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Archive for the ‘flowers’ Category

Today’s guest picture comes from learned reader Edward from Sheffield.  He has tree peonies in his garden with flowers a foot wide.

Edards tree peonies

We had timed our holiday well.  After several dry weeks, the weather turned gloomy today and it rained in the afternoon.  According to the forecast, there is a good deal more rain to come which will be welcome from a gardening point of view.

The morning was dry though and this gave us a chance to get busy in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal doing useful things and I wandering about with a camera in hand.

New flowers have arrived during our absence and there is no shortage of bright colours.

The first iris has come out…

first iris

…and several more geraniums have joined the blue ones which arrived first.

geraniums

They are excellent value and should keep flowering all through the summer.

four geraniums

Lupins have arrived….

first lupins

…and aquilegias are popping up all over the garden.

aquilegias

A favourite flower for peering at closely with the camera is this anemone.  I love its strong colours and busy centre.

anemone close up

But probably, the stars of the show are the red peonies….

two red peonies

…even though they are too red for the camera to really enjoy.

The established flowers are enjoying the weather in spite of the lack of rain…

azaleas and rhodidendrons

…although the azaleas are going over rather quickly.  Perhaps the new rain will help them last.

The clematis at the front and back doors have increased in number while we have been away…

two white clematis

…and the front door variety is fast becoming a favourite of mine.

clematis centre

Potentillas, both salmon pink and yellow are thriving…

yellow and orange flowers

…and the poached egg plant is getting more white edges every day.  The first roses are appearing with the yellow one above joining the the rosa moyesii below.

Our poppies are becoming more international and an oriental poppy has joined the Welsh and Icelandic ones which were out before we left.

four flowrrs

A geum and an astrantia complete today’s collection.

I put down the camera and mowed the middle lawn.  It had been badly pecked while I was away but once I had mowed over the loose moss, I found a lot of reasonably green grass about underneath.  Mrs Tootlepedal intends to carry on a methodical feeding programme so I have every confidence that it will be in good order soon.

I mowed the front lawn too and found that it is still in poor condition, although the feed that I gave it before we went away has encouraged the occasional blade of grass to appear among the moss.  I will keep trying.

As I was working at a very gentle pace, and we took a break to entertain Mike Tinker to a cup of coffee, all this took me up to lunchtime.

I had the opportunity to check on the birds when I got in.  Usual suspects such as siskins and redpolls were in evidence but sparrows are obviously feeding young as they turned up on the seed feeder…

sparrow on feeder

…as well as feeding on peanuts and fat balls as well.

The siskins and redpolls haven’t learned about peaceful coexistence while we have been away.

redpoll being shouted at

Dunnocks were busy on the ground under the feeders.

dunnock

I had a quiet afternoon watching the racing on the telly, a very undemanding activity.  Most of the enjoyment comes from listening to the expert commentators telling us why their chosen horses have not won the race that we have just watched.

I even felt a bit sorry for them when their unanimous pick of a heavily odds-on favourite trotted in third in five horse race.  There was not a lot that they could say.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and when she returned, I roused myself to drink a cup of tea and check the kitchen window again.  A jackdaw, fed up with pecking at my lawn, had come to try the peanuts….

jackdaw on feeder

…and it was joined by a starling…

starling on feeder

…but sadly, it and its friends preferred to start in the lawn pecking business themselves instead of eating bird food.

starlings on lawn

If they are eating leatherjacket grubs though, they are probably doing me a good turn as I read that the grubs eat grass roots and can destroy a lawn.  This may explain why the birds always peck at the worst bit of the lawn and leave the bits with good grass growth alone.

I hope to catch up on my blog reading now that I am home.

Meanwhile, the flying (or perhaps diving) bird of the day is a pigeon.

flying pigeon

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil Luke’s father, Alan.  He has been forced to go to Dubrovnik on work related business and this is the view from his hotel window.  Poor chap.

Dubrovnik

I realised that I had inexcusably omitted a great moment from yesterday’s activities in my daily account so here it is now – a new world record of fourteen castles being stamped upon being established by Matilda, mighty in battle, the castle stamper extraordinaire.

Contemplating the task…

dav

…and leaving the field in triumph.

Today was another sunny and windy day and while Al and Clare took the train back to Edinburgh to vote in the European elections and Mrs Tootlepedal took Matilda to the Seabird Centre to ;earn abut birds amd have fun, I hired a bike again and rode a gentle fifteen miles through the East Lothian countryside, avoiding the wind as much as I could.

I passed the impressive doocot at Dirleton castle…

Doocot Dirleton

…and noted the flowers along the wall beside the castle grounds.

flowwers Dirleton

Unlike our pastoral countryside, the agricultural business here is growing things.  I stopped to record a colourful field of rape (canola)….

rape NB

…while across the road, a potato field stretched into the distance…

potato field NB

…though I did come across one paddock with horses in it.

horses NB

There were solid gateposts to be seen…

stone gate posts NB

…and hawthorn bushes were in flower all along my route.

hawthorn NB

I got home safely and Al and Clare arrived from Edinburgh almost at the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda got back from the Seabird Centre so we are able to have a family lunch together.

After lunch, we drove a few miles up the road to visit Archerfield House….

Archerfield House and the Law

…..with its walled garden, its geese and goslings…

goslings Archerfield

…its wild flowers…

wild flowers Archerfield

…its wood full of fairy houses…

fairy houses Archerfield

…and cleverly made animals…

animals Archerfield

…and some real animals too.

deer Archerfield

The fairy wood walk  in dappled sunshine and sheltered from the wind was a treat for old and young alike….

Walking in the wood Archerfield

…and I particularly liked the glimpses of mature pines on the neighbouring golf course.

gold fcourse Archerfield

There were works of art in the woods….

Mrs T at Archerfield

…and artists at work too…

artist at Archerfield

…working with elegant models.

fairy at Archerfield

It was too breezy to build sand castles in the beach when we got home so Mrs Tootlepedal and I left the others in the cottage and got well and truly sand blasted as we walked along the shore.

sand blowing

After another excellent evening meal cooked by Alistair, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to sit on the harbour wall in a sheltered spot and watch the gannets soaring and swooping in their hundreds over the sea.

The birds were too far out to photograph satisfactorily but we couldn’t miss their home, positively glowing in the evening sun.

Bass Rock gleaming

The gannets may have stayed out of range but as usual a gull was happy to oblige as flying bird of the day.

flying gull

Note: As far as the election went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged for proxy votes to be cast on our behalf so we have done our democratic duty.  We had been too late to get a postal vote.

Another note:  I haven’t had time to do the usual reading and commenting on other people’s blogs so I apologise if if have missed any gems which would have enhanced my life.  I will try to catch up when I get home.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who was happy to be able to take a picture of her visiting badgers without using a flash.

badgers

After a quiet morning, we packed into our cars and set off to visit a beach with the intention of taking part in that most British of all holiday activities, a picnic.  This was Tyninghame Beach, the place that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had visited last night.

The walk though the woods when we had parked the cars was a treat in itself.  The area is a country park run by the local authority and a great deal of care has been taken in providing excellent paths for visitors.  As a result we were able to look around at the well kept woodland with its varied selection of trees as we went to the beach.

tyninghame woods

The weather forecast had been rather unclear as to what weather we might expect but it stayed dry for our outing.  A very brisk wind kept us well wrapped up as we enjoyed our  picnic in a thoroughly traditional way….

picnicn on beach

..but the sun soon came out and justified the wearing of cool dark glasses to go with the woolly hat and coat.

matilda on the beach

The tide was out and layers of flat rocks were exposed. The underlying stone was very pink in places.

flat rocks on beach

While Matilda, her father and Mrs Tootlepedal investigated the many rock pools on the shore, Clare and I went for a walk round a rocky headland.  The path was lined with interest…

wild flowerrs tyninghame

There was sea thrift in unexpected corners…

rocky shore with thrift

…and below us, eider ducks were sunning themselves on rocky ledges among the waves.

eiders on rocks

And of course, we couldn’t avoid noticing the Bass Rock.

bass rock from the east

When we got to the end of the point, we found a curious contrast to the flat layers of rock we had left behind us on the beach.  Here the strata were standing bolt upright…

upstanding rocks

…and there were a couple of striking breaks in the rocks.   This one is known as St Baldred’s Cradle….

st baldred's cleft

…though this one looked more comfortable…

st baldred's cradle

…but as St Baldred was an eighth century divine and hermit who spent some time living on the Bass Rock, perhaps he didn’t care for comfort.

Clare and I returned to the beach and Alistair and Mrs Tootlepedal followed in the footsteps of St Baldred while Matilda and I walked to the water’s edge to watch the tide coming in very gently indeed.

Tyninghame beach

The wanderers returned and we packed our bags and made our way back through the woods to the cars…

Al and Matilda in the woods

…though I paused for a moment when I saw an orange tip butterfly flitting about.

orange tip butterfly 1

We got back to North Berwick tired but happy but it was such a sunny day that after a cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along the beach and found a comfortable bench to sit on.  We enjoyed the view.

view of the harbour NB

We returned to the cottage and while Alistair was cooking the evening meal, I wandered out along the harbour wall watching eider ducks heading for a place to rest below…

eiders going ashore

…and gulls resting on the stiff breeze above.

close flying gull

As it was still a beautiful evening, Mrs Tootlepdal and i took another stroll along the harbour wall after the evening meal.

I looked across the Forth towards our other son Tony’s home on the Fife shore…

sunset over the forth

…while Mrs Tootlepedal got out her binoculars and scanned the sea and sky for gannets.

There were a lot about.

bass rock in the evening

The flying bird of the day is another gull gliding into the wind above the harbour wall.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the Fife Agricultural Show at the weekend.  It is also the flying bird of the day.

ag show owl

A post of few words today as it was late after a busy day when I sat down to compile this post.

I hired a bike after breakfast and went for a 15 mile bike ride past historic towers…

Fenton Tower

…down long hills in wide open country…

wide open downhill NB

…past a picturesque church at Smeaton…

smeaton church

…and a very woolly sheep..

sheep NB

…and then up even longer hills on the way back…

wide open uphill

…to North Berwick.

It was most enjoyable.

It had rained overnight but in spite of some grey clouds my ride was warm enough for shorts and dry throughout.

The sun was shining on bright green seaweed when I got back to the cottage.

green seaweed NB

Matilda, her mother and grandmother had been been building a smart sandcastle decorated with shells while I was pedalling and I resisted any temptation to stamp on it when I went past it.

After lunch, Matilda, her mother, granny and I went off for a walk.  We saw eider ducks…

eider duck NB

…herring gulls…

gull NB

…while we walked round the concrete barrier which contains some of the receding tide to act as a swimming pool when the tide is out.  In spite of the sunshine, it was too cold for anyone to be enjoying a swim today…

swimming pool NB

…and a different form of paddling was popular.

canoeists NB

We left the beach and walked up through the town…

tree is street NB

…and through the ornamental gardens…

flowers in garden NB

…until we got to the play park where Matilda hung about in a productive manner for a while.

matilda in park NB

…and then we went back through the gardens…

flowers BN

…with their beautifully maintained lawns and beds…

neat beds NB

…and went into the Seabird Centre for a much needed cup of tea and a tea cake.

As we went back to the cottage, I enjoyed this gull swimming in an elaborate cross ripple near the harbour wall.

gull in cross ripple

And we enjoyed an exciting game or two of Go Fish, a new game to me before tea.

After an excellent meal and while Matilda was being put to bed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a drive in sunshine and rain and if I had had my good camera with me (and a place to park), I would have been able to show you a rainbow rising from the Bass Rock.  It was a wonderful sight.

As it was, we found somewhere to leave the car at a country park near the sea a few miles along the coast.  I took some pictures with my phone in spite of the fading light.

We walked down this very well maintained path with a row of maples along the side providing us with a good umbrella against some light rain.

dav

Then we turned down through one of the most delightful woods I have ever walked through…

dav

…until we came to the sea.  The rain had stopped but there were still dark clouds surrounding the Bass Rock in the distance.

dav

The beach looked so inviting that we hope that we might go there again for a picnic tomorrow.

dav

We just had time for a game of Oh Hell with Matilda’s parents before it was time for bed.

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All charged up

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew  who spotted a fine bridge in Tamworth.

Tamworth bridge

Just a brief post today to say that we left the delights of the garden at home…

home azaleahome clematis

…and travelled to North Berwick by way of Tweedbank.  We stopped at Tweedbank to use a public charging point for the little white zingy thingy.  We were anxious to find out if we could mange the process for the first time.  It turned out to be remarkably simple.  It was due to take 55 minutes to charge up the power that we had used getting there so we took the opportunity to walk past this fine outburst of broom and hawthorn…

dav

….to a cafe on a loch nearby where we had lunch.

The charging had gone to schedule when we got back to the car and we drove on to North Berwick in a very relieved state of mind.  Some of the route took us over steep and long hills where the power meter dropped dramatically but as we went down the other side, the meter recovered its equilibrium and we arrived with plenty of power to spare.

I parked in a public car park 200 yards from our cottage and was delighted to find another public charging point there. We should get home all right at the end of our week.

It was rather grey and drizzly in North Berwick but I went for a short walk while we were waiting for Matilda and her parents to arrive.  It is always a pleasure to be at the seaside, whatever the weather.

bass rock from afarNB harbourNB law behind townNB faoming rocksNB rocks and foamBas rock from distanceNB lichenNB pool changing hutsarctic tern scul[tureNB bird spotter

And of course there are a lot of flying birds about too.

flying gull

I should note that although we haven’t been here long, Matilda has already stamped on ten of my sandcastles.  It is going to be a busy week.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba’s trip to England.  She went down to Hastings on the south coast and was rather surprised to find a reminder of home in the shape of a somewhat morose moose.

Mary Jo's moose

Although I had enjoyed my cycle ride up the hill to the bird hide yesterday, the effect of having to push hard to get up the hill hadn’t been kind either to my breathing or my feet so I wisely decided to go nowhere further than the corner shop today.

Luckily there was plenty to look at and quite a bit to do in the garden so I wasn’t bored.

One of the field beans from Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure planting has avoided being dug in and is flowering merrily and the potatoes are just popping their heads through the soil too.

bean and potato

The front door clematis brings a smile to my face every time I pass it by.

front door clematis

It was sunny again today but not as warm as it has been but new arrivals are still appearing and we saw the first veronica and choisya flowers today.

veronica choisya

And the sun has encouraged abundance…

groups of flowers

…not least among the alliums.

allium copse

Not all the good things can be seen from inside the garden and I had to go out onto the road to see two more arrivals, a honeysuckle in the hedge…

honeysuckle in hedge

…and the first flowers on the rosa Moyesii.

rose moyesia

When I went back in I spotted two more new arrivals, a pink aquilegia and a posh geum.

aquilegia and geum

Undoubtedly though, the brightest flower in the garden wasn’t even out yet.

rhododendron buds

That is the very definition of red in my view.

I didn’t just wander about.  I did a little work too.  We recently bought a very reasonably priced half moon edging tool from the ever intriguing middle aisle at Lidl in Carlisle and Mrs Tootlepedal and I put it to use in producing some neat edges for the middle lawn.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who really likes a neat edge, was very pleased with the result.

neat lawn edging

So was I.

Then I got the electric hover mower out and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass.  I often talk about mowing the drying green but I don’t know whether it has ever appeared on the blog before.  Here it is….

drying green

…not the greatest expanse of grass in the world but sufficient for its purpose.

It has a fringe of nettles and other wild plants in the far corner to encourage insects.  Mrs Tootlepedal has a plan to let the grass grow freely and cut a path just wide enough to give access to the whirligig.  She intends to plant tulips among the grass so as to make the area decorative as well as useful.

Then I lent a hand as Mrs Tootlepedal fashioned a protective cage for her sweet peas.  If our peas and sweet peas are not fully protected, the sparrows nip the tops off the growing plants and they come to nothing.   It is very infuriating and gives Mrs Tootlepedal a lot of extra work, but this year she thinks that she has got the peas properly protected.

three pea fortresses

The pair of blackbirds nesting in the hydrangea are working very hard collecting food and it is rare not to see one or both of them pecking away on the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

Seeing them working away made me think of the front lawn which is still in poor condition so after lunch I got out one of those cheerful packets of soluble fertiliser which promise you a greener lawn in five days and used it.

For once, I believed the advertising hype as nothing could be less green than the front lawn at present so the manufacturers are on a winner here.  Mrs Tootlepedal helped by filling one watering can while I sprayed with the other, and in this way the work was soon done.

 

Over by the compost bins, the rowan is coming along nicely.

rowan buds

I was standing in the drive, thinking quietly about life at one stage of the afternoon when I was nearly run over by the partridge.

the partridge on drive

It nudge me aside and headed for some fallen seed from the feeder.  It didn’t stop long and scuttled off through a neighbour’s hedge.

And that was quite enough activity for the time being, so I went inside and watched horse racing from York on the telly.  There were some good races.

Before I settled down, I went upstairs and had a look at the azaleas round the front lawn from a window.

front lawn with azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted some new azaleas and they should add to the picture over the next few years.

This is one of them.

new yellow azalea

When Mrs Tootlepedal set about cooking our evening meal, I popped out to mow the middle lawn and had to duck my head as I went through the back door to avoid the overhanging clematis there.

back door clematis

The need for all the lawn care and pea protection is because we are going away for a week to frolic by the sea with Matilda.  There should be a lot more to see in the garden when we come back (quite apart from a much greener lawn).  While we are off, our neighbour Liz is going to feed the birds for me and Mike and Alison are going to keep an eye on the greenhouse and the garden for Mrs Tootlepedal, so things will be well looked after.

There is no flying bird of the day today.  This is partly because I didn’t spend a lot of time looking and partly because the chaffinches, which are by far the best at offering flying bird opportunities, have more or less temporarily (I hope) disappeared from the garden.

A blackbird, finding a wheelbarrow full of compost to dig in, is the parental bird of the day instead.

blackbird in barrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She came across this very colourful boundary to a restaurant’s outside seating area and knowing that I like fuchsias, sent me the picture.

susans meal planting

It was another very sunny day here but not quite as warm as the last two days, presaging a slight change in the weather but probably not enough to bring some much needed rain in any quantity.

Our two resident blackbirds are busy morning, noon and night pecking at the lawn for food for their young.

blackbird family

The garage clematis is showing more flowers every day but is still not near its full glory…

garage clematis

…unlike the Japanese azalea which is opening flowers at a great rate…

japanese azalea

…and contributing to a colourful display along the back path.

back path with colour

I sat down for a moment or two on our new bench and enjoyed a purple patch with a perennial wallflower on one side…

perennial wallflower

…and many alliums on the other.

alliums in arow

Sandy is away on holiday at the moment so I got the chance to act as fill in feeder filler at the Moorland Project hide.  I went up on my slow bike, stopping as is compulsory on a sunny day, to admire Skippers Bridge yet again..

skippers in May

…and noting wild flowers on my way, including Pyrenean valerian, ajuga and another outbreak of wild garlic.

wildflowers on way to hide

The back roads are delightful at the moment and the grass roof on the hide is growing very well.

tarras road and hide

As I filled the feeders, two pheasants were squaring off with a good deal of feather flapping and barking…

pheasants squaring up

…and this was the champion of the day.

pheasant triumphant

I sat in the hide for a while with a fellow bird watcher but there was not a lot of birds to watch apart from siskins.

I did notice a coal tit…

coal tit

…and was pleased to have a brief visit from a greater spotted woodpecker.

woodepcker

When I left the hide, I cycled down the hill to see how the road repairs are coming on.  The repaired road has been completed and and surfaced so it won’t be long now until the traffic can start to flow again.  After several years of being closed, it will not be too soon.

new tarras road

On my way home, I passed a patch of what I think must be horsetail.  It had a fine contrast between its spear like head and a rather frilly tutu further down the stem.

horsetail

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden.  We are going on a short holiday next week and she has a lot to do to get everything in order before we go.  I watered the strawberries as the vegetable garden is very dry and also gave the compost in Bin A a good soaking to help the decomposition.

The sunshine is bringing the flowers on well.

trree peony and sweet rocket

…and a rook popped in to enjoy the colour.

rook in plum tree

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business in the town and I was sitting doing the crossword when a neighbour knocked on the door to say that we had a visitor.

The partridge was back on our windowsill.

partridge on windowsill

It stayed there for most of the afternoon, moving off at one time, only to return to another sill later in the day.

I was somewhat jiggered by sore feet and asthma after I got back from cycling up to the hide and spent the rest of the day very quietly, wasting immense amounts of time at the computer which wouldn’t behave properly so I couldn’t even get useful things done.

In the end I cheered myself up by taking up Mrs Tootlepedal’s suggestion to make some ginger biscuits.  They came out well.

She continued to work in the garden and at one stage disturbed an ant colony which was hiding under some black polythene covering a potential seed bed.  The ants got to work straight away in moving some large capsules, which I presume are eggs.  Before too long they had cleared the site and found a new home.

ants and eggs

As I sat at my computer trying to work, the partridge kept an eye on me.

partridge outside window

Mrs Tootlepedal took it some seed and water.

The day drifted to a close but I felt a lot better by the evening than I had in the morning and afternoon which was a relief.

The flying birds of the day are two swallows.  I saw them heading for holes in the bank of the Esk as I came back from my morning cycle ride.

swallows

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