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Posts Tagged ‘aquilegia’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jennifer and shows her lovely garden, proving that they have had good weather up there too.

IMG_0168

After the brief interlude with rain here, we are back to dry, warm weather.  New flowers are appearing in the garden.

euphorbia, wiegela, philadelphus

The new euphorbia in full flow, the weigela and the first philadelphus

It was cloudy today but warm enough for me to go out for a bicycle ride exposing my knees to the grateful public.  From a cycling point of view, the fact that it was cloudy was a bonus as it meant I didn’t get cooked as I pedalled but from a photographic point of view,  it meant my eyes were more often turned to the verges than the views.

There was plenty to see in the verges.

The umbellifers are out in force and no plant is so reliable in my experience at attracting insects for photo opportunities.

insects on umbelliferhoverfly on umbellifer

The grasses are also at their peak in many and various forms.

grasses

grasses (2)

I cycled down to Gretna and then took the service road beside the new motorway.  The road makers have given the new road very decorative bankings.

motorway daisies

There was red and white clover all along the way.

clovers

And I saw my first hedge rose today.

hedge rose

The hawthorns are beginning to go over and fading to a delicate pink as they go.  This one was at the bridge over the river Lyne near Longtown.

hawthorn

There is no shortage of food for sheep or cattle.

sheep in meadow

And no shortage of wild flowers  for me to enjoy.  This is the old A7, now by-passed by the Auchenrivock diversion.

Old A7 verge

Not long before I got back to Langholm, I stopped at Hollows Tower for a cup of coffee and a Tunnock’s Tea Cake at their new little ground floor cafe.  The tower celebrates the Armstrong reiving family…

 

Hollows Tower

…so I was relieved that no one stole my bicycle while I was drinking my coffee.  I prudently parked it round the back.

When I got home, after a very enjoyable 50 mile excursion into the flatlands of England, I had enough energy left to mow the front lawn and take a few pictures in the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a pleasure to be out in the garden with leisure to sit down from time to time and enjoy the views.

My eye was drawn towards pink.

Fru Dagmar Hustrup rose

Fru Dagmar Hastrup, new in the garden this year,

aquilegia

A pink aquilegia which Mrs Tootlepdal likes

astrantia

And the wonderful astrantia, a whole garden in a single plant

Newly out was this excellent iris….

iris with lining

…and Mrs Tootlepedal’s geum garden is a riot of colour.

geums

I took a moment to check on the birds.  Sparrows are coming to the feeder in style.

landing sparrow

And we still have redpolls, though not quite as bright red as before.

redpolls

Later on, Mrs Tootlepedal was doing some weeding when she saw this frog.

frog in garden

She thinks that the frogs in the garden may well account for her slug free hostas.

My flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  Rather to my surprise, it turns out that he has been coming to play for so many years that he has now finally left school.  Time flies when you are enjoying yourself.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some lemon curd ice cream from a recipe card that she had come across and we ate it for our pudding after a second go at the slow cooked beef stew. This came with a side order of fresh spinach from the garden and we had an excellent meal to round off a  very enjoyable day.

I made an effort at a flying bird of the day and caught a sparrow checking to see who was about.

flying sparrow

Those interested may see more detail on the bike ride by clicking on the map below.  You can see that it was a very flat route.

garmin route 4 June 2018

 

 

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Today’s guest picture come from Venetia’s trip to Toulouse a couple of weeks ago.  She came across this very cheerful lady with a rather macabre exhibit in a local flea market there.

toulouse flea market

Our spell of remarkably fine weather continued with temperatures so far above the seasonal average that we were quite pleased to find them moderated by a brisk wind.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the sunshine before we went off to sing in the church choir.  The choir sang a short anthem between the bible readings and we were stunned to receive a totally unexpected round of applause from the congregation when we finished.  It might have been sparked off by the visiting minister who was taking the service. I have never encountered this in the middle of a service before but it was very pleasing to be on the receiving end of it.

My throat is not much better but as I was singing bass, I was able to croak my way through without too much trouble.

When we got back to the house, there was a few minutes to look round the garden.  There is a lot to look at as the garden has been transformed in the week that we were away.

There is a good variety of colour ranging from the white of the  clematis round the back door…

clematis

…and a new veronica beside the middle lawn (which Mrs Tootlepedal assures me is blue but it looks dead white to me)…veronica

…and some sweet rocket near the silver pear.

sweet rockety

Slightly more colour can be seen in the pale aquilegias…

aquilegia

…and more still in the potentillas along the back wall of the house beside the dam.

potentilla

This year Mrs Tootlepedal has decided to be pleased by the various Welsh poppies which tend to pop up randomly all over the garden…

welsh poppy

…this one beside a promising looking hosta.

On the opposite side of the dam, Kenny’s euphorbia is going from strength to strength.

euphorbia

Stronger shades of colour have cropped up unexpectedly beside the yellow potentilla in the shape of this blue aquilegia which has dropped in from somewhere unknown.  It is very welcome.

aquilegia

In the garden, there was more blue as the first cornflower has come out.

cornflower

But for ‘big colour’, it is hard to beat a peony.  This is the first of the year.

peony

However, all things considered, this azalea does probably carry more zing.

azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal was worried because its leaves were tinged with what looked like an unhealthy colour but as you can see, it is looking very well.

We didn’t have time to do any lawn care or large scale watering as we had to rush off to Carlisle to get to an early start for the last practice of the community choir there before its season ending concert next Sunday.  Our excellent conductor is leaving us to go on to bigger and better things and as he will be sorely missed, the practice was a bitter sweet occasion.

My croaky voice just about stood up to singing the tenor part as luckily, the parts were generally in the lower range of tenor part singing but there were times when it gave up and I was left looking a bit like a beached fish with my mouth opening but nothing coming out.  The conductor has prescribed a week of not talking.  Those who know me will gauge how likely that is to happen.

It was a beautiful evening when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal rushed to water her seedlings in the greenhouse (the temperature was in the mid twenties) and then she was able to do some useful work in the garden while I took a few more pictures.

The clematis at the back door is at its best when the evening sun lights it up…

clematis

…and the peony looked good too.

peony

Also looking good but not quite so welcome was this striking rhubarb flower.

rhubarb flower

The rhubarb has been neglected while we have been away and may be past its best for eating but there are promising signs of meals to come in the bean department.

broad  beans

The evening light was kind to our white potentilla…

potentilla

…but a new plant, recently purchased by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking good in a shady bed.  It is a Choisya…

choisya

…and a good one as far as I am concerned.

The ornamental strawberries are having a very good year and Mrs Tootlepedal is spreading them about a bit.

ornamental  strawberries

I had no time to linger around at the kitchen window waiting for birds to come to the feeder today…

siskin

…but I did catch a siskin having words with someone.

The best I could do for a flying bird was a couple of shots of an aggressive pigeon trying to get another pigeon to fly away.

pigeons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I found today’s guest picture while looking at last month’s files.  It shows two pelicans which my sister Mary met in St James’ Park in April and it should have appeared before now. She describes the pelicans as “resting from their ‘amusing the tourists’ activities.”

Pelicans resting from their 'amusing the tourists' activities

After the slightly cool air yesterday, today was back to early summer warmth and at 19°C, it was at the perfect temperature for me as I don’t like it when it gets too hot.

I had to start the day with a trip to the garage to get a new spare tyre fitted to the spare wheel as the one we have had on since we bought the car has mysteriously got a spilt in the side wall and was irreparable.

Then I mowed the middle lawn without finding very much grass on it and followed that by going on a nuthatch hunt by bike accompanied by Mrs Tootlepedal.

We passed a large bank full of ribwort on our way to the Jubilee Bridge.

ribwort

The nuthatches were very busy going to and fro to the nest with food when we got there.

nuthatches

I like they way that they always have a cautious peer out of the nest hole before emerging.

nuthatches

Mrs Tootlepedal kept an eye out for tree creepers but although she saw one, I couldn’t get the camera into action quickly enough.

She doesn’t entirely share my enthusiasm for hanging around for yet another few minutes to see if I can get a better nuthatch shot so we set off across the Castleholm to see what we could see.

There was no shortage of treats.

red horse chestnut

This is an example of the Aesculus × carnea, or red horse-chestnut an artificial hybrid between A. pavia (red buckeye) and A. hippocastanum (horse-chestnut).   I thought that you would like to know that.

hawthorn

Could this tree have tried any harder?

conifer

Or this one.

My favourites were the pair of Noble Firs on the corner of the new path,  They have more going on than most trees.

Noble Fir

We went back by the Jubilee Bridge and I stopped for another look at the busy nuthatches….

nuthatches

…while Mrs Tootlepedal went home for a cup of coffee and some gardening.

While I watched the nuthatches, a blue tit and a wood pigeon watched me.

blue tit and wood pigeon

On my way home, I passed a very furry flower.

furry flower

When I got back, I had a cup of coffee and got on with some gardening too.  I mowed the front lawn and then sieved some compost.  Mrs Tootlepedal is busy planting things out from the greenhouse and compost is always welcome.

While I was mowing the lawn, a neighbour called by and said that she had just been trapped in her house for twenty minutes by a huge swarm of bees in her garden and had only got out when the bees had moved next door.  She asked my advice as to her best plan of action.

Feeling that, “Run like the clappers!” was probably not the most useful answer, I suggested telephoning the council and she said that she would do that.  I went to warn my neighbour Liz of the possibility of a swarm of bees but when we went round to check, there was no sign of them at all.  They must have swarmed off somewhere else.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had noticed a sparrow disappearing into a crack in Liz’s wall…

sparrow in Liz's wall

…but when Liz investigated, there was not enough room for a nest and the sparrow must just have been enjoying the shade.

In between mowing and having lunch, I took the chance to look at flowers.

peony

A peony was almost out.

Ranunculus

A new purchase which Mrs Tootlepedal describes as a ‘fancy buttercup’. Money well spent in my view.

Rosa Moyesii

The first flower on the Rosa Moyesii

Mrs Tootlepedal was glad to see the rose in flower has she had feared for the health of the plant earlier in the spring.

I was pleased to see more aquilegias.

aquilegia

As it was still a wonderful day after lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and felt very virtuous for having completed a clean sweep of the grass during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was making a splendid job of edging the middle lawn with shears so I set about neatening the front edge of the same lawn with a spade and then edging the front lawn with the strimmer.  Though I say so myself, by the time we had both finished, the lawns looked quite neat.

Front lawn

The front lawn with azaleas

middle lawn

The middle lawn. Sparkling edge work from Mrs Tootlepedal

It is a pity that the plum tree in the foreground hides the rhododendrons which frame the top corner of the middle lawn.

In the course of the afternoon, the other two tenors from our Langholm choir came round for a practice as we have a concert this Friday.  It was one of those practices which leave you with the feeling that what you really need is some practice.

Later in the afternoon, I went up to collect the spare wheel with its new tyre and I sincerely hope that I have spent money on something that I will never use.

I left Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden when I got back and went in to make a belated cup of tea and I was rather surprised when she came in behind me in a great rush shutting the door firmly as she came.  The swarm of bees was back and in our garden.

However, by the time that I had picked up a camera and gone to have a peer through the glass in the back door, they had already moved on and were swirling about above our neighbour Irving’s roof.

bees swarming

A few minutes later and they were gone.  They seem to be on a tour of the New Town.  We are assuming that they are honey bees but we don’t know where they have come from as we don’t think that anyone nearby has a hive.

After tea, I went off to the final practice of our Langholm choir before the concert and my feeling that more practice was required turned out to be fully justified.  I will have to find some time to go over the music tomorrow.  It is unfortunate that both the choirs that I sing in are having concerts at pretty well the same time.  Being a very rough and ready singer, I am rather overwhelmed by the number of songs that need to be mastered.

My ideal choir would sing interesting music every week but never have a concert.

No bird of the day today but the flower of the day is the peony which finally came out fully in the afternoon.  It was well worth the wait I thought.

peony

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the west face of Hereford Cathedral.  My brother likes imposing church buildings.

Hereford cathedral West face

Having had their little bit of fun yesterday, the weather gods were in a cheerier mood today and helped me out.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal was looking out of the kitchen window when she thought that she saw a most unusual bird visiting the fatballs.  A second look showed that it didn’t have feathers but fur.

mouse

I went out to see of I could get a close up but it scurried off so I looked for new flowers instead.  I found a relatively new purchase and an old friend.

a ranunculus and astrantia

A lone high class buttercup and the first of many astrantias

There were many pleasures to be seen but the current star of the show is this rhododendron which is at its peak.

rhododendron

It sits in a colourful corner.

rhodedendrons

I had to sit for a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office this morning, receiving tourists at the exact rate of one per hour.  I wasn’t bored though as I was able to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Database and as it was raining outside for quite a bit of the time, I felt very content.

When I got home, the rain had relented and I was able to walk round the garden where Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work.

It was genuinely warm and for the first time this year, there was no nip in the air at all, just a balmy breeze.  The plants are enjoying themselves.

I took a picture of a not very impressive flower…

first rose of summer

…but it is a significant arrival as it the first rose of summer.

I took another picture of that colourful corner.

rhododendrons

I often take close ups of flowers but there are some nice clusters of colour to be enjoyed too.

clematis, iris and welsh poppy

Clematis, iris and welsh poppy

After lunch, the weather was warm and the rain had gone away so we hung the washing out and then  I went off for a short pedal down to Canonbie and back.

I had hardly got started before I had to stop when I saw an old friend at Pool Corner.

clematis, iris and welsh poppy

There were plenty of wild flowers to distract me as I pedalled along…

wild flowers

…and many small butterflies flitting about too but none of them would stay still long enough for me to get my camera out so I stopped trying to catch one of them and stuck to the flowers.

crosswort and clover

The verges are rich in cow parsley at the  moment…

cow parsley

…and some of the fields are full of buttercups…

buttercups

…so my trip was very easy on the eye.

It was pleasantly warm and I was able to get my vitamin D dose through my knees. This was a treat for me but maybe a bit of a shock for any passers by.  Cycling is so much easier when it is warm and even the wind doesn’t seem to bother you so much.  It was quite breezy out in the country and I was able to cycle uphill back home from the bottom of Canonbie much faster than I had cycled down there into the wind.

I stopped to look at the church at Canonbie….

Canonbie Church

…and then I stopped again while I was in the village to visit a friend from our choir who has recently had a bad fall and is currently laid up with a broken leg.  She was remarkably cheery under the circumstances and even seeing me in my cycling shorts couldn’t dent her good humour.

There were one or two dark clouds in the offing so I didn’t dawdle on the way back from Canonbie and I got home in time for another walk round the garden…

aquilegia

The aquilegia of the day

the first bean of the year

The first bean flower of the year

…while Mrs Tootlepedal got the washing in and then with perfect timing it started to rain just as we sat down for a cup of tea.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and when he showed marked improvement in playing quietly in a sustained manner, I accused him of practising at home, an accusation which he didn’t deny.  He is an excellent pupil.

We played all four movements of a trio sonata for treble recorder and flute by Loeillet with only one hiccup.  While we played, we were accompanied by my computer on the harpsichord, one of the wonders of technology for which I am very grateful.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Isabel and Mike and had another enjoyable musical time.

Before I went home, I popped into the Archive Centre to print out some more sheets for the eager data miners who are happily piling up work for me.  Sandy, who enters data too,  is on holiday in Greece so I will have to pull my socks up when it comes to entering the data in the database and try to do his share as well as mine.

The non flying bird of the day is Mr Grumpy who quietly sat by the water and let me get quite close.

heron

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows Great Malvern Priory.  He tells me that when Henry VIII’s men came to sell off Great Malvern Priory, they accepted £20 from the parish for the Priory church (after removing the lead from the roof!)

Great Malvern Priory

We had one of those days which the weather gods must have found very amusing.

In the morning, when I was free to go for a walk and see nuthatches and wonderful wild flowers, it rained persistently.  The rain stopped as we were having lunch and then the day cleared up very nicely just as we had to head off for Carlisle for our weekly choir practice.

It was still very nice when we got back but by that time the light had faded and I was too tired to make any good use of a lovely evening.

The reason that we were both tired was that after whizzing up to Glasgow on the main line (in 90 minutes) late yesterday afternoon and enjoying a wonderful performance of Verdi’s requiem by the Bearsden choir (of well over a hundred singers) and the Orchestra of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with top quality soloists under the direction of our choir conductor Andrew Nunn, we then had to catch a very slow train back to Carlisle.

Nothing condescends to go down the main line on a Saturday night so we found ourselves on a two coach local train which trundled through the wilds of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire at a very sedate pace (150 minutes) and in the end, we got back home at half past one in the morning.

The train was packed with young and youngish people returning home after a good night out in the city and a flavour of the journey can be gathered by the fact at one time, in the midst of some serious unrest, the nice lady sitting next to me leant over and said, “You’ll be all right dear, I’m a trained martial arts instructor.”

This was in fact, very reassuring.

Still it all passed the time well and we got home safely.

So as far as today went, I never got further than the far end of the garden with my camera.

The Japanese azalea is coming out.  It is a wonderful colour.

Japanese azalea

The last of the other azaleas is about to join the party too.

azalea

Geraniums are popping up all over the place but my current two favourites are these ones.

geraniums

I like the detailed work that the designer has put into these flowers.

What is better that one Camassia?  Three Camassias of course…..

camassias

…though I see that from a photographer’s point of view, these are one of those annoying plants that start dying at the bottom before they are finished at the top.  This is definitely one of those cases when you can’t have everything.

It fell to us to pick up Andrew, our conductor and Gillian, our accompanist  from the station in Carlisle today.  They come down from  Glasgow every week for our practice and I must say, Andrew’s energy seems inexhaustible and far from being a mere shadow of himself after last night’s concert, he was in excellent form and put our choir through our paces without flagging.

We are very fortunate to have the services of such an accomplished musician (even if he does give the tenors a hard time).

After the practice, we dropped Andrew and Gillian off at the station and then made our way home.

I had prepared a lamb stew in the morning while Mrs Tootlepedal sang with the church choir and in a moment of supreme efficiency, I had not only put the stew into the slow cooker but I had also turned the slow cooker on  so this week we were able to enjoy a hot meal when we got in.

I had time for a last walk round the garden before we ate.

An aquilegia turned its head and winked at me as I went past.

aquilegia

Our tree peony is thriving but its flowers are deeply and darkly buried among the leaves….

tree peony

…and need a helping hand if they are to be seen.

tree peony

In the vegetable garden the chives are flowering….

chives

…and the rosemary continues to do very well.

rosemary

With a busy day ahead tomorrow, it seems like a good night for an early bed.

No flying bird of the day today but a young sparrow stands in as ‘bathing bird’ of the day.

sparrow in puddle

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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…

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.

aquilegia

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

allium

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.

hosta

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.

sparrows

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Manitoba correspondent, Mary Jo.  She has got the opportunity to share a piece of ground with a neighbour as a garden.  She tells me, “My garden boxes are too small for any amount of large crops like spuds and squash and tomatoes, and I am tickled to finally be let loose on a larger patch.  We opened about 65 x 110 feet, so we should easily supply the two families and also donate to the local food bank.”  It looks like she might have plenty of work on her hands.

Mary Jo's garden

Our garden looked liked this today…

puddle on lawn

…very soggy.

It was because it was like this…

rain

…for a lot of the day.

It didn’t discourage these two though.

jackdaws

You would think that all that pecking would aerate the lawn and help the drainage but there were a lot of puddles so they are not helping.  We tried to get a photo that would show what they were pecking up to eat but they were too quick for us.

Dropscone wasn’t discouraged by the weather either and came round with some scones which went down very well with some superior North Berwick coffee.  He told me that his golf has been so disappointing recently that he has bought a new club.  As all golfers will know, a new club is bound to make you play better so I am very hopeful for him.

As Dropscone left, there was a small gap in the rain and I had a quick look at the garden.

azalea

The azaleas seem pretty rainproof

azalea

azalea

They give off a cheerful air even on the gloomiest day.

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t much like aquilegias but I do so I was pleased to see an early one.

aquilegia

Some Icelandic poppies chose a very bad day to burst into flower and I had to get very low to look this one in the face.

Icelandic poppy

I managed to find things to do indoors while the rain came down and spent some useful time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and taking literally thousands of photos off my computer and putting them on to an external hard drive.

After lunch, a friend from our Langholm choir came round for some practice and Luke came round for his flute lesson so a bit of music brightened the afternoon and in the evening, I went off to the last camera club meeting of the 2016-17 season ,where a small group of members enjoyed a very interesting set of pictures.

All in all, I got the best out of a pretty miserable day as far as the weather went….and after many very dry weeks, we certainly needed some rain so no complaints.

It was too soggy for photos though so no flower or bird of the day.

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