A gift from nature

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan. She is on holiday in Norfolk and was diverted through circumstances beyond her control from her original destination of Great Yarmouth, which is by the sea, to Swaffham, which is in the middle of nowhere. A consolation is the elegant tower on the church of St Peter and St Paul in Swaffham. It went up early in the 16th Century on the eve of the Protestant Reformation.

We had another very grey day here with the occasional sprinkling of very light rain. It was decidedly cooler than it has been, and I needed a jacket on when I went out on my bike to go shopping.

I had quite a busy morning, putting a week of the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database after breakfast, visiting the chemist, the ironmongers and the corner shop before coffee, and mowing the middle lawn after coffee.

I did some shredding of the trimmed hedge, and while I was at it, I picked a few more blackberries before they all got cut down.

I finally got a camera out just before lunch and looked at the birds. There were several to look at

Sometimes all the interest was over there . . .

. . . and sometimes it was over there and over here.

As usual, where there were siskins, there was discord.

I had a walk round the garden before sitting down to a sardine sandwich for my midday meal.

I am very pleased to find that the heavily pruned fuchsia on the back wall of the house is thriving, and Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with the health of the geraniums in the chimney pot. The French marigolds seem to last for ever, and we have one yellow nasturtium among a host of red ones.

I found two dahlias with no insect visitors today . . .

. . . but I did find a bee trying to work out where the nectar is in this pompom dahlia . . .

. . . . and four bees having no problem with the sedum.

If it is as busy as this before it has even come properly out, what will it be like when it is in full bloom?

The helenium had a lone visitor.

After lunch, I persuaded Attila the Gardener to take a break from hedge destruction, and we drove down to the banks of the Tarras Water for a little walk. I had thought of a cycle ride but it was rather chilly, quite windy and definitely grey, so a sheltered walk in the company of Mrs Tootlepedal seemed like a much better bet.

It was definitely an autumn stroll. Secretly, I was hoping to find some wild blackberries and I had brought along a small container just in case. We saw a few blackberries but nothing to get excited about so we turned our attention to the proliferations of seed heads on every side . . .

. . . and Mrs Tootlepedal collected a variety of seeds to plant in her mini wild flower meadow in the garden. There were one or two knapweeds still in flower . . .

. . . as well as the occasional ragwort, cats ear and sneezewort, along with a very tattered fungus, the only one that we saw.

As we walked along, I spotted a good clump of brambles, and although we hadn’t come prepared for bashing about among the thorns and nettles, we were able to pick nearly a pound of blackberries in a few minutes before walking on. The best brambles that we saw were not pickable though as they were hanging off the edge of a cliff above the river.

We left them to hang there and passed open areas . . .

. . . and a fine domed patch of willow . . .

. . . until we came to the thicker woods on the river bank, where a Scots pine stood above the water.

. . . and horsetail flourished under the trees.

We ran out of time and had to head back to the car, but it had been a very satisfying short walk.

The pick of the wild plants for me was this self heal, one of the few in flower.

We got home in time to enjoy a cup of tea before the usual Zoom with my brother and sisters.

If the weather permits, we might go back again tomorrow and take the bramble picking a bit more seriously with an eye on some bramble jelly. Our apples are ripening well so bramble and apple jelly might be in order if we can’t get enough brambles by themselves.

The flying bird of the day is a surprised siskin.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

20 thoughts on “A gift from nature

  1. I like the shots of the horsetails . I don’t think I’ve seen that one.
    The blackberries go very fast here once they ripen. I’ve only tasted two or three.
    That’s a great shot of the insect on the helenium. I haven’t seen many like it this year.

  2. Dear ‘Tootlepedal’
    We (myself and two daughters) are heading from Leeds to Kelso, on a road trip via Carlisle tiday and as an avid reader of your blog plan to pass through Langholm today. We would love to pass by and visit your garden. Would you be there in around two and a half hours time perhaps?

    1. We are going to go brambling at about half past two so we might not be back in time. But you are very welcome to have a look round the garden if we are not home. I am really sorry about this as it is always good to meet a reader.

  3. Oops didn’t include my name, Saskia Harris, my daughter is driving her first long route and I am keeping half an eye.

  4. The lush green in your header shot was charming. A perfect composition for a climb uphill. That siskin skirmish was quite a catch.

  5. That horsetail reminds me of porcupine quills. A pound of blackberries represents a some fine foraging, even if the best of the crop laughed at you over the cliff.

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