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Posts Tagged ‘astilbe’

Today’s guest picture is another from the camera club visit to Beamish late last month.  Peter took this charming shot.

Peter's Beamish

There was heavy rain overnight but the garden seemed strangely dry when we went out for a look.  Some strong winds had done damage though, and Mrs Tootlepedal had a good deal of propping up and clearing away to do.

I took the opportunity to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive group database and found the first entry regarding a motor car in Langholm that I had come across.  This was 1900 so it must have been an early model.

I went out into the garden to give Mrs Tootlepedal some moral support and the occasional helping hand too.  We picked some peas, beans, turnips and potatoes to make a summer soup and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this moth among the potatoes.

potato moth

She found a home for it and just hoped that it isn’t a dangerous potato eating insect.

I had a look around before going in to cook the soup.  It was rather a dull day and the very brisk wind made getting flower pictures a bit tricky so I was pleased to catch not just one poppy in mid sway…

red poppy grey insides

…but another one as well.

open poppy

I like the different centres that the poppies have just as much as I like the different colours and textures of their petals.

The clematis at the front door is more sheltered and offered less of a problem.  It has come on very well after a slow start and I like its multi coloured petals.

front door clematis lots

While I was in the garden,  I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and got a different angle on the bird feeder.

The siskins were keeping a sharp eye out for competition and a sparrow thought better of trying to get some seed.

siskins keeping eye out

In general, it was a busy scene.

busy feeder from outside

I went down to the river to see if the rain had put some water into it.  It was far from full but there was a lot more flow than we have had recently…

river up

…and all three arches of the Langholm Bridge had been called into action.

three arches Langholm Bridge

The vegetable soup (with added barley) turned out well, with a nice fresh taste.  It went well with some new bread and a selection of cheeses.

I was so perked up by the soup, that after lunch I decided to brave the wind and go off for a cycle ride.  It was tough going into the teeth of a breeze gusting at over 30 mph so I stuck to doing two laps of the seven miles trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, hiding from the wind in the bottom of the valley.  This gave me the chance to visit the little cascade near the schoolhouse…

wauchope schoolhouse cascade

…and to stop and check for riverside birds when I went along the Esk on my way through the town.  There was a small collection of oyster catchers…

Three oyster catchers

…one of whom posed nicely for me…

oyster catcher on rock

…and a dipper living up to its name.

dipper dipping

My legs were quite cheerful so I added a short three mile trip over the bridge and out of the other side of the town after my two laps and ended up with 17 miles more than I had expected to ride when I had read the forecast yesterday.

The seventeen miles were accomplished at a steady pace but they took me up to 270 miles for the month, so although I still can’t walk any distance without upsetting my feet, at least I can keep going on my bike.  Mustn’t grumble.

I  sat down for a cup of tea when I got home and we were joined by Mike Tinker.  Like Mrs Tootlepedal, he had spent quite a bit of time in  his garden repairing the ravages of wind and rain and cutting back excessive growth so we were all pleased to rest a while for refreshment and conversation.

When Mike left, I mowed the two lawns, sieved a bit of compost and had another look round the garden.

I like nasturtiums.

nasturtiums's mouth

This is the very last of the flowers on the rosa complicata.

last rosa complicata

Although some of our heavily petalled roses survived the wind and the rain, like this Wren…

rose Wren

….many were looking rather soggy.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets a bit sad when these roses show the effects of our damp climate and ‘ball up’, so she is thinking of planting more of the simple roses, which are perhaps better suited to our garden.

It was brighter now than it had been earlier in the day, but the sun had not quite come out so I had another go at the white astilbe with better results.

white astilbe

Nearby, a yellow potentilla flower winked at me.

yellow potemtilla

It is impossible to miss the rambler roses which are sensational this year.  We hope that some of them will appear in the rose crown at the Common Riding on Friday but if ours are anything to go by, there should be so many about that the crown builders may not need to come to us at all.

red rambler roses

Later in the evening, I leaned out up of an upstairs window to greet the sun which had finally appeared, and enjoyed a general look over the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been clipping the hedges.

the garden in the evening

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow using every limb available to persuade a siskin to give up its seat at the table.

flying sparrow flailing

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was having a cup of coffee beside the Paddington Canal basin when she was  greeted by an appropriate bear.

Paddington Bear at paddington

The main business of the morning was the Common Riding church service where a presentation was made to our choirmaster and organist Henry, this year’s cornet.  We had a more than adequate replacement in the choir loft and we sang a selection a popular hymns with great gusto, and threw in a three verse introit and an anthem too.

As the congregation was much larger than usual, it would be fair to say that we made a joyful noise today.

The service started later and took longer than usual, so it took up most of the morning but the late start gave me time to wander about the garden before going to church.

It was a cloudy day and the light gave me a chance to get a good look at our St John’s Wort which is thriving uninvited in a patch in the vegetable garden

st johns wort flowers

Its cheerful berries are almost as good as its bright flowers.

st johns wort berries

The Queen of Denmark is lasting very well and adds a touch of class to the garden.

queen of denmark rose

Under the groaning plum tree, the first flowers of alstroemeria are poking their heads out.

alstromeria

…and the purple clematis nearby enjoyed a brief burst of sunshine.

purple clematis

The poppy of the day is one of those that look as though they have been made of crushed tissue paper…

red poppy

…and the white flower behind it is a sort of achillea.

achillea

I have tried and failed to get a good picture of our white astilbe but the camera finds the pink one a little more sympathetic.

pink astilbe

When we came back from church, the skies were very gloomy but Mrs Tootlepedal got busy tidying up the garden, clearing away many of the flowers that are over.  I made myself useful when I could and made a pot of coffee to keep the gardener going.

The forecast was very gloomy with heavy rain promised in the afternoon, so we didn’t make any plans.  Once again an interesting stage of the Tour de France gave us something to watch while the day got gloomier outside.  In the end though, the rain which poured down on the Open Golf in Northern Ireland, must have passed just to the north of us and it remained dry enough outside for me to have gone cycling.   As my feet were feeling the effects of yesterday’s short walk a bit, I was quite happy to put them up, and I didn’t grieve at the lost opportunity too much (or indeed, at all).

I was half thinking of an evening ride but an occasional light drizzle and the need for a visit to the shop put paid to that and day turned out to be a day of rest, very suitable to a Sunday.

The light was so poor that the most interesting thing I saw when I was looking out of the window at the birds was this phlox, growing in the bed in front of the window.

phlox through window

There were a few birds about…

siskin

…but not many.

siskin and sparrow

We are getting regular updates from London and we are very pleased to be told that our new granddaughter Evelyn, is progressing well and all is well with her parents too.

Today’s short post will make up for the excessive length of yesterday’s offering and as tomorrow’s weather seems to have a lot of rain in it, perhaps things will be quiet again.

The nearest that I could get to a flying bird of the day was this collared dove which had been flying shortly before I took its picture.

collared dove on pole

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Today’s guest picture is another from Stephen’s visit to North Queensland. As well as idyllic beaches, he and his wife visited the Kuranda aviary where amongst others, they encountered this striking pair of birds.

Australian birds

The weather gods relented today, and after sending us more overnight rain, they let up by morning and allowed us to enjoy a dry and sometimes sunny day today. This gave us the chance to do some work in the garden and let me take a few pictures while I was out there.

Well, to be honest, I took a lot of pictures but I am putting in this panel of four pale flowers to stand for them all.

four pale flowers

It was pleasantly warm and the wind was noticeable but not offensive so there was really no reason why I should not have gone out for a cycle ride after breakfast to make good use of the day. All the same, I managed to find several reasons; a crossword, coffee, dead heading, picking sweet peas and so on until I finally ran out of excuses and set off for a pedal about midday.

To tell the truth, I didn’t feel exactly enthusiastic about the idea so I started off very slowly and stopped to look at wild flowers at the earliest opportunity.

The yellow bedstraw beside the Wauchope road is very striking at the moment…

yeloow bedstraw by road

…as are the pink heads on the yarrow when they first come out.

yarrow by road

The verge trimmers have left this road alone so there are a number of orchids around…

orchid by road

…but this little tormentil flower is so low to the ground that it might well escape the mower even if it does come.

tormentil by road

As I went on, the sun came out and in spite of having to pedal into the wind, my spirits lifted and I decided to take a diversion to investigate the road along which the turbines for the new windfarm at Solwaybank will arrive.

It was a narrow and poorly surfaced road but now it has been resurfaced and a extra bit of width has been added.

solwaybank road

The arrival of the turbines has been delayed because of financial problems with the suppliers so the extra width has got many traffic cones on it to stop it getting worn out before the big lorries finally come.

It was a treat to cycle along a well surfaced back road but when the time came that a brand new windfarm road had been built across country….

solwaybank road for windfarm

…I was left pedalling up the old narrow road.

new solwaybank road

However, as it had been resurfaced not too long ago and was still in fair condition, and as there were foxgloves on the way…

foxgloves solwaybank road

…I wasn’t complaining.

The new windfarm will be the fourth in our area and as I cycled along, I passed under a power line that was built for one of the previous sites.

The people who put the poles up must had a very good piece of string as they are in a really straight line from one corner to the next.

windmill power line

Once I had got to the end of this road, I turned for home and with the wind now behind me, I found that I was going too fast to think of stopping for every wild flower that I passed and it wasn’t until my legs started complaining as I got near the end of my ride, that I stopped again.

I was looking to admire a fine spread of knapweed on the old A7 near Hagg-on-Esk and I was lucky to find a hoverfly with same idea.

hoverfly

The knapweed and daisies are in good form along the road here,

verge irvine house road

When I got back to Langholm after 36 miles, I was seized with decimal mania and cycled through the town and out of the other side for two miles. The verge cutters had been slaughtering wild flowers here.

mowed verge A7 terrona

The extra four miles brought my trip up to 40 miles and my mileage for the first ten days of the month of July up to 200, the most that I have cycled in such a short spell this year.

If I stick to cycling, and don’t try to do any walking, my feet are not too bad and in recent days I have found myself feeling quite a bit happier about taking exercise. This is a tribute to the healing skills of Dr Velo.

I had enough energy left when I got home to get the mower out and mow the two lawns. We are going down to London again for a few days on family business tomorrow so they needed a cut before we went.

While I was out, I checked on the new fuchsia in the chimney pot. It is settling in well.

fuchsia chimney

The hostas are bursting onto flower…

hosta flowers

…but they can’t compare with the magnificence of our neighbour Liz’s filipendula.

liz's astilbe

When I went in, I spent a little time checking on the birds.

A reader suggested that the collective term for our siskins should be ‘squabble of siskins’ but he pointed out that it has already been taken by seagulls. This is a pity as it really fits the feisty little things.

siskins sparring

If they are not squabbling over the seed, they are kicking one another.

a squabble of siskins

Some more sensible siskins prefer to nibble the nuts in peace.

siskin on nuts

Watching the recording of today’s stage Tour de France once again provided an opportunity for some relaxing sofa testing in the evening.

With some potentially heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, we are keeping our fingers crossed that our transport all works smoothly for out journey south.

A goldfinch, leaving the siskins to fight it out among themselves, is the flying bird of the day.

goldfinch leaving

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who met this nose diving elephant at a Regent’s Park art fair.

An elephant balancing on its trunk - Frieze scupture Fair - Regent's Park

Unfortunately, it was another fine day today.  I say unfortunately because my back was still giving me trouble and I had to waste it by doing nothing more energetic than wandering about the garden and groaning theatrically from time to time.

The sunshine brought out the best in the poppies.

poppy

poppy

poppy

poppy

And once again the bees were very busy.

From the shade of the walnut tree, a blackbird stared at me.

blackbird

The most striking flower was a pot marigold pretending to be a dahlia.

pot marigold

Though I did like  a modest dahlia against a background of phlox.

dahlia

My back kindly lets me lean forward without trouble so I got the hedge clipper out and trimmed two of the box balls on the front lawn and I was just about to put the clipper away when I was visited by my South African correspondent Tom, who was returning from a cycle ride.  He is staying with family in Langholm for a few weeks and called in to see how I was going on.

He asked me what pictures I would like him to send and I have requested some South African wild flowers so I will wait with interest for what he sends me. Listening to his tales of a months long drought, thorny bushes and venomous snakes made me grateful for for the gentler surroundings of Langholm even if does rain quite a lot here.

We saw a coloured butterfly, probably a red admiral,  whizz past us as we talked but even though I had several searches later on in  the day, I couldn’t see it in the garden and had to settle for one of the frequent white visitors.

white butterfly

There are a lot of these about

A recent picture of an American spirea in a blog that I was reading made me take a look at one of the bushes in our garden.

spirea

It has very tiny flowers

One of the astilbes is in top form.

Astilbe

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  Sitting in  a train didn’t seem like a good idea to me so I stayed at home.  This turned out to be a very good decision as her train was held up by a broken down train in front and the journey took an hour and a half longer than it should have.

This left me still wandering about the garden as sitting down for long is not an option at the moment.

The first rudbeckia is out…

rudbeckia and clematis

…and the Cherokee or Ooh La La clematis is lasting very well.

The day clouded over in the afternoon and I spent most of it inside relearning and instantly forgetting songs for the Carlisle choir concert in a month or so.

I did go out and look at blackbirds.

blackbirds

Then I set the camera up on a tripod upstairs and looked out of the window to see what the blackbirds were doing.  It mostly seemed to involve sitting on hedges…

blackbirds

…sometimes with friends.

blackbird and sparrows

I feel that there are more blackbirds about in the garden this year than ever before.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s return train journey was more successful than the outward trip and she got back safely.

I did go out on my slow bike to deliver a letter during the afternoon and I passed Mike and Alison hard at work in their garden on my way.  They gave me some sound back treatment advice and although I rather dismissed it at the time, I followed it when I got home and it turned out to be be very good.  It is possibly a sensible idea to take advice when offered from a retired doctor and nurse.

I nearly got a genuine flying bird of the day today.

blackbird

 

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Instead of guest pictures, I am going to use some of the phone pictures from our recent trip to London for the next few days.  They are not great pictures but show some of things we saw but couldn’t put in the posts.

The Dalesman steam engine

There was steam excursion in the station at Carlisle when we went down to London

I had a very weather dependant day today.  After several days without cycling, I was keen to get a good few miles in today and the forecast yesterday was encouraging.  Sadly however, the forecast for today when I woke up was far less encouraging, promising rain by lunchtime.  As I needed to mow the lawns as well as cycle, this limited my cycling to a twenty mile trip up the main road to Mosspaul and back.

The route choice was good because the main road was closed fourteen miles north of the town and this meant that very few cars passed me and I had the road to myself for most of the time.   It was rather grey once again and the brightest thing that I saw on my trip was this thistle….

thistle

…on the final climb to Mosspaul.

Mosspaul

This is the point where East meets West in our part of Scotland and once over the crest that you can see in the picture, all the rivers flow into the North Sea unlike ours which flow into the Solway Firth and thence into the Irish Sea.

Thanks to the wide roads and light traffic, I had a quiet and reflective ride.

When I got back, I checked on the Shirley poppies….

shirley poppies

…which looked a little more cheerful than yesterday but not much.

Then I dead headed the opium poppies which are going very well….

poppies

….cut down some of the delphiniums which are going over, enjoyed a new cornflower….

cornflower

…and one of the day lilies which brightens up even the gloomiest day…

day lily

…and then mowed the middle lawn.

It was rather muggy and I needed a rest after that so I had another look round to see what was going on.

The bees on the privet were in full flow and I could hear a continuous hum as I stood nearby.  The flowers are above my head so it is hard to see the bees…

bees on privet

…and these were on the lowest flowers.

A second buddleia has come out..

buddleia

…but there are still no signs of butterflies.

I looked at an astilbe….

astilbe

…and then rushed to mow the front lawn just as it started to drizzle gently.  It stayed raining very lightly after I had finished the mowing so I picked some blackcurrants and then went in for lunch.

After lunch, the drizzle had slowed to about one drop a minute so I had another go at picking blackcurrants until I had enough to make a jar or two more of jelly and had a look at the clematis as I came back in.

As well as the white variety whihc has green on its petals….

white and green clematis

…I saw that one of our red ones has green colouring too.

clematis

Look closely at the one on the right and you will see that what looks like damaged petals is green colouring.

Our white and green one always flowers like that but the red one is more unusual. On researching it, I found  that it is probably a quite common problem.

I rang Sandy up and arranged to have a short walk with him while the going was good.  but before we had even got out of our respective doors, the drizzle had changed to steady rain and we retired inside.

I used the time to put in some much needed flute practice and also to sit down and enter a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  We checked on the weather again after an hour but decided that it was still too damp and gloomy for a walk so I settled down to watch the last day of the Tour.  I will be at a loss for things to do on a wet afternoon now that it has finished.

I was still hoping that the day might brighten up enough for a late walk but it stayed gloomy and so did I.  Life is definitely a lot duller when Mrs Tootlepedal is away from home.

I am trying to keep up with the vegetables while she is away and had turnip, beetroot, peas and potatoes with my evening meal of fish cakes.

The fish diet is obviously not improving my brain as I had a little panic when I checked on our house insurance by chance and found that we didn’t seem to have had a renewal notice yet even though it was due in March.  A very nice young man on the phone pointed out that 11/3/2017 meant the third of November not the eleventh of March and that doubtless a renewal notice would arrive in due course.    I blame Google for using funny dating systems on their emails.

During the day, I saw a young but ferocious looking sparrow on the lawn….

young sparrow

…and what I think must be a thrush on the hedge.

thrush

Neither of them were flying.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony who has been experimenting with my old Lumix which I gave to him on Thursday.  This is his ‘flying birds’ taken at none  o’clock in the evening..

Tony's moon

We had a really lovely day today with a cool underlying temperature (17° C at its hottest) and wall to wall sunshine.  For me, this is just perfect as I don’t like it when it gets too hot.

I had to take some Archive Group heritage disks up to the Welcome to Langholm office in the morning so I took my camera with me and walked back by way of the Kilngreen and the new path round the Castleholm.  It was pure pleasure to be and about on such a day.

I took a couple of pictures in the garden before I left….

lilies

second poppy

…and enjoyed my extended walk back from the town.

The Sawmill Brig

The Sawmill Brig

grass beside the The Sawmill Brig

Rather ghostly grass along the river bank above the bridge

Ty Penningham's path

The ‘new’ path

Langholm Castle

Langholm Castle is getting smothered in growth on its ruined walls

I stopped to have a look at the two noble firs at the corner of the path as they are always interesting.  They were more interesting than usual today, I thought.  One of the pair was covered in more cones than I have ever seen before.

noble fir cones

The other had no cones at all but the remains of many flowers.

noble fir cones

I walked on, passing wild flowers….

wild flower

….and hearing odd sounds in the distance.

When I had crossed the Jubilee Bridge….

River Esk above Jubilee Bridge

The river Esk seen from the bridge. The trees make an impressive canyon for it to run through.

…the source of the sound became obvious as I was assailed by the playing of the Langholm Pipe Band…

Langholm Pipe Band

…who were entertaining a crowd of parents and children which had gathered for a junior cricket event.

I had time for a look at two very spiky flowers as I went round the playing field…

nettle and spiky flower

…along with a flower doing aerobics and a fly not flying.

hawkbit and fly

When I got back to the garden, I considered the down side from a lawn maintenance point of view of having a very prolific Philadelphus near the lawn….

philadelphus petals

…and then stopped moaning to myself and enjoyed combining clearing up the petals with mowing the lawn.

Middle lawn

When I had finished the lawn, I turned compost Bin B into compost C.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal came out to give her new secateurs a test.

secateurs

They passed.

The secateurs come with a special sharpening stone of their own and every part is replaceable individually.  They are Swiss made and are well worth the 600 mile round trip to get them.   I was allowed a go and can report that they are as smooth as butter in operation.

There are always roses to look at at present so I looked at some.

special grandma and Lilian Austin

Special Grandma and Lilian Austin

I noted the two different astilbes in the garden…

astilbes

…and was just going in for lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a butterfly.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

I was doubly pleased to see this small tortoiseshell, not just because it is always good to see a butterfly but also because the small tortoiseshells are said to be getting rather scarce.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle.

Mrs Tootlepedal did some very good quality shopping (including dates, prunes, tea, coffee and cheese) while I went to a pub and did some unofficial bonding with a group of the basses and tenors from our Carlisle choir.   This involved beer and conversation and while I had very little beer, I did have a lot of conversation.  The bonding was the idea of one of the basses as the choir doesn’t meet in the summer months and a very good idea it was.

The odd thing about the affair was that on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, most of Carlisle seemed to think that packing into a pub was the best thing to do and the place was full  to bursting.  I had thought that we might be the only people to be in there on such a good day to be outside.

When I left after a couple of hours to go home with Mrs Tootlepedal, the rest of the bonders were still there chatting away merrily.

Once home, I thought of a cycle ride but the call of the compost was too strong and I finished the compost turning by putting the contents of Bin A into Bin B.  The new demountable wooden compost bins make this a very easy task but I was happy to have got the job finished.  The compost in Bin A was really quite hot in the centre of the heap and I hope it doesn’t get so hot in Bin B that it sets fire to the bin.  That would be a tragedy.

I took a couple of evening sunshine flower shots…

sweet peas

Sweet peas in their protective cage

lupin, foxglove and delphinium

Lupin, foxglove and delphinium

Checked out a bee on a hosta flower….

bee on hosta

…and went in to enjoy some fishcakes, with new potatoes and turnips from the garden, for my tea.

Altogether a very satisfactory day.

Here are two sitting Kilngreen ducks for the flying bird of the day slot today.

Kilngreen ducks

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our daughter Annie along with the comment, “Guess where I am.”  It turns out that it’s not Naples….or Middlesbrough.

Annie in Paris

Wherever it was, it was a lot nicer there than it was here today.  It was raining when we got up and it is still raining, albeit in a rather half hearted way as I write this in the evening and it didn’t stop in between.

Annoyingly the first poppy in a flower bed chose this to be the day to come out…

poppy

…so I braved the rain to take a celebratory portrait.

I did go out a couple of times during the day but I was extremely well wrapped up.  Luckily it wasn’t windy so a good umbrella helped.

The dull weather helped me get some tasks that were on my ‘to do’ list onto the ‘have done’ list which was good but otherwise it was a very quiet day indoors.  The Tour de France provided some very restful viewing of attractive French countryside in the sunshine for several hours until the peace was rudely interrupted by an unexpected outbreak of excitement in the last few hundred metres of the stage.

About tea time, the rain eased off to the merest drizzle so I nipped out into the garden  to pick a few gooseberries for stewing and I took a few pictures while I was there.

Raindrops figured largely.

Ligularia

Ligularia with raindrops

Queen of Denmark

The Queen of Denmark with raindrops

Lamb's Ear with a big raindrop

Lamb’s Ear with a big raindrop

wet poppy

The poppy looking the worse for wear

day lily

A rainy day lily

There were flowers without raindrops…

Astilbe

Astilbe

…but not many.

I saw a bird on a wire standing on one leg…

bird on one leg

…as my neighbour Gavin passed the garden, taking advantage of the slackening in the rain to have a short walk.  He said that there wouldn’t be much for me to photograph today and I replied that there were plenty of raindrops and took one more shot of them…

lily with raindrops

…and went in and stewed the gooseberries.

It was such a gloomy and chilly day that I lit the stove.  I am going to start a campaign to bring back summer.

The flying bird of the day was another that had settled on the wire, this time using both feet.

blackbird

 

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