Perfect practice

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. He came across these unusual wooden butterflies on a visit with friends to the Markeaton Park Dementia Friendly Walled Garden in Derby.

After a slightly warmer night, we got a slightly warmer day which was very welcome, though it was still a “coats on for coffee in the garden” sort of day.

After breakfast, I filled the feeder and checked on the birds.

There was an amazingly red redpoll on the feeder…

…and a rather depressed jackdaw walking down the drive past the window.

The feeder wasn’t busy, and from time to time my eye was drawn to a flower bed behind the plum tree…

…and even at a distance, the blue poppy is a wonderful sight.

A young blackbird appeared…

…but I can’t tell just how young it is, It would be nice to think that it had been born in our garden.

I had time for a walk round the garden.

Although the rhododendrons are flowering well, I can count the azalea blooms on the finger of one hand.

…but Mrs Tootlepedal is optimistic that more will arrive shortly.

There was a good array of white flowers to enjoy.

I didn’t have time to do anything useful in the garden though as we had a rare treat when we joined with five other church choristers and the organist in Langholm Parish Church for a socially distanced choir practice, the first for well over a year. Although we were so far apart that it wasn’t really possible to hear all the other singers well, it was nevertheless a great treat to stand up and sing for fun. In a sign of the times, as we sang in the choir loft, down below a group of parishioners were busy meticulously cleaning the church in preparation for Sunday’s service.

As we came out of the church, we could see that the suspension bridge now has protective castles at both ends as the grit blasting continues.

On my way home after the choir practice, I noticed that the mallard in the dam was having a good sing too.

And while I was there, I admired the very hairy bud and leaves on an oriental poppy beside the dam. It is just waiting to come out.

We had coffee in the garden with Margaret when we got home, and then I got busy in the garden, while Mrs Tootlepedal painted another of our Velux windows upstairs.

I pruned back a fuchsia which had been damaged by the frosts but which has good green shots showing. I mowed and edged the middle lawn without having to clear pecked moss away first which was a relief. I did a little weed killing on paths and the drive. And for a change, I wandered about taking pictures of flowers.

The warmer weather is encouraging more geums to hold their heads up…

…bringing on a Ceanothus Repens…

…and a cotoneaster against the house wall.

We are still short of colour in the garden but there is plenty of fine foliage to keep us happy while we wait.

The current star of the show is the rhododendron…

…but Mrs Tootlepedal reminded me that it was exactly a year ago when a hard late frost killed all the rhododendron and azalea flowers in one fell blow, as well as putting paid to numerous plants and all our of apple and plum crop. It is best never to be too optimistic as far as being a gardener goes.

After lunch and the crossword, I had to fill the feeder again so I took a moment to see who turned up.

Unsurprisingly, it was siskins. They are the flavour of the month. They posed with good rotational symmetry.

There were plenty of clouds about and a rather ambivalent forecast for the afternoon, but the wind was light so I decided to go for a pedal while Mrs Tootlepedal gardened.

Needless to say, it started to rain as soon as I got my bike out, but it was one of those light sprinkly showers so I headed up the road to Mosspaul, determined not to be put off by a few raindrops. The rain did get a little heavier further up the road, but when I stopped to put a rain jacket on, the rain stopped too. I pedalled on unjacketed.

Although the rain continued in a half hearted and sporadic way, I got to the top of the hill at Mosspaul more or less dry, and took a moment to look at the little burn that comes out of the hills there.

There has been enough rain to bring the burn to life.

It is small but still an interesting burn to me. As it disappears down the hill, it is the last stream to run to the west and into the Irish sea…

… because I was standing on the watershed between west and east Scotland. If I had pedalled on, the next burn would have been flowing east towards the North Sea.

I was very happy to see the dandelions at Mosspaul covered with insects. Perhaps this is a sign that the warmer weather really is coming to stay for a while.

At the bottom of the Mosspaul hill, the power company installed a bridge for access when they were renewing the power lines in the area last year…

…but they have now disappeared it completely.

In contrast a new bridge to a farm across the river has been put in at Hoghill.

The light wind, which had blown in my face in the way up the hill, unfortunately gave up, and refused to give me a push at all on the way down. I ended up with the slowest ever time for this ride. I enjoyed it all the same.

I got back in time for a cup of tea before our usual Zoom meeting with my brothers and sisters. My sister Caroline showed us a picture of her oriental poppy in full bloom. She does live a long way south of us though.

The flying birds of the day are a pair of sparring siskins.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

30 thoughts on “Perfect practice

  1. We’re expecting a “good” frost tonight. Everything that can be moved indoors or covered has been protected, but the big veg garden is more or less on its own, save for covering the tomatoes. Fingers crossed!

      1. Lost 1/4 of the yellow beans, some squash, a few tomatoes, and half the flowers I plant to cut for my family’s graves in the fall. Not great, but mostly replaceable/re-seedable, and could definitely have been worse.

  2. I just felt a little weird at the idea of the young blackbird being born in your garden. Not the location but… ah yes, birds are normally hatched!😉
    Wonderful to sing really with others again. I’ve just been asked to take a rehearsal of a local choir in the absence if its conductor next week. Because they are some 20-odd it has to be outside – and they have found a pub garden for it to happen. I’ve been asked to make sure they have a good break, so that the landlord will be encouraged by sales to make the ‘premises’ available again the week after…

  3. A bridge being refurbished, a disappearing bridge and a brand new one! The Mallard photograph is filled with energy, and I am interested in the watershed you mention.

  4. It is good to hear that you were able to practice in person with your choir. Last night I also had my first time practicing in person with my choir since March a year ago. For the past six months or so we’ve had practices using zoom, with a small group meeting together with the director and accompanist (at least once voice on a part, sometimes two), and the rest of us joining in, singing remotely. It was helpful, but far from perfect. But last night it was wonderful singing with a large group again in person. I had forgotten just how wonderful it sounded,

    My choir is called “Utah Baroque Ensemble”. You can search for us on the internet and find our website or a few of our recordings available to sample on iTunes or Amazon. I apologize if it is inappropriate to promote my choir like this.

  5. I enjoyed all your spring photos. I hope any late spring frosts stay far from your door. It would be a shame to lose flowers and fruit again this year.

  6. Love the header photo, all the spring flower photos (especially the blue poppy!) and the many different greens in the foliage photos. Good to know that both you and the mallard are keeping up your singing practice! That is indeed a very red redpoll!

  7. I see you have some hairy plants, now that you’ve mentioned it. Your blue is certainly worth a look. There can’t be too many flowers in that amazing blue colour. But I’ll admit the disappearing bridge caused me a bit of head scratching.

    1. Presumably there are different farms on each side of the river and the farmers didn’t want their stock to have the opportunity to stray to alien pastures.

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