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Posts Tagged ‘dahlias’

Today’s appropriate guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who came across this ‘brolly art’ on a visit to Banbury.

banbury brollies

Mrs Tootlepedal bought some sunflower seed this year which promised low growing multi stemmed flowers.  There was obviously a ringer in the packet though, as one plant is about nine foot high….

sunflower from above

…and can only be appreciated by leaning out of an upstairs window.

tall sunflower

It was a very wet day with persistent rain, so I was happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee, especially as he came with a heap of his excellent Friday treacle scones.  In spite of the wet weather, he told me that he had found a dry day during the week to go to play in the seniors’ golf competition at Hawick.  Although his golf score had not threatened the leaders, he had won a raffle prize and had enjoyed the outing.

It was frankly a rather depressing day and the only thing that got me out of the house in the afternoon was a check on the dam…

dam getting bigger

…which was beginning to rise.

We thought it prudent to have a look at the new sluice gate at Pool Corner so I went up and was relieved to find it looking very reliable.

nes sluice woking well

It is set slightly open to avoid the swollen river putting too much pressure on the retaining wall so there was a steady flow down the dam…

full dam

…and the wall was holding back a lot of water…

wauchope at Pool Corner

…though nothing much as it was last Saturday when the river was so high that you couldn’t see the caul at all.  It was clearly to be seen today.

wauchope at Pool Corner downstream

This was all reassuring.

I followed the Wauchope down to the spot where it flows under the Kirk Brig and joins the Esk.  The Wauchope has  shifted a considerable amount of over the past week, and it is now flowing over a small cascade to join the bigger river.

wauchope flooding under kirk brig

…and on this occasion, it was adding more than its fair share of water to the Esk.

wauchope meeting esk

On the other side of the Wauchope, I could see a family of goosanders having a quiet sit down.

qgoosanders at church

The rain eased off enough as I went home to let me walk round the garden without getting too wet.

I saw a promising plum.

ripening plum

In fact, I didn’t just see it, I picked it and ate it.  It tasted very promising.  I hope that we get enough good weather to ripen the plums properly before they all split in the rain.

As well as being wet, it was also windy and three phloxes which Mrs Tootlepedal has recently transplanted needed every bit of help from their supporting canes that they could get.  You can see the salvias being bent by the breeze in the background.

transplanted phlox

The dahlias have had a hard time.  As well as being seriously nibbled, the weather has been poor ever since they came out and I am surprised whenever I see a flower looking half decent.

three rainy dahlias

The argyranthemums smile though their tears.

wet argyranthemum

Another excursion was a quick drive to the Co-op to do some shopping for our tea, not a very exciting prospect.  However, as  we combined shopping with cheerful conversation with several friends we met in the store, it did brighten our day a bit.

In the early evening, I took my entries for the Canonbie Flower Show up to Sandy.  He has a friend who always does well in the photographic section of the show staying with him, and she and her husband very kindly agreed to take both his and my pictures down to the hall and get them properly entered.  I hope to go down tomorrow and see how they have done.

Further day brightening was applied by the arrival of Mike and Alison later in the evening, and Alison and I tinkled and tootled away to provide a musical end to a very dull day.

There were no flying birds today but at least the goosanders got up and did a bit of walking.

goosanders at church alert

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who visited Forde Abbey recently in the company of my sister Mary.

Forde Abbey

It was a very changeable day today with constant rain showers interspersed with occasion brief dry spells and even the odd bit of sunshine.  The addition of a very brisk wind to the weather mix made it a day that was unsuitable for serious outdoor activity.

I therefore lurked indoors for the most part, except when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing in the church choir. I spent a fair amount of time cooking.  I made a lamb stew with a plum and red wine gravy for the slow cooker after breakfast and a potato and carrot soup for our lunch.

Then I put a so called ciabatta mixture into the breakd making machine and watched the birds for a bit.

Things were quiet, perhaps because of the brisk wind.

A lone jackdaw surveyed the scene for a while…

_DSC6978

When I started watching, there were no sparrows about and a single siskin and a goldfinch commanded the feeder.

_DSC6983

A sparrow and a chaffinch tried to move in…

_DSC6984

…and after that, chaffinches….

_DSC6985

…and sparrows….

_DSC6987

…flew in at regular intervals…

_DSC6989

…sometimes at the same time.

_DSC6991

All the same, there were long periods when the feeder was unattended.

Goldfinches returned and this one was not happy about an impending chaffinch.

_DSC6988

A hungry blue tit didn’t cause as much distress.

_DSC6993

We had a quiet afternoon watching the cyclists of the Tour of Britain going round n circles in the middle of London and then as the rain had stopped for a moment, I went out into the garden and did a little dead heading and picked up windfall apples.

The dahlias, as I have remarked before, seem to be pretty weather proof and were still smiling.

P1140184

But for once, there were no bees on the Michaelmas daisies…

P1140185

…and no butterflies about at all.

As the weather seemed to be quite good, I cycled off to do some shopping.

The path along the riverside looked inviting…

P1140186

…and I pedalled a bit further in search of fungus.  I  didn’t see fungus and had to be content with some flowers.

P1140187

As I came out of the shop and headed for home, the weather had taken a gloomy turn again…

P1140192

…but it hadn’t started to rain so I paused for a moment beside the Esk and watched a stream of riders, who had been out on a charity event, crossing the Langholm Bridge…

P1140199

…and a dipper living up to its name.

P1140203

The delay meant that the rain was coming down before I got home but it did provide a rainbow for me, although it was only half a rainbow when I looked at it closely.

P1140208

We had the slow cooked stew for our tea and the  ‘ciabbata’ came out of the bread machine.   Say what you like about bread machines (I am a devotee) but they make a good looking loaf.

P1140210

The result is nothing like a hand made ciabatta loaf but it tastes delicious and that is what matters.

In keeping with the day, the evening was spent very quietly doing nothing more exciting than making a couple more jars of apple jelly.  I didn’t rush the job this time and it set properly first go.

The flying bird of the day is a distant goldfinch.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She set herself up with this splendid view with the intention of enjoying the Red  Arrows display team as they flew towards her.   Unfortunately, owing to a failure of communication, they appeared from behind her and were past before she could get a good shot.  Still, the  countryside is lovely.

somerset view

We had dawn till dusk sunshine today (with the occasional cloud) and as a result, I spent a lot of time outside.

I was going to go cycling in the morning but Mrs Tootlepedal had asked if I could clean the tray which catches the fallen seed below the bird feeder so while she went off for a meeting, I did that.  Bird poop and soggy seed are difficult to get off so this took me some time.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and it was such a  fine day that it seemed like a really good time to dig up the remaining potatoes and let them dry before storing them.

There were quite a lot to raise.

potatoes on bed

Some of them were definitely not small potatoes.

big potato

And the haulms needed chopping up and putting into the compost bin.

compost bin full of haulms

And I couldn’t spend time in the garden without looking around a bit.

yellow bee

three poppies

two reggae

And after all this, it was suddenly time for lunch and I still hadn’t gone cycling.

After lunch, I checked on the butterflies.  There were a lot about and as the buddleia blooms are going over, it wasn’t surprising to find a peacock and a red admiral sharing one of the ones that is still out.

peacock and admiral butterflies

I finally got cycling and soon found out that although the sun was out, there was a brisk wind to go with it so it was warm but hard going.  I set off to go over Callister but found that the loose gravel merchants had been at work there very recently so I turned back and took a diversion.  At one stage, this entailed going along a narrow road with a very poor surface, gently uphill and  straight into the wind.  I was pleased to take a rest and nibble on a bramble in a hedge…

bramble

…and make up for the recent lack of gates in the blog.

gate

I passed several farmers in the process of getting a second cut of grass for storage.

grass cutting in field

They must be pleased because when the cold wet spring was followed by a drought, things didn’t look very promising.

In spite of the constant verge cutting, some (short) wild flowers are showing again beside the road as I pedal along.

wild flower

For one reason or another, my legs were in a very uncooperative mood and the wind was coming from a rather unhelpful direction so my progress would have made a snail feel quite comfortable.

I needed a few stops to let the legs recover and I took one of them at this small bridge over a little burn a few yards from the border with England.

bridge near Springfield

It was a pretty spot…

path at bridge near Springfield

…with a lot of Himalayan balsam about.

balsam at bridge near Springfield

I took my last breather, about three miles from home and was impressed by the seediness of the area.

rosebay willowherb seed

seed head

In spite of my lacklustre legs, I managed 43 miles and found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.  She had collected up the potatoes…

potatoes in barrow

The ones in the bucket are damaged and have to be eaten first.

…and sorted out the bed.

potato bed

She is going to sow green manure in the bed now.

I checked on the butterflies and saw five peacocks at once….

five butterflies

…and then went in for a cup of tea and a look at the birds among the plums on the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing a home made pizza for our tea (our breadmaking machine makes a very good dough for pizza bases) and while she was doing this, I had another check on the butterflies….

four butterfleis and a bee

Four butterflies and a bee on the same flower head this time.

…before going off for a shower and coming down to eat the delicious pizza.

We are taking a keen interest in La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain cycle race) and I was very envious of the beautifully surfaced roads that they were cycling along today though I was happy not to be going down the final hill with them at 76 kph.  My nose starts bleeding at 48 kph.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow threatening the position of a greenfinch.

incoming sparrow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture once again shows what our son Tony comes across when he walks his dogs at his new house.

Tony's seal

It was yet another miserably drizzly and windy morning when we got up but it was still comfortably warm in the garden.  I am afraid that I was one of those  purveyors of fake news a day or two ago when I said that the scientific rain gauge was showing three inches of rain for the week.  I had got carried away and it was really only showing two inches.  However, by this evening, it really was showing three inches and I have emptied it out and will try to remember to check it (accurately) every Saturday from now on.

Mrs Tootlepedal is busy with creating a blackout blind for an upstairs room and as this involves a patchwork layer  she was quite happy to spend the morning sewing.  I had an interesting crossword and a cup of coffee and I can spend a lot of time, when needed, in solving one and drinking the other.

The forecast had suggested that things might be better in the later part of the afternoon and this turned out to be true so I had a walk round the garden…

plums

There are plums ripening on the plum tree and getting ready to be eaten inside but there are other interested parties in the matter of eating plums…

wasps on plums

…which means that I will have to be careful in reaching up to pick the fruit.

There are still some campanulas left, rather battered but with enough pollen to still attract a bee.

campanulas

We would sit out in the evening and enjoy the sweet smell of the nicotianas if the weather was a bit better.

nicotiana

The French marigolds somehow make it very difficult for me to take a picture which shows just what a treat they are to look at but this was one of my slightly better efforts.

French marigold bunch

I like the devil may care attitude of rudbeckias to their petals.  No military precision there.

big rudbeckia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s scheme to surround the top end of the front lawn with a band of yellow provided by crocosmias is coming along well…

lawn and yellow crocosmia

…and some of the more traditional colour can be seen next to the greenhouse.

two crocosmia

The end of the middle lawn should be a sea of white cosmos and we are hoping that the weather will be kind enough to let them all flower soon.  There are plenty of buds waiting to burst.

white cosmos

Mrs Tootlepedal has a bright red geranium already in place and she has now planted out the economically priced one which she bought in Dumfries.

gernaiums

The dahlias are doing well.

four dahlias

The strong winds of the morning had eased off and although the clouds were still looming, it was not raining so I got my bike out and set off round the 20 mile Canonbie  circuit with the option of turning tail if it started to rain or the wind got too strong.

By the time I had got three miles out of town, there was even a hint of blue sky about…

view from Bloch

…though the view behind me wasn’t very encouraging….

view of Bloch road

…and the sight of house martins (I think) on the telephone wires beside the road spoke of autumn.

martin

However, I was lucky and the roads dried out and the rain stayed away.  With the wind still quite brisk…

blowy tree

…it was good that it was in the most friendly direction possible, being only directly in my face for about five of the twenty miles.  By the time that the ride was over, the wind had dropped a lot so I had a much more enjoyable experience than I had expected.  I even got to stop on the way and chat to a man who has an Archimedes screw.

I picked some raspberries and sweet peas when I got back and we had the raspberries on a meringue base with some whipped cream for afters at our evening meal.

After bragging about how many birds there were in the garden yesterday, I got a well deserved comeuppance when none appeared today at all.  This might have been because of the wind or possibly because I thought I saw a sparrowhawk fly through the garden in the morning but for what ever reason, there is no perching bird today, let along a flying one.

A vivid nasturtium is the flower of the day instead.

nasturtium

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jenni.  She went even further north from Inverness for a cruise and found herself in Alaskan waters.

alaskan cruise

We had an uncharacteristically dull day here both as far as the weather went and my level of activity.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and at it early with a trip to Carlisle and back by bus before lunch but drizzly rain and a brisk breeze discouraged me from doing much more than a little garden tidying and a trip to the corner shop in a dry spell.

I didn’t even get my camera out until after lunch.

The dahlias don’t seem to mind the rain much…

yellow dahlia

…but a hellenium…

hellenium

..and a rudbeckia appear rather depressed.

rudbeckia

The small sunflowers make up in numbers what they lack in height…

short sunflowers

…and both the plums…

crowded plums

…and the apples can’t be accused of any lack of effort.

apples

Indeed, I have thinned the plums several times already and took off another twenty today without making any noticeable difference to the crop.

The Christmas tree, which is having its summer holiday in the vegetable garden, doesn’t seem very sure about which way it is going at all.

christmas tree august

I had some fun trying to photograph a fine red poppy.  It was exposed to the breeze and after several complete failures…

red poppy in wind 1

…I finally managed to catch it at the top of its swaying motion.

red poppy in wind 2

This little excursion completed my outdoor work for the day and I went in to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have another unavailing round in my battle against the recalcitrant printer. Printer 4 Tom 0.

A gloomy afternoon was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly flute playing efforts and I got a couple of new studies from the internet for us to play.  The internet is an endless source of free flute duets and I put that in the balance against the greed and manipulation of the big internet companies.

Our good spell of weather looks as though it has finally come to an end, with cooler temperatures and rain forecast for every day this week until the weekend.  I will have to remember what it is like to bicycle in less than perfect conditions if I am not to fall behind my schedule again.

For some mysterious reason, there have been hardly any birds in the garden for the last two days after a very busy spell so the flying bird of the day is a solitary siskin sitting down.

siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  She really does have a scientific rain gauge and she was very pleased to find it had some rain in it, as they too have been suffering from a drought.

mary jo's rain gauge

We had a gentle spot or two of rain today but once again it was not enough to do the watering job for us.

We haven’t been suffering from the heat wave that has been hitting the south but at 22°C on a cloudy day, it was still unusually warm.

All the same, Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of our relatively cool weather by working furiously all morning in the garden.  Hedges were trimmed…

trimmed hedge

…and plants were uprooted to make space.  I did a lot of shredding and then seeing that the mound of material was going to overwhelm Compost Bin A, I turned the contents of Bin A into Bin B, which luckily was empty.  By lunchtime, Bin A was half full again.

I also sieved some of Bin D to make room at the far end of the composting process.  The results were soon back on a flower bed.

The lawns are  surviving much better than I thought that they would and I was able to mow the middle lawn.  I have been keeping the mower blades quite high but  the faint and very occasional mists of drizzle must be to the liking of the grass as I took several boxes of cuttings to add to the compost.

The result was not too bad under the circumstances.

middle lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed the edges later on.

There is a bit less colour in the flower bed at the far end of the lawn than Mrs Tootlepedal had planned because one of the sets of plants turns out to be biennials.  She tells me that she should have read the catalogue more carefully but they will doubtless make a good show next year.

There are white butterflies all over the garden and one settled on a lobelia beside the new bench while I was having a cup of coffee with the gardener.

white butterfly on blue

There are two dahlias out now and the other plants are looking quite healthy so there should be more soon.

two dahlias

They will come in fancy and plain varieties

More poppies appear every day and we greet them with a cry of “Better late than never.”

pale poppy

The brown trim on the calendulas is very striking and I turned a flower over today to show what it would look like if I was lying flat on the ground underneath it.

back of calendula

Different bumble bees were visiting the stachys.

white tailed bee on stachys

I am always happy when  a new clematis comes out.  This one is on the metal fence along the edge of the vegetable garden.

purple clematis

A second perennial wallflower has appeared in the new bed.

perennial wallflower

And sadly, the elegant yellow lilies are fading slightly as they come to the end of the flowering season.

lily

I put the bird spotting camera up over lunchtime and enjoyed chaffinches approaching the feeder.

chaffinches at feeder

A little while later, Mrs Tootlepedal looked up and said, “There are greenfinches everywhere.”

This was true.

greenfinches in control

Chaffinches hovered around but they didn’t get a look in.

greenfinch flying in

…and even the greenfinches found maintaining a seat at the table was hard work.

greenfinch beak to beak

Some made a rather huffy exit.

greenfinch flying off in huff

In the afternoon, the joiners came back and did useful work on keeping the house in good condition.

It started to drizzle and the wind was quite vigorous so I abandoned thoughts of a walk or a cycle and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have still got about six weeks waiting to be entered so it will have to rain a lot more if I am to catch up.

I did get out into the garden for other walks round in the afternoon.

A blackbird is never far away wherever you are.

blackbird on bench

This one was on the bench under the walnut tree watching me trying and failing to get a good picture of bees on the privet flowers.

I noticed that the ligularia needed watering and took a good look at it once I had done the job.

ligularia close

The late afternoon and evening were spent tootling.  First my flute pupil Luke came and we worked on smooth playing and controlled breathing.  Then, after tea, I went off to try to put some of my own advice into practice while playing trios with Isabel and Mike.

We played three trios, all by G P Telemann and that guaranteed us a most enjoyable time.

When I got back, a good day was rounded off by some very tasty courgette fritters that Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches visiting the feeder before the greenfinches came.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who encountered this elegant pedal powered equipage in Malton.

Malton tricycle

The morning dawned, as is customary, with grey skies and a persistent drizzle which sometimes veered into downright rain.

Under these circumstances, to linger over breakfast and the newspapers for long enough to slide imperceptibly into coffee and scones with Dropscone was the best policy and I followed it.

Dropscone’s scones were masterpieces of the baker’s art and went well with the last of Mary Jo’s saskatoon jam.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre’s coffee shop over lunch and I was left by myself to stare out of the kitchen window.  As usual, there was quite a bit to stare at.

Flying chaffinches were ten a penny.

flying chaffinches

And fighting sparrows weren’t hard to find.  I liked the way this incoming lady casually one handedly brushed off the male who stood in her way.

fighting sparrows

Siskins watched from above, waiting for a perch.

siskins

And a dunnock gleaned fallen seed below.

dunnock

The highlight of the day was this tousled blue tit who defied appearances by being able to fly and land very nimbly.

ruffled blue tit

I had a slice of melon and a sardine sandwich for my lunch and by the time that I had finished these, it had stopped raining.  As it was quite warm (14°C) for the time of year and the forecast was optimistic about the rain having passed over, I got the fairly speedy bike out and ventured off on a ride.

I had a think about the brisk wind that was blowing and chose a route which I hoped would make the best of it.  Instead of heading west as usual, I headed off north on a roughly rectangular route, hoping for sheltered crosswinds on legs one and three, an even more sheltered headwind leg two and a fine run downwind leg four to finish the trip.

I was mightily surprised when things worked out according to plan.

My route took me up the Esk valley where I stopped for my favourite view….

gates of Eden

… the Gates of Eden, which look lovely whatever the weather.

A look down the road from the same spot gives a better idea of the time of year and the weather.

Craig road

I think that the autumn colour is a write off this year and I didn’t see much better than this view near Hopsrig.

Autumn colour

Bentpath looked very subdued under the clouds.Bentpath in October

My leg two into the wind was uphill but I was well sheltered for most of it by the fine line of trees beside the road you can see in the picture below..

Esk from bailliehill

I was more exposed to the crosswind as I cycled across the moor and down to Paddockhole…

Paddockhole bridge

….but by using a sensibly low gear and imagining that I was going at 20mph into a 10mph wind rather than going at 10mph into a 20mph wind (exactly the same amount of effort being required) which I was, the miles passed quite kindly.

Once I had crossed the bridge at Paddockhole, the wind was behind me for the final ten miles and when I had got to the top of Callister, the combination of wind and gravity let me do the last six miles home at an average of 20mph.

And to make things even better, the sun came out.

Craig windmills from Wauchope road

The road home looked inviting.

Wauchope road

This route is 26 miles, roughly the same distance as a marathon and has well over 1000ft of climbing in it.  I was therefore pleased to complete it in 1 hour 59 minutes and 58 seconds.  As the fastest marathon runners in the world, in a set up event in a sheltered stadium, with pacemakers, wearing fancy springy shoes and with top class nutritionists and sports trainers at their beck and call couldn’t manage to run a marathon in under two hours this year, it is a fantastic tribute to the bicycle that an old man of 75 can give them a run for their money.  In fact it calls the whole idea of running into question.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and I had a look around.

october flowers

Hellenium and campanula join the poppies today

dahlias

Dahlias glowing in the sun.

it was very good to see the sun and we had a quick cup of tea and drove up to the Moorland bird feeders so that Mrs Tootlepedal could look for hen harriers on the moor and I could look at smaller birds from the hide.

It was still breezy.

coal tit

great tit and blue tit

The feeders were mostly empty but I enjoyed watching a busy set of coal tits, great tits and blue tits for a while.  There are always pheasants about too but they were looking a bit gloomy today at the lack of fallen seeds to pick at.

pheasant

Sadly, the sun didn’t last and almost as soon as we got to the hide, it was overtaken by clouds so we didn’t stay long but Mrs Tootlepedal was quite content as she had had a couple of hen harrier sightings.

By coincidence, just as we got home we met fellow camera club member Andy at our gate.  It was not his skill with the shutter than we needed but his expertise as a forester.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been worried about damage to our walnut tree and Andy kindly agreed to have a look at it and give an opinion.

Andy and Mrs T

They emerged from the inspection in good humour as Andy’s view was that the damage seemed to have been long standing and not recent and the tree was in no danger of imminent collapse.

Andy took a tour round the garden while he was here and was impressed by the appetite of some caterpillars which were eating our turnip leaves.

caterpillars

I am no caterpillar expert…that is an understatement….but a little research on the internet suggested that these might possibly be Red Admiral butterfly caterpillars.  This would be very unusual so I would welcome an identification from knowledgeable readers.

In the evening, we went the Buccleuch Centre where we enjoyed a fine performance by four young singers from Scottish Opera who were on a tour to bring culture to far flung corners of Scotland.

Rather than just singing popular arias in turn, they put together a miscellany of solos, duets, trios and quartets within a specially created dramatic framework of love and jealously among the performers themselves.  I found this very satisfactory as it added some real emotional vigour to the singing but Mrs Tootlepedal could take it or leave it alone.

The singing was splendid however, particularly by the baritone, and the musical selection ranged from Monteverdi to Benjamin Britten with many stops in between so it was a very satisfactory evening for us both.

The flying bird of the day is a double look at great tits in the garden.

great tit

For those interested, further details of the bike ride can be found by clicking on the map below.

Garmin route 23 Oct 2017

 

 

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