Azalea Armageddon

Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy.  He has attached a bird box to his shed and is very happy to see that it is getting used by blue tits.

sandy's blue tit

The day started with a WhatsApp conversation with Annie and Joe and our granddaughter Evie.  Evie is ten months old now and very grown up.

We had another chilly morning here but it was sunny again and when I went out into the garden, I was happy to see a hoverfly visiting and allium.

hoverfly on allium

All seemed reasonably well with the world until I went across to look at the azaleas with the intention of getting some colourful shots.

Alas, it had been just too cold in the night and the azaleas (and rhododendrons) were ex azaleas (and rhododendrons) now.  Pretty well everyone of them was  damaged beyond repair.  We were told that it had been -3C overnight and that had been enough to finish them off.

six dead azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal was very sad, to say the least.  Her garden comes on in a succession of spring waves; the snowdrops, the daffodils, the tulips and then the crowning glory, the azaleas.

Not this year.

Annoyingly, some of the tulips, which are at the very end of their useful gardening life, survived the frost.

last of the tulips

I didn’t really have the heart to look round for other flowers but the sight of iris buds was at least a promise of something to come…

iris bud

…and the magnificent poppy on the back wall of the house laughed at frost.

oriental poppy out

Instead of having a cup of coffee with the regular street gang, I took some Garibaldi biscuits up to Sandy and got some of his flapjack in return.  His foot is very slowly on the mend after his operation, but it is a slow business and he has been cooped up in his house for far longer than the rest of us.  Under the circumstances, he is still remarkably cheerful.

I met a butterfly on my way.

white butterfly

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was increasing the wideness of her wider view and more box bushes had bitten the dust.

cut box

I gave a hand with some of the tugging and pulling needed to uproot the toughest of the bushes and had a look round while I did so.

A sparrow was on the look out for tasty vegetable shoots to plunder.

sparrow on fence

I tested out the new bench and found some lily of the valley nestling beside it.

lily of the valley

The morning slipped away and I went in to make lunch and watch the birds.

I saw a siskin socially distancing itself from a sparrow.

socially distanced siskin

After lunch, we had a video conversation with Clare, Alistair and our other granddaughter, Matilda and then we downloaded a clever app that let us play games with Matilda in real time.   It was nowhere near as good as seeing Matilda and her parents in person, but it was a lot better than not seeing them at all.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal went off in search of some more horse manure, and I went  for another very slow cycle ride round my Canonbie circuit.

For some reason, my breathing is not good at the moment, possibly the combination of pollen and dust after all our dry weather, and I didn’t have much get up and go at all so I was quite pleased to have managed to get out for a ride  however slow and I quite enjoyed it

I stopped to see a new addition to a local Belted Galloway herd…

belted galloway calf

…and when I looked up, I was rather alarmed to see a hole in the sky.

hole in te sky

However, nothing fell through it and I pedalled on unscathed.

I passed a field full of cows who were feeling much like I was from the look of them.

lazy cattle

I don’t think that I have ever seen so many collapsed cattle before.

As I got near to the Canonbie by-pass, I cycled by some fields that had been mown for silage.  I can’t feel that there has been much growth in the grass but maybe the farmer felt that it needed to be mown before it dried out completely.

mown field with crows

As I got near Canonbie itself, I noticed the first hawthorn blossom of the year in a hedge.

first hawthorn

I liked this copper beech among all the greenery as I got nearer home….

copper beech

…and there were wild flowers in the verges a little further on…

gernaium and red campion

…and fine new cones on a larch tree by the river on the bike path.

larch cones

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy taking out more box bushes and shaping some of the ones that are left.  She should finish the task tomorrow.

Near what is left of the hedge, a cheery potentilla has started flowering.


I said good afternoon to a blackbird making use of what is left of the hedge…

blackbird on hedge

…and went in for a Garibaldi biscuit and a cup of tea.

After my regular sibling Zoom conference, I made cauliflower cheese for tea and then finished a day of video conversations by calling our recorder playing friend Sue.  Living in England, she is now able to go and visit her daughter who lives not far away, and this has cheered her up immensely.

That sharp frost and the death of the azaleas has really cast a long shadow over the day, especially as the azaleas were looking in good shape after a poor season last year.  Ah well, gardening is a vale of tears.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfi nch

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Azalea Armageddon

  1. That’s too bad about the azaleas and rhododendrons. Maybe a few unopened buds made it through. The same has happened here in the past and it’s a hard pill to swallow.
    That’s a great shot of the lily of the valley, which I always find a hard plant to get a good shot of.
    When cows act like that on this side of the Atlantic it is said to mean rain is coming.
    Glad to hear that Sandy is on the mend.

    1. We used to have that saying about cows lying down when we were young but experience leads me to believe that cows lie down when they want and the weather has nothing to do with it.
      There may be a few unopened buds. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

  2. Like your shot of the newly mown field with the ubiquitous crows for good measure.
    Shame about your azaleas,I had a similar disappointment with my camellias once.
    On a brighter note that’s lovely close up of the healthy looking larch pine cones.

  3. I enjoyed all the photos. Those tulips are indeed good survivors of a light frost, like daffodils. I am sorry that the rhodies and azaleas are blasted.

    The lily of the valley reminded me of a song about them we learned as children.

    White silver bells, upon a garden stalk,
    lilies of the valley deck my garden walk.
    Oh don’t you wish
    that you could hear them ring.
    That will only happen
    when the faeries sing.

    If you hear any ringing out there, you may have faeries singing in your garden. 🙂

  4. When Mrs. T. is finished her garden renovations, will you be able to give us before and after shots taken from upstairs? I am sorry about the frost. The real-time game app sounds interesting.

      1. I’d like to see that, too.

        It’s a darn shame about the azaleas. I’ve never seen a frost that late here, thank goodness. However, I have known a frost to blast rhododendrons in bud.

        Following along with interest, backwards, Mrs T’s pruning frenzy.

  5. Apart from the frosted flowers, each of your photographs are worth a second look – the copper beech is particularly attractive.

  6. Very sorry to hear about the azaleas. At least the box bit the dust due to Attila’s due diligence. We have a moth that has decimated box here. We lost a tall monster and the wood is so hard it blunts our chainsaw.

  7. We are envious of Sandy’s bird box. Not one we have ever put up has been occupied. Jackie has feared frost but so far we haven’t had any damage. Sorry about yours.

  8. Really sorry to read about the frost…same here! Love Lavinia’s verse…hadn’t heard that one! Good photo of the hole in the sky!

  9. Not being a gardener doesn’t mean azalea Armageddon is not upsetting to me, especially when I think of Mrs tootlepedal’s committed nurturing of them. It is a great shame that she is not to be rewarded with a fine show of them flowering. Weather is so topsy turvy these days. So much so, there is even talk of a mini ice age on it’s way, in the not too distant future. I am hopeless with tree recognition and their names, can you tell me is there a difference between a copper beech and a red beech? Down here we seem to call the tree you identified as a red beech. Cheers.

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