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Posts Tagged ‘peas’

Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce’s stay in Northumberland and shows a colourful view from the bridge over the River Breamish which appeared in a previous post.

river breamish view

The strong winds of yesterday continued overnight and were still blowing this morning so I was happy to stay in and welcome Dropscone for a cup of coffee though I had time to go out into the garden and see what hadn’t been blown over first.

icelandic poppy June

Dropscone arrived with a story to tell.  Thanks to an accident when he was piloting a golf buggy while he was refereeing at a big golf event on the east coast last week, he had had to have an involuntary visit to hospital over the weekend.   He was interested to discover that he was not the only person in his ward to have come off worse in a contest with a golf buggy as another patient had also lost an argument with one.  Dangerous things these golf buggies.

Luckily for me, this had in no way diminished his ability to turn out tasty scones and as he had had to drink very indifferent coffee during his stay in hospital, we were both pleased to see each other.  He was in very cheery form but still has to go back for a check up tomorrow to see that he hasn’t suffered any lasting harm.

Just as we finished our coffee, an ace reporter from our local paper appeared to ask us questions about the little white electric thingy as the paper is doing a feature on ‘green’ issues.

When she had left, I walked round the garden again.

The early lupins are nearly at their peak

luopins nearly there

…while others are just coming out.

close up lupin

In the vegetable garden the chives thrive…

chives looking good

…and the peas progress behind their anti sparrow fortifications.

pea fortress working

The wind and the rain have taken a toll on the azaleas and there are many more petals lying in heaps on the ground than on the bushes.

fallen azalea petals

I went in to make soup for lunch and watch the birds.  The soup kept me busy but there was very little bird action.  The artificial tree was home to three hopeful young sparrows…

three young sparrows

…who were waiting for father to come back with some food…

adult sparrow

…but both adult and children got fed up and flew off and no other birds came to take their place.

After lunch, I decided that my need for a bike ride was greater than my dislike of pedalling in 30 mph winds so I got my bike out and went for ride.  I was helped in this decision by the appearance of some sun, so at least it was reasonably warm even if it was very hard work pedalling into the brisk breeze.

The sun brought out the colours of the red campion and wild geraniums in the verge as I cycled up the hill out of town.

wildflowers

…and everything was cheerfully green under blue skies.

I skulked about in the shelter of the Wauchope valley and only went four miles before turning back to get a whoosh home with the strong wind behind me.   I was so encouraged by the pleasure of downwind cycling that I went back up the road  and gave myself a little diversion to enjoy the views.

green view from Bloch road

The local estate has been busy selling land to forestry companies so that there is a danger that all our hills may be covered by blanket forests like the one in this view but this particular farm has been given a temporary reprieve.

looking to cleuchfoot

I cycled a little further up the road on my second lap but as I started to climb up the hill at Callister, I found myself being blown dangerously about by the strong wind so I abandoned thoughts of going to the top of the hill and turned for home after five miles.

Once more, I experienced the joy of downhill, downwind cycling.  Pedalling along a flat stretch at 25 miles an hour makes an old man feel young again, at least for a moment or two until he has to clutch nervously at the brakes as a sharp corner comes up.

I did stop to take a picture of one of my favourite views, not least because it is all downhill to home from here and on this occasion, wafted by a favouring gale, the three and a bit miles back to Langholm took me ten minutes…

view from above Wauchope schoolhouse

…not including the brief stop for a final picture of a very green corner.

green corner

When I got back to Langholm I was seized with decimal madness and cycled once round the New Town to bring my distance up to a neat 20 miles, a very reasonable distance for such a windy day in my view.

Since the sun was still shining, I took the opportunity to mow the middle lawn and then give it a neat edge with the strimmer.  If it hadn’t been so windy, I might have sat down on the new bench and admired my handiwork but instead I went in and hoped to see some birds.

Once again, there weren’t many to watch.  It is hard to say whether this was because of the strong winds or because the jackdaws have frightened them away.

jackdaw on peanuts

A lone redpoll did appear and after perching anxiously on the sunflower stalk…

redpoll on stalk

…it spent a little time on the seed feeder..

redpoll on feeder

…but it was the only small bird that I saw.

I just had time for another look at the garden, where I saw these clematis seed heads…

clematis seed head

…and a quizzical blackbird…

blackbird sideways look

…before my flute pupil Luke came.

We had another good session and it is good to see steady progress being made.

When he left, I sieved a little compost and mowed the drying green before we had our tea.

In the absence of any opportunity to take a flying bird of the day picture, the quizzical blackbird kindly consented to have its photograph taken to act as standing bird of the day.

full blackbird portrait

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba’s trip to England.  She went down to Hastings on the south coast and was rather surprised to find a reminder of home in the shape of a somewhat morose moose.

Mary Jo's moose

Although I had enjoyed my cycle ride up the hill to the bird hide yesterday, the effect of having to push hard to get up the hill hadn’t been kind either to my breathing or my feet so I wisely decided to go nowhere further than the corner shop today.

Luckily there was plenty to look at and quite a bit to do in the garden so I wasn’t bored.

One of the field beans from Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure planting has avoided being dug in and is flowering merrily and the potatoes are just popping their heads through the soil too.

bean and potato

The front door clematis brings a smile to my face every time I pass it by.

front door clematis

It was sunny again today but not as warm as it has been but new arrivals are still appearing and we saw the first veronica and choisya flowers today.

veronica choisya

And the sun has encouraged abundance…

groups of flowers

…not least among the alliums.

allium copse

Not all the good things can be seen from inside the garden and I had to go out onto the road to see two more arrivals, a honeysuckle in the hedge…

honeysuckle in hedge

…and the first flowers on the rosa Moyesii.

rose moyesia

When I went back in I spotted two more new arrivals, a pink aquilegia and a posh geum.

aquilegia and geum

Undoubtedly though, the brightest flower in the garden wasn’t even out yet.

rhododendron buds

That is the very definition of red in my view.

I didn’t just wander about.  I did a little work too.  We recently bought a very reasonably priced half moon edging tool from the ever intriguing middle aisle at Lidl in Carlisle and Mrs Tootlepedal and I put it to use in producing some neat edges for the middle lawn.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who really likes a neat edge, was very pleased with the result.

neat lawn edging

So was I.

Then I got the electric hover mower out and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass.  I often talk about mowing the drying green but I don’t know whether it has ever appeared on the blog before.  Here it is….

drying green

…not the greatest expanse of grass in the world but sufficient for its purpose.

It has a fringe of nettles and other wild plants in the far corner to encourage insects.  Mrs Tootlepedal has a plan to let the grass grow freely and cut a path just wide enough to give access to the whirligig.  She intends to plant tulips among the grass so as to make the area decorative as well as useful.

Then I lent a hand as Mrs Tootlepedal fashioned a protective cage for her sweet peas.  If our peas and sweet peas are not fully protected, the sparrows nip the tops off the growing plants and they come to nothing.   It is very infuriating and gives Mrs Tootlepedal a lot of extra work, but this year she thinks that she has got the peas properly protected.

three pea fortresses

The pair of blackbirds nesting in the hydrangea are working very hard collecting food and it is rare not to see one or both of them pecking away on the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

Seeing them working away made me think of the front lawn which is still in poor condition so after lunch I got out one of those cheerful packets of soluble fertiliser which promise you a greener lawn in five days and used it.

For once, I believed the advertising hype as nothing could be less green than the front lawn at present so the manufacturers are on a winner here.  Mrs Tootlepedal helped by filling one watering can while I sprayed with the other, and in this way the work was soon done.

 

Over by the compost bins, the rowan is coming along nicely.

rowan buds

I was standing in the drive, thinking quietly about life at one stage of the afternoon when I was nearly run over by the partridge.

the partridge on drive

It nudge me aside and headed for some fallen seed from the feeder.  It didn’t stop long and scuttled off through a neighbour’s hedge.

And that was quite enough activity for the time being, so I went inside and watched horse racing from York on the telly.  There were some good races.

Before I settled down, I went upstairs and had a look at the azaleas round the front lawn from a window.

front lawn with azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted some new azaleas and they should add to the picture over the next few years.

This is one of them.

new yellow azalea

When Mrs Tootlepedal set about cooking our evening meal, I popped out to mow the middle lawn and had to duck my head as I went through the back door to avoid the overhanging clematis there.

back door clematis

The need for all the lawn care and pea protection is because we are going away for a week to frolic by the sea with Matilda.  There should be a lot more to see in the garden when we come back (quite apart from a much greener lawn).  While we are off, our neighbour Liz is going to feed the birds for me and Mike and Alison are going to keep an eye on the greenhouse and the garden for Mrs Tootlepedal, so things will be well looked after.

There is no flying bird of the day today.  This is partly because I didn’t spend a lot of time looking and partly because the chaffinches, which are by far the best at offering flying bird opportunities, have more or less temporarily (I hope) disappeared from the garden.

A blackbird, finding a wheelbarrow full of compost to dig in, is the parental bird of the day instead.

blackbird in barrow

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Today’s guest picture from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia, shows what is going on on the street….or to be more accurate, a sunset in the churchyard in the village of Street in Somerset.

Street

I felt rather weedy in the morning with very little get up and go in evidence and as a result when Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to sing in the church choir and I had made a allegedly Bulgarian chicken dish for the slow cooker, I didn’t take advantage of  a very calm and pleasant day to do anything energetic at all.

I did manage to take my lethargy for a walk round the garden late in the morning.

The shrub roses are doing us proud.

shrub roses

I lifted my eyes from the flower for long enough to notice a row of starlings practising a Leonard Cohen number….

starlings

With some good one-legged work in evidence

…but soon got back to looking the flowers.  It is a wonderful time of year with new flowers appearing almost every day.

philadelphus and weigela

Philadelphus and weigela

dark irises

These irises appear nearly black in real life.

The later rhododendrons are coming into their own.

rhododendron

rhododendron

One bee was enjoying the Japanese azalea…

bee on Japanese azalea

…and another one was tucking into an Iris…

bee on iris

…showing the white tail which give the bee its name.

In spite of the good weather, the garden has not been full of bumble bees as I would have expected.  I really had to search around for these two.

.I hope that we will see more soon.

There are any amount of aquilegias to see though, which makes me very happy.

aquilegias

I am very impressed by the beneficial effect Mrs Tootlepedal’s pea fortress  has had on the peas.  If you keep the sparrows off, then you get good results.

pea fortress

Some flowers can look interesting even after the petals have fallen off….

fancy buttercup

…but most probably look better with the petals on.

fancy buttercup

Although I enjoy loud flowers, I like soft ones too.

pale pink flowers

The comfrey on the right is grown as green manure and will be cut down soon.

I was greatly perked up by a light lunch and felt a good deal more cheerful as we went to Carlisle for the final rehearsal with the Carlisle Community Choir before its end of term concert next Sunday.

As always, it was a pleasure to work hard under the eagle eye of our conductor, Andrew Nunn but there is no doubt that I will have to do a good deal of work at home over the next week to drum the songs that we have to learn by heart into my reluctant brain.

Although I may think that I have learned a song at home, when the time for actually singing with the choir comes round and I am trying to remember to shape the vowel sounds correctly,  get the volume right and relax the space inside my head to avoid any hint of tension on the voice, it is all to easy to forget what song you are singing, let alone whether this is the moment when you go up instead of down.

I am going to be a soprano and sing the tune when I come back in my next life.

When we got home, I was happy to find that I had remembered to turn the slow cooker on and the Bulgarian style chicken went down well for our tea.  I even had enough energy to mow the middle lawn while the potatoes were cooking.  It always looks at its best on a sunny evening…

middle lawn

…but you can still see the holes that the jackdaws made in the middle of the lawn.

Since the forecast for tomorrow is for temperatures ten degrees lower than recent days (and with added rain), Mrs Tootlepedal and I thought that we should mark the end of the short good spell of weather by going for a little cycle ride after tea.  Sadly, the sun failed to live up to the moment and hid behind thin clouds just as we set out.  Still, it was warm and the wind was light so we enjoyed our 6 mile pedal.

To make up for the lack of sunshine, a heron posed for me at Pool Corner.

heron

It had very good balance to be able to stand on a sloping caul with a good flow of water going over it.

I couldn’t help noticing the hawthorns again.  The banks along the road are lined with them for much of the distance up to Wauchope School.

hawthorns

The verges were interesting too.  We saw Helvetian bugle (ajuga)….

bugle

…and lesser yellow rattle…

rattle

…among the crosswort, silverleaf, trefoil, campion and clover which have appeared in recent posts.

We also saw dippers on the river and hares in a field but the fading light combined with the speed of the creatures meant that they went unrecorded.

As the leaves grow on the trees, getting good shots of rivers and bridges becomes harder.

Wauchope

The Wauchope Water seen from the School bridge

A good sing, a nourishing meal and the sight of some new wild flowers left me feeling a great deal better at the end of the day than I was feeling at the beginning and I look forward to next week, even though it has two choir concerts in it, with renewed vigour.

 

 

 

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Today’s picture is of a cloud in the sky, a very rare thing round here.cloud

There was a moment today when the sun actually didn’t shine but it quickly passed. We are threatened or promised a depression and some rain on Thursday and it will be much needed. The farmers are worried about their spring barley and on a much more serious note, I have had to water the lawn twice already.

It has paid off though.

lawn

Anyway, Dropscone and I appreciated the warmth of the sun as we went round the morning circuit once again. The wind was a little bit lighter than it has been and we managed a good time without hurting my chest. I am using the slow bike as the the speedy bike it still at the bike doctor. I rang him up after coffee and scones and he told me that the condition of the patient was worse than expected and he had had to take a hacksaw to some seized up parts. New parts are on order and it will have to be the slow bike for a few days yet.

Mrs Tootlepedal had better things to do today than cycle so I spent some time in the garden. I sieved quite a lot of compost and lightly scarified and then mowed the back lawn. Then I took my courage in both hands and put moss killer on the front lawn. There is a lot of moss about and only time will tell whether there will be any lawn left in three days.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the vegetable garden. She has built a fine pea fortress to keep off the sparrows who, left to themselves, will destroy the growing pea crop in a matter of days.

 pea fortress

That should keep them off. I still have feeders out so they can’t complain.

 pea gutter

She has got more peas coming on in this gutter so another fortress will have to be constructed soon. As well as the veg, the soft fruit is progressing well and the gooseberries and blackcurrants are looking very good. They will be pleased to get some rain. I have been watering them for the past few days.

strawberries

These strawberries show how far ahead of our usual growing times we are.

After the massed bursts of colour from the daffs and tulips, we are in a quieter period for a day or two in the flower garden. There are still tulips about, some of them quite exotic.

furry tulip

There are other more delicate blooms to be seen.

geranium

A white geranium

 bluebell

A pink bluebell

aquilegia

A shady aquilegia

 cornflower

A delicate cornflower. It is cornflower blue.

There are more showy plants about…

cherry and lilac

Cherry and lilac from Mrs tootlepedal's Farrow and Ball range

rhododendron

Rhododendrons beginning to make a splash

azalea

This azalea is the first of many that will light up the front garden

As well as my lawn care activity, I found time to put a week of the E & L into the database and update Dropscone’s BGA website with a photograph of a very fine trophy and a report. A day with a bit of cycling, a bit of computer activity, a bit of compost work, some lawn care and a plate of corned beef hash for tea must come very near my ideal of a perfect day. To round it off nicely, my flute pupil, Luke, turned up with every evidence of having done useful practising. I shall go to bed happy.

In the evening sunlight, I spent a moment or two watching the birds.

two finches

A greenfinch and a chaffinch on the re-sited feeder

chaffinch

A chaffinch has second thoughts about the way she was heading.

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