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Posts Tagged ‘dahlias’

Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan found a very steep gorge to walk along, but Susan made sure that he didn’t go too near the edge.

Highland gorge

After yesterday’s excitements. I was very happy to a have gentle morning with nothing more exciting than a cup of coffee and a treacle scone with Dropscone to keep me entertained.  When he left (with some of our surplus runner beans), I went out and had a wander round the garden.

After last night’s rain, it was dry and quiet and the garden was full of birds.  Some were easier to spot than others…

blackbird and thrush

…and some were very easy to spot indeed.

six starlings

Crown Princess Margareta is ignoring cold mornings and rainy evenings and producing more late flowers all the time.

four roses

And generally, flowers are lasting well.

four garden flowers

It was rather cool and gloomy though so I went back in and settled down to being baffled by a tricky crossword and this helped me pass the time until Mrs Tootlepedal returned.  She had spent the morning talking to the public about the proposed community land purchase and had had some very interesting and useful conversations.

After lunch, she went back to talk to people again and i mowed the greenhouse grass and pottered around the garden.

I am very happy to see the dahlias continuing to make up for their slow start.

two dahlias

The insects are pleased too.

pair of dahlias

The day brightened up and a couple of red admiral butterflies  arrived.

two red admiral; butterflies

I had thought that the Abyssinian gladioli had come to the end of their run but a single flower has popped up to say that they are not all dead yet.  It has been joined by a surprising lone Sweet William flower.

gladiolus, sweet william, verbena, sedum

The verbena attracted a bee but the sedum  had no friends.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, we decided to go for a walk and drove a few miles up and out of the Esk Valley and down into the valley of the Tarras Water to take a walk along the river there.

There was plenty of water in the Tarras…

tarras at bridge

…and the track was muddy and full of puddles in places so we had to keep an eye on where we were walking.  We were able to pause and look around though.

We were struck but the look of this conifer plantation.  It is not at all usual to be able to see the trunks of the trees like this and we wondered what had caused the trees to grow so thinly.

spruce trunks

We followed the track into a wood and met a fine crop of horsetails.

equisetum detail

We followed a trail up the hill through the woods…

tarras wood track

…which had been used by people going to fill the feeders for the pheasants….

pheasant tarras wood

…which have been put out in the woods for people to shoot at.

Although the season has just begun, there was no shooting today so we were able to enjoy our walk in peace.

The sun came out as we walked and the wood looked delightful…

tarras wood sunlit

…whichever way we turned.

tarras wood into sun

It was notable that the birch trees here had almost all lost their leaves already.

There was occasional fungus to see…

four fungi tarras wood

…and the horsetails caught the low sun as we came back down the hill.

equisetum backlit

There were hints of autumn colour

tarras wood colour

…and it had turned into a beautiful evening for a walk.

tarras wood bank

We had our flu jabs yesterday before we went to Edinburgh and we don’t seem to have had any ill effects from them but we are both still a little below par so we enjoyed a quiet evening in watching supremely talented athletes running and jumping at the World Championships, perhaps wishing that we were still young enough to run about in a vigorous way too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow going downhill.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s Spanish jaunt and shows the very impressive public library in Gijon.  They obviously take libraries seriously there.

Spanish library

We had another rainy day today but by way of a change after yesterday’s drizzle, today we had several sharp showers with breaks in between, and even an occasional ray of sunshine.

I had to go to the health centre for a blood test before breakfast and unfortunately this outing coincided with probably the sharpest shower of the day.  Luckily I am well supplied with large brollies from my golfing days so I managed to get there and back without getting too wet and enjoyed a late breakfast when I got home.

When the rain stopped I went out to see the flowers.  Crown Princess Margareta looked a bit depressed by the rain and who can blame her.

Margareta rose

A passer by yesterday gave it as his opinion that the time for garden tidying was upon us, but there are still a lot of flowers on the go.  After coffee, I went out for another look and they lit up the gloom this morning.

three red things

Both in colour and in white.

three white things

But all the same, I spent quite a lot of time indoors looking out to see whether it was still raining.  There was a lot to see through the kitchen window.

There was a rare visit from a chaffinch to the plum trip.

chaffinch in plum tree

I thought that we might have a one legged robin in the garden…

robin on kerb

…but when it hopped off the kerb onto the the drive, it showed it was bipedal…

robin on ground

…and took a bow beside one of our many puddles…

robin near puddle

…before hopping up onto a chair, posing prettily and…

robin on chair

…then flying off…

…leaving me to watch a little drama playing out on the window itself.

spider in action

Fortunately, as time was hanging a little heavily on my hands, the kind people at the BBC have organised a pop up digital radio station for four days, devoted to celebrating the life and works of the Beatles.  To those readers either too old, too young or too deaf to appreciate what a treat this is, I can only say that your life has a hole in it.  The station is going to be on air until Sunday but I am listening to BBC Sounds on my computer while I am writing the blog and Dave Grohl is playing a well chosen selection of Beatles songs to distract me.

I manged to turn the radio off after lunch and take advantage of a break in the rain to go for a pedal.  It was warm but breezy and I had to keep my nose to the wheel as I went up the road but the sound of geese honking made me look up, and I not only got a glimpse of some blue sky but the skein of geese as well.  The sharp eyed may be able to see them against the cloud.

cloudscape

Bringing my eyes back to earth, the way ahead looked a bit more problematic as far as the weather went.

Wauchope road gloom

But I pressed on and was serenaded by crows as I went up to Cleuchfoot.

crows

The sun came out for a moment as I crossed the Glencorf Burn…

burst

…but it started to rain again a few minutes later.  I turned at Cleuchfoot and headed home, wondering if I was going to get a soaking again.

Luck was with me today though and it had stopped raining by the time that I got back to Langholm so I turned and did another tour to Cleuchfoot.

There was plenty of water running off the hill…

roadside waterfall

…and in places the road was really wet so I took things cautiously again.

I added a little diversion on at the end of my second lap and this brought the distance up to almost 20 miles.  That little diversion also brought my monthly total up to 400 miles so I was pleased to have gone the extra mile.

I had a last walk round the garden when I got back and noticed one of the transplanted fuchsias hiding behind these dahlias.  It is trying to come out but it is so late that I doubt that it is going to make it before winter comes.

three dahlias

In spite of the weather, there are still bees doing their thing.

dahlia and bee

Then it seemed a good idea to go back inside and enjoy more of the Beatles feast on the radio.

It looks as though it is going to rain a lot tomorrow so I may well listen to more Beatles.

There is more than one flying bird of the day today.

skein of geese

 

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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.

_DSC6981

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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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