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Posts Tagged ‘nicotiana’

Today’s guest picture comes from ex work colleague Marjorie.  She was surprised to find a common murre or guillemot in the field behind her house last week far from its usual habitat.  Presumably it was blown there by the strong winds of storm Ali.

common murre or common guillemot

Long time readers may remember New Zealand’s baby of the century, Maisie who in her youth figured in guest pictures on this blog.

maisie Sept

2102

This was one of my favourites scenes showing Maisie reading to her new little sister in 2104.  Both pictures were sent by her mother Jenny

Maisie reading

2014

The reason I mention this is because we were honoured by a visit from Maisie in person today, along with her sister Fran, her parents, Jenny and David and her grand parents. Alison and Mike.

David, Jenny and the girls are on a flying visit to the UK to meet his family and their old friends.

They are surviving serious hospitality very well…

P1140668

…and we had a most enjoyable lunch with them and Mike and Alison today.  (Note that Maisie is still reading).

They are heading home soon so our loss will be New Zealand’s gain.

It had been a very dreich morning with persistent drizzle so quite apart from getting things ready for the visit, it was not a good day for bird…

Blue tit and chaffinch

…or flower pictures.  It was warm though at 15°C so I popped out to take a picture or two before they came.

Ever more nerines are coming out…

nerines cluster

…and the dead heading among the dahlias is paying dividedns as there are still plenty to admire….

red dahlia

..both in the front bed and among the slightly less than Sunny Reggaes today.

two sunny reggae on a wet day

The garden is full of nicotianas and if we get a calm and fine evening, their scent should be delightful.

nicotiana

Lilian Austin has three flowers on the go…

three lilian austin

…but since there were two grandmothers in the house today, I will give pride of place to Special Grandma.

P1140663

When our visitors had left after lunch to do some more socialising and the lunch table had been cleared, it turned out that the drizzle had stopped for a while so I got the new bike out and did some skulking in the bottom of the valley to keep out of the brisk wind.

It was warm enough to make stretching my legs a pleasure and I had time for 17 miles which was an unexpected bonus.

After a very light evening meal, I went out to sing with our local community choir and had a good time singing some of the notes in the right place and at the right pitch.

After the choir, I walked along to the Social Club where Scott our minister was having a farewell do before leaving us on Friday to go to a parish in Glasgow.  He is working out how to get a scone radar that will work over 90 miles.  I hope he manages because it would be good to see him from time to time and find out how he is getting on in the big city.

The flying bird of the day is a rather gloomy chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture once again shows what our son Tony comes across when he walks his dogs at his new house.

Tony's seal

It was yet another miserably drizzly and windy morning when we got up but it was still comfortably warm in the garden.  I am afraid that I was one of those  purveyors of fake news a day or two ago when I said that the scientific rain gauge was showing three inches of rain for the week.  I had got carried away and it was really only showing two inches.  However, by this evening, it really was showing three inches and I have emptied it out and will try to remember to check it (accurately) every Saturday from now on.

Mrs Tootlepedal is busy with creating a blackout blind for an upstairs room and as this involves a patchwork layer  she was quite happy to spend the morning sewing.  I had an interesting crossword and a cup of coffee and I can spend a lot of time, when needed, in solving one and drinking the other.

The forecast had suggested that things might be better in the later part of the afternoon and this turned out to be true so I had a walk round the garden…

plums

There are plums ripening on the plum tree and getting ready to be eaten inside but there are other interested parties in the matter of eating plums…

wasps on plums

…which means that I will have to be careful in reaching up to pick the fruit.

There are still some campanulas left, rather battered but with enough pollen to still attract a bee.

campanulas

We would sit out in the evening and enjoy the sweet smell of the nicotianas if the weather was a bit better.

nicotiana

The French marigolds somehow make it very difficult for me to take a picture which shows just what a treat they are to look at but this was one of my slightly better efforts.

French marigold bunch

I like the devil may care attitude of rudbeckias to their petals.  No military precision there.

big rudbeckia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s scheme to surround the top end of the front lawn with a band of yellow provided by crocosmias is coming along well…

lawn and yellow crocosmia

…and some of the more traditional colour can be seen next to the greenhouse.

two crocosmia

The end of the middle lawn should be a sea of white cosmos and we are hoping that the weather will be kind enough to let them all flower soon.  There are plenty of buds waiting to burst.

white cosmos

Mrs Tootlepedal has a bright red geranium already in place and she has now planted out the economically priced one which she bought in Dumfries.

gernaiums

The dahlias are doing well.

four dahlias

The strong winds of the morning had eased off and although the clouds were still looming, it was not raining so I got my bike out and set off round the 20 mile Canonbie  circuit with the option of turning tail if it started to rain or the wind got too strong.

By the time I had got three miles out of town, there was even a hint of blue sky about…

view from Bloch

…though the view behind me wasn’t very encouraging….

view of Bloch road

…and the sight of house martins (I think) on the telephone wires beside the road spoke of autumn.

martin

However, I was lucky and the roads dried out and the rain stayed away.  With the wind still quite brisk…

blowy tree

…it was good that it was in the most friendly direction possible, being only directly in my face for about five of the twenty miles.  By the time that the ride was over, the wind had dropped a lot so I had a much more enjoyable experience than I had expected.  I even got to stop on the way and chat to a man who has an Archimedes screw.

I picked some raspberries and sweet peas when I got back and we had the raspberries on a meringue base with some whipped cream for afters at our evening meal.

After bragging about how many birds there were in the garden yesterday, I got a well deserved comeuppance when none appeared today at all.  This might have been because of the wind or possibly because I thought I saw a sparrowhawk fly through the garden in the morning but for what ever reason, there is no perching bird today, let along a flying one.

A vivid nasturtium is the flower of the day instead.

nasturtium

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day is another from my brother’s northern tour.  This is the grand house which has the cafe with the interesting teapot beside it.  It is Beningbrough Hall, near York.

Beningbrough Hall

The main business of the day was to go to Carlisle in the afternoon and collect Mrs Tootlepedal from her train and then convey her safely back home and I am happy to say that this passed off without a hitch and all is well now at Wauchope Cottage.

There was a certain amount of gardening and tidying up indoors to do in the morning but I was not the only one who was busy.  This was the feeder just after breakfast…

busy feeder

…and this level of activity continued for most of the day.

Siskins abused each other….

siskins shouting

…and chaffinches went….

busy feeder 2

…and came.

chaffinch flying in

Greenfinches shouted at sparrows…

greenfinch and sparrow encounter

…and chaffinches shouted at each other…

chaffinch shouting

…sometimes very loudly.

more chaffinch shouting

I picked the last of the peas and dismantled Mrs Tootlepedal’s pea fortress.  I picked and cooked some more beetroot and in pursuit of another green soup production, picked courgettes and spinach to go with the peas and beetroot leaves.

I tidied up the lupin by the front lawn but left the last spike still flowering.

last lupin

Another thing that has lasted well is the spread of orange hawkweed where a modest second flowering has appeared long after all the originals have flowered and died.

orange hawkweed

The golden wedding rose looked to have gone over but some judicious watering has encouraged a second showing here too.

golden wedding rose

The blue alliums are definitely on the way out…

blue allium going over

…but new poppies are finally appearing every day.

red poppy

I made good use of the trip to Carlisle by stocking up on bird food on the way and purchasing a small mountain of cheese in the market when I got there.

It was very warm but I was in plenty of time so I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and a toasted teacake in a pleasantly cool cafe while following the Tour de France on a text feed to my phone.

I always like the rather continental ornamental roof on the hotel beside the station….

station hotel

…but feel that it would be improved if they got a gardener in to weed the vegetation at the foot of the chimney.

Having collected Mrs Tootlepedal from the train, we walked through the town to buy food for a celebration meal and then drove home.

Mrs Tootlepedal was relieved to find that the garden was still in relatively good order in spite of the lack of rain and professional care.  I was relieved that she was relieved.

A cup of tea was made and I was able to take the definitive picture of the day…

MRS TOOTLEPEDAL’S BACK IN HER GARDEN

Mrs Tootlepedal's back

All is well with the world.

She was pleased to see a fine nicotiana out…

nicotiana

…although there are still a lot which haven’t flowered yet.

It really does look as though it will rain tomorrow so we didn’t water tonight.

The flying bird of the day is one of the departing chaffinches.

chaffinch flying off

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to Mrs Tootlepedal who passed it on to me.  It shows her brother and his wife (and several family members) roughing it on their holiday on Tresco in the isles of Scilly.

tresco

We can’t run to palm trees in Langholm but we did have another lovely summer day in Langholm and the temperature had got up to 25°C (77°F) before midday.

I did a little gardening after breakfast but I couldn’t spend long because it was soon time to go to church. Our little choir (18 strong) sang the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah for the anthem today and it went off not too badly.  It was more a rehearsal than anything else as we are singing it again next week at the Common Riding service when the church will be a great deal fuller.  The choir should be a bit larger too.  Our organist and choir master had been among among the riders on the Benty ride-out yesterday but managed to play very well in spite of some aching muscles.

When I got home, I prepared a beef and mushroom stew for the slow cooker and then spent an enjoyable time showing the daughter-in-law of one of our neighbours round Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden.  She has just started a small vegetable garden herself and was impressed by the amount of work that Mrs Tootlepedal puts into her garden.

I did some more gardening when she had left and then retired from the heat for lunch and Tour de France viewing.

After the cycling was over, I didn’t succumb to the temptation to watch more than a bit of Wimbledon or the World Cup final and went out to both water and photograph some flowers.

The zinnia is unfolding more tubes into petals…

zinnia

…but the beautiful moss roses are folding up and I think that these may be the last two flowers of the summer.

moss roses

In spite of some constructive neglect, the nasturtiums at the front door are producing more flowers every day…

nasturtium

…and the clematis beside them is doing the same.

clematis

I watered them both today so they will probably die now.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s stock of miniature nicotiana are continuing to provide some bright colours in pale pink….

pink nicotiana

…lime green…

green nicotiana

…and shocking red.

red nicotiana

The wind had risen a lot during the day as the pressure fell steadily on the barometer but I felt that another day with no cycling would be a bad thing and got my new bike out.

The wind was strong, 16 mph base with gusts of well over 20 mph, but it kept me cool even if it slowed me down a lot.  I took 12 more minutes to go round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit than I did last Thursday.  If I had been in a race with myself, I would have been more than two miles behind.

I stopped to admire the view back towards Langholm from Chapelhill…

view of whita from tarcoon road

All the clouds behind Whita Hill had passed over the town without depositing a drop of rain on us as they passed.

I rather liked the subdued light.

tarcoon road trees

As I approached Canonbie, I nodded at a couple of old friends.

black cowbrown cow

…and stopped to take a picture of one of the many banks of fireweed that are lining  our roads just now.

rosebay willowherb

This weed is one of those photographic oddities where the camera and I see things in a very different shade.  To me it is pink or even red but to the camera is is much more purple.

When I got home, I set the tripod up in the kitchen to keep an eye on the birds and a greenfinch kept an eye on me in return.

greenfinch

We are getting regular visits from greenfinches which is very encouraging.  In recent years, they have been subject to a deadly disease and numbers dropped a lot so it is good to see healthy looking birds back on the feeder.

greenfinches

Once home, I set about eating the stew and doing more watering (not at the same time).  The forecast claims that there is a 75% chance of noticeable rain tonight.  I would be much obliged if this turns out to be true but I am not holding my breath.

The flying bird picture of the day shows that even if they are flapping their wings furiously, siskins keep their heads very still as they approach the feeder.

flying siskin

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Friday night orchestra, Alison, who recently visited Caerlaverock Castle with her granddaughter (and got served in the cafe).

caerlaverock castle Alison

I was mugged by the weather today.  It was generally cloudy but still very warm and with no wind about, it felt very airless and close.  I noticed that as I sat down to write this post in what should have been the cool of the evening, our local weather station was saying the the temperature was 70°F and was feeling like 78°F.  That summed up the day well.

I filled the feeder at breakfast time and watched the birds for a while.  There was a steady demand for seed.

flying sparrow

Later in the day, we were visited by a collared dove looking quite smart…

collared dove

…and a blue tit, looking decidedly scruffy.

blue tit

I did a little early watering after breakfast and also took a look at the flowers.

The Wren and Lilian Austin roses have been hanging in very delightful bunches this year…

rose Wren

…and it dawned on me that this is a by product of having had no rain.

rose Lilian Austin

Usually by now, any fragile heads would have been pummelled to the ground by our standard summer rain showers.

Some roses are always clumpy and Bobbie James is one of those.

rose Bobbie James

The Ginger Syllabub rose doesn’t look very ginger but it does have pretty pink fringes.

ginger syllabub

The poppies are thriving and were working in pairs today.

white and red poppies

pink poppies

I had to work hard to find a poppy which didn’t have a bee on it.

These tiny little white flowers don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

little white flower

…but in Mrs Tootlepedal’s absence, I can’t tell your their name.

 

I put down the camera and the watering can and went off to sing with the church choir but as there were only six of us there (there were road closures in the town which made getting to church tricky), we didn’t add a lot to the service.

When I got home, I spent an hour pottering around the garden doing useful tasks and taking a couple of pictures.  I picked all the blackcurrants left on our bush but it only came to a very small pile.

The Martagon lilies have gone over but fortunately other lilies are available…

lily

…and the hostas are flowering furiously.

hosta flower

This burst of activity pretty well finished me for the day as I had to go in and sit in a darkened room.   Because the house has got pretty warm too, this was not as much help as it might have been.

I picked some beetroot and a lettuce and dug up a potato and had a very healthy home grown vegetarian lunch before collapsing and watching almost the whole of a Tour de France stage, falling asleep from time to time.

When it was over, I staggered out into the garden and did some more watering and mowed the middle lawn.

The growth of grass on the lawn was very variable but in places it had defied the dry weather and grown vigorously and in other places weeds were shooting up too so the lawn needed trimming just to stop it getting out of hand.

I was very interested to see this little burst of colour…

flowers in lawn

…in the middle of the lawn after I had mowed it.  Talk about lying low. I try not to use weedkiller on the lawn as it means that you always have to use the box while cutting and composting the mowings is a problem.

I checked on the Queen of Denmark and found that she is well….

rose Queen of Denmark

…and while I was passing the cotoneaster, I noticed a young blackbird lurking on a branch deep within the bush.

young blackbird

I was watering the carrots when I saw this handsome flower beside the carrot bed.  I wondered if it had arrived by chance…

french marigold

…but talking to Mrs Tootlepedal on the phone later in the evening, I learned that it is a French marigold and it was planted on purpose as it is supposed to deter the carrot root fly.

I found a silver pear on my little pear tree…

silver pear

…but I haven’t been visited by the Queen of  Spain’s daughter.

I took another wider view.  This is one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new beds this year, made by remodelling the lawn a bit.

P1120130

The bright red flowers that you can see are miniature nicotiana.

nicotiana

Our local council, instead of mending potholes, sometimes puts white lines round them.  I wonder if they got the idea from these flowers.

I picked some peas and beans and dug another potato as a gift for our neighbour Irving and then went in to have home made fish and chips (with beans) for my tea.  Irving rang up later to say that Libby and he had had some of the potatoes for their tea and found them very good.

With Mrs Tootlepedal away at the moment, we definitely have more veg than I can eat on my own so it was good to find an appreciative home for some of the surplus.

We are promised a cooler day or two before the temperatures rise again and there is some wild talk of a millimetre or two of rain later in the week.  It will be most welcome if it actually arrives.

I did find a genuine flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch squeezed between the feeder and the pole.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken at their home by Irene, my South African correspondent Tom’s wife.  Life is tough there in the autumn but someone has to live it.

Tom's home in SA

Tom rubbed salt in the wound by complaining about their drought when he sent me the picture and it felt especially painful when we woke up here to another day of endless rain and drizzle.

It didn’t matter a lot to me though as my cold had got worse and I wasn’t fit to do much anyway.  It was a day to sit about and consider all the little aches and pains that accumulate with age and to mention them from time to time until advised to knock it off by the long suffering audience.

It was an indoor day with the heating on and Mrs Tootlepedal used it to dismantle and clean her mechanical tiller before sending it off for a service.

digger

She has big plans for it in the remodelling of the middle lawn and flower beds over winter.

I lent her a hand when needed and then went off to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and croak my way through a few of the choir songs.

From time to time, I looked out of the kitchen window but once again there was surprisingly little bird action.  After a very busy start when the feeder went up, things have tailed off.  Perhaps the mixture of frost and wind has discouraged birds from going to far to look for food.

There were a few goldfinches.

goldfinch

Birds are very messy eaters so it is lucky that the cement mixing tray is in place under the feeder.

Sometimes the goldfinches concentrated on eating….

goldfinch

…and sometimes they broke off for some hard staring.

goldfinch

I stared back.

A chaffinch in the plum tree seemed to be huddling for a bit of comfort from the rain.

chaffinch

But another one had had enough and decided that a bit of head banging on the feeder was the way to go.

chaffinch

I sympathised with him.

I found a brief moment when it wasn’t actually raining to get a breath of fresh air and check on the flowers.

There are plenty of calendulas with a bit of life left…

calendula

…and the cornflowers have outlasted the poppies.

cornflower

The Nicotiana have lasted well but there haven’t been many calm, dry evenings when we have been able to go out and enjoy their fragrance.

nicotiana

The most amazing of the survivors is the clump of sweet rocket which is undaunted by frost, wind and rain.

sweet rocket

The camera makes it look a much nicer day than it actually was, though by the time that the evening came, the rain had stopped and it had got quite warm.

I am hoping that a day of doing nothing and an early bed will settle my chest down a bit and stop the irritating coughing and from the forecast, it looks as though tomorrow might well be another good day to do nothing much.

On a brighter note, I did get a better flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

 

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