Posts Tagged ‘Allium’

Today’s guest picture shows one of the two diesel locomotives that together pulled Dropscone and his daughter Susan to Scarborough on a railway special to celebrate her birthday.  They didn’t have ideal weather for a seaside outing.

diesel loco

We had another pleasant morning and it was further brightened by the arrival of Dropscone bearing traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had enough time for a good look round the garden before he came.  The combination of the Japanese azalea and sweet woodruff is delightful even with the azalea not fully in bloom.

sweet woodruff

New flowers are turning up all the time.  This is Veronica…


…and these are two other white flowers which I haven’t had the time to identify yet.

white flowers

The tulips are going over but they are going out in style…

yellow tulip

red tulip

…and there are still a (very) few lonesome daffodils to be found here and there.

late daffodil

I like an aquilegia and this one caught my eye today.


The garden is well ordered but if you get the right view, it can look quite satisfyingly wild too.

garden in May

When Dropscone came, I got the full story of his trip to Scarborough with Susan.  In spite of some rainy weather, they had enjoyed the outing, although the fact that the weather in Langholm had been very nice in their absence was a little hard to bear.

I cheered him up with some rhubarb and he went off intent on shopping and golf.

I looked at the forecast when he left and it offered heavy rain by four o’clock so I had a quick lunch, got my fairly speedy bike out and got ready to go for a ride.  My saddle has been making creaking noises recently so I took it off and cleaned and greased the fittings.  This is always a risky business because it is hard to ensure that you put a saddle back in exactly the same position that it was in before.

I set off to see whether I had managed this trick.  It turned out that it was fractionally different but as it now seems to be in a better position when I cycle uphill, I may leave it for a while and see how comfortable it is on a longer ride.

It didn’t get much of a test today because I stopped after 23 miles.  I had intended to go a bit further but I felt good when I started and pedalled harder than I meant to so I stopped before I got too tired.

I only took one photo opportunity as I was busy pedalling.

bull and calves

A bull pretending to be a bush and two of his progeny

The short ride gave me the opportunity to mow the drying green and have a chat over the back fence with a neighbour who has just come back from America.  He said that the temperature had been in the 80s there and he was finding our 50s a little chilly.

I sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal who was planting out a couple of rows of carrots and then had another wander round the garden.  I found another newcomer.

lily of the valley

Lily of the valley


A set of alliums with a decided aversion to growing up straight like a good allium should

The hostas are beginning to put on a show.  I like this variegated variety.


We went in and had a cup of tea and then I put some time into practising both playing and singing.  I wish our conductor wouldn’t make us learn songs off by heart.  It is more trouble than it is worth for me, though I must say that when I do finally get the tenor part of a song confidently off by heart, it does feel like a genuine achievement.

I have always relied on being able to sight read music reasonably well and have never developed a musical memory as I should have.  However, this is a lesson too late to be learned now.

I should say that it rained exactly at four o’clock so the forecast was bang on time today.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable time playing pieces that we know well (but haven’t had to learn by heart).

No flying birds today but some crouching sparrows, house and hedge, on the ground beside the fat ball feeder.


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…


…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.


Wauchope valley with bluebells


Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…


…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…


…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…


…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…


…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.


We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.


Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…


One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…


…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who had occasion to be in Kent recently and took this picture of Hever Castle just to show that there are castles there too.

Hever castle

We chose the right day to leave North Berwick as it was either raining or just going to rain as we packed up and left after breakfast.  Matilda went back to Edinburgh to a packed social day of dancing and parties so I expect that she will sleep well tonight.

  We had really enjoyed our holiday with her and her parents.

We pottered home cross country in our newly repaired car, hoping that it would last the distance.  In spite f passing through a torrential downpour near Selkirk, the car lasted the distance and we arrived back in time for lunch.  It was raining  lightly but that didn’t discourage us from having a quick look round the garden to see how things had gone during our absence.

The lawn wrecking crew had been hard at work.

pecked lawn

You would think that there must come a time when there are no more insects to peck down there.

The rhododendrons and azaleas are coming into their time…

azalea and rhododendron

…and several azaleas which Mrs Tootlepedal moved late last year seem to have survived the ordeal very well.

The path along the back of the garden is looking very promising.

back path

The rain let up a little in the afternoon so I went out and did a lot of tulip deadheading.  Most of the tulips looked a bit like this…

tulip head

…but in sheltered places, the later tulips were still looking good.



There is no shortage of replacements for the tulips.

The first of the geraniums were ignoring the rain.


There is a regiment of alliums ready to burst into action and the advance party is out.


The clematis over the back door is looking very healthy after the mild winter.


Sweet rocket….

sweet rocket

…and cow parsley…

cow parsley…add a little wild flower touch to the back path.

In the vegetable garden, the gooseberries and strawberries will soon need protecting from hungry birds and the Christmas tree has survived being dug up, sat inside and then replanted and should be bigger and better when required next winter.

Christmas Tree

The pulsatillas have finished flowering but are still very decorative, especially on a damp and soggy day like today.


Altogether, it was a good welcome home.

There has been some small bird disease about so I am not putting any seed in the seed feeders for a while so the flying bird of the day will have to make way for a flower of the day for the next week or so unless I get a lucky shot of a passing starling.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to the Isabella Plantation at Richmond Park last week.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17 004

Our welcome spell of dry and often sunny weather continued today, although once again it came with enough added wind to make my morning pedal down to Canonbie and back quite hard work on the return part of the journey.

I had a quick look round the garden before I set off and was pleased to find another bee hard at work on the apple blossom.

bee on apple blossom

Nearby, the strawberries are just beginning to flower….

strawberry flower

…and I saw a strangely static wasp which looked as though it was glued to a rhubarb stalk.

wasp on rhubarb

I was a bit pushed for time on my cycle ride so I only stopped twice for photographs, once to look at the river near Byreburnfoot….

River Esk

A lot of leaves, not much water.

…and once to look at the bluebells in the wood at Skipperscleuch.  They looked potential from the roadside….


…so I left my bike and walked up into the woods.  I was a bit disappointed because although there were bluebells…..


…there wasn’t the complete carpet that I was hoping for.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that I am looking a bit too early and they will come out fully soon.  I hope that she is right.

I got back from the ride and as usual, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden.  She was in the greenhouse, preparing things to plant our later….


…although, as you can see on the left of the panel, some things are already out in the vegetable beds under cloches.

She is enjoying the dry soil which is much easier to prepare than the more usual heavy, soggy stuff we get in spring.

I had another quick walk round the flowers and saw the first blossom on the clematis by the back door and a potential allium giving notice of a fruitful flower future…

strawberry, hyacinth and allium

…while the grape hyacinths are beginning to wave goodbye.

The apple bee was really getting down to business and filling its pollen sacs.

bee with pollen

Although Mrs Tootlepedal and I have dead headed a host of golden daffodils, there are still quite a few standing.


The cool weather has helped them last for a long time this year.

The geums under the feeders are looking superb.


After I came in from the garden, I had time for a shower and a light lunch and then we got into the car and drove to Dumfries where we visited the Infirmary and I had a small and painless operation to remove a skin tag from my eyelid and then Mrs Tootlepedal drove me home again.

Always keen to combine business and pleasure, she worked in a visit to the council civic amenity waste site (The Dump) on our way and dumped some of the wood from our old compost bin and several buckets of unwanted stones from the garden.

We arrived home in a cheerful mood.

My lawn co-workers were busy excavating the moss from the middle lawn.


They are jackdaws.


While I was out thanking the jackdaws for their tireless toiling, I took a look into the mystery of the dark heart of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Alnwick tulips.


I was just about to cook my tea when Sandy rang up and suggested that I should go out into the garden and look up.  I did.

This is what I saw.

strange cloud

The oddest cloud that I have ever seen was rising from behind the trees…..

strange cloud

…and stretching half way across the sky.  It was so long and thin that I couldn’t get it all in one shot.

Even Sandy, who was a bit further away, couldn’t quite get it all in.  He sent me this shot.

strange cloud

The cloud ended rather like a feather just to the right of Sandy’s shot.

The conditions that could cause a cloud like this are a complete mystery to me.  I thought that perhaps it might be a con trail from a long departed aeroplane which had condensed as the temperature dropped in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal, and others who saw it, were of the opinion that it definitely was just a cloud, although a very strange one indeed.

Apart from it, there was not another cloud in the sky.

Once again, I didn’t have much time to look at birds and this goldfinch was the best that I could manage as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my old teaching colleague Ada.  She and some of her family have just spent time in France.  Guess what her husband, sister and brother-in-law did.

Mont Ventoux

I went cycling myself this morning and climbed a hill too.  It was slightly less awesome than Mont Ventoux though as it was just ten miles and a few hundred feet of climb up to Mosspaul.

It was just as sunny here though and I was glad to be cooled down by a brisk wind as I cycled up the ten miles to the hotel.  They have a fine monkey puzzle tree in their garden.

Monkey Puzzle

My favourite crossword setter, now deceased, used this tree, the Araucaria, as his nom de plume .

It was quite hard work against the wind so I was pleased to be able to turn at the top and look back down at my route home.


Just follow the power lines!

I went up the gentle hill at an average of 11 mph and went back down at 21 mph, which made the return journey very enjoyable.

I had a little time for a walk round the garden and a cup of coffee before we had to set off for Carlisle and the last concert of the choir season.

The garden was looking as though it was enjoying the fine weather too.


The alliums are getting very spherical.


There are still not nearly enough bees about but those that are here are keeping busy.

bumble bee

I was thinking pale and pink today.



The first rose of the season…

The second rose of the season

…soon joined by another


Looking up at an Aquilegia

I did take one look at a stronger colour.


I had just enough strength left after pedalling to chase round the garden after the painted lady butterfly which was making a return visit.

painted lady

I hope that it is joined by a friend or two soon.

Our trip to Carlisle for the Carlisle Community Choir summer concert went well.  We have been a bit short of practice for some of the songs in the programme as we have been concentrating on the competitions that we took part in but we had a good go through them before the performance and things went pretty well.

A friend, who has sung in many choirs over the years, came to listen and she thoroughly enjoyed the concert and gave us a very favourable report whihc was very heartening.

We had had to leave our unlocked car in a public car park for five hours while we sang so it was an added bonus to find it still there when we went to look for it.  This perhaps is one advantage of driving a car which discerning car thieves would not be seen dead in.

We had a walk round the garden when we got home and I was impressed by signs of growth in the strawberries.


Mrs Tootlepedal likes the colourful ornamental strawberry on the left. I am thinking of eating the real ones on the right in the not too distant future.

Now that both of our choirs have finished for the summer, we will have more free time so we expect the weather to take a turn for the worse as we always seem to get the best weather when we have to go to a choir practice.  Such is life.

The flying bird of the day is a bee.


PS: We shed a tear for Andy Murray, beaten again by the inexorable Novak.





Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Annie’s visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.  Alliums are Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourites but hers don’t usually look as regimented as these.


As it happened, I had a chance to look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s alliums this morning after breakfast and I thought that they looked very good…


Allium alley

…even though they are not so perfectly spherical as the ones at Chelsea.

I had taken the camera out into the garden because I had spotted a frog in the pond…


…and while I was out there, I looked at the Camassia…


It has nearly gone as far as it can go

…and the Irises….


…which are just starting out on their journey

I went back in and saw one of our many beady eyed blackbirds through the kitchen window….


…before packing up some newspapers and a packet of Jaffa Cakes and setting off to to do two hours in the Information Hub on the High Street.

The Hub is hosting an art exhibition by two talented local artists so I was quite busy in my role as ‘curator’ of the exhibition as well as answering requests for information from several actual tourists and I had a good time.  As a bonus Dropscone dropped in to give me some company.  I will be sconeless for a while, as he is going off to act as an offical at a big international children’s golf competition near Edinburgh for several days.

I had hoped to  make good use of another very fine and sunny day with some extensive lawn care and a cycle ride but for some reason or other, my back had taken the huff and I was having a bit of difficulty walking let alone doing anything more vigorous.  It is just a twinge from a long standing problem and should be gone soon with some careful management.

After lunch, I went out and had a longing look at the lawns, which could have done with some tender care, and then looked at flowers instead.


A brisk wind was fluttering the geraniums


The fancy tulips by the front door are being reduced in number every day and their red companions have all gone.


The clematis round the back door is coming on strongly

It was such a lovely day that staying indoors seemed a sin.  I was able to pedal my slow bike about if I was careful so I went off to the nuthatch nest to see if the parents would be about.  They were obviously feeding young as they went in and out with great regularity…


…and even took some time to tidy the nest out.


The sun is in the wrong place for getting good pictures of the birds in the afternoon and I should try to get up early if the weather is fine again tomorrow and take some better shots.  I wouldn’t bet the house on that happening though.

The nest is in a fine pair of trees, worth looking at in their own right.

Nuthatch trees

While I was watching the nuthatches, I could hear some flapping nearby and after some investigation, I could see a pigeon sitting on a nest on a branch of the same tree.


From time to time her partner arrived with food and on one occasion, with some additional furniture for the apartment.


I pottered off on the slow bike just to turn my legs over for a mile or so and stopped to look at a cheerful patch of wild flowers on the Castleholm.

Castleholm Wildflowers

Castleholm Wildflowers

Garden escapes provided some other colour beside the Lodge Walks.


In the surroundings of green this azalea stands out like a flickering flame


There are plenty of rhododendrons about too

I was hoping to get a flying bird or two at the Kilngreen but being a bank holiday, the Kilngreen was full of human visitors rather than birds so I settled for a nougat wafer slider from Pelosi’s ice cream van and pedalled home slowly.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was just finishing her gardening for the day. After a look at a promising peony…


…we went inside, where we were soon joined by Mike Tinker who arrived in nice time for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit.

My back was giving me enough trouble to persuade me to reluctantly cancel an evening of trio playing with Mike and Isabel but I managed to give Luke his flute lesson before retiring to sit down for the rest of the evening.

I didn’t spend much time looking at birds out of the kitchen window so this was my best effort at a flying bird of the day.   Must do better.

flying siskin




Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s new phone.  It shows the view across to Kinder Scout, scene of a famous mass trespass in 1932, which was very influential in leading to better rights of access for ramblers in England.

Kinder Scout

I am very short of cycling miles this month thanks to too many jaunts and too much to do so I was keen to fit a short ride in this morning before going to the Archive Centre to wait for the meter reader.

I was just about to set out when I received a phone call from Scott, the minister, who was also looking for a short pedal so we agreed to go together.  He is in training for a couple of long charity rides so I was expecting to find myself lagging behind him and this expectation was fully realised on the first hill.  However, he politely slowed down for me and we pottered round the same route as I had used last night.  The road men seem to be gravelling on all sides and the main road was the best option again.

Scott is not a man to stop for pictures so the first pictures of the day were taken during a quick walk round the garden when I got home.

We are entering a purple patch.  The lamium is flowering….


…and the alliums are working very hard at coming out.


 There are still poppies of course but they will soon be overtaken by the azaleas.


Not a frog to be seen in the pond but skaters in abundance.

pond skater

I put my lightweight camera down and went up to the Archive Centre where the meter reader appeared on cue.  He told me that the the meter and the bills based upon it were in disagreement as to what was night and what was day and also took the view that our storage heaters were suffering from either a defective clock or a defective thermostat so it was a useful visit.

Even better was the fact that he had come so promptly that I was able to pedal home in time to go off to Lockerbie with Mrs Tootlepedal to catch the train to Edinburgh to spend the afternoon visiting Matilda.

The journey went well and Matilda was in good form.  She showed Mrs Tootlepedal some of the flowers in her garden…

Matilda and Mrs T

…and then took her off for a walk to the park.

Matilda and Mrs T

After some vigorous work on the slides there, it was lucky that Matilda found a stout stick to give her some support on the journey home.

Matilda and Mrs T

Matilda’s parents kindly supplied us with an excellent Indian carry-out for our  tea which we ate with them round the kitchen table and we headed back to the station in a very satisfied mood.

The gorse on the slopes of Arthur’s Seat was very striking and I wish that we had had time to go into the park to see it better…

Gorse on Arthur's Seat

…but there was a train to catch so we had to go to the station.

North Bridge

The North Bridge which carries the main road over the station

There are a number of quotations from Walter Scott, the author of the Waverley novels,  dotted round Edinburgh Waverley Station and this one caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

Walter Scott quote

Although superficially amusing, I thought that it probably reflected more badly on the author and his lack of patience than on the qualities of his friends.  Perhaps they didn’t bring him enough scones.

We got home safely, tired but happy.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »