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Posts Tagged ‘alliums’

Today’s guest picture is another from Tony in sunny East Wemyss. He passed this delightful garden maintained by OAPs for the benefit of passers by.

We had another lovely day here with the only worry that it might get a bit too hot for us pallid northerners. One sign of the easing of the lockdown was the sight of several aircraft con trails across our otherwise blue skies. Like the increase in traffic, this is an unwelcome side of the return to ‘normality’.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and the crossword had been disposed of, and although there is not much startlingly new to be seen, it is always a pleasure to wander about among the flowers. And a white butterfly shared my enjoyment.

The blue lupins are going from strength to strength each day.

In the absence of the gaudy colour of the frost damaged azaleas, we are appreciating the more subdued corners in the garden.

I went back inside and noticed a goldfinch and a sparrow having a chat on the feeder…

…before Mrs Tootlepedal and I started a WhatsApp chat of our own with our son Alistair and our granddaughter Matilda in Edinburgh. Their south facing house is very hot at the moment but they found a cool spot where Matilda could read an amusing story about ‘Mr and Mrs Brown who are upside down’ to us. We also used another app that lets us play games at a distance and we passed a most enjoyable time with them. Alistair revealed that he had used technology to give an online Power Point presentation to 50 of his work colleagues. We were impressed.

After our chat, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then made lentil and bacon soup for our lunch. While it was cooking, I went out for another look round the garden.

Another rhododendron has started to come out in a shady spot in the back border…

…and a pink tinged rose caught my eye in a bush of otherwise white roses.

After lunch, I decided to brave the heat and go for a cycle ride. The temperature had hit 20°C which might have been a bit hot for a walk but cycling brings its own breeze with it. In the event, conditions were kind enough for me to enjoy a 30 mile ride. This was apart from the first five miles, where bad road surfacing had left the tar melting in little bubbles making the road very sticky and hard work. From then on, things improved.

The countryside is looking very green…

…and a calf had found some long grass to rest in.

I didn’t stop a lot as it seemed much warmer as soon as I lost the breeze of my own making. But I did want to record that the damage to beech hedges from the fateful late frost extends far beyond our Langholm.

There were brown patches on almost all the hedges that I passed. But plenty of buttercups in the verges made up for some loss of leaves in the hedges.

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that it would be wise for me to take things slowly in the heat and I had no difficulty in following her advice. My legs were content just to fill up the gap between my shorts and the pedals rather than to give me much help in the pushing department. Still, they have done a fair bit of work over the past few days so I can’t complain.

I got back in good time to join in the daily Zoom chat with my brother and sisters and then I had another chance to watch greenfinches on the feeder…

…and take another walk round the garden while the vegetables were cooking to go with the slow cooked stew.

I like the flowers in the late afternoon/early evening sun. It seems to sharpen them up.

…and bring out the colours better than when the full sun of the day is on them.

Especially on my current favourite lupin.

After our evening meal, we had a special treat, the better side of the easing of the lockdown, when Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit for the first time for many weeks.

As they are not allowed to come into our house yet, there was no music playing, but there was beer and conversation (socially distanced) on the lawn. As it was a beautiful evening, with virtually no breeze, and as it has been too dry for the midges to breed, sitting out in the garden was very acceptable and we enjoyed this slight move back to life as it used to be.

Alison thought that the clematis over the garage was looking well.

The good weather is set to continue but with a bit more breeze and the temperature down a degree or two, it might be a good day for a walk tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch again.

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Today”s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He saw deer on one of his walks with his dogs.  The deer saw him but didn’t run away at once.

Tony's deer

To say that today was another uneventful day would be rather overstating the excitement.  The recent frost has put a damper on the pleasure of walking round the garden in quite a big way, and as it was another grey morning, there was not a lot of incentive to get up and go.

In the end, I managed to finish the crossword and get up in time for a walk round the garden before coffee.  The only photograph that I took was of these ill matched Icelandic poppies, and I couldn’t get a very good shot of them as they were blowing about in the breeze.

ill matched poppies

I don’t know why some of the orange poppies have white tips this year.

After coffee, I shredded more of Mrs Tootlepedal’s uprooted box bushes and then went inside.

I watched the birds through the window for a moment or two.

A greenfinch felt that I was intruding on its privacy.

sad greenfing

A sparrow watched while another greenfinch and a chaffinch arrived simultaneously, luckily heading for different perches.

greenfinch and chaffinch arriving together

And there was room for two sparrows too.

sparrow joining sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal had suggested that I might like to try a recipe for a boiled cake.  This sounded very strange to me but on investigation it turned out that only some of the ingredients were boiled and that the cake was actually baked in a standard way, so I gave it a go.

It tuned out that it makes a small cake and the process was quite simple (which is probably why Mrs Tootlepedal suggested it).  You take butter, syrup, sugar and water, melt them together and add currants and sultanas and then boil this mixture very gently for a few minutes.  This is cooled and then added to flour and spices with a beaten egg and the whole thing is poured into a cake tin and baked.

Some time later, it comes out like this:

boiled cake

While it was baking, I made leek and potato soup for lunch and we had time to eat the soup before the cake came out of the oven.

After lunch, I had another walk round the garden and found a rhododendron flower which looks as though it might have survived the frost.

surviving rhododendron bud

The tree peony and the standard peonies in the flower beds are in a race to see which comes fully out first and at the moment, the tree peony is the slight favourite.

tree peony almost out

The alliums, unaffected by the frost, are going global.

global allium

In the absence of azaleas, I am probably going to spend more time looking at Welsh poppies than usual.  They have acquired some pinkish tinges this year, another mystery but quite pretty.

Sometimes the tinge is in the middle…

welsh poppy red middle

…sometimes in a line across the petals…

welsh poppy red stripe

…and sometimes round the edge.

welsh poppy red edge

Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is damage of some sort.

She has completed her hedge cut back and you can see the more open view of the house that this provides.

hedge clipped

I will be interested to see how the planting changes to reflect the new vista.

There was a tremendous racket in the garden caused by baby sparrows demanding to be fed by their long suffering parents and this blackbird in the plum tree was joining in with gusto.

hopeful blackbird

It looks a little old to be needing to be fed but it wasn’t getting any attention and that didn’t suit it at all.

A starling had been doing some successful foraging.starling with food

I went in to change into my cycling gear and then went off for a short cycle ride.  Mrs Tootlepedal had looked at the clouds and brought the washing in ‘just in case’, but the forecast hadn’t got any rain in it so I set off with confidence of a dry trip round Canonbie.

My confidence was well founded and with the wind coming from a generally helpful direction, I enjoyed my ride and went a bit more quickly than recent efforts.

After taking far too many pictures in recent days, I resolved not to take too many today and was reasonably successful.  The theme of the ride was hedges and wild flowers.

The cow parsley is coming on well along the Tarcoon road…

cow parsely tarcoon

…and the tree over the hedge is now fully clothed.

tree tarcoon

A little further on, I was happy to find a beech hedge in very good condition.  My friend Nancy had sent me pictures yesterday of a beech hedge badly affected by the frost but this one was untouched.

beech hedge tarcoon

I stopped at Canonbie Bridge for a conversation with Simon, a Camera Club member who was out for a walk.  His normal work involves sporting events and international travel so he currently stacking shelves for supermarkets instead.   He doesn’t know when he will be able to go back to his real job.

When I got nearer Langholm, I found that the Pyrenean Valerian is beginning to line the roadsides.

pyrenean valerian clump

The boiled cake went down very well with a cup of tea on my return and the normal sibling Zoom and an excellent pasta dish for our evening meal rounded off another routine day of lockdown.

Looking at the forecast, I see that things are going to warm up a bit and there may even be a bit of rain in the next day or two but the promise of very high temperatures next week seems to have faded away, for which I am grateful as I don’t like it when it gets too warm.

We will believe in the rain when we feel it actually falling on our heads.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder.  It avoided the pole.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who contemplated Nottingham Arboretum’s war memorial (Crimean War), sometimes called “the Chinese Bell Tower”.

chinese bell tower

Our fine weather continued though it was pretty windy and a good deal cooler than the recent very unseasonably hot days.  Still, it was warm enough to wander round the garden in just a T shirt (and trousers) after I had gone up to the town to do a bit of embarrassing business.  I had lost the Archive Group chequebook and had to eat humble pie and ask for a new one to be issued.

The garden somewhat made up for my bumbling.

The very last of the tulips are fading away gracefully…

late tulips

…and are being replaced by white blossom…

parsley, dogwood and rowan

Cow parsley, dogwood and rowan

There are signs that we might get at least a few strawberries in the not too distant future…

strawberry

…but a lot of the plants look as though the hot weather has been too much for them.

The alliums are at their best….

allium

…and one my favourite flowers, the astrantia, is also thriving.

astrantia

For sheer impact, the Icelandic poppies are hard to beat, particularly in a sunny moment…

icelandic poppy

..but the geraniums are well worth a second look even if they are not so zingy.

geranium

After coffee, I went out again to check on the bird activity.

There were sparrows everywhere; trying to get at Mrs Tootlepedal’s peas, eating aphids on the gooseberry bush, flying into compost bin C and taking a little seed from the feeder.

sparrows

They can eat all the aphids they can with my blessing but Mrs Tootlepedal hopes that her defences will keep them out of the peas.

The baby thrush and an inquisitive blackbird were about too.

thrush and balckbird

I checked on the chives while I was out.

chives

I really should have gone out for a bike ride in the sunshine but the brisk wind and a slightly weary feeling put paid to any energetic ideas so I booked some railway tickets for a future jaunt to London instead.

All through the day, there were incessant and noisy demands from a young sparrow for food…

sparrow feeding

…and the mother responded with superb patience.

After lunch, I went down to Longtown to pick up my slow bike from the bike shop where it has been serviced and the briefest of test rides on it showed just how good my new bike is in comparison.  My new bike has to go back to the bike shop soon for a post sale checkup and the mechanic suggested that they might have to keep it for some time so that they all could get a ride on it.  Hmmm.

Then I had to go off to see a doctor about my persistently malfunctioning voice.  I went in the hope of a miracle cure so I would be in good order for two concerts in the coming weekend but no miracle cure was forthcoming, only a blood test appointment and a re-visit in two weeks.  I can’t complain about a doctor being thorough though and I will just have to wait to see what happens next.

The day had got rather cloudy and grey by this time so I instead of going for a bike ride when I got back, I did a little gardening in the shape of sieving some compost and doing a bit of shredding for Mrs Tootlepedal who was improving one of her flower beds by clearing things out.

A visitor came round to check on the health of some plants that she had given Mrs Tootlepedal and was relieved to see them doing well as hers were looking a bit peaky.  She looked along Ally’s allium alley before she left.

Ally's allium alley

We had a cup of tea and I noticed a great tit coming to the feeder for the first time for ages.

great tit

Later on,  since the skies had cleared and a beautiful evening was developing, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip up to the Langholm Moor in the hope of seeing something interesting.

Sadly, we saw no wildlife of any sort though we heard a distant cuckoo.  Nevertheless, the general beauty of the scene, both on the drive up…

Ewes valley

…and when we got to the moor…

On Langholm Moor

…made it a very enjoyable if brief outing.

On our way home we stopped to look at the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…and take in the view of Warbla across the Castleholm.

Warbla view

We had a salad for our tea, with radishes and a variety of cut leaves from the vegetable garden.  I hope that this will be the first of many meals enhanced by home grown produce.

The flying bird of the day is a curiosity.  I noticed a jackdaw on the front lawn and followed it as it took off.  I don’t try this often as it needs a quicker hand and eye than I possess but I thought that the result was worth a look even if just to notice how the bright light made a black bird look pale grey.

flying jackdaw

 

 

 

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