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Posts Tagged ‘marsh marigold’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who saw this copy of the Lamazzu – a winged deity looted from the Iraq Museum – made of empty date syrup cans, on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square

Our weather descended from the recent summer heights to slightly below the seasonal average, the feeling of slight chilliness compounded by a stiff wind which reminded everyone of the long cold months since Christmas.

The weather in the morning didn’t bother me much as I had to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm office where I caught up on some Archive Group work.  I didn’t do quite as much as I had hoped though as I had to provide a welcome and information to no less than three visitors in the two hours.  I was fairly rushed off my feet.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having reorganised the greenhouse while I was out.  She is planting things out and improving the soil as much as she can so I sieved the last of the compost in Bin D and then set about shifting the contents of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  I then emptied the contents of Bin B into Bin C.

I know that there is an insatiable desire for compost  pictures among the readers of this blog so here is the result.

compost bin shifting

The picture does show graphically how compost reduces in bulk over time.  The small amount in Bin D was the same size as the current amount in Bin C when it first arrived from Bin B and Bin B was full to the level of six of the wooden frames when it was first filled from Bin A.

This was quite heavy work so it was now time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with a delicious dish of fried eggs and fried cabbage as a reward for compost shifting.

It was far too windy, with constant gusts of 25 mph and above to think of cycling so after lunch, I went out into the garden with my camera in hand.  Windy weather makes it hard to shoot flowers but I did my best.

white flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is not certain what the pretty white flowers above are but I know what these ones below are.  They are potential plums if everything goes well.

plum flowers

The dog’s tooth violets are springing up all over the place.

dog's tooth violets

This clump of cowslip like things is enjoying the weather whether it is hot or cold and is getting larger all the time.

cowslips

The tree peony is looking very healthy.  Last year its flowers were hidden behind its foliage so we are hoping for a better show this year.

tree peony

The madness of the crab like flowers of the euphorbias is well advanced. I hope for a calmer day to take a better picture.

euphorbia

There is little pool of pale blue in the river of muscari.

muscari

And this is the start of our own clump of marsh marigolds in the pond.

marsh marigold

Once again the cold wind was causing the tulips to purse their lips but there is very promising red one waiting for some sunshine.

tulip

The daffodil of the day is a muted example.

daffodil

I put the camera down and mowed the front lawn with a great deal of huffing and puffing because the lawn is so spongy with moss.  There was a heartening amount of grass to cut even if the end result was a very patchy looking lawn.

Then, since it wasn’t really a very inviting walking day, I finished the composting job by emptying Bin A into Bin B so all is ready for Mrs Tootlepedal to start the process going again by filling up Bin A.  I may even have some grass to add to it myself.

Owing to the need for frequent pauses to admire the work in progress or chat to the gardener, it soon turned out to be time for a cup of tea and a sit down indoors.  This gave me a chance to look at the birds.  As it also started to rain, I was very happy to be inside.

The siskins really seem to have gone elsewhere although there was one on hand to join the queue for a seed today.

queue at the feeder

Mostly it was goldfinches and chaffinches again, with the goldfinches concentrating hard on the job in hand….

goldfinches

…and making sure that incoming chaffinches knew who was boss.

goldfinch and chaffinch

But the goldfinches are no match for a really angry redpoll though.

redpoll

The evening was given over to music when first my flute pupil Luke came and cheered me up by playing very well.  Then I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel after tea for what seems the first time for ages.

It was good to get back to playing and our lack of practice didn’t seem to matter as we played some familiar pieces with a good deal of verve, all things considered.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

goldfinch

Strong winds and showers are on the menu for both tomorrow and Wednesday so getting out on my bike to knock off the last few miles of my monthly target may be a bit of a battle.

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a boat trip that Dropscone took while on his holiday in Majorca.  He saw these  interesting rocks.

majorca cave

The forecast drop in temperature came about but it was not quite as dramatic as it might have been.  All the same, some light drizzle and clouds made the day seem very gloomy compared with the last two days.

It rained while we singing in the church choir in the morning but by the time that we emerged, it had stopped again and I paid a visit to the dam at the back of our house before going inside.  On our side of the new bridge, aubretia is beginning to drip down the concrete…

aubretia

…and on the other side of the new bridge, our neighbour Liz has a striking clump of marsh marigold.

marsh marigold

In the garden, evidence of the morning drizzle was to be seen…

daffodil

…and so I turned up the flower of a dog’s tooth violet to get a sunnier view of it.

dog's tooth violet

I went in and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker, checking on the birds outside from time to time.

The siskins seem to have found somewhere more attractive to eat and we are left with mostly goldfinches and chaffinches at the moment…

busy feeder

…who are always ready to exchange a few well chosen words.

_DSC3414

Once the stew was started, I took a second walk round the garden.

The hyacinths looked cheerful enough…

grape hyacinth

…but the tulips were missing the sunshine and stubbornly refused to display their charms.

closed tulips

After lunch, I had time for another quick look round.

There are some weather conditions which seem to make the hellebores lift up their heads. I haven’t quite pinned down what the requirements are but today was one of the days when it happened.

hellebores

The hellebores have been very good value this year and have been out for ages.

Something has been eating the petals of the daffodil of the day.

daffodil

We made an early start on the trip to Carlisle for our afternoon choir as we had some shopping in mind.

We visited a bookshop first and then went to a specialist tea and coffee supplier where I bought tea from India, China and Sri Lanka to go with the African teas that I am currently drinking.  Two packets of coffee beans from Nicaragua and Brazil also found their way into the shopping bag.  Sometimes, we take the wonders of international trade for granted but I reflect on a small part of it every day as I drink tea and coffee.  And am grateful.

We concluded the shopping by going to a well known clothing store where I bought a shirt just like that.   My ability to make such a bold and swift decision was greatly helped by the fact that my personal shopping adviser was holding my hand and she suggested that a shirt might be a good thing to buy.

The afternoon choir session did not turn out as expected.

We got there to find that our conductor and accompanist, who come down from Glasgow each week, had found that railway maintenance which should have stopped in time for them to get to the practice was still ongoing and they were trapped on the wrong side of it.

In the absence of anyone else, a pianist from the choir stepped forward to act as accompanist and I got the chance to take the choir for a shortened session.  As there is nothing more magical than waving your arms about in a casual way and being greeted by the sound of glorious singing, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The sun had come out by the time that we finished and the evening was so lovely that we took a longer and more scenic way than usual to drive home.

The stew was good too so the day ended very well.

A collared dove sat in the plum tree.

collared dove

I checked a weather site for local weather and it said that yesterday’s high was 69.3°F and today’s was 60°F and tomorrow’s will be 51°F.  This translates roughly as a drop from 20°C to 10°C so we will back to feeling the chill again.   April showers are also likely and I may be a bit pressed to get as many miles in on the slow bike as I would like before the new bike arrives with the new month.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

A literal footnote:  Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture to cheer me up.  It shows her husband leaving his mark on lawn in Denmark that is so mossy that it makes mine look not too bad at all.

moss in Denmark

 

 

 

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As it is National Hedgehog Awareness Week, I was very happy to be sent this picture by Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent, who is taking care of two rescue hedgehogs.

Hedgehog Awareness Week

Our spell of dry weather continued but I was glad that I had decided not to cycle today as there was a very fresh wind blowing and as a result, it felt quite chilly.  It would have been hard and unforgiving work on a bike ride.

As it was, I made a sausage and bean stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with the church choir and then went out for a walk.  I was hoping not only that our bluebells would have reached their peak but that the woods would be full of wild garlic too.  Sadly, the cool weather has slowed things up and there were only a few garlic flowers to be seen…

wild garlic

…and the bluebells were not much further forward than on my last visit…

bluebells

..though they are still delightful, whether seen from a distance….

bluebells

..or close up.

They might have looked better if the sun had come out properly but it carefully waited until I got home before putting in an appearance.

I did see these….

seeds

…and a few of these…

wild flowers

I don’t know what these are. I thought they were daisies at first.

…and a lot of this…

saxifrage

…which I think is golden saxifrage.  It has done very well this spring and the woods are full of it.

The show stopper was a rhododendron in the park.

rhododendron

If you could get out of the wind, it was quite a springlike day.

Stubholm

I went down to the river before going home and was pleased to see a pair of goosanders cruising along….

goosanders

I  followed them downstream.

goosanders

I hoped to catch them from closer up as they went under the suspension bridge but they were too quick for me so I settled for some stationary trees.

River esk

Just before I got home, I stopped to take a picture of this very fine marsh marigold in the dam.

marsh marigold

This was when the sun came out.  Too late for the bluebells alas.

When I went in, I had to practise some songs for our Carlisle choir session in the afternoon but I had a moment to look at the birds in the  garden.

redpoll

A redpoll made sure that I got his best side.

goldfinch

The sun came out again to illuminate this goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived and started on some garden tasks so I went out and mowed the drying green and was pleased to find a bee on the rosemary…

bee

…though I would have been happier still to find it on the apple nearby.

I couldn’t get past the anemone in another bit of sunshine.

goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal is going to plant some more for next year.

There was time for another quick practice and some leek soup before we went off to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.  Our conductor worked us very hard as usual and I was quite pleased to be able to relax when we had finished.

The sausage and bean stew turned out to be rather dull (but nourishing) and may have to have some additions when it returns tomorrow evening.

The flying bird of the day is a rather grumpy looking siskin.  He probably thought that it was a bit too windy as well.

siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa.  He was in a position to see the famous Table Mountain but found it covered by the cloud known as the Table Cloth.

Table Mountain

We had another dry and cloudy day here today.  In theory it was quite warm but in practice a real chill in the wind made it feel decidedly parky and it was a day for keeping a coat on if you were outside.

Mrs Tootlepdal went off to Hawick after breakfast on embroidery business and I entertained Dropscone to a cup of coffee (accompanied by some of his traditional Friday treacle scones, still warm from the stove).

After he left, I went out and did some grass cutting and compost sieving.  I am trying to get Bin D emptied so that I can start the process of turning the other bins.  I am getting two new bins made to replace Bin A and Bin B which are showing the same signs of dilapidation as their owner so I need a bit of space to get the new bins into position.

They should be here next week so I am quite excited.

I found a moment or two to watch the birds. They are still in deep discussion about the merits of Brexit and the Trump administration.

chaffinch and goldfinch

Sometimes things get heated….

siskin and redpoll

…and there are signs of a hard landing…

siskins

…but other birds are anxious to join in the debate…

Goldfinch leaving plum tree

….it was rare but sometimes harmony broke out and birds flew side by side instead of straight into each other.

side by side flying

The chilly, sunless weather over the past few days has put flower development on hold for the most part but the daffodils are still looking good…

daffodil

…and a marsh marigold has appeared in the pond.

marsh marigold

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Hawick in time for a bowl of red soup for a late lunch and when she had finished, she went out into the garden to take advantage of the dry spell.  I made a loaf of bread in the bread machine and got the fairly speedy bike out and set off to do the same 20 mile ride as yesterday.

I did stop for a photo or two today.  The interesting cow at Canonbie was resting…

Canonbie cow

…but it had arranged for a substitute to be available for passing photographers.

Canonbie cow

I stopped near Irvine House for a banana and a drink of water and fortunately chose an flourishing piece of wall to lean my bike against.

It was the wall that had everything.

moss and lichen on wall

It was mostly covered with moss…

lichen

…but where a stone was exposed, it was covered with lichen….

canonbie lichen

….of varying colour…

Canonbie wall

…and varieties.

The wind was cold but not unhelpful and after grinding into it up the hill for the first five miles at a snail’s pace, I did the last 15 miles in well under an hour.  Interestingly (to me at least) I ended up doing the ride in the same time as yesterday to within a minute.   I may be slow but I am consistent.

When I got back, I had a look at the yew topiary in the middle of the garden and signs of nibbling made me feel that Attila the Gardener might have been at work….

yew bush

…and a look round the other side, showed that drastic surgery had indeed been undertaken.

In my role as  Onegesius, Attila’s loyal assistant, I lent a hand in sawing off the ball on top of the bush, clipping a bit here and there…

 

yew bush

… and soon the bush was transformed.  I then helped in tidying up the debris and in no time, everything looked quite calm again.

yew bush

Mrs Tootlepedal gave the ravaged bush some TLC and we have every hope that the side that has been trimmed savagely will soon start to grow again.

It was getting too tall for us to clip easily and it was also encroaching on the path to the bridge over the pond so action had to be taken.

Mrs Tootlepedal had purchased some mutton chops from a traditional butcher in Hawick and she cooked these for our tea.  They were very good.

In the evening, Mike and Alison Tinker came round and Alison and I had one of those hours of playing where we were definitely better than the last time we played the same pieces. It is always enjoyable to play good music but it is more enjoyable if you play better than the week before so this rounded off the day very well.

We are promised a little sunshine tomorrow which will be very welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest pictures, sent to me by Bruce, shows some of the inhabitants of Gilnockie who haven’t decided how they are going to vote in the forthcoming general election.

GilnockieIt was hard to know who or what to blame.  Was it the dry spell making for dusty conditions, was it the flowers in the garden or pollen from neighbouring trees, was it dust from the end wall work which still lies in many nooks and corners of the house or was it just life?  Whatever it was, my breathing was a little below par today and I was happy to wander around doing as little as possible.

I was assisted in this by Dropscone, who brought round some of his traditional Friday treacle scones.  He had already cycled 20 miles and I was happy to have let him do the work for today.  The scones were very good.

Mrs Tootlepedal was varnishing away in the front room and in between letting coats dry, she moved some of the furniture back in during the day.  I lent a small hand from time to time.  In a startling move, some of the furniture has gone to a different corner of the room than it occupied before.  It will take me a year or two to get used to this.

The change in the weather predicted by the forecasters had begun but it was still a pretty pleasant if windy morning and i walked round the garden…

daffodils and tulips…doing a little dead heading of daffodils.  There are still plenty left though and they go well with the tulips.

daffodils and tulipsThe blossom on the plum tree is nearly at its peak….

plum blossom…just in time to catch the drop in overnight temperatures to near zero at the weekend.   We hope for the best.

In the mornings recently, teams of sparrows have been ranging the lawns pecking away and today they were adding a few dance steps to their routine.

sparrowsI went out to see if the little fishes were still swimming in the dam (they were) but got distracted by this fine clump of marsh marigolds instead.

marsh marigoldsThe sun faded away with the morning but the weather stayed dry so after lunch, I went off for a very slow walk round the Castleholm.

I paused in the Clinthead garden to enjoy the good work the gardeners have done.

ClintheadIn the absence of any interesting birds on the Kilngreen, I bought an ice cream cornet from the van there, and licked and walked as I went on.

There were flowers growing wild by the side of the road as I walked up to the Lodge….

bluebell and anemone….though some may be garden escapes.

primrose and red flower…and there were plenty of shades of green to be seen as well, both on the ground…..

golden saxifrage

A pool of golden saxifrage under the trees

…and on the branch.

leavesI looked at trees from a distance…

trees…and close to.

treeMy knowledge of tree species, unless I am walking beside Mrs Tootlepedal, is minimal but I can still enjoy their leaves.

I do know a lime tree though.

lime treeSome fallen branches among the limes gave me a chance to admire some lichen which would otherwise have been above my head.

lichenI stopped at the Jubilee Bridge in the hope of seeing a tree creeper or a nuthatch but instead I was entertained by a wren on a branch shouting energetically at the bushes below.

wrenAfter a while two other wrens, scrapping furiously, emerged from the undergrowth like rockets and disappeared.  I would like to have known what was going on.  (Wrens are very small and hard to photograph!)

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set to work reducing the pile of cherry tree logs to firewood with the aid of our neighbour Liz’s log splitter.  While we were at work, Liz herself appeared and seizing the splitter from us, spilt twice the number of logs that we had and in half the time.  She loves splitting logs.  We stood to one side saying things like, “You won’t be able to split this large misshapen and knotty log,” in innocent tones.  That was like a red rag to a bull to her and firewood soon flew off in all directions.

I had time to be impressed by the flourishing dog’s tooth violets….

dog's tooth violets…before it started to drizzle and I went in.

I rounded off a quiet day with an even quieter evening.

The flying bid of the day is a very determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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