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Posts Tagged ‘azaleas’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who like Dr Foster went to Gloucester but, unlike him,  found that the weather was fine.  She enjoyed a singing day in this lovely building.

gloucester

Our fine weather continued and with the breeze still coming from the south, we had an even warmer day than yesterday.  The watering seems to have encouraged the azaleas (though it may just have been another sunny day that did the trick) and there was a lot more colour about when I went out for a walk round the garden after breakfast.

azaleas coming out

Every flower had turned its face to the welcome sun.

poppy and peony

There were colourful corners about.

colourful corner

…and the clematis by the front door has finally plucked up the courage to open its buds and see what life is like outside.

front ddor clematis

Among the flowers, I found a siskin having a rest on the pond bridge.

siskin on pond bridge

I went in to make coffee in preparation for the arrival of Dropscone (with scones) and I got so excited when he came in that I knocked over the full coffee pot which was standing om the counter top, covering the counter top, my hand and the floor with a rich stream of coffee and grounds. I said a bad word and put my hand under a cold tap.

On the advice of Dropscone, I got old newspapers out and laid them over as much of the mess as I could before keeping Dropscone happy with a cup from yesterday’s coffee pot while I got everything as clean and dry.  Mrs Tootlepedal came in, took one look at the carnage and went out again.

Thanks to the good work of the much reviled mainstream media in soaking up the excess liquid, it didn’t take as long as I thought it might to get tidied up and I was soon able to sit and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a scone while Dropscone told me of his recent golfing triumphs.

After Dropscone left, I decided to test out some shoe advice I had received from our daughter Annie and go for a walk.  It proved to be good advice and I managed to walk a mile without too much trouble.

I went round Easton’s Walk and as I strolled through the park, I saw that a wood carver had been busy on a fallen tree.

carving in park

My main object was to see if the wild garlic was out and it didn’t take long to see and smell the pretty white flowers…

wild garlic may

…which lined my walk on all sides.

wild garlic panel

The were still some bluebells out so it was a walk to exercise the nose as well as the eye.

late bluebells

Although garlic and bluebells were by far the most numerous flowers to be seen, other plants were available…

wildflowers eastons walk

…and the first sighting of vigorous grasses…

grass seed

…were a hint of more pollen to come.

The hawthorns which are in a  position to catch the sun are coming out and it will not be long until there is blossom everywhere.

hawthorn stubholm

It was a glorious day to be out for a walk even with slightly sore feet…

stubholm track

…and my mellow mood was enhanced by azaleas and rhododendrons in the park.

azalea and rhododendron in park

We have so little rain lately that our rivers are reduced to a trickle and I could see a reflection of the suspension bridge in the Wauchope above the Kirk Bridge.

suspension bridge reflection

When I got back home, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a short course on how not to set the customers on fire at the Buccleuch Centre where she is a volunteer.

She had spent the morning slaving over her Embroiderers’ Guild branch accounts as she is the treasurer and had finished up with that most annoying of all accounting errors, a difference of £1 in the balances.  I trained as an accountant for a few years after leaving school so while she was out, I went over the books and pinned the error down to a slight mistreatment in the recording of the petty cash and when this was regularised, the books balanced and all was well.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and before I could even show her the books, she whisked me out of the house to record an emperor moth which she noticed sunning itself on the side of a building on Henry Street.  It was worth looking at…

emperor moth

…but annoyingly, it wouldn’t spread its wings for me, so we left it to bask and went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal got her accounts ready to print and then we went out into the garden and finished off netting the fruit cages.  It was still very warm but the sky had clouded over and it felt for a while as though we might get a thunderstorm.  Happily, the rain stayed away and we completed the task and went in for a cup of tea and a moment to watch the birds.

Two goldfinches were in hot competition for the same feeder…

goldfinch competing

…and when I looked, I saw that some bad bird had made off with the perch from the opposite side of the feeder which might account for the pushing and shoving.

I just had time to go for a nine mile bike ride on the slow bike before tea and when I started out, I was very pleased to see our friendly partridge trying to work out a reason for crossing the road in Henry Street  (you can see the loss of feathers on its neck)…

Partridge and oyster catcher

…and I came across an oyster catcher nesting in the middle of the bus park at the Rugby Club near the end of my ride.  It got up when I stopped and stamped off in a huff so I took a quick shot and pedalled off apologetically.

In the evening, I went to the last practice of Langholm Sings under the direction of Mary my singing teacher, who has been our conductor for the past few years.  I will miss her when she has gone and rather annoyingly, I will also miss her final concert with the choir as we will be on holiday next week.  We had a very good sing though.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch heading towards the missing perch.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows we are not the only people in town to have siskins in the garden.  Our friend and near neighbour Bruce took this picture of one of his visitors.

bruce's siskin

It was another grey and chilly morning here and apart from going out to mow the lawn again to clear up more jackdaw depredations, I had a quiet time of it in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal.

She was up visiting Matilda as she had stayed the night in Edinburgh after going to our young church organist’s degree recital in St Giles.  She had been very impressed by the 32 foot organ stop which had caused the whole building to tremble.

She has been busy recently making a little stump work embroidery of Matilda sitting on our back stairs the last time she visited us.  It is not framed yet but I think it is very charming.

matilda embroidery

The usual birds turned up at the feeder and had the usual conversations.

sikin chaffinch cinverstaion

The greenfinch was back again.  They never look very grateful for the seeds.

greenfinch with seed

A siskin took a rather patrician view of what was going on below.

siskin on pole

The garden is still very much on hold in the cool weather but individual flowers are appearing on the rhododendrons…

three rhododendrons

…and two of the azaleas are trying their best.

two aazaleas

I took a picture of two Welsh poppies and although it didn’t come out at all well, I have put it in anyway just to show you how annoying my pocket camera can be when it wants.

out of ficus poppies

How can it possibly have thought that I didn’t want the two very noticeable poppies to be in focus and what I really wanted to look at was some dull leaves and stones?  I will visit the poppies again tomorrow and try to get it right.

A blackbird appeared on the chimney pot at the feeders.  As it is carrying worms, I hope that this means that we will see little blackbirds soon.

blackbird on chimney

My neighbour Liz tells me that she has blackbirds with young already in her garden.

I set off after lunch to drive to Lockerbie to catch a train to join Mrs Tootlepedal in Edinburgh.  The little electric car behaved very well but when I got to the station, things went downhill.

I had pondered so much on the car before setting off that I had completely forgotten to take my card wallet with me so I had left my railcard and my bus pass behind, not to mention my debit card as well.  I had no money in my pocket as I was expecting to pay for my (cheap) ticket with my car.  Disaster!  Luckily I remembered that I had a secret twenty pound note stashed in a secret pocket in my phone case for just such an emergency so I was able to buy my (expensive) ticket for exactly £20 and catch the train.  It was late again but it was actually running  this week so I was grateful for that.

When I got to Edinburgh, because I didn’t have my bus pass and had spent all my  money, I decided to walk down to Matilda’s house.  Things were going well until just outside the Scottish parliament building, my Achilles tendon gave up almost entirely and I had to limp painfully the rest of the way.

The pain was made worse by the subsequent discovery that I did have enough money in a ‘wrong’ pocket to have bought a bus ticket and saved my ankle.  I shouldn’t really be allowed out by myself.

The visit to Matilda and her parents went well.  We introduced Matilda to the delights of Beggar My Neighbour, a card game, and as she won handsomely, she thought that it was a very good game indeed.

She has birds in her garden too.

sdr

She and Mrs Tootlepedal had spent some of the morning making sticky toffee pudding so together with a delicious pasta dish knocked up by Clare and Al, we had a good evening meal.  As Al then kindly drove us back to the station, our journey home was uneventful.  Of course I had a minder on the way back or who knows what else might have gone wrong.

I was interested to see whether driving home in the dusk with the headlights on would make a big difference to the power drain on the car’s battery but it seemed to take it in its stride.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, not the greatest shot I know, but I put it in to show that it is another ringed bird.  Someone is keeping a good eye on our visitors.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the Lake District where she stopped at a cafe in Grange and enjoyed this lovely view.

cafe garden at Grange.

We stopped at a cafe today.  This one was at a garden centre near North Berwick where we had an excellent breakfast this morning as we left for home after a very enjoyable week at the sea side.  It seemed easier to eat out than have to do a lot of washing up just before we left our holiday cottage.

Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to acquire a few plants while we were there.

We then took a road that we haven’t travelled along before to get home and drove over the Lammermuir hills to Duns and Kelso, adding about 15 miles to our trip but getting some wonderful views in exchange.  Unfortunately, it was rather hazy and there weren’t a lot of handy parking spots so you will have to take the views on trust but they were good enough to make us think of going that way again.

We did stop at the Whiteadder reservoir in the heart of the hills.

P1100510

There was enough sun to give the water some sparkle.

Whiteadder Reservoir

The Lammermuir hills are treeless and heather covered as they are extensively used for grouse shooting and their spare beauty is entirely man made.  It is sad that this also means that birds of prey have a hard time here and often suffer mysterious accidental deaths.

We passed a great number of cyclists who were testing their legs against some impressive climbs on the good surfaces of the East Lothian roads.

Soon after leaving the reservoir, we crossed the River Whiteadder on this fine bridge.

Lammermuir bridge

After we had passed through Kelso, we stopped again at another garden centre (can you detect a pattern here?) for a cup of tea and a tea cake .  This one has a water garden and caters for lovers of pet fish…

Teviot fish

…and it also has a very charming garden that tumbles down the bank…

Teviot water garden

…from the centre to the river Teviot running past below.

River Teviot

It had a most spectacular aquilegia in its plants for sale section.

aquilegia

We didn’t buy one but I did get some good cheese from their smokery department.

Were were nearly home when we got caught up in a rush of traffic heading for Mosspaul to meet the rideout from Hawick, part of the Hawick Common Riding proceedings.  Luckily, we were early enough to avoid the horses and riders so we didn’t suffer too much of a delay.

After all this excitement, we got home in the early afternoon and had a look round to see how the garden had got on without us.

Very well.

blue flowersred/purple flowersyellow flowerswhite flowersazaleas and rhododendrons

I will go round again soon taking a more detailed look at what is new as I have not got all the new flowers in by a long chalk.

Things needed watering though so I got the sprinkler out and gave the vegetable garden a good soaking while I cut the grass on the middle lawn.

Then I cut the front lawn while the sprinkler sprinkled water on the middle lawn.

The sprinkler was adjusted so delicately, that Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz were able to sit on the new bench and catch up with the news as the water drops stopped a few inches away from their feet.

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the way that her new bed at the end of the middle lawn is shaping up.

new bed

In the background to the picture above, the tree peony is in flower and this year, unlike last year, the flowers are not (entirely) hidden behind the leaves.

tree peony

Mrs Tootlepedal filled the pond, which had gone down a lot during a dry week, and we were relieved to see plenty of tadpoles swimming around once the water level had gone up.

tadpoles

The path along the back of the garden, familiarly known as “Ally’s allium alley” is looking good…

P1100546

…from either direction.

Ally's alley

There wasn’t a lot of time to look at birds today but I did catch a couple of siskins and a goldfinch on the feeder.

siskins

…and while I was hoping for a flying bird, my attention was diverted by this colourful corner.

colourful corner

We enjoyed our holiday a lot but we are nevertheless very pleased to be back on home territory again.  The forecast is good for the next few days so we should be able to catch up on garden tasks that need doing and perhaps get some cycling in too.

There was no flying bird of the day available so a creeping thrush is here instead.

thrush

I hope to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who enjoyed the view at Buttermere on her recent flying visit to the Lake District.

buttermere

Our fine weather continued unabated today and there were gardening and cycling opportunities as a result.  Mrs Tootlepedal seized the gardening opportunities with both hands (and a trowel)  while I rather let the cycling chances slip through my fingers.

I still had a mysteriously croaky throat when I woke up so I was happy to try to soothe it with coffee and treacle scones.  The scones were accompanied by Dropscone and came with additional agreeable conversation.

I went up to the town before coffee to replenish my stock of coffee beans and was pleased to find that a local shop had been able to source a good quantity of organic beans from Sumatra and Ethiopia.  We tried the Sumatran beans today and they were very good…though we failed to detect the overtones of apricot promised by the blurb on the packet..

When Dropscone departed, I wandered round the garden, an easy thing to do on a sunny spring morning.

The blackbird, who has been very busy feeding demanding young, was looking a bit tired, I thought….

blackbird

…and had paused for a moment before diving into the compost heap looking for worms.

The alliums are finally coming out and one or two are getting near having the perfect globe…

allium

….with all that goes with it.

allium closer

The brilliant azaleas, both red….

azalea red

…and yellow….

azalea yellow

…caught the eyes of our neighbours Liz and Ken, the pig transporters, when they stopped to exchange a few words over the garden hedge.

Liz and ken

The delights of the geums….

 

geum

…bergenia…

bergenia

…and astrantia were harder to see from the road.

astrantia

I did a little work and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting out needs.

Mostly though, I took things easy and only got my new bike out well after lunch.  The new bike is a delight to ride and I had an enjoyable hour and a half pottering round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Yesterday, I took pictures of both cows and trees and to save time today, I took a picture featuring both subjects in the same shot.

cows and tree

Nearer home, I stopped to look at some ‘Jack in the Hedge’…

Jack in the hedge

…although it was actually alongside a wall and not in a hedge at all.

I had a cup of tea sitting on the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back but it was hard not to jump up and take more pictures.

Tulips get some added colour as the flowers mature.

tulip

The rhododendrons just get brighter.

rhododendrons

The first pink tinged flowers have appeared on the white potentilla in the garden.

potentilla

The clematis at the back door is heavy with buds and a few flowers are giving a hint of what is to come.

clematis

And the bees were busy visiting the dicentra again.

bee on dicentra

After an early burst of visits from honey bees when it was still pretty cold, there have been hardly any in the garden during the good weather.  We must have had some blossom available when there was not much elsewhere but presumably, the bees are spoiled for choice now.   As you can see from the bumble bee in the picture above, there is plenty of pollen available here.

We are going on holiday for a week beside the sea with Matilda from tomorrow so patient readers will get a break from incessant garden flowers for a while.  There may be sand castles and sea birds instead.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good time renewing our acquaintance with some pieces which we haven’t played for some years.  It was hard work but worthwhile as the pieces were good.

Mike and Alison are kindly going to look after the greenhouse and keep an eye on the vegetable garden while we are away and Liz is going to fill the bird feeder so all should be well at Wauchope Cottage.  Whether there are any blog posts will depend on the wi-fi in our holiday cottage.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with a background of the very last of the daffodils..

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is something Dropscone saw in the moat when he was visiting Hever Castle  last week.  He is pretty sure that it is a bird.

goose

It was a miserable soggy, grey and windy day in the morning and I wisely found things to do indoors.  With seven songs to have off by heart for our Carlisle concert, any time spent going through them is valuable so it wasn’t a wasted morning.

I even shifted more old photos off my computer onto an external drive which is good in two ways.  It makes my computer run a bit faster and it puts them in a safe place in case of computer disaster.

It wasn’t raining in the afternoon so I went out into the garden.   There is a lot to see there even on a rotten day.

The Icelandic poppies were able to hold up their heads today but I had to hold on to the stalk of this one to stop it swaying in the wind for long enough to get a picture of it.

icelandic poppy

The vegetable garden is coming on a bit each day.

Blackcurrants, strawberries and gooseberry all look as though they will be fruitful.

soft fruit

Chives….

chives

…and potatoes are progressing well too.

potatoes

Mrs Tootlepedal is busy constructing a pea fortress against the marauding sparrows and I hope to have a picture of that when she has completed the edifice.

From the vegetable garden, I walked along the back path and found plenty to enjoy there too.

colourful corner

Definitely a colourful corner

rhododendron

The wow factor

I read in an informative blog that trilliums have three of everything and when I looked, this turned out to be true…..

trillium

…although our two little plants are sadly quite a bit worse for wear.

Moving onto the front lawn, I was surrounded by azaleas.  We transplanted this yellow one last autumn and Mrs Tootlepedal cut it back quite severely.  As it is an old plant, we wondered whether the move and the haircut might be too much for it but we need not have worried.  It is thriving in its new place.

azalea (3)

Another one was moved and placed beside it and it too is doing well.

azalea (2)

If I can find a sunny day, I will try to get a pretty picture of the lawn surrounded by azaleas.  This is the third development of spring after the daffodils and tulips.

I went onward, out of the front gate and round the back of the house where I could enjoy the first of the potentillas along the back wall.

potentilla

There are more to come out and they will last for months.

I went back into the garden and took a picture of two of the remaining tulips.

potentilla

The wind and the rain have knocked a lot of petals to the ground and there was quite a bit of tulip dead heading to do.

I had to leave the garden then and go off up to the health centre where I had a very minor operation on the side of my neck .  This left me with a few stitches covered in a theatrical sticking plaster so I look not unlike Frankenstein’s monster but in a modest way.

The whole affair was quick and painless and I was quite able to mow the greenhouse grass when I got back.  The weather had improved a  bit by this time but I thought it was sensible not to go for a pedal or a walk so I contented myself with a few more flower pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a striking blue flower in the back border I had noticed it before but I had passed it by, thinking that it was just another bluebell.  It was in fact a camassia…

camassia

…and well worth a proper look.

There are Welsh poppies popping up all over the place…

welsh poppy

…and I have put one beside a white potentilla in the frame below.

welsh poppy potentilla

The last flower of the day is a nectaroscordum, another flower that blushes unseen…

nectaroscordum

…unless you lie on your back and look up.

)

Or hold your camera facing upwards and hope for the best.

The rhubarb was badly affected by the lack  of rain but I managed to find enough stems to pull to have rhubarb and custard for pudding at our evening meal and that made a dull day end on a brighter note.

The flower of the day is one of our neighbour Liz’s plants, a really stunning azalea on the banks of the dam…

azalea

…and a singing blackbird on our front hedge is the bird of the day.

blackbird

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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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Today’s guest picture shows the railway station from which my brother began his walk up Snowdon earlier this month.  The mountain is in the background.

Rhyd Ddu

We had a traditional Sunday today.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir and I prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

She came back from singing in the church, we had an early lunch and then we went off for an extra long ‘singing day’ (1pm to 6pm) with our Carlisle choir.

We came back from the singing and got ready to eat the stew only to find that although I had put the stew in the slow cooker and switched the slow cooker on, I had not actually managed to switch on the socket in the wall so slow cooking had turned to no cooking.

Traditional methods were applied and we ate the stew an hour and a half later than planned.

Not my finest moment and ironically, Mrs Tootlepedal had remarked as we drove back from Carlisle that it was really good to know that we would be coming back to a ready prepared hot meal.  Ah well.

This was not the only disappointment of the day.

It was raining when we got up but by the time that I had prepared the stew, the sun was shining so I went for a walk, hoping to see a wonderful display of bluebells in the woods beside the river.

The park looked very springlike….

Buccleuch park

…and the wild garlic beside the path along the river bank was in fine form, both collectively…

wild garlic

…and individually….

wild garlic

…but the bluebells were a bit underwhelming.  They were there…

bluebells

…and very pretty but in no way forming the complete carpet of the woodland floor which I had hoped for.  The growth looks thin for some reason.  Perhaps the trees came into leaf too soon and stopped the light getting through.  Leaves seem to be coming rather early this year and oak trees and our garden walnut are already out.

I had a last look at the bluebells….

bluebells

…and went back home to have a look round the garden.

There was some good blue there in the shape of the lithodora which is flourishing.

lithodora

And a cornflower too.

cornflower

Mrs Tootlepedal has two cultivated geums.  This is the louder of the two.

geum

It is in competition with one of the azaleas for the loudest orange plant in the garden.

azalea

I was very happy to see quite a few infant plums on the plum tree.

plum

Mrs Tootlepedal picked the first crop of the year from the vegetable garden.

radishes

…and found the first salad leaves of the season to go with the radishes for lunch.

I look forward to having lettuce and marmite sandwiches on the menu soon.

It was such a lovely day that there was still plenty of light when we got back from the choir and I had another look round.

The Japanese azalea is showing its first flowers….

Japanese azalea

…as is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.

fuchsia

Late tulips are still doing well, including some that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick…

tulips

…and some slightly curly yellow ones which were the last to flower.

We have one or two Solomon’s Seals about and they have done well this year…

solomons seal

…and I am keeping a close eye on them (and the gooseberries) for any sign of sawfly.

I had time, while the stew was cooking, to mow the middle and front lawns and the drying green so the slow cooker failure did have an upside.

In the continued absence of any birds, he flower of the day is the clematis at the back door.

solomons seal

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