Coup de grâce

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony. It was taken on his recent visit to Langholm and shows an old chap with too much time on his hands tearing up a cardboard packet to go into the compost.

We had a second fine, dry, warm day here, and very welcome it was too after a disappointing August. Once again, Mrs Tootlepedal got out into the garden early on and set about some seasonal tidying up. On this occasion, I joined her and did some compost sieving and helping with the tidying up. I was constantly distracted though by the number of bees and butterflies about.

I have recently been dead heading the Icelandic poppies and this has led to fresh flowers. This is good on two levels; the flowers are lovely in their own right and the insects love them too.


The old buddleia had at least a dozen butterflies on it every time that I looked, and I looked quite often.

And when I looked at the new buddleias, they were busy as well. I was especially pleased to see a painted lady among the peacocks small tortoiseshells and red admirals. The peacock looks as though it has just come out. There were a great number of bees on all the buddleias.

However, the main business of the morning was not butterfly hunting but lawn care. I felt that it was time to give the front lawn its second scarifying of the year. After coffee, I creaked into action.

It is an activity that comes in stages; getting ready, scarifying half the lawn, raking the moss, collecting the moss, dumping the moss, and then doing it all again on the other half of the lawn. I could do the whole lawn in one go but it is less boring if the tasks are broken up.

After the lawn is scarified and cleared, the little mower comes out and gives the lawn the coup de grâce (which is how the French say ‘mowing the lawn’, even though they can’t spell grass properly). As I know that readers will be fascinated by this, I recorded the goings on.

It took me just over an hour and it was a lot harder than cycling 60 miles!

However, it was worth the trouble and I went in for lunch in a very contented state of mind.

After lunch, I went out to dispose of the final wheelbarrow load of moss and grass, and while I was there, I looked around. Mrs Tootlepedal had been thinning out the calendulas in the morning but she had left enough to keep bees happy. Her dahlias come in two varieties, tall and short. These two tall ones are nearly as tall as me.

I went back in and sat down beside Mrs Tootlepedal as she watched today’s stage of the Vuelta. I was very proud of myself when I actually managed to stand up again and go for a bike ride. It was a modest affair compared with yesterday’s adventure. I went round my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit, and as I thought that I had taken enough pictures yesterday, I only took two today.

Like the bike rider, the rosebay willowherb is going to seed . . .

. . . but it was another perfect cycling day.

When I got back, I watched the end of the stage and then we went out into the garden again.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very impressed by the number of butterflies about. They looked good in the sunshine.

The dark dahlia is finally coming out of hiding and passers by can admire its fine flowers now.

I went in to get changed and leaned out of an upstairs window to appreciate the newly scarified lawn and the tidied up flower beds round it . . .

. . . and then I had to scamper back downstairs because Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted an enormous bumble bee on a tall dahlia.

It was big.

It had been an active day, and I had had little time to watch birds. I saw a couple on high . . .

. . . but when I looked at birds on the feeder, they were most uncooperative.

So the flying birds of the day are two butterflies dancing. . .

. . . and the flower of the day is my favourite.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

31 thoughts on “Coup de grâce

  1. I am impressed by the number of butterflies, bees and other pollinators you have there, but the grand view of the garden says it all. You have provided them with a bit of insect heaven with all those beautiful flowers. Lucky is the bee or butterfly that alights in the Tootlepedal garden!

    It has been cooler here this past week, though today we are getting haze and a touch of smoke in the air from somewhere.

    1. I am sorry to hear that you are getting smoke haze again. That must be a bit depressing.

      We do try to have flowers that will appeal to pollinators so it is nice when they turn up.

  2. Ive always known buddleahs as butterfly magnets,and from your shots today with good reason.Lawn raking is great for the core muscles needed by cyclists,so serves a double purpose.
    The lawns will certainly benefit in the long term.

    1. I have a machine to do the heavy scarifying so the raking up of the moss is comparatively light work. My arms are like matchsticks compared to my legs.

      Nothing will help the lawn in the long term as wet cold winters will bring back moss every year. But I keep trying. 🙂

  3. The lawn looks great. That was quite a lot of moss that came out of it.
    The dahlias are beautiful this year. It makes me want to grow them again.
    The bird’s eye view of the garden is very beautiful, as always. I’m surprised you don’t have a line of people waiting to visit it.

  4. I liked the pun in your title. Goodness me what a lot of bees and butterflies your garden is supporting. Two great views, one from your upstairs window of the garden and the other of a view on your cycle ride.

    1. My sister tried on her iPad and found the same thing. Everything works on my windows and android systems. Perhaps Apple have changed some setting without telling you.

  5. Still very few butterflies in these parts, and bumble bees are scarce. However, wasps have suddenly appeared and are a nuisance. I am completely in awe of your lawn and flower beds, I dare not let her indoors see those pictures, or many questions will be asked of yours truely. As you know I have been pedalling my sportneer (it’s an underdesk pedalling machine) regularly, as the almost recumbent position allows me to turn over the pedals. Well, today I tried my bike to nowhere, and managed to turn the pedals right around. To do so, I kept my left heel on the pedal and this allowed me to complete the circle. It was uncomfortable and I only managed ten turns. But it is a start, so I feel much more confident about my cycling future. So much so, I responded to a local initiative wrt active travel in the area, commenting about ways to encourage more cycling and walking in Neath Port Talbot. Cheers.

    1. I am glad that you are getting some progress with your knee however painful it is. It will all be worth it.

      I have the advantage of getting the good garden without having to do much work as Mrs T does all that.

      1. Mrs W has the green fingers here as well. I just need a stick of gelignite to blast the hill out the back into some sort of order. Mañana. I am definitely not a Percy Thrower. Cheers.

  6. That is a large bee with a pointy tail too- back to my bee book for a look! The garden looks amazing with beautiful borders, a brilliant topiary and a magnificent mostly moss free lawn ( I write mostly as I know from experience there’s always some moss that misses the rake)!

    1. I could get the scarifier out again and take just as much moss out as the first time. We live in a mossy place. I would be interested in an ID for the bee if you come up with one.

  7. Thanks for the overhead view, and of course I love the photo of you in composting action. I have never thought of tearing up small cardboard packets into the compost but will do so from now on!

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