Posts Tagged ‘hedge trimming’

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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After yesterday’s guest picture of boating in Birmingham, my brother’s guest picture for today shows navigation in Nottingham.

River Trent

The best plan for today from a cycling point of view would have been to get out for a ride promptly while the wind was fairly light and the day was fair but unfortunately my other plan was to visit the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre to procure, fish, meat honey and coffee.

One plan had to go and the lure of good food won so I went to the producers’ market.

When I got back, the sun was out so instead of getting out on my bike then, I wandered about taking pictures.


Not all the delphiniums were knocked over.

Queen of Denmark

A few flies on the Queen of Denmark even in the morning.

Bobbie James

Bobbie James looking cheerful

In between wandering, I picked a strawberry or two, thinned out some more gooseberries (there are still a tremendous amount on the bush) and considered the middle lawn.

A couple of years ago, I encouraged jackdaws to visit the middle lawn by bribing them with pink pellets.  I had hoped that the resultant bird droppings might help to fertilize the grass.  The results were disappointing as there was no noticeable extra growth in the grass and instead there was a huge increase in the weeds on the lawn.  As a result, I have had to go against my usual practice and consider applying weed and feed.  Today seemed to be a good day, so I did just that and I am now awaiting the results.

After I had finished the foul deed. I went back to look at the flowers to cheer myself up.  I hit a small purple patch.


moss rose

I noticed the the privet under the walnut tree is starting to come out….


…and as they are usually very attractive to bees, I am hoping for new bee pictures from here soon.  Meanwhile, I had to make do with the astrantia which was pulling them in again today.

bee on astrantia

Astrantias must have an inexhaustible supply of pollen. Mind you, they do have a lot of flowers.

We are waiting for the poppies to come out but there is colour on every side in the meantime.


We have a day lily which has been producing flowers far beyond the call of duty but I haven’t been able to produce a photograph which does it justice.  I failed again today but I have put it in anyway.  The camera just doesn’t like the colour of the flowers.

day lily

Finally I had a look at the peonies which have produced a second crop of flowers….


…a very close look….


…and went in to make some lentil soup for lunch.

The sun soon disappeared and the wind got up so instead of cycling after lunch, I trimmed the hedge along the road.  Once again, I abandoned any thought of neat straight lines and aimed for an artistic ripple, necessity being the mother of invention in this case as the underlying fence has sagged badly in places..

front hedge

As I was putting the hedge clipper back, I was distracted by a lot of noise from above.  A large party of starlings were shouting and screaming on the telephone wires above the garden.

starling shouting

They took offence at me when I tried to take a photograph and went off to sit in a holly tree next door.


Then  I once more thought about a pedal but almost immediately, it started to rain so I went back indoors and watched the first stage of the Tour de France on the telly.  It was no consolation to find that it was raining six times as hard in Dusseldorf and poor cyclists were ending up on the ground as they went flying round corners on dangerously skinny tyres.

It is good to know though that there will always be something interesting to watch on the telly if we have a wet afternoon during the next three weeks.

I was still thinking about a late pedal but occasional rain put me off and only when it was too late, did the skies clear and the wind drop.   By that time, I was cooking fish for my tea.

I did get a couple of useful tasks done in the garden and even sieved some compost, though I can’t remember precisely when I did it,  but it was still a rather disappointing day in general and I was glad to see the back of it.  I hope to feel more positive tomorrow.

There is a flying bird picture of the day today.  It shows two of the disputatious starlings making their getaway.

flying starlings




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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….


…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….


…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge


road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.


Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.


I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…


A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.


The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….


…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.


Hand painted by mother nature.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s continental excursion and shows a fine bridge over the Schlei at Kappeln in Schleswig-Flensburg.  Dropscone points out that it is just the same as Tower Bridge in London….but without the towers of course.


Our spell of warm weather continued today and it was up to a  most unseasonal 20°C by mid morning and when the sun came out, it became positively hot.

The fat balls on the feeder have become sparrow magnets.

sparrows at feeder

But I managed to tear myself away from the kitchen window and get the final stage of my Archive Group  charity return to the regulators completed. This was a weight off my mind.    It is one of those tasks, quite simple in itself, for which the word procrastination is designed.  I suffer from chronic formophobia but I should have learned to overcome this by now.  Still, it is done.

After a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, I spent some time cleaning my fairly speedy bike as it had been wheezing and groaning a bit on my last ride.  When this was done, I sat on it and went for a pedal.

I was back home three minutes later as I had forgotten my bike glasses but this worked out well as Mrs Tootlepedal, who was toiling in the garden,  pointed out a painted lady butterfly….

painted lady and red admiral butterflies

…and I noticed a red admiral not far away.

I was going on my standard 20 mile pedal down to Canonbie across country and then back by the old A7 and  I stopped to add a picture of the bridge over the Esk at Canonbie to my recent bridge portfolio.

Canonbie Bridge

The rather ugly railing was added when the footway was widened a few years ago.

Although it was a lovely morning and the river was busy but not full, a glance at the bank above where I was standing….

Esk at canonbie

…showed just how high the Esk had been on Friday night after some heavy rain.  The level would have been above my head as I stood on the edge of the water.

All was quiet today though and I had a last look through the bridge….

Canonbie Bridge

….and then pedalled home in very good humour on dry roads in the warm sunshine with little or no wind.

There were more butterflies to be seen when I got back.

red admiral and peacock butterflies

The painted lady had been replaced by a peacock.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy doing some severe plant shifting requiring a pick axe while I had a light lunch and then we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  It had got a bit hairy…

hairy hedge

…although it only seems like yesterday that I gave it its last trim.

As you can see from the wires along the pavement, we were intending to use our electric hedge trimmer but the rotten thing wouldn’t work and after trying every connection, we gave it up as a bad job and settled for hand powered shears.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working too long in the sun though by this time and had to go in and lie down in a darkened room for a moment so I clipped away by myself until, providentially, the sun went in and Mrs Tootlepedal came out again.

Together we got the job done….

Trimmed hedge

…and though it is not a thing of dead straight lines and knife edge creases, we look at it as a creative work of art reflecting the troubled world that we live in and we are content.

Mrs Tootlepedal kept the shears at work by trimming a yew bush in the garden…

yew clipping

…while I snapped a few flowers….


…and spotted more butterflies.

red admiral butterfly

When you see one close up, you wouldn’t want to argue with it.

I am very happy about the number of butterflies appearing now.  It is not as large as in some previous years but it is more than we were expecting after cold weather at a crucial time.

I looked at some other flowers too and thought that the buds of a Fuchsia, hanging like lanterns, were perhaps just as pretty as the flowers in this light.


I always enjoy an astrantia and our pale variety has produced some late flowers.


On the edge of the freshly mown lawn, gently green nicotiana blended with yellow crocosmia.

nicotiana and crocosmia

I was able to pick apples for stewing and enough of our autumn fruiting raspberries to have a plate of raspberries and cream at tea time.  The front lawn had dried out enough to make mowing it a pleasure and  I even did a bit of dead heading in an effort to keep the dahlias and poppies going.  Some aspects of gardening are most enjoyable.

While I was clipping the hedge, my trio playing fried Mike had appeared with a new Mozart trio which he has just bought.  It is an arrangement of the trio in E flat K.498 (Kegelstadt) for oboe, bassoon and piano and will do very well for our flute, cello and piano trio.  Music for our combination is hard to come by.  I looked at it when I got in from the garden and enjoyed what I saw.

I went to make a cup of tea for the gardener and me and looked out of the window while we were sipping away….


…and received a hard stare for my trouble.

The jackdaw flew off however and was instantly replace by squabbling sparrows…


…while a dunnock was happy to scavenge for tidbits under the feeder.


If you have a glut of courgettes, I can heartily recommend courgette fritters.  Mrs Tootlepedal has a good recipe for them, and they are delicious, like potato latkes but better.   I could eat them every day which is handy as we have a lot of courgettes to get through.  Visitors almost always leave with a courgette or two with them.  We had some fritters for our tea with the last of the venison stew.

Later on we enjoyed some stewed apple and custard.  It was a good eating evening.

The flower of the day is a sunflower which Mrs Tootlepedal found bent over to the ground behind some other plants.  She has staked it up and it is looking none the worse for its adventures.


The flying bird of the day is one of the disputatious sparrows, flapping furiously as it approached the feeder..

flying sparrow



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Today’s guest picture shows a most unusual gardener who was at work in Regent’s Park as my sister Mary walked by.

The Regent's Park gardenerMy day started with double fun at the health centre where a novice vampire took a little blood from me and a kindly lady stabbed me in the shoulder.  With my blood test complete and my flu jab administered, I was able to face the rest of the day with equanimity.

When I got home ready for my breakfast, I found Scott, the minister there, dressed in fashionable black cycling gear and hoping for some company for a cycle run.  I didn’t think it wise to take exercise before I was certain that my flu jab wouldn’t react so he left for a solo excursion.

I was just about to do something (I can’t remember what but it would have been very exciting I am sure) when my mobile rang.  It was Sandy calling to say that his car had given up the ghost at the Moorland bird feeders and asking if I could come and rescue him.  When I arrived, we discovered that curious strands of what looked like horsehair were coming out of his exhaust pipe and we diagnosed silencer problems.  I took him home and he arranged for his car to be collected by the local garage.

I was just back and walking round the garden, when the minister returned from his cycle ride in time for coffee.  He had got a puncture yesterday from riding along a lane where the hawthorn hedge had been recently cut but he had not had a puncture today so he was very cheerful.

When he left, I went out into the garden again.  I am receiving cognitive therapy treatment which will hopefully stop me instinctively taking a picture every time I see a Shirley poppy but it is not working yet.

Shirley poppyShirley poppyIt had almost been frosty first thing in the morning and I liked the little jewels this had left on the leaves of the perennial nasturtium.

nasturtiumThe glorious weather of the last month is set to break with a vengeance tomorrow so Mrs Tootlepedal and I buckled down and trimmed the hedge along the road in the sunshine.


Like us, it has seen better days.

While we were at work on the hedge, our neighbour Liz was trimming a tree.

Liz in a tree

She was getting really stuck in.

Beneath her tree and on the banks of the dam, there are some seriously big mushrooms.


They don’t look very perky but they are growing bigger all the time.

Further along the dam, behind our house, the potentillas are reaching the end of their flowering season at last but the fuchsia on the very end of the house is still flourishing.

potentilla and fuchsiaWhile I was wandering around taking pictures. Mrs Tootlepedal was trimming some of the hedges inside the garden too.

neat hedgeThis is called the division of labour.

By now, it was time for lunch and soon afterwards, Sandy arrived on his bike and we went off for a short ride.  I was a bit tired from yesterday and we had both had flu jabs in the morning so we settled on a fourteen mile gentle route.

I stopped from time to time to take a photo.  I am still trying to master monochrome so I looked out for single trees with good contrasting backgrounds.

monochrome treemonochrome treeBut it was colour that caught my eye most when I saw that the bracken on one side of the road had turned quite brown while on the other side it was still green.


Just after we passed the bracken, we came to the junction where we should have turned for home.  “Let’s go the other way,” said Sandy, adding another two miles to our distance.  I felt quite perky so off we went.  When we got to the next junction where we might have turned for home, a voice was heard.  “Let’s go the other way,” said Sandy adding a couple more miles to our trip.  Off we went again and with Sandy in full flow, we were about to add another couple of miles, when we came across a tractor with a hedge clipper attachment.   The road was covered in thorns so we instantly stopped and turned back.

“We could go down here and back along the main road,” said Sandy.  “Let’s go the other way,” I said and we added another couple of miles including two quite stiff climbs to our jaunt and ended up doing an easy 14 mile journey that took us 23 hilly miles to complete.

Sandy cycling

Sandy going up one of the smaller hills.

We had a nice cup of tea and two biscuits when we got home.  It was a beautiful day and the wind wasn’t as strong as had been forecast so we had enjoyed ourselves and the views as we went round the ever increasing circle.

When Sandy left, I had another stroll round the garden.

bees knees

You may not think much of this picture but it is literally the bees knees.


I found an astrantia without a bee on it.


Roses coming and going

In the evening, Sandy and I went to the Archive Centre and Sandy scanned some interesting pictures which a local man had helpfully brought in and then helped me finish putting two more weeks of the newspaper index into the database.  All this took so long that we didn’t have time for our weekly refreshment.

When I got home, a half moon was just sinking behind a strip of cloud and I had a quick shot at it.  Although the result is far from perfect, I thought that it made a striking image.

moon and cloudThe flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.  I took it with my new macro lens through the kitchen window which accounts for the slight ghosting.


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Today’s picture shows some Edinburgh gulls having a family outing at breakfast time  on the roof opposite my son Alistair’s flat.

gulls on roof

It was a windy, showery day today but if you picked your moment, there were opportunities to work and play.  I picked a dry spell to have another tentative pedal of thirteen miles just to keep my legs turning over.  Once again, my snazzy new GPS device told me that cycling downhill with the wind behind was the right way to go.  The wind was quite brisk so I was pleased to have had modest ambitions.

I got home in time to avoid a shower of rain which was very satisfactory.  I felt less tired and that was satisfactory too.

After lunch, the weather faired up a bit and I went round the garden.  There were good things to be seen….


Looking down on a peony bowed down by the rain and wind. You get a lot of petals with a peony for your money.  You can buy them I believe to throw at people.

…and very bad things


The evil sawfly caterpillars infesting my gooseberry.

Then it started to rain again so I went indoors.

siskin in the rain

Ten minutes later, it had stopped.  We have had a regular pair of dunnocks picking over the lawn but in the absence of my long lens, I haven’t been trying to shoot them.  Just for the record I took a shot today and it shows the brisk wind ruffling a few feathers.


I went out to inspect my tomato plant in the greenhouse and was excited to see a lone flower.

tomato plant

My record for successfully growing tomatoes is extremely patchy but maybe this will be the year.  I am going to concentrate.

I retired indoors for a rest and admired the great number of sparrows that manage to feed on the fat balls simultaneously.


Possibly a new family group

I found a moment when the weather looked set fair (for a while at least) and got the hedge trimmer out and gave the hedge along the road a short back and sides.

hedge trimmed

Mrs Tootlepedal wielded the brush after I had finished trimming and and barrowed off the clippings and she made a really good job of the leaving things neat and tidy.  I am trying to summon up the patience to put the trimmings through our shredder as I tend to find large clumps of un-rotted hedge leaves in the middle of an otherwise good compost heap if they are not handled carefully.

While I was outside, I took the camera round the back of the house to record an aquilegia which has self seeded in the middle of the potentillas along the dam.

aquilegia and potentilla

It must have jumped clean over the roof of the house.

The early blooming  potentillas are going at full steam ahead.


In the garden, I spotted some hostas.


Plain and fancy

For the first time this year, there were quite a lot of bees buzzing around and the pond has a good stock of frogs.

frog and bee

The frog population may be thanks to the complete lack of ducks on the dam this year, coupled with no visits from any herons.

I enjoyed a bit of nature’s geometry…

plant patterns

…and went out to visit the honeysuckle which grows through the hedge and offers a pleasant perfume to the passing pedestrian.


Exhausted by alliteration, I headed in. On my way back in, I took a picture to show that there are plenty of greens to set off the flowers in the garden.


We had two returning B & B guests today, one of whom is a keen bird watcher on her way to study gannets on the east coast.  Before arriving, they had stopped off in a layby on the Langholm Moor in the wild hope of seeing one of our hen harriers and after quite a long wait wondering if they were in the right place and looking in the right direction, they were delighted to have seen a pair of them.  We were very pleased for them.

I went in to watch a bit of the tennis and then after tea went out again to try to catch a flying bird of the day.  I shot a sitting bird.

racing pigeon

Resting rather than racing.

This racing pigeon has been resting in our garden for some time.  We have contacted a pigeon fancier who might try to catch it and send it back to its owner.

Later in the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing four songs with our choir at an event to honour Neil Armstrong.   Our accompanist wasn’t available so a passing young organist from Amsterdam (formerly of Langholm) kindly stood in at the last moment and, all things considered, it went quite well.

I am taking Granny south tomorrow and the forecast is looking iffy so it will be early to bed for me tonight.

This, believe it or not, is a flying bird (going away).

flying bird








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