Thursday, November 29, 2012
Above: The Legendary Bloomsbury Group at a Country House Party
This weekend we are having some house guests, who are tres au fait with how to be civilised, and it is our pleasure to return their most generous hospitality. But it did put me in mind of an article I read recently in a book I was given - Debrett's Guide for the Modern Gentleman. It was about some of the grave solecisms that urban guests could commit on their going down to the country for the weekend...
As Reggie Darling reminds us, guests have a certain obligation to sing for their supper too. And a bad house guest who puts a damper on the weekend's party is most unlikely to invited back. Here are some crimes to commit should you wish never to be allowed under your host's roof again...
It does seem a shame that many people lack a rudimentary grasp of social etiquette, grace, politeness and, well, just generally being 'a sound chap'. One must remember that One's manners should not be dictated by One's mood. "Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage" - Theodore Roosevelt.
Above 3 images from Debrett's Guide for the Modern Gentleman
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
No, not another animal for the farm! We recently bought a pack-horse of sorts for Willowbrook - a Kawasaki Mule.
It has a 950cc engine, is 4x4 drive, with roll cage and 4 foot x 4 foot tip tray. It's just perfect for putting the pig food and hay bales on for the stock.
With a top speed of 40 kph it is quite a zippy little thing. Even Peter's mother enjoys driving it...
Monday, November 19, 2012
So there I was, inspecting the newly filled lake at the site of the future outflow (to be landscaped as a cascade down into the brook, passing under a drystone wall bridge before flowing off to the farm), when I was startled by a brightly coloured green and gold frog which jumped out of the long grass, and with a splash dived into the lake.
It was a Green and Golden Bell Frog - Litoria aurea. L. aurea is a species which is fairly common in the north island of New Zealand, but which is a protected species in its native Australia. Unlike many frogs they are active during the day and night, hunting for anything from insects to small mice! They also love to sun themselves.
I can remember finding these frogs and tadpoles as a child in the drains and ponds around the various farms I grew up on. We would catch the tadpoles and watch them grow in one of mother's large preserving jars with some oxygen weed. Hours of fun.
So I was pleased to find that a family of them have made a home at Willowbrook. I only hope that this year the lilies establish themselves and they have some lilly pads to sit on! I guess it also means that the water quality in the lake must be acceptable. Hopefully we will now be able to form a microcosm of aquatic life there (if the family of protected Herons don't fish too many of the tadpoles et al out again).
Here are a few pictures looking over the lake at sunset, taken in between sun showers...
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I was going through some photos We took at Kew last year, getting inspiration for the park, and came across some we took of their tree-top walk called 'The Rhizotron/Xstrata Walk'.
It is a 200m long walkway, designed by Marks Barfield, which takes you 60 feet up in the air to walk amongst the tree tops.
The view from the top is very different from the view at the bottom...
Saturday, November 10, 2012
As promised, here are a few pictures of some of the roses and fountains at Willowbrook. The roses are fairly early in the season, so not all are in bloom...
Above and Below: The Lion and Griffin fountain in the yellow rose border of the potager. Behind this hedge is the vineyard.
Below: The orange rose Wildfire
Then there is the stunning climber, Zephirine Drouhin, in the pink border, which is trailing up the archway between the potager and the orchard...
The beautiful deep pink Chartreuse de Parma Rose...
Below: All the prunings we planted 18 months ago which have taken root...
Above: Gertude Jekyll
Below: Loving Memory
Below: The oversized bloom of Marie Dot
Below: The Dolphin Tap Fountain in the central Avenue of the Vineyard It has just been placed there, hence it looking a little plonked, but as the grass establishes itself it should look great. It will be the focal point down a grassed aisle flanked on either side by rows of Pale dusty pink Bering Roses between the table grape and the wine making halves of the vineyard.
Thank you to all those new followers who have posted comments or emailed me, and to my old friends, I hope to get back to commenting on your wonderful blogs very soon. D.
Saturday, November 3, 2012
It has been a mixed fortnight at Willowbrook. We have been busy preparing the park for our first wedding, which was to be today, but was rained off.
The dramas all started a few weeks back when we noticed that the liner of the lake had started to emerge from the water. Closer investigation revealed that it had sprung a leak, and within a week the 1,200000 litres of water which was supposed to be on top of the liner was under it! So, we had to get a pump and pump the water across the park to a far away drain and empty the lake out. Then, after we had got a man to fix it, we pumped 1,200000 litres of clean bore water back on top!
The whole undertaking was just finished in time for the planned wedding. We had had nothing but fine weather for the last 2 weeks (the vineyard needing daily watering since planting). Then this morning the flood gates opened again, and any hopes of a lakeside wedding were completely dashed.
Above: The Ruuner Ducks wandering their new paddock
The water lilies, which the runner ducks had eaten down to their rhizomes (rendering them beyond resurrection), had all been replaced (thanks to the ever helpful and pleasant Sam at Waihi Waterlily Gardens). The disgraced ducks banished to the pond down on the farm by the pig paddock (the future site of the Pheasantry). The Indian Runners are not the only ducks to have made the lake their home. We have several Mallards nesting along the brook and swimming in the lake...
Below: A Mallard Duckling that I caught in the brook (and released again)
... and the roses are starting to bloom in the potager garden. I hope to be able to share some photos of them in a couple of days, once the rain has passed.
Posted by Lord Cowell at 3:00 PM