A stake in the future

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew in Derby. He thinks that it must be spring because the council have put up a bouncy castle at the boating pond.

As it was below freezing when we got up today, spring was on hold for a bit here, but it was bright and sunny and it soon warmed up a bit. This was lucky. We went off after breakfast to help the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve team with some tree planting near the bird hide.

Jane from the Woodland Trust gave the volunteers a demonstration of how to do it . . .

. . . and then we set to work and soon had quite a few trees planted among the tussocks.

While we were working, we noticed quite a few of these little flowers lurking among the reeds . . .

. . . and Kat was on hand with a phone app to identify them as hare’s tail cotton grass, a sort of sedge.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I didn’t last the whole time, as we had to get home in time to relax and have lunch before going to Carlisle in the afternoon. Our section of the group had planted about 50 trees by the time that we left. It is only a pity that the older members of the group will not be there to see the full results of their work in thirty years time.

We had coffee and panettone when we got home, and I had a short walk round the garden.

The hellebores are unaffected by the cold mornings . . .

. . . but the magnolia has taken a severe hit.

Daffodils are undeterred . . .

. . . and dicentra and cardamine think that it is good growing weather.

I am too old to lie on the ground squinting up at fritillaries. I gave this one a helping hand so that I could photograph a bee’s eye view of it.

After lunch, we drove down to Carlisle for our choir practice. Mrs Tootlepedal had decided that since masks are no longer needed while we are actually singing, it might be the time to join in again. As she was also in need of some sweet pea plants, we left early enough to visit a garden centre on our way.

I took the chance to visit the garden centre food shop and buy frozen raspberries and blackcurrants. Jam supplies in the Tootlepedal household have reached dangerously low levels.

Then, of course, we had to pop into a proper food shop to buy sugar for the jam making and butter to spread on the panettone.

There was a slightly better attendance at the choir practice than last week, and we had yet another visiting conductor. She was very good, and we got a lot of useful singing done, although social distancing still means that it is very difficult for the choir to keep together well. We sing in a large and very resonant school chapel. It is teaching us to watch the conductor though, a novel experience for many of us.

During the morning, I had kept an eye on the birds at the feeder. There was plenty of traffic and you might think at first glance that this is a feederful of siskins . . .

. . . but a closer look shows that the bird on the bottom left perch is a redpoll.

There were a lot of siskins about though, and they came in from all sides, ever ready to have a shout at everyone else in their way.

Chaffinches could only wait patiently.

They didn’t get very far when they did try to butt in. Siskins and goldfinches just shouted at them.

When we got back from choir, I made both raspberry and blackcurrant jam, and then as we had had quite a busy day, we ate a ready cooked meal for our evening meal. It was surprisingly good.

The flying bird of the day is one of the siskins. This one is an old hand as I see that it has been ringed and released.

Footnote: my jams would never win any prizes at a Women’s Institute show. I re-use old jars and don’t take the labels off fully, and I don’t by any means get an even distribution of fruit through the whole jars. On the other hand, they taste pretty good so I don’t feel too bad about how they look.

Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

29 thoughts on “A stake in the future

  1. Label residue notwithstanding – your jams look delicious!

    Tree planting is always a job you do for the future. I’m grateful for others’ efforts when I look at our old and well-treed neighbourhood. What kind of trees were you planting today?

  2. Good to see planting of lovely things on the reserve after all the clearing away of rubbish.
    Couldn’t help smiling at your truism on failure to watch the conductor. Social distancing has more than one use!

  3. The flowers and birds are always a welcome treat. I am glad to hear the choir has started up again. Perhaps we will get to hear them in a video at some point?

  4. The inside of the fritillaria was a joy to behold. Something I’ve never seen.
    Too bad about the magnolia. Ours haven’t bloomed yet, luckily.
    I’m glad you were able to identify the sedge. I just found out that it grows here as well.
    I’m also glad I bought some raspberry jam the last time you made it because now I want some.

    1. I think that you suggested that it was sedge when I saw it before. There are some surviving flowers on the magnolia so we will see what develops.

  5. When you come right down to it, taste is really what matters. And the word “generosity” comes to mind when I think of folks planting trees they will never see thirty years from now.

  6. Re the jam: it is the taste that really counts. You have encouraged me to make some tomato jam after Easter. The birds at your feeders are a combative lot.

  7. We planted in our garden acorn, beech, oak, and a couple of conifers. What a beauty to look at them now 40 years later! Planting trees is a promise that there will be a future.

  8. I had to whizz back up to the top of the post to look at your jams…they look very fruitful and lovely to me! Thank you for looking inside a fritillary – I didn’t know the petal would be so translucent to see the pattern..lovely. Great selection of bird photos.

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