’t prise it off. Once the rust had been scoured off the nailhead it turned out to be a screw, so dilapidated as to be bereft of a slot. I tried to make one with the trusty hacksaw. I couldn’t get it deep enough.

Then along came Superwoman, who saw that if we removed the rickety slats and the other end, we could leave the post where it was. D’oh!

That is what we did. I dug out the offending trees and replaced the rest of the bed head. Two of the joints had by now disintegrated, so nails will have to be used, when I have bought some of sufficient length. In order that it does have a decorative function, I optimistically fed a passion flower stem through the secure bit.

Jackie speaks of the June gap, which is that unproductive time between the finishing of the spring flowers and before the arrival of those of the summer. The planting here has been so well planned that there is no such hiatus. Water lilyPhiladelphusWhite bush roseRose - pink abundancePetuniasPetunias - magentaDiasca and pelargoniumBegoniaPoppiesVerbascumRodgersiaClematises Star of India and Rouge CardinalI took a break after lunch and photographed water lily, philadelphus, roses, petunias, diasca, pelargonium, begonia, poppies, verbascum, rodgersia, and clematises which are just a few of those we currently have flowering.

Our blackbird is still awaiting the emergence of her chicks. Not so the owl in my friend Hari’s tree. Her two are about three weeks old, and able to reach the ground, but do need to be returned to their Mum. If I am able to photograph our fledglings I am confident that my pictures would not be as striking as the one Hari e-mailed me today.Owling by Harri She believes the creature was displaying a mind of its own when it stared back at its rescuer. I rather like her term for a baby owl, especially one with attitude, which has provided today’s title.

This evening’s meal was Jackie’s beef and mushroom pie with mashed carrots, swede, and potatoes; and crisp cauliflower and broccoli. Tiramisu ice cream was to follow. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I finished the tempranillo.

If you have a shop that can sell you ready prepared pastry and have saved enough beef casserole (recipe) you, too could make the pie. Simply drain off the sauce from the casserole and use it as gravy; roll out the pastry, insert the filling into it, and bake it in the oven for about half an hour on 200. The chef, when pressed for her timing, said: ‘Oh, I don’t know, I didn’t time it, I just stood and looked at it until it was the right brownness’. I don’t expect she did this for the whole time, but I think that gives you the idea.