I was excited to unearth this statue of Diana 6 months ago (see ‘Victorian Gothic in the Garden’). She looked magnificent lying in her leafy bed. But once Trevor had craned her to her feet to a new position under the Parrotia, her fate was sealed by the equivalent of a ‘Made in Taiwan’ sticker on her bottom and now I find her head too big for her body, her grip on the pheasant’s neck a little too macabre, so on the basis that I have new friends to bring once I finally sell the Winchester house, she is leaving us for a new home.
She joins a long line of ladies, gargoyles, frogs and flowerpots to leave site. I had asked the former owners to leave it all, but found the garden too cluttered. They are scattered around auction houses in the south of England, various general sales, some destined for garden sales and the wrought iron entrance gates, added in 1988 to create more of an entrance and originally from the Westbrook Estate on the Isle of Wight, even made it to the dizzy heights of Summers Place Auctions in Petworth. I am aiming for a more low key look, the gates as they used to be, but more of that in another blog, another time.
To counterbalance these vanishing ladies, Painted Ladies are here in abundance, together with many Commas, Red Admirals and the tiny and snappily named Common Blue Polyommatus Icarus in the meadow. The larger butterflies are gathering around a damaged oak tree in the garden. It’s a sad story, but this young oak was on the boundary between the Castle and Olivers sites and therefore, until 9 months ago, was subsumed in a mass of Leylandii, barbed wire and old fence posts. I was excited to liberate it, but then found its leaf canopy sparse and a paler green than it should be. The tree has barbed wire enmeshed in its trunk and there is nothing I can now do to help it. Sap oozes down the black discoloured streak the metal has left on the trunk and in this, half a dozen butterflies at a time gather, together with flies, bees and wasps. They have been impossible to photograph, sensing me draw near every time. So here are a few poor snaps, a joint effort between me, Jason and Steph. When this oak finally dies, it will leave quite a gap in the garden, but I think its sad decline will give us some pleasure on the way.