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Posts Tagged ‘peony’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was visiting the Somerset Rural Life Museum with my Somerset correspondent Venetia not long ago when she came across this very patient horse.

mary somerset horse

It was a beautiful day today with not a cloud in the sky but as it was still below zero after breakfast, there was no chance of a cycle ride for me.  Unfortunately my foot was rather sore which was annoying so I didn’t think that a walk up one of our hills was a good idea either.

As a result, I hung around doing nothing much while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle in the bus to do some shopping.  In the end, I pulled myself together and went out to see if I could walk my sore foot off with a nice flat stroll.  I couldn’t but it didn’t get any worse and it was a lovely day for a walk so I wasn’t complaining (too much).

There were gulls dipping their feet in the icy waters of the river at the Kilngreen…

bathing gulls

…with others keen to join them.

gull landing in esk

Meanwhile there was a lot of gulls leaving their posts and flying past me both at low level…

flying gull 1

…and higher up too.

flying gull 2

I pottered on round the Castleholm and pheasant hatchery, enjoying frequent splashes of snowdrops as I went.

lodge gates snowdrops

The last time I walked this way, it was a very grey day and I took a black and white photo of the woods near Holmhead so I thought it only fair to show them in full colour today.

holmhead woods

I would have liked to be on the top of Timpen instead of looking up at it but…

timpen from pheasant hatchery

…there were interesting icy puddles to admire where I was….

frozen puddle mat and clear

…and a delightful view of a characteristic farm cottage…

breckonwrae

…colourful cones, fallen to the ground…

cones

…and quite a bit of hair ice too.

hair ice

The fungus which causes this phenomenon must be spreading as I am seeing more and more hair ice as I walk about.

As long as I was in the sunshine, it was a very kind day for a walk but in the shadows, the ground was still frost covered.

whita in sunshine and shade

The conditions underfoot were perfect, dry and ice free…

castleholm walk

…so I got home very content with my walk.   My foot was a different matter though and as I can’t work out what is wrong with it,  I will seek medical assistance next week unless it has magically cured itself.  Quite often just making an appointment with a doctor or a physio is sufficient to make ailments behave themselves.  I live in hope.

I had some soup for lunch and watched the birds for a while.  The goldfinches were back and I liked the beady eye that this one was casting on proceedings.

wary eyed goldfinch

A brambling appeared in the plum tree…

brambling in sun

…and since this is the third or fourth time that I have seen a single brambling lately, I am beginning to wonder if it always the same bird which has got detached from its friends.  Usually, if you see one brambling, you soon see more.

I had a walk round the garden and was pleased to see more signs of life, both potential….

peony shoots

…and actual.

first crocus

I would like to have made better use of such a fine day but apart from taking the car up to the garage in readiness for its MOT test tomorrow, I spent the rest of this fine day indoors.  At least I got some Archive Group work done so it wasn’t entirely wasted.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did some hard work on reading and playing demi-semi quavers.  They are not intrinsically hard to work out but it can be tricky working out how long you need to hold a crochet for when you have just been playing dozens of these little notes.

The rocking horse is still drying out upstairs and Mrs Tootlepedal has been visiting it and giving it a pat from time to time.

There is not one but two flying birds of the day today as the gulls flew past me in formation on my walk.

two flying gulls

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Today’s guest picture comes from Somerset where Venetia says it is even hotter than Langholm.  A blackbird in her garden agrees with her.

panting blackbird

After yesterday’s long stint in the saddle, I cycled no further than a few hundred yards today and spent most of the day in the cool of the house.  Our thick stone walls may not keep us very warm in winter but they do keep us cool on hot sunny days.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast before it got too hot and it was certainly another wonderfully sunny and bright day.

More poppies have come out.  This opium poppy was where it ought to be, in a  flower bed and not in the greenhouse…

poppy

…and the colourful poppy had acquired a friend.  Mrs Tootlepedal is no longer absolutely sure that these are Shirley poppies but I like them whatever they are.

poppies

The roses were looking wonderful today.

rose

rosa complicata

And the peonies are enjoying the still, sunny weather too.

peonies

The  stachys is getting steadily covered with more and more little flowers.

stachys

And I think that this can be fairly described as a colourful corner.

colourful corner

Among the new flowers is this lovely philadelphus…

philadelphus

…and these two nasturtiums, the first of many.

nasturtiums

After a final shot of the clematis at the front door which lives in almost perpetual shade and seem to like it…

blue clematis

…I went in to have coffee and scones with Dropscone.

Then Scott the minister arrived.  His scone radar was malfunctioning as he arrived just after we had polished off the scones but his coffee radar was working well and he had a cup with us.

Dropscone went off to play golf in the searing heat and Scott revealed that he had brought two bags of coconuts, surplus from the coconut shy at the church fete, as a gift for me and the birds.  I collected the coconuts from his car and cut one in half and hung the two halves up in the garden.  I expect it will take a bit of time for the word of these treats to get around the small bird world but I hope to see birds visiting them soon.

After coffee, I took another turn round the garden.

Although half the plant has succumbed to the clematis wilt, the other half of the Ooh La La continues to flourish and it is fortunate to have a bit of shade to stop it getting burned up.

ooh la la clematis

The potatoes are getting regular watering and are looking very healthy at the moment…

potato flowers

…but you can never tell until you dig them up how well they tubers are doing under ground.

The flowers on the spirea beside the new bench are so closely packed  that it is hard impossible to get a good picture of an individual.

spirea

As regular readers will know, my flower and plant identifications are more enthusiastic than accurate and Mrs Tootlepedal points out that the white roses which I said were Scotch roses yesterday are in fact Jacobite roses.  They are looking good whatever they are.

Jacobite Rose

The Martagon lilies are dancing all over the garden…

martagon lily

…but the water lilies are relaxing in the pool.

water lily

Another Dutch iris has flowered.

dutch iris

For a treat, we cycled off to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch and I am happy to report that our food arrived promptly and was very good.

After lunch it was siesta time.  I watched tennis and football on the telly but made two forays into the garden to cut the middle lawn and the front lawn with a substantial recovery period in between.  The combination of watering, feeding, sunshine and regular mowing is having a very good effect on the lawns and there are now quite a lot of places where there is more grass than moss.

In the early evening, we watered the garden and then had a salad for our tea before cycling off to the church for a practice with organist Henry’s Common Riding choir.   There was a good turn out and we had an enjoyable time.  My voice is still a bit thin but I was able to sing for an hour with no ill effects which was heartening.

I hope to get out and about a bit more tomorrow, although it is going to be just as warm.

The flower of the day is a peony.

peony

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Gavin who is over on the east coast on a walking holiday.  He passed this little memento of the war near Craster.

craster war hut

Mrs Tootlepedal spent most of the day embroidering in Hawick so I had a quiet day to myself.

It was another dry day so I had the opportunity to look at flowers in the garden though the brisk wind meant that I had to try to find the ones that were in a bit of shelter.

I didn’t have to look far to find some good colour.

rose

peony

sweet william

Mrs Tootlepedal introduced two Gauras into the garden this year, one white and one red.  The white one fell victim to the strong winds but the red one has survived.

gaura

The campanulas are getting a bit battered by the persistent breezes but some are keeping their heads up.

campanula

And the Martagon lily has got its dancing shoes on.

martagon lily

After a wander about, I went inside to drink, coffee, read the papers, do the crossword and keep an eye on the birds.

The blackbirds have been very busy and look as though they are starting another brood even though there are several developing young birds about.   I like the way that they go black from back to front as they grow up.

young blackbird

The feeder was busy with sparrows, goldfinches, chaffinches and siskins all competing for a place on a perch…

busy feeder

…leading to some unfortunate outbreaks of hooliganism.

stamping siskin

In the case, the chaffinch shrugged off the siskin and kept her place at the feeder.

After a good lunch of sardine and lettuce sandwiches, I got myself organised and went out for a cycle ride. The wind was gusty so I settled for a gentle 30 mile circuit and was happy to be blown home so that the return journey uphill was considerably faster than the outward journey downhill.

Did I mention that everything is growing?

springfield road

There was only just room for the road between these lush verges near Gretna Green and I had to stop a little further on to let a rush of traffic go by.

pony trap

I stopped for a drink and half a banana after twenty miles and admired the ferns beside the road.

fernfern

I am trying not to take too many pictures but when I got home, the sun came out and so did my camera.

I am cycling slowly but consistently as my trip today was within half an hour

Mrs Tootlepedal’s orange geums are lasting well….

geum

…and the melancholy thistle looked positively cheerful today.

melancholy thistle

Rosa Wren, probably my favourite rose in the garden has produced its first flower…

rosa wren

…and the giant ornamental clover has come out too.

giant clover

I like to see the perennial nasturtium so I was pleased to see that it has survived the severe clipping that the yew it lives on got last year and has come back fighting.

tropaeolum

Mrs Tootlepedal was back from Hawick when I got back from cycling and she was soon hard at work in the garden while I mowed the front lawn and put the sprinkler on the middle lawn.  There is no rain in the forecast for the next ten days and with the temperature set to rise, I want to avoid the lawns drying out.

Following the doctors’ advice to get more iron into my diet, we had liver for tea for the second time in a few days.  As I am eating plenty of greens as well, I will so full of metal that I will be liable to set of security scanners just by walking past them soon.

We had a sporting evening watching bits of football and rugby matches on the telly.

There is not just one flying chaffinch of the day today but three of them.

flying chaffinches

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an elegant little lighthouse at Fleetwood on the Irish Sea coast.  My brother Andrew was visiting the town.

fleetwood

After several weeks of good weather, it was very unfortunate that for the weekend of the Muckeltoon Adventure Festival, a feast of mountain biking and trail running today, we should have got a miserable day of rain.

I was hoping to go and get some good action pictures but it was raining too heavily to make that any fun.

wet goldfinch

The goldfinches took badly to the rain too.

As a result, I spent a very quiet day inside until the rain stopped in the afternoon and I didn’t do much after that either.

The wet weather gave me a chance to watch the birds during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s windowsill treats are still drawing in  sparrows….

sparrow on windowsill

…and the seeds were going down regularly on the feeder.

goldfinch

A stylish goldfinch keeping things tight to avoid the raindrops

busy feeder

More birds than perches leads to arguments

redpoll and siskin

Wet redpoll, wet siskin, bad temper all round.

incoming siskin

There was almost always a siskin in the offing

 

I got some Archive Group work done in the morning which was a bonus and I went out to check on the flowers when the rain stopped.

The roses were soggy but surviving…

wet roses

…and when the sun came out, the low lying plants looked positively cheerful

sunny flowers

…and I was happy to see that the Ooh La La clematis had stayed together.

clematis ooh

After some time to dry, things were looking good again….

wet flowers

…and I went for a very short walk to stretch my legs before any more rain came along.

You wouldn’t know that it had been such a miserable morning.

parish church

River Esk between bridges

Although the river was up a little bit, there was still plenty of gravel for the oyster catchers  and their chicks to patrol.

oyster catchers

young oyster catchers

young oyster catcher

It was such a dull day that I even found myself watching a bit of a World Cup football match.  The game seemed to consist of muscular Danes barging over skilful Peruvians and I was sorry to see that the Peruvians squandered every good chance that they got and let the Danes win.

I looked out of the window as I was writing this post in the evening and was impressed enough by a new(ish) moon to get my tripod out and as a reward to get bitten by a thousand midges.

new moon

The flower of the day is one of the durable peonies.

peony

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In lieu of any new material, I have returned to Venetia’s  trip to Madeira for the guest picture of the day.  Somewhere between the mountains and the sea, she passed through this narrow gap.

Madeira

Being Friday, I had made an arrangement to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone.  The forecast for the afternoon was rather dubious so I had made a vague plan with myself to get up early and go for a bicycle ride before coffee.  I didn’t have any great confidence in the plan but much to my amazement, I did in fact get up early and cycled 20 miles before breakfast.

The wind had dropped since yesterday but there was still quite enough of it (and from an unhelpful direction) to keep my head down so I didn’t see a lot more than the road in front of my nose.   However, just at the highest point of the trip, I was going so slowly that I had time to notice a good crop of yellow rattle…

yellow rattle

…and stopped to take a picture.

Mrs Tootlepedal had also got up early and was hard at work in the garden when I got back, tidying up unruly plants and picking up debris from yesterday’s strong winds.

I lent a hand by shredding what I could of the material and then and took the opportunity to admire a couple of yellow roses.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta, a long time resident of the garden

golden wedding rose

And a newcomer.  This little rose came in a presentation pot from a friend as a present for our golden wedding and has now found a home in the garden.

The coffee and scones were well up to standard and Dropscone was very cheerful because he had been part of a golf team which had recently come second in a competition.  He went off to play more golf and I mowed the middle lawn and took more pictures.

There were quite a few bees about but they were concentrating on a few plants, the hydrangea, a martagon lily and nectaroscordum.

bees

The nectarosordum proved very popular and there were still bees visiting it several hours later.

It was pleasing to see that the peonies had survived the wind and the rain very well indeed.

peony

New flowers have come out to join them.

clematis

Another clematis by the front door.

campanula

The first of many campanulas

moss rose

A moss rose

perennial nasturtium

A perennial nasturtium

Although it is not new, I couldn’t pass by the pale astrantia without clicking the shutter finger as it was looking superb.

astrantia

Over lunch, I took time to watch the birds.  The feeder was busy….

busy feeder

…and I had to fill it twice today.

busy feeder (2)

Doves and pigeons came to cast their beady eyes on fallen seeds.

dove and pigeon

And sparrows flew this way and that.

flying sparrows

There was more shredding to do after lunch as Mrs Tootlepedal had kept busy and then I mowed the front lawn.  The forecast rain stayed away so I went off for a walk.

There were lots of wild flowers (and a rabbit) to look at as I went round Easton’s and Gaskell’s walks.

Eastons and gaskells

I would welcome suggestions as to what the very small yellow flower is

The wind had torn a lot of leaves from the trees and you can see in the top right panel above that one section of the walk was carpeted by the results.

The summer growth is in full swing on Gaskell’s Walk…

gaskell's

…and I found geums, hawkbit with friends and ragged robin beside the path.

wild flowers

There was reedy grass and the first bramble flowers too.

grass and bramble

I wasn’t unobserved as I walked past a field at the Stubholm.

watching sheep

Several days ago, my neighbour Liz told me a story about finding a host of flies on the gate at the end of Gaskell’s Walk.  I didn’t have an opportunity to check the gate out and had forgotten all about it until I came to the gate today…..

flies on gaskells gate

…and found the flies were still there.  They were quite alive and flew off when I got too close.  You might wonder what they would find so attractive on the metal bar of a gate.

I was just going to take a truly wonderful picture of the Auld Stane Brig when my camera battery unexpectedly gave up so you will just have to take my word about the picture and for the fact that I passed two unicorns on my way home.   It was a bit annoying as I had put in a fresh battery before I set out and can only assume that I had failed to switch the charger on.

The sun was out and it was a very nice afternoon by the time that I got home and Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat on the new bench and enjoyed the sights and smells of the garden before going in for a cup of tea.

I watched the birds again and saw a young greenfinch falling off its perch at the feeder.

greenfinch

You don’t often see birds falling off a perch.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a healthy meal with spinach and broccoli for our tea.  I am eating so much iron rich food that if it rains a lot, I feel I may be in danger of going rusty.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal chatted, Alison and I played music.  Several of the notes were in the right place, at the right time and in the right key.  We enjoyed ourselves.

The flower of the day is another of my favourite peonies.

peony (2)

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went with my sister Susan to visit the refurbished temperate glass house at Kew Gardens.  It was worth the trip.

Kew glass house

The big question, after a night listening to the wind howling round the house and rain battering at the windows, was would there be anything left?

We got off lightly with no structural damage and the electricity still working but the plants were not quite so lucky.  Tall thin plants did the worst….

foxglove collapsewindblow in gardenlupin collapse

…while flowers sheltered behind stout hedges did the best.

peonyLilian Austinrose

It all depended on your point of view.  I felt that we had done well with plenty left still standing for me to photograph while Mrs Tootlepedal, who of course had done all the work to get the flowers to grow in the first place, mourned those that were gone.

The wind was still blowing rather alarmingly in the morning even though the rain had stopped.  Indeed, it didn’t seem to have rained as much as the noise in the night would have indicated and the garden soon dried up.  By the afternoon, the sun had come out and if you could get out of the persistent wind, it was quite a nice day.  I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping.

I also took a look at the birds.  I saw this young blackbird sitting on a fence when I glanced out of the back window while passing through the sitting room.

young blackbird

Out of the usual window I could see that here were plenty of sparrows at the feeder today….

sparrows at feeder

…and Mrs Tootlepedal had put out a suet ball on the kitchen windowsill in the hope of attracting sparrows there too.  It worked.

sparrows on windowsill

I had used the gloomy morning weather as a motivation to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database but the afternoon looked good enough for an expedition so I got my new bike out and tested the wind.

It really is an excellent bicycle.  It turns out to be extremely stable in strong and gusty crosswinds and for some reason which is hard to explain, it is also almost a pleasure to cycle into the wind when riding it.  Whether it is the frame design and riding position, or the aerodynamics of the bike or the very user friendly gear system, or a combination of all three, riding into a strong breeze is not at all a discouraging experience.

This was lucky as the wind was certainly strong today, gusting to well over 30mph as I went along.

I stopped to see how much water was going over the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse after the overnight rain.

wauchope cascade

The answer was not a great deal.

I noticed a pretty yellow wild flower in the grass beside the river.  It is probably a meadow vetchling.

vetch

A bit of the roadside verge had become waterlogged through poor drainage during the wet winter. Now it is home to a small forest of horsetail.

horsetail

Because of the strong wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom and did two laps of the seven mile trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.   I cycled  through the town and down to the river when I got home and checked to see if the young oyster catchers were still at the water’s edge.

young oyster catcher

They were there with their fluffy feathers getting ruffled by the wind.

The parents were there too, rather indignant at my presumption in  taking pictures of their children.

oyster catcher

I surprised myself by really enjoying my 14 mile windy ride and I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.

In the evening, Susan arrived and we drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group. As we drove down there was a little rain but some sunshine too and this provided us with a splendid rainbow which we took as a sign that the stormy weather was over.

As always, some of the pieces we played went better than others but there were enough of the sound performances to make the evening good fun and the biscuits with the after-playing cup of tea  were very tasty too.

A flying bird of the day today, one of the sparrows at the feeder.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was driving past the Silk Mill in Derby and thought that it might be the sort of picture that I would enjoy.  On reflection, I think that he was right.

silk mill Derby

We were promised a cooler, cloudier day today but when we got up, it was as sunny as ever.

I was intending to go for a bike ride and once again found it hard to get going so I was happy to enjoy a stroll round the garden and admire the sunlit garden flowers after breakfast.

garden flowers

The strong light took some of the darkness away from the ‘black’ iris.

The sun didn’t last for long and by the time that I had had an early cup of coffee, the skies had clouded over.  It was still pleasantly warm though and with a light wind, it looked like a perfect day for pedalling.

In the end, I ran out of excuses and got my new bike out and set off, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal toiling in the garden.

It was a perfect day for pedalling.

For some reason which is obscure to me the road verges seem to attract different wild plants in different spots even though the growing conditions look very similar.  There is a section of the road just before the top of Callister that is perennially home to a very fine collection of curly dock (as always my naming of plants is open  to correction).

curly docks

It grows elsewhere of course, but this section of about fifty yards has the best collection by far.

I thought that you would be interested to know that.

Once over Callister, I set my course for the flatter lands of the Solway coast as my tin knee has been a bit creaky lately and I wanted to give it kindly treatment today.

I crossed the Kirtle Water for the third time as I got near Eaglesfield.

Eaglesfield bridge

My route then took me past Chapelcross, a retired nuclear power station which is being (very) gradually dismantled.  Each time that I pass it, a little more of it has disappeared.

Chapelcross

August last year

Chapelcross 2018

Today

The power station sits on a hill looking over the Solway and looking down, I thought that for once the sea might be on duty…

Solway view

….and I was pleased to find when I got to Brow Houses, that I was right.

Brow houses

I paused and had my lunch and a little walk among the wild flowers on the grassy slope down to the water’s edge.  There were plenty to enjoy.

Brow houses wild flowers

This was my favourite.

Brow houses flower

The farms are cultivated as near to the edge of the Firth as possible and the cows were interested in what I was doing.

 

Brow houses cow

Refreshed by an egg roll and a banana, I pressed on to Gretna and then into England.

I had to stop and let a train go up the main line….

TP Express

…before I could cross the level crossing and head down to Rockliffe and then by way of the new Carlisle by-pass start heading home through the lanes of North Cumbria.

One of the lanes had a wonderful hedge of roses….

roses beside road

…which were a delicate shade of pink.

hedge roses

As I was going up the main road from Longtown to Langholm, I took a break from the traffic and visited Kirkandrews-on_Esk, where there is a neat church and an old tower, still lived in as a family home today.

Kirkandrews on Esk

The church, as its names implies, sits on the bank of the River Esk and there is a bridge to allow the churchgoers on the other side of the river to get to the services and a sundial to tell them if they are on time.

bridge and sundial Kirkandrews

I took the picture of the sundial at just about 3 o’clock BST which is two o’clock GMT so the sundial is still keeping pretty good time after 100 years.

It is a picturesque spot….

Kirkandrews on Esk (2)

…and the river was looking beautiful in the little bit of sunshine which had come out to brighten the day.

Kirkandrews on Esk (3)

The bridge is a delicate construction and sways alarmingly when you cross it.

Kirkandrews on Esk bridge

It didn’t take me long to get home and by dint of sprinting through the town as fast as I could pedal, I just managed to keep my average speed for the 61 miles to 14 mph, a tribute to the warmth of the day, the flatness of the route and the kindness of the light winds.

Mike Tinker was taking a cup of tea in the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal when I arrived home and he remarked that he and his wife had seen plenty of lightning yesterday.  This was very odd as Mrs Tootlepedal and I had looked hard and seen none and he only lives about 100 yards away.   Maybe we just weren’t looking in the right direction.

I had another look round the garden when Mike went and was able to admire the very neat lawn edging which Mrs Tootlepedal had done while I was out.  She had done quite a lot of other things too.

I had my camera in my hand of course and was spoilt for choice.

garden flowers in afternoon

in the garden

When we went inside, we could watch a small flock of wood pigeons being disagreeable.

pigeons

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and added weight to my suspicion that he has been secretly practising.  We did a lot of good work.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetable garden is looking very healthy and she was able to pick more spinach to go with a second helping of the slow cooked sausage stew for our tea.  Considering how much I disliked spinach when I was a child, it is amazing how much I like it now.

The flower of the day is the first look at my favourite peony, taken in the early evening.

peony

Note: I received a message from our health centre while I was out cycling and I rang the doctor when I got home and was very happy to hear that my chest x-ray had come back clear of any problems.

 

 

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