Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary. She visited Kenwood House a day or two ago and enjoyed the superb rhododendrons there.
Our sudden summer continued today with another warm and sunny morning, followed by a warmer afternoon and a beautiful evening.
Mrs Tootlepedal has had to keep on her toes to stop her young plants frying in the greenhouse and she has been planting things out and watering them well in.
I wasn’t feeling at my most active this morning myself, and I only got out into the garden shortly before coffee time, to have my customary look around.
The blue poppies are doing very well…
…and Mrs Tootlepedal has forbidden me to dead head them as she is hoping to collect seed to expand the planting next year. I hope this works out, as you can’t have too many of these. They are bold and delicate at the same time.
Round the back of the house, the oriental poppies are doing their best to attract attention with flowers the size of soup plates. Subtlety is not in their nature.
The alliums are developing their elegant spherical heads and attracting bees…
…though in general, the garden has many fewer bees and butterflies than you would expect on such warm sunny days.
A good display of violas has appeared…
…and we are getting very excited by the possibility of peonies.
Margaret came for coffee and once again we sat and chatted as birds sang and flew about busily overhead.
When coffee was over, I took a shots of an unknown bird hidden behind a large clump of what looks like nest improvement material, and one of the many swifts who soared above us.
Meanwhile a collared dove paced up and down on Betty’s shed which was being repaired.
There are more flowers coming out every day just now, and the azaleas are making an effort to join the wonderful pink rhododendron and the red flowering potentilla.
The Japanese azalea is promising to look very good in a day or two if the sunshine keeps going.
Mrs Tootlepedal is not so fond of the pale aquilegias as I am. She finds them a bit washed out, while I find them delicately attractive.
I suspect that the difference comes from the fact that they don’t have much impact in a flower bed but they do photograph well.
In the vegetable garden I was surprised to find a white flower among the chives…
…but a closer look showed that a geranium had managed to creep into the chive bed.
Above the compost bins, the rowan tree, favourite perch of the singing blackbird, has burst into flower.
I didn’t do anything useful in the morning, except make the coffee, but after lunch I drove Mrs Tootlepedal to Carlisle where she bought some buttons and I bought some cheese and coffee beans. As I came out of the store, I could hear the gulls making an unusual commotion. Much to my surprise, I saw what the cause of the commotion was.
A very cheerful falconer was on hand to try to get the gulls in the car park worried. He was having varied success. There was a lot of agitated flying and squawking, but some gulls were not bothered at all.
We had a cup of tea when we got home, and then I got into my cycling gear and got ready to go for a cycle outing. I didn’t rush to get going. The car thermometer had showed 25°C as we drove home and I was worried that it would prove to be too hot for comfortable cycling. There was a breeze blowing which promised a bit of a cooling effect but also looked to make pedalling hard work. In general, I didn’t have a lot of confidence that I would enjoy the ride.
However, I finally managed to get myself out of the garden and onto the road.
This proved to be a very good decision. The traffic was very light, the wind was mostly across and not often against, the temperature was perfect and some light cloud stopped me getting sunburnt knees.
I chose the 20 mile loop round the Solwaybank wind farm and was hard pushed to decide which part of the route I liked best. Was it this, lined with wild flowers…
…or this, lined with trees…
…or this, through the tunnel…
or this, out in the open with bluebells beside the road, butterflies fluttering about and not a sound to be heard apart from the calling of the birds and the buzzing of a few bees?
In the end, I decided that it was that last one, and I felt so at peace with the world that it was actually a wrench to get back on my bike and leave it behind.
However, a good following wind for the six miles home made me feel pretty good too.
On my way round I saw a butterfly and a rare outbreak of blossom on a hawthorn, with a birds foot trefoil beside the road, and another butterfly on those bluebells.
Having been advised by a helpful reader not long ago, I think that the butterflies are green veined whites. There were quite a few about.
We noticed when we drove to Carlisle that the hawthorns down there were in full bloom. We will have to wait a day or two (or even more) for ours to join them.
There are some days when Dr Velo can effect a wonder cure for tired limbs and minds and this was one of them. I arrived home full of the joys of spring as they say.
As I had prepared a sausage casserole for the evening meal, the day ended more or less perfectly, though a young starling on the wire above the garden was not so impressed.
The flying bird of the day is one of the car park gulls which had been alarmed by the hawk and taken to the air.