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Posts Tagged ‘foxglove’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent Venetia.  She went to Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire to play music and had some time to look at a fine spiral staircase at the orangery while she was there.

Castle Ashby orangery

We had what looks as though it might be the last day of our warm and sunny spell today and I had a plan to make good use of it.

My plan was simple – mow the front lawn, have coffee with Dropscone, mow the greenhouse grass, dead head a bit, sieve some compost, have lunch and go for a cycle ride….and of course take a few pictures too.

The plan developed well.  I mowed the front lawn which was looking better for the recent feed.

When I had finished that, the light was perfect for looking at the rosa complicata.

rosa complicata

New flowers had come out to enjoy the sunshine, a Martagon lily…

martagon lily

…and a stunning poppy.

first red poppy

Another of the foxgloves has produced a curious non standard flower at the top of its stem.

funny foxglove

The warmth has encouraged things.  The perennial nasturtium is threatening to completely engulf the yew…

perennial nasturtium on yew

…and one of the astrantias is trying to take over the world.

massed astarntia

Mrs Tootlepedal planted some biennial salvias last year and has been amazed by how large they are.  They promise to put on a really good show.

salvia buds

Later in the day, I found one that has come out a bit.

salvia spike

There are a lot of Philadelphus about, with different varieties.

I took this one in the morning….

lush philadelphus

…and this one in the cool of the evening.

philadelphus flower

This rose was surrounded by promises of more to come.

margareta rose

It was sheer pleasure to be out in the garden.  My plan was going well.

Dropscone arrived on cue, complete with the traditional Friday treacle scones.  He was pleased because yesterday he had played his first 18 hole round of golf since he broke his ribs.  He went off with some rhubarb and my plan continued to develop as I set about mowing the greenhouse grass and the drying green.

I sieved a little compost and did some dead heading and then had lunch with Mrs Tootlepdal who had had a busy morning of social and business meetings.

At this point, my plan, which had been going so well, fell into complete disarray.  Owing to a combination of afternoon heat, a growing sense of fatigue and an increasingly sore foot, cycling became more and more unattractive and in the end I got no further than the garden where I enjoyed a colourful corner…

colourful corner june

….saw a young starling hoping for some parental attention…

young starling on wire

…and noticed a blackbird ready to give a tasty worm to its second brood which is being raised in the hydrangea on the house wall.

blackbird with worm

Then things reached such a pass that I retired to my bed for a couple of hours and had a snooze.

I got up in time to enjoy an evening meal provided by Mrs Tootlepedal and was recovered enough to go out afterwards to help with some much needed watering in the vegetable garden.

I had my camera in my pocket so I recorded a moment when the wind had dropped so much that the doddering dillies had actually stopped doddering, a very rare occasion…

dodering dillies calm

…and noted a purple patch under the plum tree which Mrs Tootlepedal likes.

purple patch

Just behind the purple patch is a small but perfectly formed golden rose which was given to us in a pot in January last year on the occasion of our golden wedding.  Mrs Tootlepedal planted it out and it flowered all last summer.  It has survived the winter and is flowering very prettily once again.  That is a very good value gift.

wedding rose

Because of my plan’s failure, not only are there no pictures from my proposed cycle ride but there is no flying bird of the day and a starling on top of a neighbour’s holly tree is standing in instead.

old starling on holly tree

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-work colleague Ada.  She is in Tours and in spite of seeing a goat and a pink elephant in the street, she assures me that she hardly touched a drop.

Ada in Tours

The day started with some promise as far as the weather went.  There was sunshine as we cycled to church to sing in the choir but by the time that we got home, the sunshine had become fitful and every time that Mrs Tootlepedal hung the washing out, it started to drizzle.

The peonies were happy about what sun there was and made steady progress.

two nearly peonies

After church, we had coffee and I spent a little time watching the birds get through the seed on the feeder at a great rate.  I had filled the feeder before going to church and it was already down to halfway.

I enjoyed seeing a goldfinch and a siskin looking intently in the wrong direction  when it came to impending threats.

misdected siskin

This siskin knew where to direct its attention.

siskin being mean to sparrow

Having seen tow fellow siskins on the top shelf, I reckon this approaching siskin was weighing up its chances of shifting the goldfinch instead.

siskin hexing siskins

With the perches so busy, there was quite a lot of waiting for hungry birds, either on the feeder pole…

sparrow on pole

…or on the sunflower stalk that Mrs Tootlepedal has thoughtfully provided near the feeder.

siskin on new stalk

I went back out into the garden and checked on the fruit and veg.  Mrs Tootlepedal has put down a generous amount of straw for the strawberries and we are just waiting for some better ripening weather now.   The potatoes are producing more flowers every day.

strawberry and potato

Among the flowers, this Sweet William stopped me in my tracks…

sweet william stunner

…and I made a respectful bow as I passed the Queen of Denmark.

queen of denmark rose

Bees were to be seen on many flowers but I was taken by the flying skills that this one showed in reversing out of a foxglove.

bee in foxglove flower

The educated yellow onion is a tricky flower to photograph and this is the best that I have managed so far.

yellow educated onion

I like cornflowers…

conflower bud

…and it was evident today that bees like them too.

two bees on conrflower

There is still only one flower on the purple clematis.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is very early so perhaps this flower mistook the chilly weather for autumn and came out early by accident while the other flwoers knew better.

sole clematis flower

A feverfew has started to produce flowers and it will soon have more than a few by the look of it.

little daisielike plant

Next to the drive, a small forest of orange hawkweed is developing nicely…

sea of hawkweed

…and the climbing hydrangea is producing a positive galaxy of flowers.

hydrangea constellation

I put my camera down and mowed the middle lawn and after a quick check on the birds…

sideways look from greenfinch

…. Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up the road to collect another load of wood chips for the vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t spread them out though because when we got home, it was well past lunch time….and it was raining.

After lunch, the sun came out and I put my cycling gear on and it immediately started to rain again.  I passed some time relaxing in front of the telly until I noticed that the sun had come out again, so I got my bicycle out and set off to do a few miles.

I hadn’t gone much more than half a mile before it started to rain again, but fortunately, I had a rain jacket with me so I put it on and pressed ahead. It continued to rain for an hour by which time I had done thirteen miles and got a bit fed up so I stopped.  I had hoped to take some pictures of sunlit hills while I was out but not only was there no sunlit but there were very few hills to be seen.

I stopped to take this single picture on my way home just to show all the hills that I couldn’t see behind that bank of cloud ahead..

poor view of Whita

Fortunately Mrs Tootlepedal was cooking a very tasty meal of roast chicken with stuffing, roast potatoes with carrots and Brussels sprouts for our evening meal so I was soon warmed up and cheerful.

There is often a sliver lining to a cloud and the enforced rest of the past two days means that my feet don’t hurt at the moment.  Always look on the bright side of life…..de dum…de dum…etc

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, frozen in time.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo of Manitoba.  She was at a grand opening of a feed mill at a Hutterite colony in Alberta last week when a friend pointed out this American robin’s well stocked nest.

Mary Jo's eggs

After yesterday’s endless rain, we had endless sunshine today.  It was very welcome.  Of course the weather gods will have their little laugh, so the sunshine came on a day when we had to be indoors for a lot of the time.

All the same, after making a stew for the slow cooker and going to sing at our usual church service, there was time for a walk round the garden.

It was full of bees.

three bees

I was particularly happy to catch a bee on a lupin so that I could combine two favourite subjects in one shot…

bee on blue lupin

…but it was the chives that were scoring highest in the bee popularity stakes today.

two bees on chive

New flowers are out and the pick of the day was this iris with its petals outlined in white.

new iris 1

I liked it so much that I took pictures of it with different cameras.

new iris 2

Foxgloves are popping up all over the garden…

foxglove flower

…and a new set of blue Polemonium have appeared.

blue polemonium

I took some other pictures more because I liked the general effect of the situation than for any floral novelty.

An oriental poppy seed head beside the dam can be seen out of our back window…

poppy seed head dam

…and it looks as thought this lamium is concealing a fierce science fiction beast behind its  petals.

lamium with mask

This euphorbia is fading with added colour…

fading euphorbia

…and two tropaeolum flowers were crossing swords on the yew bush.

two tropaeolum

But my favourite of the morning was this very cool picture of potential plums.

young plums

I didn’t have long to wander about though, as it was the day of our end of term concert with the Carlisle Community Choir and we had to be at the venue for an early practice.

We picked up another choir member on the way and got to our new concert venue in a local school in plenty of time.  Ellen, our conductor, is very careful to make sure that we can enjoy our concerts so the practice was not too demanding and had a break in the middle.  As a result, I was ready for the big event and had a good time singing almost all of the notes that were required.

One of the highlights of the concert for me was the solo performance of our accompanist, Christine, who poured so many notes into semi improvised arrangements of Dream a Little Dream of Me and Somewhere over the Rainbow that it seemed that the piano might explode.  Just my cup of tea.

When we got home, the sun was still shining and I had time to mow both the lawns while the potatoes were cooking. The lawns are not big and when the ground is firm and the grass is short enough so that I don’t have to use a box, lawn mowing is a speedy business.  It is slightly surprising that the lawns are still firm, as Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge was showing five inches of rain over the past two weeks, but that shows just how dry it was in the weeks before the rain started.

After tea, I went for a walk.  To be more correct….as my feet are still perfectly alright as long as I don’t use them at all, I went for a slow cycle ride round one of my favourite evening walks.

I enjoyed the evening light and took two pictures of bridges which I didn’t cross, the suspension bridge…

view of whita june evening

…and the bridge to the church…

willows by chirch brig

…and one of the sawmill Brig,  which I did cross.

sawmill brig june evening

I saw oyster catchers before I crossed the Sawmill Brig….

one legged oyster ctatcher and pal

…and a magnificent rhododendron lurking in the shadows as I crossed it.

rhododendron from sawmill brig

Everything around us is green after the rain but the finishing straight of the race course on the Castleholm was the greenest thing of the day.

race course finishing straight

With both the Langholm and Carlisle choirs finished until September, I shall find time hanging heavy on my hands.  I am hopeful that a little fine weather may let me get out on my bike a bit more to fill up the unforgiving hours.  Looking at the forecast, it seems that this hope may not be realised.  Ah well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our regular sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce.  Having left Scotland by sailing under three bridges across the Forth, he has sent me this picture of sailing under another bridge and not just any old bridge but The Bridge.  Yes, that one, the Øresund Bridgefamiliar to all lovers of Scandinavian Noir TV.

The Bridge

Bruce may have had sunny weather as he cruised up the Øresund, but we didn’t even get a glimpse of the sun here today and it rained pretty well the whole time.  That made for a dull day for a start, both literally and metaphorically.  The dullness was enhanced by the  after effects of yesterday’s enjoyable walk which has left with me with a number of niggling aches and pains.

Thanks to the combination of rain and pain, it seemed as though the best thing to do after breakfast would be to go back to bed and do the prize crossword, so I did exactly that.

I got up for coffee and then went off shopping in Carlisle with Mrs Tootlepedal.  We acquired a mundane piece of domestic plumbing equipment and then walked round a couple of garden centres rather morosely in the drizzle.  We did have a light lunch at one of the centres but in keeping with the general tone of the day, the home made soup had run out before we got there.

The forecast had suggested that it might stop raining in the afternoon so I was hoping for a gentle pedal but the forecast was wrong, and as I couldn’t raise any enthusiasm for getting wet, I stayed in and practised songs for tomorrow’s choir concert.

I hadn’t taken a single photograph all day, so I put up my umbrella and walked round the garden before settling down to sing.

The climbing hydrangea is progressing but the first flowers that come out are sterile and are of no interest to bees.

climbing hydrangea

A few foxgloves are doing their best…

foxglove in the rian

…and the lupins don’t seem to mind the cool, wet weather.

lupins bnearly full out

I did get one fuzzy picture of a bee who was ignoring the rain.

bee on lamium

I liked this selection of Dutchman’s Breeches looking as though they were hanging on a  washing line…

dicentra

…although they wouldn’t have got very dry today.

wet hosta leaves

The light was poor for looking at birds but I spent a moment or two looking out of the new bird spotting window.

Mrs Tootlepedal has moved the old sunflower stalk and stuck it in the ground near the re-positioned feeder pole.  A redpoll was grateful for the perch..

redpoll on sunflower stalk nf

…and went from there to the feeder.

redpoll on NF

A sparrow looked as though he would have liked an umbrella too.

shrouded sparrow

As we were having a lazy day, we had a ready cooked meal for our tea.  It turned out to be very good so at least the day ended on a cheerful note.

A sparrow is the flying bird of the day.

flying sprrow young

Sorry about the dull post.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who saw this all electric hire car getting a charge in a street the other day.

blue city car

It was warmer today but no less grey in the morning and we were pleased to get to church and back before it started to rain.  As I may have mentioned, our organist Henry was recently elected to act as the town’s standard bearer or cornet at our Common Riding at the end of July.  This means that he has many obligations and duties to perform in the weeks leading up to the great day so he will have little time to think of the church choir.  As a result, we are having a very quiet time as far as singing in church goes with a standby organist on duty again today.  As we are also short of a minister, there was rather a subdued air about the service this morning.

Thanks to the rain when we got home, it seemed like a good time to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so I did that.

The rain eased off and after lunch and I had a quick look at the bird. Once again, sparrows were the chief visitors.  Although they are common and often ignored, they are quite decorative in their own way.

decorative sparrow

Almost every time that I looked, there was  a sparrow looming up.

sparrow looming

I did see a single siskin…

sparrow and siskin

…and a great tit and a blue tit visited at moments when I didn’t have a camera to hand.

The second most common birds at present are jackdaws.

jackdaw looking keen

I had time for a walk round the garden.  The climbing hydrangea is gradually getting little specks of white all over it.  It should look very fine quite soon.

climbing hydrangea

There were some new flowers to be seen like this foxglove..

wet foxglove

…but generally, it was a day for spotting rain drops on roses…

wet yellow rosewet rose

…and geraniums.

wet geranium

…but no brown paper parcels.

The flowers beside the bird feeders, which I look at through the kitchen window when the birds have flown away, make a pretty picture.

flowers beside feeder

I didn’t have long to hang around as it was soon time to get in our little white electric thingy and go to Carlisle for a choir practice.  I had various reasons for getting an electric car but none of them were about what it would be like actually driving it, so it is a great bonus that it turns out to be a wonderful car to drive.  Just tootling along the familiar road to Carlisle at a modest speed brings me great satisfaction.

We had a new venue for our choir practice today, the large chapel of a local private school.  It proved to have very hard pews to sit on and quite an echoing acoustic so it took a bit of getting used to.  We are having our concert there next week and then using it as our permanent home when we start again in Autumn.  I may have to bring my own cushion.

When we came out after a really good sing, the day had miraculously turned from cool and grey to warm and sunny and there was a spring in everybody’s step as they went on their way.

It was still fine when we got home and I considered a bike ride but a very vigorous breeze and a rather overgrown hedge along the road…

hedge before trimmin June

…made me think that getting the hedge cut would be the best thing to do.  With Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, it didn’t take too long to get the hedge to look like this…

hedge after trimming june

…and the trimmings tucked away in the compost bin.

As I passed the front door, I couldn’t help stopping to note the clematis in the sunshine there.  It has lasted very well, possibly because it is in a sheltered spot against the wall of the house.

front door azaleas in sun

Turning to look the other way, I could see the azalea at the left hand end of the lawn which has spoiled Mrs Tootlepedal’s colour scheme by not coming into flower at all this year.

front lawn evening

Looking back from the far end of the lawn, it is only too easy to spot the large pale areas which are mostly moss..

front lawn looking back

…but considering that I seriously thinking of abandoning all hope of grass earlier this year, it has come on pretty well and the new moss eating treatment seems to be paying off.

As the sun was still out, I would have liked to take a few flower pictures but the wind was so strong…

windblown leaves

…that it would have been a waste of time to try.

I went in and we had a nourishing bowl of sausage stew with new potatoes for our tea.

The flying bird of the day is a male sparrow.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona.  She travelled as far as Durham, took a trip on the river and looked up at the cathedral as she drew near.

Durham

It was a dull, often rainy and always windy day today so I wasn’t unhappy to spend most of the morning going off with Mrs Tootlepedal to get our eyes tested in Longtown and following that with a trip to buy bird food and a visit to a local garden centre to look at but not buy decorative bark chippings.

The eye tests went well and Mrs Tootlepedal received the thumbs up for her cataract operation and is now just waiting for her new  glasses to arrive.  I was much the same as ever and my old glasses will do for another year so we were both happy.

While we were not buying decorative bark chippings, we had a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee in the garden centre cafe so it was a morning well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal had business to do on the computer when we got home as part of the very bureaucratic administration for her Embroiderers’ Guild group so I set up the tripod in the kitchen, made some soup and watched the birds.

Feeling that our old bird feeders were getting on a bit, I had bought a shiny new feeder at the bird food shop.  I put it out and waited for visitors.

goldfinch on new feeder

A goldfinch was among the first but it was soon joined by a chaffinch…

chaffinch approaching new feeder

…a blue tit…

blue tit on new feeder

…another chaffinch….

another chaffinch and the new feeder

…and another blue tit…

blue tit coming to new feeder

…and another chaffinch!

flying chaffinch at new feeder

It had passed the bird magnet test.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s admin took some time and when she had finished, I settled down to do some admin of my own for the Archive Group.

When I had finished, it was time for a cup of tea and we were joined by Mike Tinker who had kindly brought round some more liquid fertiliser from his wormery for the benefit of our garden.

The day had always been warm for the time of year and since it wasn’t raining, we went out to do a bit after gardening when Mike left.

I was looking around at one point and saw a green blob on the ground.  C;loser inspection showed that it was a fallen walnut and more inspection found many more fallen walnuts.  The walnuts don’t always contain much in the way of a kernel as we live too far to the north for reliable development but this year, after the warm summer, we may be luckier.

walnuts in the garden

I hope we will be as Mrs Tootlepedal likes walnuts a lot.

I noticed other things too.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for me to take a picture of the Virginia creeper on the fence as it is now at its best, even on a gloomy day like today…

vigini creeper

…and it tends to disappear very quickly once it is over.

We dead headed the dahlias but even they are beginning to show a little wear and tear.

sunny reggae dahlia

The rose mallows made a great show when they came out in July but they have faded away and now only one or two are left.

rose mallow

Two surprises were to be seen, one rather late – a fresh foxglove in the back of a bed…

late foxglove

…and one very early – a wallflower which has lost its internal clock altogether.

early wallflower

It shouldn’t have come out until next spring.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to act as a volunteer front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and after a while, I went along to buy a ticket and watch the show there.  It was a screening of a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated tenor,

He is a wonderful singer and he was joined by a sensational mezzo soprano called Anita Rachvelishvili and they sang a selection from Cavalleria Rusticana (which I could take or leave) followed by numerous well known Italian songs which were absolutely delightful.

Anita Rachvelishvili’s ability to switch from a full blown operatic style to a much more intimate style for the songs and excel at both bowled our audience over and as Jonas is a great treat whatever he sings, we had a really good evening.  What put the icing on the concert for me was that the members of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, who were providing the accompaniment, seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience.

We are promised heavy wind and rain from our first named storm of the autumn tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the reality turns out to be not as bad as the warning.

“Much of Scotland is due to be battered by high winds and heavy rain as the first named storm of the season sweeps in. The Met Office has issued weather warnings and said Storm Ali could bring winds of 80mph and a danger to life from flying debris. An amber warning is in place for large parts of the country between 08:00 and 17:00 on Wednesday. Travel disruption and huge waves in coastal areas are also expected.”

The storm is named after Mrs Tootlepedal so it might well be quite impressive.

Meantime, the flying bird of the day is a tiny coal tit who will have to keep out of harm’s way tomorrow.

flying coal tit

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the misty mountains of Madeira.

madeira

As I am still resting my singing voice under doctor’s orders, Mrs Tootlepedal went by herself to sing in the church choir while I kept myself busy at home.

I may have occasionally glanced about as I went about my business…

butter and sugar iris

more butter and sugar irises are out

…but there was washing to be hung out….

yellow onion

and a handsome yellow oniony sort of thing has come out too

…lawns to be mowed…

lupins

the kindly weather has meant that the lupins are out from bottom to top of their stems

…and watered…

lupin close up

.and worth a closer look as well

…the car windscreen to be cleared of huge amounts of squashed insects (we had hardly any insects last year bit this year numbers seem to have recovered)….

philadelphus with roses

a large philadelphus with a scattering of roses in the back corner of the front lawn

…a second load of washing to be hung out…

astrantia

a garden in a single flower

…a sausage stew to be prepared for the slow cooker…

foxgloves

foxgloves are popping up everywhere

…and quite a bit of watering to be done too….

spirea bridal wreath

a better look at the tiny spirea flowers

…in spite of a forecast of thunderstorms later in the day (after yesterday’s disappointments, we weren’t taking the forecast seriously)…

lamium

and the lamium has burst in flower too

…so there was hardly any time to look at flowers at all.

hawkweed and white flowers

 

Mrs Tootlepedal is considering scattering more of the white flowers among the orange hawkweed for next year.  I think that that would be a good idea.

I did take a look at the hydrangea on the wall of the house.  Uninstructed people like me might imagine that the big white things are the important part of the flowers….

hydrangea

…but bees know better where the real interest lies.

bee on hydrangea

A blackbird took advantage of the lawn watering to have a quick shower.

blackbird having shower

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and got busy in the garden.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon waiting for the rain to come.  We were entertained by some prolonged rumbles of thunder but the lightning that caused them must have been a good distance away as we saw no evidence of it at all.

monument from garden

In spite of some very dark skies to the north of the town, the monument stayed bathed in sunshine and only a few drops of rain came with the thunder.

I had taken a camera upsatirs in the hope of some lightning shots but had to make do with looking at the birds instead.  They came to the feeder below the window, apparently quite unworried by the rumbling overhead.

goldfinch

goldfinch (2)

Two siskins felt the need to quarrel.

fighting siskins

It did start to rain more heavily eventually and for a while, it looked as though it was going to take things seriously but in the end, we only got a couple of short showers, enough to wet the garden which was welcome but not enough to store up some moisture on the ground for the future.

Now the threat of thunder and lightning has receded, I hope to get out on the bike again next week.

The flower of the day is the  Ooh La La Clematis, a pretty flower with an awful name.

Ooh La La clematis

 

 

 

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