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Archive for the ‘flute’ Category

Today’s guest picture features one of our visitors today and just goes to prove that we are not the only recent grandparents about.  This is Dropscone taking the grandparenting business with Emily very seriously.  I am afraid that I don’t know who took the picture.

baby Little

We had a dry but grey morning, rather cooler than it has been, and with the ever present threat of rain and even thunderstorms about.  Like yesterday, if I wanted a dry cycle ride I would have needed to be prompt but unlike yesterday, I was not prompt at all so I didn’t go for a pedal, even though the rain held off for all of the morning and some of the afternoon too.

Luckily, there is always dead heading to be done and the garden to wander around.

The dead heading is keeping a constant flow of poppies on the go…

poppy broadcast

…and the Sweet Williams are lasting very well.

pink sweet william

A new clematis has sprung up along the back fence which is very satisfactory.

new clematis back fence

I had another go at the fancy clover and got a bit more detail without quite getting it right…

better fancy clover

…but the feverfew is easy to catch.  It has done so well that I am thinking of calling it the fevermany.

lots of fever few

I had a close look at a three things.

The back of a fern was packed with interest…

fern sporangia

….there is more to the black dot in the middle of an argyranthemum than first meets the eye….

heart of argyranthemum

…and the salvias have hidden depths too.

close up salvia

The first of the Sunny Reggae dahlias has come out but it is looking as though the slugs have spotted it.  Keen eyed readers will notice the shoe of the photographer at the back of the picture.  Because the dahlia was facing the ‘wrong way’, I had to lean over the top of it and photograph it upside down and then correct the result in the editor later.

sunny reggae dahlia

We had just gone in for coffee, when Scott, our former minister with his finely tuned coffee radar working well, popped in for a visit.  We were pleased to see him and caught with his news and shared ours with him.

After he left, we went back put into the garden to pick sweet peas and look around.  We have a lot of blackbirds, so doesn’t take a lot of looking to see one in the garden at the moment.

blackbird on fence

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex colleagues from the Health Centre and I looked around as the sun made a brief appearance.

The ligularias are attracting bees…

bee on ligularia

…as are the rambler roses.  They have come out in force over the past few days.

swathe of rambler rose

The blackbirds will soon have a fine crop of rowan berries to eat but they will have to wait for a little while before they are ripe.

lots of yellow rowan berries

I went in for a light lunch and then came back out and sieved some compost.  I was still thinking of a bike ride as it hadn’t started raining but I made the mistake of switching on the telly to see how the Tour de France time trial was going and I was still snoozing on the sofa when first Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch and then we were joined by Dropscone.

He had missed coffee in the morning because he had been playing golf.  He had been beaten on the final hole but was remarkably cheerful all the same.  To cheer him up even further, we loaded him down with new potatoes and rhubarb when he left.

After that the sofa called (the time trial was quite exciting to be fair), and apart from picking a few peas, I didn’t go out again.

This did mean that I had some time to watch birds.

Siskins were busy as usual.

siskin st seed

There was hardly a dull moment.

siskins beak to brak

A blue tit was more reflective, perhaps wondering whether the siskins would go away and leave some space for other birds.

blue tit on wire

The blue tit popped up onto the peanuts but before I could record it, a sparrow came and stood in front of the camera.

sparrow on nuts

Later in the afternoon,  a pigeon took a lofty view of life from our new electricity wires.

pigeon on electricity cable

In the evening, our trio of visits was completed by the arrival of Mike and Alison, and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights, Alison and I played music for an hour which was a good way to end the day.

The light was pretty bad by the time that I sat down to watch the birds so this rather fuzzy siskin was the best that I could for a flying bird of the day.

flyimng siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Peter who not only helped with serving the cream teas at Waterbeck yesterday but also kindly sent me this picture from our camera club trip  to Beamish last week.

Peter's beamish

The forecast seems to be pretty certain that it will rain all day tomorrow so I was very happy to make good use of another fine and warm day today.

I started with a look round the garden after breakfast where flowers seemed to be singing in trios…

four triple flowers

…and then I drove south into England where I saw this fine display of rosebay willowherb…

rosebaywillowherb

…and had a very satisfactory singing lesson.  I have reached the stage where I can now sing well enough for my teacher to be able to tell me that I am singing badly.  This may sound paradoxical but good teachers will know that you never tell a pupil who is doing something badly that they are doing it badly as that only discourages them.  You tell them that they are doing very well.  You only tell them that they are doing something badly if they are actually doing it quite well and can improve.  I was very encouraged.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz setting the world to rights from the comfort of our garden bench.

Mrs T and Liz on bench

Appropriately enough, since they are both grandmothers, not far away I could see that the Special Grandma rose has come out.

special grandma

When Liz left, I had a walk round and was pleased to see the first flowers on one of our buddleias.  I hope that it will soon attract butterflies.

buddleia

It was a good day for some hard work in the garden so I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with the settling in of the second of our new garden beds to replace the one crushed by the digger when the electricity pole was put in.

We are very pleased with our shiny new electricity pole but we are even more pleased with the new beds.

new veg beds

After lunch, I did the crossword and then set off to pedal a few miles on my bike.  Mostly I pedal very gently and even on long rides, I eat enough so that I weigh the same when I get home as when I set off.  However, the energetic pedal on Saturday had had the pleasing effect of causing me to lose a little weight so I resolved to get my head down and pedal as hard as I could today.  This meant only two stops for pictures, one of the broad road….

Old A7 Granstonehead

…and one of a narrow path.

bike path with daisies

It is good to see unmown verges and flowery banks.

The effort put into the ride was very worth while as I enjoyed the pedal down to Canonbie and back and sweated off a little more weight.

When I got home, I had time to have a shower and then my flute pupil Luke came for the last lesson before a summer break.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I dug up another of our early potatoes.  They are producing an excellent clean crop which is not helping my weight loss programme at all but they were very delicious with an otherwise cold meal for our tea.  While they were cooking, I mowed both the front and middle lawns, a task which by happy coincidence takes just the same amount of time as new potatoes take to boil.

It was a pity that such a good day was then spoiled by the extremely capricious behaviour of my computer.  It thought it would be amusing if it took several minutes to complete each and every operation so that the preparation of pictures for this post took me longer than my twenty mile bicycle ride had taken,  Far longer.  It was most annoying but at least it has spared the weary reader yet another picture of the salvia, as I had lost patience long before I came to it.

During the afternoon, I found a moment to watch sparring siskins at the feeder…

arguing siskins

…and had another go at taking a picture of St John’s Wort.  The camera just doesn’t like them at all.

st john's wort

As well as potatoes, we should be getting to eat peas and beans in the not too distant future.

pea and bean

And there were roses looking as close to perfection as a gardener could wish.

four roses

If it does rain tomorrow, the garden will be grateful even if I will be a bit morose.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin intent on higher things.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland jaunt.  They went on a boat trip and saw eagles fishing.  He took this picture with his phone.

oznor

We had a better day today.  I managed to get up and stay up and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold was much improved.

She had another very busy day in connection with the plans to try to get a community buy out going for part of the Langholm moor which our local duke is selling.  She is part of a steering group which is considering possibilities and encouraging local interest.  Part of her day involved a visit to the moor with our local expert and as she saw stonechats, meadow pipits, wild goats and a hen harrier in flight, she felt very happy about her day’s work.

I took things more easily and spent a lot of time doing some desultory weeding and dead heading, before some compost sieving.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot of our home made compost recently.

Among this, there was plenty of time to look at flowers both old and new.

It was a day for new poppies to pop up.  Expect many more poppy portraits in the days to come.

three new poppies

Owing to having a very twitchy shutter finger in the sunshine, flowers will appear in mostly colour coded panels.

four pale flowers

From top left clockwise: Ginger syllabub, peony, campanula and water lily

four roses

From top left clockwise: Queen of Denmark, Lilian Austin, Goldfinch, and unknown to me.

four reddish flowers

From top left clockwise: Frau Dagmar Hastrup, wiegela, nasturtium (first of year), spirea

four blueish flowers

From top left clockwise: Delphinium, iris, clematis and clematis

My neighbour Liz called in and was much struck by the beauty of the rosa complicata in the front bed which she said looked exactly like a rose should look like.  Who could disagree with her?

pretty rosa complicata

 

Not all he flowers in the garden stand out.  I had to peer through the tree peony to find this new lily which is blushing unseen.

hidden lily

Among all the other colour, the little forest of orange hawkweed is still one of the best things in the garden at the moment.

orange hawkweed

I sat down for long enough to do the crossword and watch the birds.  A goldfinch had an interesting slant on things…

slanted goldfinch

…while a sparrow clutched at straws (or in this case, the old sunflower stalk).

sparrow on stalk

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal appeared in time to have a bowl too.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn.  The moss eating treatment seems to be working but I applied the mixture, which also contains buck-u-uppo, with such a free hand that the grass is growing at a furious rate.

Then, since it was a fine day and my back and feet were not complaining too much, I went out for a cycle ride.  As the wind was gusting at 25mph, it was quite a short ride because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my legs.

I was keeping an eye out for orchids and when a flash of colour appeared in the verge, I stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be vetch but still well worth a look, I thought.

vetch

I pottered along and turned at this gate on Callister.  Like the photographer, it is a bit past its best.

overrun gate at callister

With the wind behind me, I whistled back to the town and out of the other side until I had got far enough to get a view up the Ewes Valley which the low cloud had denied us yesterday.

view of ewes with wild flowers

Satisfied, I pedalled home and clocked up 16 miles.  At least I had started the new month with something.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home.  She had been off doing more moorland business while I was pedalling but she soon returned and she noticed this strange object on a nettle  while she was getting the washing in.

thing on nettle

A search on the internet tells me that it may be a fungal gall caused by rust.

We had a discussion as to whether it was time to try digging up an early potato.  After some debate, we resolved to give it a go.

It turned out to be a reasonable decision and we ate a lot of them with our evening meal.

new potatoes 2019

My flute pupil Luke came and I was rustier than him as I hadn’t played a note for two weeks.  I will have to put in some practice.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.  I was hoping to see something to photograph and she was hoping to nab a few more townspeople to sign her petition regarding the moorland purchase.

She added two more to her total as we crossed the suspension bridge, and I enjoyed the wild flowers beside the Esk.  For reasons that may have more to do with economy than deliberate planning, the usual strimming of the banks has not taken place and although many townspeople like the banks to look neat and tidy, I prefer the wildflowers.

daisy on river esk bank

The view upriver looked like a painting.

view of Langholm Bridge sunny evening

We walked round the new path on the Castleholm and were impressed by the huge size of the cones on the noble fir.

noble fir cones

There were insects to be seen on the umbellifers beside the path.

insects on umbellifer

And the path itself was treat on a summer evening like this.

new path in shadows

Mrs Tootlepedal added another four names to her petition as we walked along Douglas Terrace and then we dropped in on Mike and Alison (another signature added) where I enjoyed a beer before finally getting home.  Mike and Alison’s garden is looking very fine.

I felt better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin with its mouth full, byt still going back for more.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture appeared when I was looking through the archives and I found this one, which I think comes from Venetia.  It was too good not to put in, so here it is.

Deanery

We had a day with a lot of sun and no rain which in itself would have made it a very good day by recent standards but lots of good things happened as well.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I stepped out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine.

rododendron daisies tropaeolum peony

Everything had a smile on its face.

In the vegetable garden peas are flowering and beetroots are beeting…

pea beetroot foxglove with bee rose

…while among the flowers, the bees were busy again in the foxgloves and roses were beaming with delight.

Along the back of the house, the dam is lined with potentilla and musk, punctuated by the occasional bright poppy.

dam and yellow flowers

I went back in and I was just about to settle down to do the crossword when I noticed a mini digger by the back door…

mini digger

…and in no time at all a large lorry with three new electricity poles was parked in the drive.

big lorry with poles

It turned out that although we were told that the power company was coming to switch wires from our old decrepit poles to new ones tomorrow, the actual poles were to be put in place today.

It was done remarkably quickly.  The first pole was swung off the lorry, manoeuvred under the wires and dropped into a hole dug by a second mini digger.  Considering that it is nine metres high and weighs 210 kg, things went very smoothly.

the front pole

The second pole is in the middle of the vegetable garden and this required a very long arm to drop it in behind the fence…

the veg garden pole

…and a good nudge from the mini digger to get it into place.

digging in the pole

Mrs Tootlepedal’s mustard got a bit crushed in the process but the men made a very neat job of it.

the pole complete

The new poles have got two very decorative plates set into the wood to let the world know all about them

pole makers

If all goes well, the power lines will be transferred from the old poles to the new ones tomorrow and the old poles will be cut down and disappear as if by magic.

The birds kept their distance while the work was going on but they soon returned once the lorry and diggers had gone.

busy feeder on pole day

After lunch, I spread the chips which we collected yesterday onto a path in the vegetable garden and now the whole of the top end is looking well cared for.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy with a new project all day and I gave her a bit of help in working out how to get her new tablet to speak to my printer and then I set out to test the state of my rested feet by going for a walk.

After the miserable weather on my bike ride yesterday had prevented me from getting a view, I headed for the hills today with scenery in mind.

There were wild flowers about…

thre wild flowers warbla track

…but it was hills that I was after. I had an early view of them which I took in case the clouds covered the sun before I got higher…

veiw from stubholm track

…and I had another look when I was half way up the hill…

warbla panorama

A ‘click on the pic’ will show the bigger picture

…and yet another when I was near the top just in case…

view from near warbla summit

…but the sun kindly stayed out for my whole walk and I got a splendid view from the top of Warbla.

view from warbla summit

It was well worth the effort of the short climb.

view up esk valley from warbla

As there was a very stiff wind blowing on the summit, I didn’t linger but made my way back down to the town.

sahdt tarck to stubholm

I found Mike Tinker in the garden talking to Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and we had a cup of tea and a biscuit.  He was impressed by our new poles.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we had a really excellent lesson.  I have learned a lot from my singing teacher, and as much of what she tells me applies to flute playing too, I have been able to pass useful advice on to Luke and he has listened and acted on it.

I had time for a quick walk round the garden after tea, and I enjoyed the sight of a siskin sitting on one of the wires which will be moved to a new pole tomorrow.

siskin on electricty wire

Then the members of our recorder group arrived for our monthly meeting and as Roy, our librarian, had produced a good set of music, we had an enjoyable time.  Sadly, Roy is not well enough to play at the moment, but he is still looking after us well in his choice of pieces to play.

Dropscone’s daughter, Susan is one of our players and as I had met her and her father when they were passing our house on a walk yesterday, I was pleased to discover that Dropscone had got round the walk safely without falling over and breaking any more ribs.

I don’t want to tempt fate, but my feet are still feeling well rested in spite of today’s walk.  Fingers are firmly crossed that they still feel alright tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a passing crow.

flying rook

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The guest picture of the day comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She recently took a break in the Highlands of Scotland where she saw this lovely little tree creeper.

tree creeper

The forecast was for sunshine and light winds in the morning and rain and strong wind in the afternoon.  As I was hoping to have coffee with Dropscone to find out about the state of his health, this meant that I would have to be up early and be well organised to get a bike ride in before coffee time.

To my own astonishment, I managed it.

It was a lovely morning for a pedal…

Chapelhill road

…but as I didn’t have a lot of time in hand, I pressed on without looking for cows or wild flowers in the verges to photograph.   I couldn’t miss Canonbie Church though.,..

Canonbie Church june

…or the ‘leaping poodle’ tree…

laughing poodle tree

…and the beauty of the River Esk at Irvine House called me to a halt too.

river esk at Irvine hiuse june

I got back after twenty miles in good time to get changed and grind the coffee before Dropscone arrived.

He has been given the all clear by the hospital after his golf buggy accident, but he will have to take things easily for a couple of weeks.  As he had just got his golf game working well after some months of poor form, he feels the accident was very badly timed but he is bearing up well and went off with some of Mrs Tootlepedal’s surplus runner beans to plant.

When he went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a walk round the garden.  Just as the sensational white clematis flowers to the left of the front door are fading away, a new set of blue ones has arrived to the right of the door.

two front door clematis

Elsewhere in the garden, the flowers were reflecting the sunshine with bright colours…

four bright flowers

…and more subdued ones too.

four yellow flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the first of our melancholy thistles…

melancholy thistle june

…and it was hard to miss the bright Sweet Williams which are beginning to make a splash.

early sweet williams

Other flowers were to be seen…

four garden flowers

…and once again, there were a lot of bees about.

I put down the camera and got to work mowing the front and middle lawns.  As I was able to do this without having to use the box to collect the grass cuttings, it was an easy and pleasant task.  Cutting lawns every day or every other day is the secret of a happy life….and leads to good looking lawns.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy clearing nerines away from the base of the chimney pot outside the kitchen window.  Now that the bird feeder has been moved, she has plans for creating a little colourful spot to please the eye of the cook or washer up when he or she looks out of the window.

At the moment it is a blank canvas.

cleaned up sundial

I dug holes ready for her to plant the nerines in a different bed and then edged both lawns, shredded some hedge cuttings and sieved some compost.

By this time, we were both ready for some lunch and a sit down!

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who had had a very heavy morning in the garden, went off for a siesta and I did the crossword and then looked at the weather.

In spite of the forecast, it didn’t look as though it was going to rain so I went for a walk.  I have cycled 100 miles in five lots of twenty gentle miles over the week and my feet and Achilles tendon have survived very well so I thought that I would see if some pedestrian exercise would help too and went for a two mile walk ’round the Becks’.

I went up the road first and passed under this very interesting tree with leaves within leaves.

varied leaf

As I was going slowly enough to stop easily, I kept my eye out for wild flowers…

four wild flowers

…but to tell the truth, I didn’t have to look very hard to find  them….

lots of wild of flowers

…as they lined my whole route from start to finish.

four more wild flowers

It was good to be out and about after not doing much walking at all for a month and I enjoyed the views even if the sun had gone in and the blue sky was disappearing.

view of whita from becks road

I crossed the Becks bridge when I came to it…

becks bridge june

…and very much enjoyed the little sunken buttercup meadow on the far side.

buttercup meadow becks

I haven’t had a good gate on the blog for some time so I thought that i ought tor repair that omission today.

gate june

I could have stopped for a picture very few yards but I didn’t want to get caught in the rain so I pushed on as fast as my feet would let me.  All the same, there were things to see on every side, slow worms at Pool Corner, moss recovering after the dry spell….

slow worm, hedge rose, moss and hawthorn

…hawthorn flowers turning pink as they go over and the first hedge roses of the year.

Two miles was as far as my feet would let me go, but the walk doesn’t seem to have made them worse and rest doesn’t seem to make them, better so I will try walking again as soon as weather permits.   The hills beckon.

When I got home, I had a look at the feeder in its new position.  Business was quiet with just a few sparrows coming and going…

sparrows coming and going

…so I went off to practise the songs for our forthcoming choir concert and the hymns for church on Sunday.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round.  They had brought a bottle of white wine with them and this provided fine lubrication for music and conversation.

Altogether, it was a full day, both useful and enjoyable.  The forecast is for a mixture of sunshine and showers in the week to come so I hope to be able to keep cycling and walking if my feet permit.

The flying bird of the day, taken when the sun was long gone, is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce’s stay in Northumberland and shows a colourful view from the bridge over the River Breamish which appeared in a previous post.

river breamish view

The strong winds of yesterday continued overnight and were still blowing this morning so I was happy to stay in and welcome Dropscone for a cup of coffee though I had time to go out into the garden and see what hadn’t been blown over first.

icelandic poppy June

Dropscone arrived with a story to tell.  Thanks to an accident when he was piloting a golf buggy while he was refereeing at a big golf event on the east coast last week, he had had to have an involuntary visit to hospital over the weekend.   He was interested to discover that he was not the only person in his ward to have come off worse in a contest with a golf buggy as another patient had also lost an argument with one.  Dangerous things these golf buggies.

Luckily for me, this had in no way diminished his ability to turn out tasty scones and as he had had to drink very indifferent coffee during his stay in hospital, we were both pleased to see each other.  He was in very cheery form but still has to go back for a check up tomorrow to see that he hasn’t suffered any lasting harm.

Just as we finished our coffee, an ace reporter from our local paper appeared to ask us questions about the little white electric thingy as the paper is doing a feature on ‘green’ issues.

When she had left, I walked round the garden again.

The early lupins are nearly at their peak

luopins nearly there

…while others are just coming out.

close up lupin

In the vegetable garden the chives thrive…

chives looking good

…and the peas progress behind their anti sparrow fortifications.

pea fortress working

The wind and the rain have taken a toll on the azaleas and there are many more petals lying in heaps on the ground than on the bushes.

fallen azalea petals

I went in to make soup for lunch and watch the birds.  The soup kept me busy but there was very little bird action.  The artificial tree was home to three hopeful young sparrows…

three young sparrows

…who were waiting for father to come back with some food…

adult sparrow

…but both adult and children got fed up and flew off and no other birds came to take their place.

After lunch, I decided that my need for a bike ride was greater than my dislike of pedalling in 30 mph winds so I got my bike out and went for ride.  I was helped in this decision by the appearance of some sun, so at least it was reasonably warm even if it was very hard work pedalling into the brisk breeze.

The sun brought out the colours of the red campion and wild geraniums in the verge as I cycled up the hill out of town.

wildflowers

…and everything was cheerfully green under blue skies.

I skulked about in the shelter of the Wauchope valley and only went four miles before turning back to get a whoosh home with the strong wind behind me.   I was so encouraged by the pleasure of downwind cycling that I went back up the road  and gave myself a little diversion to enjoy the views.

green view from Bloch road

The local estate has been busy selling land to forestry companies so that there is a danger that all our hills may be covered by blanket forests like the one in this view but this particular farm has been given a temporary reprieve.

looking to cleuchfoot

I cycled a little further up the road on my second lap but as I started to climb up the hill at Callister, I found myself being blown dangerously about by the strong wind so I abandoned thoughts of going to the top of the hill and turned for home after five miles.

Once more, I experienced the joy of downhill, downwind cycling.  Pedalling along a flat stretch at 25 miles an hour makes an old man feel young again, at least for a moment or two until he has to clutch nervously at the brakes as a sharp corner comes up.

I did stop to take a picture of one of my favourite views, not least because it is all downhill to home from here and on this occasion, wafted by a favouring gale, the three and a bit miles back to Langholm took me ten minutes…

view from above Wauchope schoolhouse

…not including the brief stop for a final picture of a very green corner.

green corner

When I got back to Langholm I was seized with decimal madness and cycled once round the New Town to bring my distance up to a neat 20 miles, a very reasonable distance for such a windy day in my view.

Since the sun was still shining, I took the opportunity to mow the middle lawn and then give it a neat edge with the strimmer.  If it hadn’t been so windy, I might have sat down on the new bench and admired my handiwork but instead I went in and hoped to see some birds.

Once again, there weren’t many to watch.  It is hard to say whether this was because of the strong winds or because the jackdaws have frightened them away.

jackdaw on peanuts

A lone redpoll did appear and after perching anxiously on the sunflower stalk…

redpoll on stalk

…it spent a little time on the seed feeder..

redpoll on feeder

…but it was the only small bird that I saw.

I just had time for another look at the garden, where I saw these clematis seed heads…

clematis seed head

…and a quizzical blackbird…

blackbird sideways look

…before my flute pupil Luke came.

We had another good session and it is good to see steady progress being made.

When he left, I sieved a little compost and mowed the drying green before we had our tea.

In the absence of any opportunity to take a flying bird of the day picture, the quizzical blackbird kindly consented to have its photograph taken to act as standing bird of the day.

full blackbird portrait

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who knows that I like a neat lawn.  She found this one near a well known large house.

Buck house gardens

It was one of those days when it might have rained at any time and there was evidence that it had rained…

rain on hosta

…but in the end, it kept reasonably dry until the late afternoon and I was able to wander round the garden after breakfast looking to see what was going on.

There was the familiar:  the purple stemmed cow parsley is going from strength to strength…

purple cow parsley

…and there was the fresh: the nectaroscordum has started to flower.

nectaroscordum

There was old: the pulsatilla seed heads  are having fun…

pulsatilla

…and there was new: a fourth geum has joined in with the others…

four geums

…and a second astrantia has arrived as well.

pale astrantia

There was plenty of bright colour but sadly a rose had come out and been knocked about by a rain shower before I had a chance to get a good shot of it.

four reds

There were a good number of bumble bees about…

bee on allium

…and the alliums were on their visiting list.

I like the geometry of the alliums….

bees eye view of allium

…and of the sweet rocket too.

sweet rocket head

I was still pottering around the garden when a guest arrived for a garden tour and a cup of coffee.  Sue has recently come to live in Langholm and while she was searching online for information about the town, she happened upon my blog and has since become a regular reader.  It was very nice of her to take the time to come and visit us and Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a good chat with her.

She lives on the edge of town and has many interesting visitors to her garden.  She has invited us up to see woodpeckers, nuthatches and squirrels so I hope to take up her offer soon.

When  she left, I mowed the middle lawn and then took some time to watch our own birds.  Just the usual suspects were about…

three birds

…though I was pleased to see a chaffinch.  They are normally our most common visitor but they have almost entirely disappeared from our garden lately for some unknown reason.

chaffinch and siskin

After lunch, I went up to the town to keep an appointment but as the person whom I was supposed to meet wasn’t there, I came home again and set to work with Mrs Tootlepedal on some lawn improvement.

The front edge of the middle lawn has lifted up over time and Mrs Tootlepedal wanted it lowered so it looked better and was easier to step off.  This involved raising the turfs, removing soil from underneath and replacing the turfs.

A straightforward task which we approached methodically.  First cut the turfs…

lawn renovation 1

…then remove them and lay them on the drive in the right order…

lawn renovation 2

…then shoogle and level the soil underneath, removing quite a lot of earth and three  buckets of stones…

lawn renovation 3

…before raking the soil flat and putting some compost in…

lawn renovation 4

…and then the turfs that have been removed are sliced to a uniform thinness using a turf box and a knife and replaced in position….

lawn renovation 5

…until it starts to pour with rain and we have to break off and have a cup of tea.

As it was then the tome when my flute pupil Luke came, I left Mrs Tootlepedal replacing the last of the turfs between showers and when Luke left, I helped her to finish off the task. Then we gave the replaced lawn a thorough watering and generally tidied up a bit.

lawn renovation 6

As well as the three buckets of stones, we had removed about two wheelbarrow loads of soil so although it may not look much in the photos, we made quite a difference.  Everything will take a few days to settle, but we were very pleased with the result of the afternoon’s work. The lawn will never be bowling green flat but it is much more level than it was.

Luke has been practicing so the lesson went well too.

Tomorrow will tell whether a couple of hours of vigorous bending and stretching was a good idea.  At the moment, all is well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our sparrows.

flying sparrow

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