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Posts Tagged ‘doronicum’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He went for one of those walks which risky older people are encouraged to take in these troubled times.  He tells me that in his photograph you can see Derby City at the top right, the village of Breadsall in the top middle, and his suburb, Oakwood, in the top left corner.andrew's walk

We had another sunny day here today, but with another chilly start to it.  I went out into the garden after coffee, and although the sun was shining brightly, the thermometer was stuck at a stubbornly low 4°C and with a brisk north wind blowing, it didn’t feel like a terrifically good day to welcome the vernal equinox.

That equinox has rather crept up on us this year because it remained so grey, cool and wet for so long that the lengthening days didn’t really register. It has taken these last couple of better days to bring home that it is finally that time of year.

Still, I mustn’t sniff at a sunny day and the hellebores did look stunning

hellebore

New things are appearing and along with a doronicum and a euphorbia, other mystery plants are developing.

doronicum, euphorbia, bergenia and mystery

I know what this.

primula

I put my coat, hat and gloves on and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved away over a hot computer on buy-out business, I sieved a little compost.

My set up is basic and low tech but it does produce some good looking results.

compost sieving

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped work for a while and came for a garden stroll.  We were pleased to see another frog had arrived in the pond.

frog equinox

We have seen very few frogs this year compared with previous years.  Perhaps they haven’t enjoyed the weather any more than we have.  We should have had a dozen or more daily by now.

I cycled round to the shop to get milk and rolls and on my way, I stopped to admire the oyster catchers by the Esk.  There days, it is a little further to the shop since it moved, but the chance to see the oyster catchers makes up for it.

two oyster catchers esk

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal directed my attention to some Rip van Winkle daffodils that have just come out.  They have interesting petals but I will have to wait for a less windy day to do them justice.

daffodil rip van winkle

After lunch, I spent a few moments looking at the birds but there were very few to be seen and this busy moment was quite untypical.

busy feeder

The siskins have left and there were no goldfinches either today.

In the absence of any birds to watch, I bit on the bullet, ignored the continuing low temperature and keen north wind, and went out for my third bicycle ride in three days.

I resolved to ride straight into the wind for as long as I could manage, and then swoop home, wind assisted.  I set off up the Ewes valley.

The view made me forget the cold and the wind.

ewes valley view

Although there were plenty of clouds about, they mostly passed me by, leaving me pedalling in the sun and enjoying the views to the side of the road…

fiddeton view

…until I got to the head of the valley.

Here, I had a choice of continuing on the main road up a long, steady hill through a narrow pass down which the wind would be whistling, or I could turn right and follow a narrow road along a beautiful stream for a mile or two.

top of ewes view

I took the easy option and crossed this bridge…

ewes bridge

…and passed this tree…

carretrig road tree

…as I went along beside this tumbling burn…

carretrig burn

…below this hill…

hills near carretrig

…until I got to this bridge which is at the bottom of a very steep hill…

Carretrig bridge

…where I wisely turned round and headed home.

It had been a slog up the hill and into the wind and my first ten miles took me almost exactly an hour of hard work.  I got my reward on the way back to Langholm and I covered the second ten miles of my journey in 34 minutes, whistling merrily as I zoomed along.

In fact, I felt so happy when I got back to Langholm that I added another six miles to my trip by going  to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.  Here the opposite effect was achieved and the wind pushed me up the hill almost as fast as I managed to come back down again, pedalling like fury this time.

I adopted an emollient manner towards my legs and they responded in a friendly manner and as a result, I achieved a more respectable average for the same distance of 26 miles than I did yesterday.  (The fact that I had had less climbing to do might also have had an effect.)

It has been a good week for cycling and I have done almost as many miles (102) in the last three days as I did in the whole of the month of February.

I wasted quite a lot of time in the evening trying to set up a new blog for the use of camera club members.  In the good old days, starting a WordPress Blog was a piece of cake.  They gave you the digital equivalent of a piece of blank paper and left you to it.  Now they are trying to be so dashed helpful that it is a nightmare to get what you want if it isn’t what they think that you ought to want.  I will persevere.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s African trip.  She met a number of alarming animals as she went along.

Nile crocodile

My day started with a visit to the doctor to inquire about the possibility of a miracle cure and consult about the blood test results following my mild anaemia.  The blood results could not have been better as all my levels were just about as good as they could be.  The doctor declared that I was in perfect health and I was almost embarrassed to mention my foot trouble and show her my swollen foot.

Her diagnosis was osteoarthritis due to wear and tear and the miracle cure was thus not available.  She has sent me off for an x-ray though in case I have got some other damage in my foot.  As that will probably take two weeks to happen, I shall continue to hobble around muttering balefully meanwhile.

It was a lovely day though so that cheered me up when I got back into the garden, especially when I found out that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy putting a neat edge on the middle lawn.

edged lawn

Nothing makes a lawn look better than a neat edge.

I did the edges of the front lawn and then took a look round.  In the pond, the tadpoles are still in a heap but they are looking quite healthy and should start swimming around soon.

tadpoles

It was such a perfect day that I thought that I might test out the idea that had been put into my head by Stan at our last camera club meeting and try what a mirror could do.

The dog tooth violet seemed like a good subject as it hangs its head down so I stuck the mirror underneath it and had a go with my little Lumix.

violet with mirror

The result was very satisfactory in that I got a shot which I don’t think that I could have got by any other method without picking the flower.

violet in mirror (2)

I got my Nikon out, put the macro lens on and tried a few other flowers with the mirror technique.

A hellebore…

hellebore in mirror

…a scylla…

scylla in mirror

…and back to the violet again.

violet in mirror

I am grateful to Stan as it is obviously a really promising idea….though if I am seen walking through the woods with a shaving mirror in my hand, I may get some odd looks.

While I had the macro lens on, I peered at the euphorbia…

euphorbia in sunshine

…the doronicum…

doronicum

…and the nameless little white flowers.

two little white flowers

I noticed the very first dicentra of the year…

first dicentra

…and Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that there were several ladybirds about too.

ladybird in garden

Mrs Tootlepedal went in to cook some sticky toffee pudding and I stayed out in the garden and was very pleased to get a visit from a man from the power company who had come to inspect our wobbly electricity pole,  He gave the bottom of the pole some savage whacks with a hammer and decided that the telephone men had been wise not to climb up it.  It has to go and after some consideration of the possibility of digging trenches through three gardens (as the pole serves three houses), he decided that putting up a new pole would be the way to go.  To avoid wrecking Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden, the hole for the pole will be hand dug.  This will make for interesting work for the apprentices whose job it will be to dig the hole.

In the end, as we were going to Edinburgh as usual to visit Matilda, I had to leave the garden reluctantly and make a little lunch.  I watched the birds as the soup heated.

In spite of a free perch on the other side of the feeder, a lady chaffinch thought that it was quite all right to trample on an innocent goldfinch.

chaffinch stamping goldfinch

To try to tempt some different birds to come to the feeders, I have put out some peanuts.  Mrs Tootlepedal saw a blue tit visit but the only bird I saw nibbling on the nuts was this siskin.

siskin on peanuts

On the whole, the sunflower hearts seem much more attractive than the peanuts and the birds were jumping at the chance to get a seed.

siskin landing

The trip to Edinburgh was delightful, with the train on time and the countryside looking at its best in the sun.

When we got there, Matilda was away from home practising a dance routine for a forthcoming competition so I had a moment to take a very short stroll through the nearby Botanic gardens.

It was a good place to be.

sdrsdrdigdav

Matilda returned and we had time for a chat before a meal of asparagus and lemon linguine cooked by Al and Mrs Tootlepedal’s sticky toffee pudding.  Al and Clare are in the middle of moving to their new house and we hope to be able to see it with the furniture and floors in soon.

The journey home went well so apart from still having a sore foot, it was a very satisfactory day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited a garden in the sky on the roof of the Birmingham Library.

Birmingham library rooftop garden

Sadly my sore foot decided that the return of Mrs Tootlepedal was an excuse to stop working altogether and I was reduced to hobbling around for most of the day which was very annoying.  On the more cheerful side, we were visited by Dropscone for coffee and scones in the morning and Mike Tinker for tea and biscuits in the afternoon so socially it was quite a bright day.

As I seem to be catching a cold too, I spent a lot of time doing nothing in particular but doing it very well of course. There were plenty of birds to watch.

A greenfinch put on its lost threatening face in an attempt to dislodge a goldfinch…

greenfinch threatening goldfinch

…and having dislodged the sitting tenant, it imperiously took up its place on the perch…

greenfinch on perch

…and gave any other pretenders a hard stare.

greenfinch staring out chaffinch

(In the best traditions of wild life TV programmes, different greenfinches may have been involved in the creation of this story line.)

Chaffinches approached vacant perches with care…

two chaffinches landing

…but some chaffinches are so habituated to arguing that they can’t resist an aggressive approach even if no-one else is there.

chaffinch shouting at perch

At times there was a positive whirlwind of birds…

loads of chaffinches

…and at other it was  peaceful enough for the arrival of a second bird to come as a shock to the incumbent.

chaffinch surprised

Although I was watching the birds, the birds found plenty to look at too.

greenfinch on pole

Sparrows are more handsome than you might think when they settle down for a moment.  This one was making sure that I was noticing him.

sparrow posing on feeder

On the other hand, this goldfinch had other things to think about than posing for me.

goldfinch on pole

I made one brief excursion round the garden to while away the hours conferring with the flowers and discovered that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out a recent purchase.  It is a doronicum or leopard’s-bane and it seems to be settling in.

doronicum

We haven’t got many scillas out yet but the ones that are out are doing their best to add a little colour to the garden…

scilla in back bed

…and the clumps of daffodils are beginning to fill out too.

daffodils under feederdaffodil clump

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the Rip van Winkle daffodils are noted for retaining moisture which makes their heads hang down.  As a result they get splashed when it rains as these ones have, but the forecast is a bit better for a while so they should look up a bit.

rip van wnkle daffodil

A day of heavy resting has eased my foot off as I write this so I hope to be a bit more mobile tomorrow, ready to greet the Spring equinox with a sunny smile.  (On researching, I find that it will arrive at 21.58 tomorrow.  This came as surprise to me as I didn’t realise that it was an event timed to the minute like that.)

I am suffering from a severe lack of exercise in March, having only cycled 20 miles and hardly walked at all.  I have a doctor’s appointment but it is not for eight days so I will have to wait patiently.  Fortunately my capacity for endless mumphing and moaning has not been affected in the slightest so I am never short of something to do.

Another female chaffinch is the flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

 

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