A Tale Of Two Trees

Regular readers will know how our Weeping Birch leaves were burnt by last summer’s heat, leaving us with concerns that they may not regenerate this year. It is still looking doubtful, so we asked Jo, the owner of Arbor Ventures, for her opinion. She agree with us that it may not survive, although she did say that sometimes they can. She will therefore quote for taking the tree down, leaving the trunk to about 7′ for a clematis to climb it, but not expect to carry out the work unless necessary.

This morning I gathered some of the views we have now, hoping I will be able to repeat the exercise with full foliage later in the year.

This afternoon I watched the Six Nations Rugby matches between Italy and Scotland and between England and Ireland.

Later, we all dined on Red Chilli’s excellent Indian Takeaway meals. My main meal was Naga Chilli Chicken with which I drank more of the malbec.

Clearing Up After Storm Gerrit

This morning I enjoyed another eminently endurable chiropractic session with Eloise.

Storm Henk was beginning to calm today. There was less rain and quieter gusts of wind as Martin was able to work throughout.

He sawed up the trunk of the overgrown pittosporum, lopped the branches which he carried to the Back Drive, cut them into pieces with which he filled more of the spent compost bags and carried all to the front end of the garden nearest our parked car, whence we will be able to transport them in several trips to the Efford Recycling Centre. A crushed chair which had borne potted plants joined other scrap metal – also destined for the dump – behind the shed.

We have kept a close eye on the Weeping Birch which remains standing – at least for the time being.

This evening we all dined on Ferndene Farm Shop’s succulent sausages; creamy mashed sweet and white potatoes; crunchy carrots; firm cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussel’s sprouts; and meaty gravy, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Valle Central Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 2022.

Sizzling Heat

Today I spent the morning and the postprandial period with my nose in “Culloden”, until venturing out into the

unaccustomed sizzling heat of the garden where the Weeping birch tree has not recovered from the June heatwave.

For photography I relied upon a certain amount of shade;

and both helpful shadows and glowing backlighting.

Afterwards I dripped indoors and buried my nose once more.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s well filled beef and mushroom pie; creamy mashed potato; tender cabbage and cauliflower leaves; crunchy carrots, firm cauliflower, and tasty gravy, with which she drank Grenache/Cinsault Pays d’Oc rosé. From Desperate Dan’s cow pie our discussion turned to the Dundee stable of comics including, Dandy, Beano, Beezer, and Topper, all of which we had delivered, but had to wait for Mum to read first.

Where’s Martin? (3)

Jackie and I spent most of the morning in Boots Opticians in New Milton where we bought new specs for her and I was advised that a cataract operation would be in order.

Martin, in the meantime, battled the gales to make far more progress on tidying the garden, and in particular

weeding the Gazebo Path.

Where’s Martin? (3).

Wind swept

the Cordyline Australis

and the Weeping Birch, stripping the latter of the last of its leaves.

In the afternoon the washing machine we bought last week was swiftly and efficiently fitted and the old one taken away.

Later Elizabeth and Jacqueline dropped in for a chat in which we sorted out international and national politics. They didn’t stay for dinner because they had enjoyed a substantial late lunch at Rosie Lea Tea Rooms.

Jackie and I dined on Chicken Kiev, chips, peas, and sweetcorn with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Bordeaux.

Nine Years On

Early this morning I watched a recording of the Women’s Rugby World Cup quarter final match between New Zealand and Wales.

After lunch I wandered around the garden on another balmy shirt-sleeves- afternoon, primarily to admire

Martin’s work on the Shady Path.

As can be seen, the weeds are gone, but beech leaves

and Mrs Popple blooms are beginning to weave a new carpet;

the Gazebo Path still sports weeds and more welcome encroaching plants;

the Heligan path, named because when we first arrived nine years ago we didn’t know it was there,

is becoming almost as overgrown as it was then;

the Brick Path,

the Phantom Path,

and the Kitchen Path are all flanked by still blooming beds.

This afternoon we took a short forest drive which I will feature tomorrow.

Tonight we dined on Jackie’s wholesome chicken stewp. She had drunk her Hoegaarden beforehand. I finished the Malbec.

A Brooding Sunset

This morning we were on Red Alert re storm Eunice. This means danger to life and likelihood of failing internet coverage. We therefore stayed indoors, although Jackie did venture onto the patio to rescue Jessie’s solar light gift. She could not even open the kitchen door and step the two metres to the hanging treasure until a brief lull in the gusts of 90+ m.p.h.

Thinking I may not be able to complete my daily diary I posted https://derrickjknight.com/2022/02/18/a-knights-tale-104-mordreds-development-and-various-publications/

Although the sun persevered for most of the day there was no rain, yet the gusts hit a new record of 122 m.p.h. through The Needles, about 5/6 miles as the crow flies to our garden.

Even taking a camera into the garden would have been dangerous, so I just took a few shots through the window panes.

The first is an image of a broken arch in the front garden, the clematis it was supporting hopefully lying intact on the ground; the second picture shows the swaying weeping birch for which we fear; and the next reveal fallen plant pots.

Soon after 4 p.m. a mahogany pall covered the firmament and sleet bounced off the fences I could see from my window.

Within half an hour the sun was back, the precipitation disappeared, and

three quarters of an hour later we were treated to a brooding sunset. I opened a bedroom casement window just enough to be able to poke my lens through it.

This evening we dined on Chicken breasts cooked in Nando’s piquant lemon sauce accompanied by Jackie’s tasty savoury rice with which she drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Côtes-du-Rhône.

Equine Families

A loosely latched utility room window constantly thudded throughout last night against the whistling rhythm of thunderous gales sweeping through the Isle of Wight at speeds of up to 100 m.p.h.

The Weeping Birch bent its back and tossed it tresses.

As I write we do not expect a cessation until 9 p. m.

A pony couple contributing equine child labour introduced a very young colt to the family business of maintaining the clipping of the verges at the Brockenhurst end of Rhinefield Road. While Dad kept a discreet distance the infant was more interested in clinging close to his unresponsive mother in the hope of latching on for food.

I wandered into the woodland alongside, picking out a split, yet still flourishing tree; watching jackdaws, tidier than Tootlepedal‘s, foraging in the grass; and, when noticing birches swaying scarily with the wind – perhaps to join others littering the forest floor –

returning to the relative safety of the road where I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with a friendly couple, also fascinated with the foal and his mother who sought relief from an itch through the medium of a conveniently angled tree trunk.

Jackie had photographed me on my way in. How long will that torn limb take to fall from the foreground tree, I wonder?

Along an open stretch of Rhinefield Road I was surprised to find the wind so fierce that I struggled to stand still to photograph another equine family blending with the gorse. I decided it would have been unsafe to attempt to cross a ditch to reach them. Turning to include Dad was quite out of the question.

We briefly stopped at Puttles Bridge where I photographed rippling water, reflections, tree roots, and some of the fresh green leaves ripped from the trees everywhere this morning.

As we were leaving, a small herd of cattle were arriving.

This evening we dined on spicy pepperoni pizza; fried halloumi; and plentiful fresh salad, followed by apple and blackcurrant pie with rhubarb and ginger ice cream. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2019.

Weeding Continues

Today’s air was cool, dry, and largely dull.

Much of the time was spent weeding.

Jackie’s distaste for our invasive alliums is patent as she drops one into her bucket. The red railing behind her has been removed from the edge of the Pond Bed in the foreground in order to gain greater access.

My progression along the Oval Path was delayed by the number of these invaders congregating around the entrance to the Rose Garden. By lunchtime I had not achieved my target of reaching the bend at the far end.

I was, however, able to enjoy the bluebells beside me; the triumphant mating cries of wood pigeons, one of which, preening in the weeping birch, may have shed the feather photographed yesterday; the gentle trilling of the songbirds pierced by the repetitive irritating greenfinch; and the buzzing of the occasional bee.

This afternoon I dragged myself out to complete my task.

I was rewarded by the grating of my final rake attracting a visit from two robins who, nevertheless, kept their distance.

Later, I scanned six more of Charles Keeping’s illustrations to ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’ by Charles Dickens.

The tail of the horse stretching past the text in ‘Jonas fought and contended with the horses like a man possessed’ does appear in the book, but is too wide for me to scan it.

‘Mr Pecksniff interposed himself between them’ is another set of accurate portraits.

‘The good man patted Mrs Lupin’s hand between his own’. We know who he is by now.

‘Jonas set upon him like a savage’ has a great sense of movement.

‘The body of a murdered man’

This evening we dined on pork chops baked with English mustard and garnished with almonds; piquant cauliflower cheese; creamy mashed potato; crunchy carrots; and moist fried leeks, with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank Collin-Bourisset Fleurie 2019.

Two Dawns

In the early morning chill I girded my loins with a thick cotton dressing gown and stepped into the garden to photograph the pink-streaked dawn.

Keen arboriculturists may be interested in the sylvan skeletons of copper beech, larch, weeping birch, and lopped bay tree.

Our great-niece, Ella, was two years old in January. She and her parents have been unable to visit since before Christmas. We haven’t heard her form clear sentences. Danni texted me this morning to say that her daughter has been shouting out of the window: “Where has Uncle Derrick gone?”

My late son, Michael, was not much older when I had to try to answer his question: “Why did my Mummy die?”. So my feelings prompted by the very welcome text were somewhat ambivalent. It was very pleasing to know that Ella, who will be able to visit at the end of the month, could remember and missed us, yet that memory of Michael, who would never see Vivien again, has always been most poignant.

For much of the day Jackie occupied herself trimming dead material from plants with which she filled a succession of trugs. I operated a relay service transporting the contents to the compost bins and returning the containers to the Head Gardener for refills.

Of course I did not undertake my Under Gardener duties without carrying my camera. Featured here are euphorbia, mahonia, leucojum Spring Snowflakes, primulas, pulmonaria, tulips, daffodils, camellias, hellebores, hyacinths, cyclamen, and viburnum bodnantensis Dawn. The first camellia shrub shows blooms browned by an earlier frost.

I was calm and contented when I produced the Dawn skies gallery. That was before WordPress had chosen to apply another simplifying process to operate from the sidebar. Until I got my head around this system to construct the plants gallery culminating in another Dawn, it was only reasonable to inform Jackie that it wasn’t her I was shouting at.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s flavoursome savoury rice served with plentiful green salad and three prawn preparations, namely tempura, hot and spicy, and salt and pepper. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while I drank Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020.

Inspiration From Durer

My post “Undine” (Illustrated by Arthur Rackham) contains the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on the author Friedrich de La Motte Fouqué, whose

I finished reading last night. The author’s name appears on the spine, as does similar decoration, but as quite often in this golden age of book illustration the artist is given pride of place on this front board, still glowing after the 112 years since the publication of 1908.

The Durer engraving on the frontispiece is the work which inspired the author’s tale from the days of knightly gestes.

This somewhat Gothic romance can be read at the level of an adventure story of a young Knight’s search for himself or of the conflict between saintly Christianity and pagan passion personified by Sintram’s parted parents. The author’s descriptive poetic prose ensures an easy read. A. C. Farquharson’s fluid translation must have contributed to this. As usual I will not give details of the story.

Wikipedia describes “Edmund Joseph Sullivan (1869–1933), usually known as E. J. Sullivan, [w]as a British book illustrator who worked in a style which merged the British tradition of illustration from the 1860s with aspects of Art Nouveau.”

Here are scans of his exquisite traditional drawings for this book.

Nick Hayter, who is to start decorating for us next week, visited to check over details. This was necessary because he was due to begin in March before Covid-19 lockdown forced him to stop working for some time.

This afternoon, enticed by the clear blue light, Jackie photographed

the Weeping Birch;

and another cobaea scandens.

This evening Elizabeth joined us for dinner which consisted of Jackie’s perfect pork paprika; creamy potato and swede mash; roasted sweet potatoes; and crunchy carrots, followed by aromatic apple pie and cream. The Culinary Queen drank Hoegaarden while Elizabeth and I finished the Malbec.