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.

 

Venison For Christmas

The weather picture this morning was of strong winds propelling variable clouds, some unloading precipitation of heavy rain and piercing hale, and bright sunshine, all vying for the available time.

Thus, our naked trees enjoyed ever-changing backdrops,

while the house was often brightly lit.

Among other tasks, Aaron planted beside the cypress trunk two heavily scented pink climbing flora –

clematis Montana Mayleen and

rose The Generous Gardener. There will be later additions.

Meanwhile the first of our camellia buds burgeons.

This afternoon Jackie drove us to Helen and Bill’s home in Fordingbridge where, with Shelly and Ron we all enjoyed

Helen’s delicious dinner of succulent roast venison topped with bacon; crisp roast potatoes, including the sweet variety and onions; three colours of carrots; firm Brussel’s sprouts and cauliflower with which red and white wines were imbibed. We had begun with canapés and mulled wine. The meal was completed by a moist chocolate log topped with sliced strawberries.

This feast was followed by an impossible Christmas quiz in which Shelly won with a creditable 12/25, Jackie came second with 9, Ron managed 8 and I came last with 6. Helen and Bill were let off because they had done it before. Afterwards we enjoyed anecdotal reminiscences, in particular horse drawn deliveries of groceries and milk; rag and bone men; fish and chips and other meals; house prices and educational practices. We tried to stick to an embargo on the recent election.

I am definitely converted to venison for Christmas.

 

 

Lathyrus Latifolius Jewels

Such minimal bright light as we enjoyed today graced us early this morning. Thereafter our vision became more and more dingy.

In order to provide me with as clear a view of the bird feeders as possible our friend from AP Maintenance cleaned our sand blasted windows. This is not the usual use of the phrase sand blasted. It is what happens when the gravel pit vehicles make their daily trips past the front of our house.

 

I did manage shots of a great tit partaking of peanuts

and suet balls a little earlier. Such is their timidity that these birds swivel around clinging to their perch after each peck in order to ensure their security.

Before the heavier rain descended Jackie alerted me to the bejewelled nature of our garden plants, such as

the outstretched Japanese maple

and drooping Weeping Birch branches;

the fuchsias like Delta’s Sarah;

the spiky New Zealand phormium;

rose bush petals;

fallen leaves;

and the calligraphic curlicues of the lathyrus latifolius (everlasting sweet pea).

When not eyeing his own robin feeder, Nugget, “Where’s Nugget?” (48),

foraged on a bed of crocosmia stubble cleared earlier by Aaron.

For this evening’s dinner, which I relished, Jackie produced succulent roast pork; crisp Yorkshire pudding; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and tender cabbage, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Mendoza Parra Alta Malbec 2017.

 

Where’s It All Gone?

Apart from a brief spell of red-gold sunshine enlivening the last of the Weeping Birch leaves we worked in drizzling rain on the final heavy pruning in the Rose Garden. It is very sad to cut off healthy buds in an effort to ensure the plants’ winter security.

This does, however, bring the bonus of cut flowers such as

Absolutely Fabulous rose of a couple of days ago

and today’s For Your Eyes Only roses and Mrs Popple fuchsia . Otherwise Jackie doesn’t pick her own flowers.

Despite the fact that I filled the bird feeders, Nugget, paying us a visit demonstrated his preference for live worms. Watching the rapid disappearance of this one I wondered “Where’s it all gone?”.

Now, “Where’s Nugget?” (43).

Flitting from larch

to hawthorn, Muggle kept to his own quarters.

It’s An Ill Wind……..

We are in direct line from The Needles off the Isle of Wight. The heaviest gust of wind overnight sweeping through these iconic rocks was recorded at 109 miles per hour. Even this morning rains continued and the wind speeds were in excess of 70 m.p.h.

This was definitely a day for staying indoors and watching the Rugby World Cup final between England and South Africa.

Jackie braved the elements with her camera while I sat tensely on the TV sofa. After the match I made my contribution to the damp photography.

The weeping birch whipped across the sky in the direction of the crouching Cryptomeria.

The kitchen window wept.

Numerous flower pots had been thrown aside.

We had lain down all the patio furniture as a precaution. The white metal table, having been placed face to the ground had been picked up and tossed across the space.

In the Rose Garden the firmly fixed corner arch had toppled over.

Both Crown Princess Margareta

and Zefirini Drouhin still cling to their support, which we think in will be possible to right.

Even the compost bins have been wrecked.

Today it was an ill wind…… except for South Africa.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s spicy lamb jalfrezi and pilau rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Patrick Chodot Fleurie 2018.

A Variation On “Where’s Nugget?”

While I was drafting yesterday’s post Jackie nipped into the garden for a matter of minutes to take photographic advantage of

the last rays of the setting sun. From this end of the Back Drive (take note of the larch beyond the compost bins on the right) she focussed on

the Virginia creeper and accompanying Japanese anemones.

She also caught a pink rose with which I hadn’t been successful earlier on.

 

The golden light in the background picked up the the tips of the cypress tree;

the weeping birch,

Japanese maples,

and more.

Today, while the Head Gardener continued with her bed clearance, taking occasional trips to make sure she was safe, Nugget kept the enemy from the gate.

He perched on a tree midway,

puffed himself up,

had a good shake,

and a preen;

until he decided he looked hard enough to take on

his rival who was switching between the hawthorn and the larch on the Back Drive.

So, for a little variety “Where’s Nugget’s Rival?”

This evening we dined on Jackie’s nicely matured liver and bacon casserole; crisp Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, parsnips, mushrooms, and butternut squash; crunchy carrots; firm Brussels sprouts and green beans, with which the Culinary Queen drank Blue Moon and I drank more of the Saint-Chinian.

 

Cervine Elegance

Occasional sunny spells on a clouded morning developed into bright sunshine by the time we drove into the forest this afternoon.

Jackie spent some time collecting cuttings with which to populate the

greenhouse pots.

The orange poppies that last just a day don’t normally emerge from the soil until spring. We have several clumps now. These, incongruously beside more seasonal asters, are in the Cryptomeria Bed

which also houses hot lips

still attracting bees.

The cryptomeria itself can be seen beyond the cordeline Australis lending its name to the Palm Bed;

it stands beside the laurel on the far right of the Phantom Path.

The deep red climbing rose soaring over its arch spanning the Shady Path also doesn’t know it is autumn,

although the Weeping Birch clearly has an inkling.

Elizabeth’s Bed

and the patio planting continue to flourish.

Pelargoniums still hang in baskets.

Nugget, this morning patrolled his fences. This fellow, I think, is a rival displaying discretion. I did see our own robin dive-bomb another which immediately scarpered, but he was too quick for me.

These autumn colours brighten Sway Road;

others burnished the landscape beside the A35,

and glowed beneath

an unnamed lane off Cadnam Lane,

along which clusters of mushrooms burst from the moss coating of a fallen log,

and bracket fungus clutched a living tree.

Pheasants, both cocks and hens, dared anyone actually to drive at the 40 m.p.h. limit.

On one side of Tiptoe Road a pair of ponies cropped the verge outside The Old Bakery;

several more slaked their thirst on a winterbourne pool on the opposite side.

A mare led her foal along the road

to add to the chaos caused by a broken down car.

Returning home along Roger Penny Way we were treated to a display of cervine elegance as a young stag stepped on pointe across the road in front of us.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s tasty and wholesome liver and bacon casserole (for recipe see Jackie’s comment below); roast potatoes and butternut squash; crunchy orange carrots, and bright green firm Brussels sprouts, with she drank Hoegaarden and I drank Saint-Chinian 2017.