The Squire and his good lady wife came along too, and what a good catch up we had. Lord and Lady Raglan have made extensive additions to their home and we were suitably impressed by the new luxurious accommodation. Lord Raglan tried to impress us all with a tiny patch of grass he had sewn in his back garden and enclosed with string to prevent damage - but look at the daisies in the lawn, what a luxuriant crop! For some reason Lord Raglan will not allow any mowing of the grass, he seems to feel it will damage the spring growth.
And as for the oxalis, I think his collection would even rival mine.
The pohutukawa trees were already in early flower and alive with tuis feasting on the nectar, but the tuis were too cunning to be snapped by my camera.
First pohutukawa blossoms of the year
The monarch butterflies were basking in the warm spring sunshine.
Lord and Lady Raglan have a little dog named Max. He used to be my enemy and I spent many years mocking him – mainly because he tortured my lovely Airedale terrier, Bramble, by constantly leaping up and hanging off his beard. Max is an ex pound dog and knows every trick in the book to gain sympathy from new acquaintances. He has a clever way of limping along on alternate legs and also trembles and shivers, which has sympathetic strangers leaping to the conclusion that he has been hit by a car or experienced some other form of trauma, and they usually dote on him and offer him all kinds of treats when in fact there is nothing wrong with him. Max is very old now, going blind and deaf and he and I have a much more friendly relationship than in the past.
Max tries to look noble, but we know better
He still has lots of tricks up his canine sleeves though, including making his way to the butcher shop and begging for bones. Sadly he sometimes forgets his way and has even ended up being locked in the back of the library, but always (so far) finds his way home. Actually he is rather free with his affections and has been known to run away with strangers for several days at a time if tempted by good food. Here he is in the arms of the adoring Mrs Squires, who has a softer and more forgiving heart than I!
We did get in some time at Shoestring before heading off to Raglan. We could not resist calling in at the local volunteer fire brigade's garage sale and found this spinning wheel, which cost $5.
The interesting marbled fabric in this silk blouse will be cut up to go into the rainbow crazy quilt and after I saw how much the price of silk fabric has skyrocketed lately it was a snip at $2.
I try to befriend the wild cat who inhabits our garden - not with very much success so far, but I flatter myself that I am making progress.
The garden looked quite dry and I don’t think there had been any rain at Shoestring in the past week. Some of the roses which were overgrown last year and struggling to survive have done well with more light and less competition and though I cannot identify any of them exactly they are looking very pretty and much happier.
Lots of self sown aquilegias of different colours are blooming and with any luck they will all cross together to give me some interesting new shades next year.
On the front porch is a potted jasmine which was taken from the rampaging specimen I had to remove from the side of the house. Though it is pronounced to be a noxious weed now it surely cannot do too much harm enclosed in a pot?
It will be a year this month since we bought Shoestring and having lived with the garden for a year I have some idea of what I want to achieve there. Having such a tiny garden is going to be a boon in many ways, since there are usually only weekends to spend there. At the back of the cottage the garden is enclosed and private, with very high walls on two sides, and the plan is to put in lots of scented and white flowering plants so as to make it a fragrant place for sitting in the evenings and for meals. The white flowers will hopefully gleam in the gathering dusk and at night time and some which will need planting soon are:
Stephanotis (not for outdoors, only for the front porch), philadelphus, port wine magnolia, queen of the night, and lilac (though it may not be cold enough to get a good crop of flowers). White lilies are going to feature largely too, but not until next season as it is too late to plant them now. Scented annuals such as stock and alyssum should all be useful in filling in gaps until the larger plants are established. Sometimes the planning is just as much fun as the actual execution!