The Golden Touch

PlantersMole trailOn the way through the garden this morning, to continue working on the back drive, I paused to admire Jackie’s two new planters, originally candle-holders from Redcliffe Nursery. They display her usual flair. Turning into the drive, I encountered the trail made by a mole. As this stopped at the site of the bonfire, perhaps last night’s embers were still warm enough to deter it from popping its head out.Pruned conifers

Jackie soon joined me and she made good progress pruning the conifers along the side of the fence between us and 5 Downton Lane.Wire netting 1Wire netting 2 Hampered by wire netting through which grew thick brambles and a number of trees, I, however, taking the whole morning, covered about two yards. Three hours and a couple of feet separate these two photographs. After that we stopped for lunch.Fuchsia

Fuchsia and blackberriesA little further down, some fine hardy fuchsias form a splendid hedge. They blend well with the blackberries, which we are picking as we go along. Butterflies are enjoying our long summer. Red Admiral and blackberriesComma butterflySpeckled Wood butterflyA Red Admiral seemed particularly partial to the blackberries, while the broad shiny leaves of trees we cannot identify bore a Comma and a Speckled Wood.Jelly babies wrapperIMG_0306LichenCricket on dandelion

For variety, I took the longer Downton Lane/coast road route to the shingle beneath Hordle cliff, and returned via Shorefield. A jelly babies wrapper, linaria vulgaris, lichen, and dandelions, one of which attracted a small cricket, lent golden touches to the hedgerows. Rust stains on beach hutSpaniels being photographedVariations on this hue were provided by rust stains running down from the iron hinge of a beach hut, and by the tennis ball being held up by a gentleman encouraging four spaniels to pose for their photograph. Women and spanielIt was a day for spaniels, one of whom frolicked with a group of four young women.

This evening we dined at Daniel’s in Highcliffe. We each enjoyed haddock and chips, mushy peas, and onion rings. I drank tea, and Jackie drank coffee.

Problems With Networks

This morning we took a trip by car to the municipal dump which is a short distance away, between home and Lymington. Carpet and toilet seats for dumpFollowing our tidy up of the skip pile we took down the back seats of the Modus and loaded it with the dog-sodden carpet (one of the items the previous owners had left for us thinking they might be useful); the rancid toilet seats; a few stale paint pots; bits of lino and other carpet; and a some other small objects, and joyfully tossed them into the various bays in the waste disposal and recycling centre. True to family tradition, we did not go away empty-handed, because Jackie bought four plastic window boxes from the Sales Area.

Flushed with the success of recovering the garden’s irrigation system, Jackie applied herself to the apparent ornament in the form of a sunburst which she thought must be a sprinkler. SprinklerShe rigged it up, attached a hose, turned on the tap, and the sun spiralled spinning arcs of water around an area large enough to keep us leaping for dry land. There must have been a rainbow somewhere, but I couldn’t see one.

Clematis montanaClematis montana pushing fence overYesterday afternoon I had begun tackling a tangled mass of ancient clematis Montana and brambles, each with stems as thick as small trees, which were pushing the kitchen garden fence onto the lshrubs next door. It wasn’t long before I realised that our neighbours were suffering an invasion such as the lonicera one that beset us on the other side of our property. I needed to discuss with Bev what I planned to do. She was out. I left her a message. She responded a little later than I would have wished to start, so we agreed to meet this morning. Our very friendly neighbour was happy for me to deal with our side and said she would take care of theirs. A young horse chestnut that had no business being there was providing boughs to add to the jumble. That would have to go as well.

On our return from the dump, I got stuck in to the task. And the brambles got stuck into me. Unbelievably, three very old members of the most prolific of clematis specimens had been trained against the fence and never pruned.

During our lunchtime break our phone emitted a squeak and we lost our telephone and broadband connection. We waited a while for it to right itself. It didn’t, so I girded my loins and made the call. On my mobile, of course. BT, like all conglomerates that have outgrown their user friendliness provides a machine to respond to customers. I am sure my readers are all familiar with the rigmarole that I was presented with, so I won’t go into great detail in a rant. I will say, however, that it is no help whatsoever to be given choices of reporting either a problem with the phone or with the broadband when you have problems with both. Eventually I conveyed to the robot’s voice that we had a fault. I was put on hold whilst this was checked. Whilst on hold I was told, repeatedly, that I could go on line and use the self-help facility. The chance would have been a fine thing.

Eventually I received confirmation that we had a fault and an engineer would be arranged. Should the fault lie with our own equipment this would cost £130. If the fault was their fault I presume it would then be repaired free of charge. The problem would be resolved by the end of the day on 7th of this month.

I raged back into the garden to take out my frustration on the clematises. Whilst I was doing this Jackie came out to tell me we were back on line. The BT machine had taken my mobile phone number and promised to keep me updated by text. Or I could follow progress on the website. I wasn’t told how I could do that. I received one text confirming this. No more. Had Jackie not periodically checked, we would have been none the wiser. At no time was I ever given the option to talk to an adviser, which is what they usually call a real person.

Fence partially clearedNet supporting clematisI managed to clear two of the clematises, and to remove the offending conker tree. Whoever had trained the plants, had fixed a thick wire network reaching a foot above the six foot fence. When I came to the third tree that should have been a shrub, I found that the weight of the tangled mass had brought the top section of the network forward, so I had that vying with the brambles to take my eye out.

PoppiesAlready ragged from the BT experience, and letting forth a somewhat less than mild imprecation, I determined to tackle that one tomorrow; admired the new poppies, and lit a bonfire.

Chicken jalfrezi & rice and peasHaving burned some more of the cuttings pile I joined Jackie for a delicious meal of her juicy chicken jalfrezi (recipe) which was just the job. Ice cream was to follow. I drank Las Primas Gran Familia tempranillo 2013.

The Bay Tree

On my way to continue attacking the lonicera and its companions, I made a pleasant discovery. Red rosebudI mentioned yesterday that the clearing of the area around the collapsed arch had revealed a red rose. This is because a pointed red bud provides a finial for the new gothic version. White roseWhat I noticed today is a tiny white rose bloom with quite a number of buds. We have two roses on the arch.

Four hours later I had almost cleared the lonicera from our side of the now virtually non-existent boundary. I followed the familiar process of lopping, uprooting, and tossing into the jungle anything that emanated from the other side. I thinned out our shrubs and tied up a rambling rose. The myrtle required special treatment. The leaves are meant to be variegated but sports have taken over. Taking them all out hasn’t left much vegetation, but the ochre coloured bark is very attractive. A sport is an abnormal result of spontaneous mutation. In this case the leaves were no longer two-toned. Netting fenceAfter lunch I dealt what I hope is the killer blow to the lonicera. It has, of course, rooted all over the place, but I think I found the original thick bunch of stems, sawed through them and smashed out what I could without going to the trouble of digging out the tangled clump. We now have a clearance all the way from the new arch to the patio, so I will wander along every now and again and see off any invaders before they become colonists. We also have a fence of sorts, constructed of various sections of wire netting found around the garden, that I attached to iron posts that once probably held a proper boundary. For artistic merit my handiwork would doubtless score a perfect 0, but it forms a marker for any stray vegetation wandering through.

I made the mistake of asking Jackie to bring me some of the netting. This led her to divert from her own allotted task. Most of the netting came from a tangled heap behind a makeshift wooden screen near the side entrance to the house. She thought she would rather like to clear that space and make herself a den. This gave me the job of heavily pruning a holly and a bay tree that had got rather out of hand.. As I did this and smelt the wonderful scent of that culinary aromatic, I though of other bay trees I have known. The garden of the Phyllis Holman Richards Adoption Society in West Hill, Putney, possessed a beautiful bay tree, the elegance of which I always admired. In Newark, we had an enormous such tree, as high as the house and surrounded by pretty mature suckers, giving it the appearance of a very large bush. One day in the early 1990s I told Sylvia, the agency’s administrator, about this and asked why theirs was different. She explained that they had cut out all the surrounding growth to give it shape. I went home and did the same.

Jackie got her space, cleared it, and furnished it with further items from the skip pile. Jackie's denDiamond set in pathCentral pathThe shelves had once been in the garage, but I didn’t think they were quite up to scratch for the library. The rubbish heap has once more been somewhat depleted.

My lady’s main task today was to continue the renovation of the main central path through the garden. She did a good job on this, and added a tile with a concrete base she had found behind the screen to a path I had cleared some days ago.

For dinner we enjoyed chicken jalfrezi (recipe) and mushroom rice. Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I had some more of the Languedoc.

Over The Fence

Virginia creeper cornerKnackered at the end of the day yesterday, I chose to ignore one encroachment of foliage onto the path. This hinged upon a Virginia creeper no longer adequately supported by a partially collapsed wooden arch. It was beset by one of our own expansive trees and rambling bramble. I knew, however, if I ventured into the undergrowth, I would find that what was pushing everything forward would be the invasive jungle from next door. I wasn’t up for that. Until I got up this morning.

First of all I had a wander round the garden trying to put off the beckoning task..PhiladelphusThalictrum aquilegifolieumPampas grass The philadelphus is doing well, and a thalictrum aquilegifoleum now blooms alongside a pampas grass that echoes the unidentified evergreen I photographed yesterday.

Until they are given a permanent location, the plants recovered from Shelly and Ron’s are deposited in various spots in the garden. Diasca and gernaniumsThese geraniums and diasca flank the bench:

That’s enough prevarication.

Holly, brambles, ivy and Lonicera were all seeking new accommodation on the other side of their ramshackle fence. One ivy entwined around our unidentified tree had a stem a good inch and more in diameter. Everything in our shrubbery fled in the path of the invading army.

I set to with the loppers, and when I eventually reached what was left of the fence and trimmed enough to look over it, this is what confronted me:Garden next door

I had no choice but to pursue the lonicera along the boundary until I met the rest of it by the reclaimed patio shrubbery. No doubt had I continued in the other direction there would have been more.

All this makes me rather relieved that the garden on the other side is all laid to gravel.

This afternoon Helen came for a visit. This meant I had the perfect excuse to come inside and chat, and to leave the task unfinished. Wire netting pushed inwardsBefore that,Shrubbery clearance I had reached a section of wire netting that our home’s previous owner had attached to the iron posts that seemingly were once supporting a fence. This had been shoved forward by the neighbour’s lonicera. I have begun to fix it back, although must remove more of the invader before I can make it taut. The cleared space shown is part of what I have hacked out.

Jackie produced a chicken jalfrezi (recipe) as marvellous as ever for our dinner this evening. We enjoyed it with boiled rice, vegetable samosas, and Cobra beer.