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Posts Tagged ‘primula’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Wells with her friend, my Somerset corespondent Venetia, and took this reflective portrait of the cathedral from the bishop’s garden.

wells cathedral from Bishop's garden

We had a colder, windier day than yesterday, but as it was drier than forecast and the sun even came out briefly once or twice, we were grateful at a time when elsewhere in the country, torrential rain was making life hard.

I started the day by going to collect my bike from the bike shop where it had been serviced.  Because it has a gear box rather then a derailleur, it had had an oil change instead of a new cassette after just under four thousand miles.  The oil change was cheaper than a new cassette and chain but it still made my eyes water.  I will have to learn how to do it myself.

When I got home, I did a little shredding, put the results in compost bin A and then sieved more of compost bin C and put the bits that didn’t go through the sieve into compost bin D.  I lead a deep and exciting life.

Then I compounded the excitement by wandering about with a camera in hand.

The orange hawkweed is also known as ‘fox and cubs’ and this foxy flower looked as though it was brooding its cubs.

fox and cubs hawkweed

We have spireas that have showy leaves and dull flowers and we have spireas with dull leaves and showy flowers, very showy flowers.

spirea blossoms

Although we have had plenty of bees, I haven’t seen a great many smaller insects so I was pleased to see this one on a doronicum.

insect on doronicum

The tropaeolum flowers on the yew were lining up in attacking formation.

three tropaeolum attack

Apart from the rosa moyesii, which is in full flower, the other roses are still mainly work in progress. Like almost everything else in the garden, they could do with a bit of warmth.

four roses

The chives were still attracting various bees…

two bees on chives

…and I managed to get a wing as well as two bees knees in today’s shot.

close up on chive bee

By the front door, one clematis keeps fading while the other keeps flourishing.

clematis seed head and flower

It is hard to say which is prettier though.

By this time, lunch was calling and after lunch, I settled down for a while to watch the birds.

It was still very windy and this siskin was keeping firmly plunked down on the perch.

flat siskin

An anxious sparrow checked to see if there was a vacancy.

hopeful sparrow

I did think of going for a ‘bicycle walk’ just to get out of the house, but the weather was so unforgiving, cold and very windy, that I stayed in and caught up on some of the hymns for next Sunday’s service.

After a couple of hours, I went out to check the weather and noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine crop of doddering dillies growing in the bed at the end of the drive.  This grass has the Sunday name of Briza Media and it is also known as Common Quaking Grass and in the wind today, these doddering and quaking grasses were certainly living up to their name.  I had to pinch a head off one stem and take it inside to get it to stop quaking long enough for me to take a picture.

doddering dillies

The first candelabra primula flowers have appeared beside the pond.  I hope that they do well in spite of the weather, as they are among my favourite flowers…

early candelabra primula

…though of course, this is my absolute favourite.

astrantia

The day hadn’t got any better so I went back in and watched the birds again.

The squad of goldfinches was back….

four goldfinches

…though a siskin managed to sneak in at one point…

five goldfinches

…and occasionally there were more goldfinches than perches.

four goldfinches and a siskin

A greenfinch had no difficulty in persuading a goldfinch to offer it a seat at the table…

greenfinch close

…and when they had all gone off, a redpoll appeared and wasted my valuable seed.

redpoll spitting

My view of redpolls as charming little birds has been somewhat dented by seeing a redpoll nest live on the Springwatch programme on the telly.  It was the most disgustingly untidy nest that you could ever see.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious one pot penne, tomato and cream cheese dish for our tea.  As the rain taps on our windows as I write this, we are just hoping that the weather will let us get to Edinburgh tomorrow.  A tree had fallen on the line today but it has been cleared, so all is well at the moment.

As a bonus for another ‘stay at home’ post, there is not one but two flying sparrows of the day.

flying sparrow looking

In the strong winds, birds had to approach the feeder with care.

flying sparrow hanging

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Today’s guest picture of her allotment was sent to me by our daughter Annie, and shows that she takes after her mother…and then some.  She did get some help.

annie's plot

The day started with lovely sunshine and steadily got greyer until it was raining in Edinburgh  when we got there.   We were not complaining as the rain is needed.

I took the car up to the garage to get one of those annoying warning lights that appear on the dashboard checked out and went to get it back after lunch.  There was nothing wrong with it.  Grr.

In between, I did a lot of pottering about the garden.

The strawberries which we moved yesterday, seemed to be quite cheerful about the transplant..

moved strawberries

…and Mrs Tootlepedal has begun to construct a new cage to keep the birds off them.

The rain overnight had been light and the soil was generally quite dry again though it was possible to see that it had rained.

rain on leaves

Mrs Tootlepedal has got her potatoes in, most of them in the new bed which has got the greenhouse foundations under it.

potatoes

She planted some acorns a couple of years ago and the resultant small oaks have grown to a stage where they need to be planted out,  She and our neighbour Liz are going to find a spot for them.

great oak

There are white bluebells in the back border…

white bluebell

…white drumstick primulas…

drumstick primula

…and beautiful white pear blossom too…

pear blossom

…but in general, we are not short of colour.

The day of the daffodil is done and we are in the time of tulips now.

time of the tulip

Mrs Tootlepedal has some really ‘pinging’ examples about, like these…

four bright tulips

…and this…

bright red tulip

…and there are more to come.

unopened tulip

In the pond, as well as tadpoles and pond skaters, there was a lot of tension.

surface tension in pond

Our neighbour Liz dropped in for coffee and biscuits and while a rook looked on from the plum tree….

rook in plum tree

…we had a very lively but very good natured airing of our different views on the political situation of the day.  There is nothing I like more than a thoroughly good argument and as we rose from the table, we were still arguing but agreeing to differ so it was disappointing to find a partridge outside insisting on sitting on the fence.

partridge on the fence

I watched the birds later in the morning and saw more action in three minutes than I see in the whole day sometimes.

four busy feeder panel

The partridge came off the fence but didn’t linger and soon walked away.

visiting partridge

After lunch, we went to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  She is now five and was busy writing thank you cards for birthday presents.

We were able to admire the many presents she had received and after much conversation and another delightful meal, we made our way home again.

The rain as we drove home was alarmingly heavy at times, severely affecting visibility, but only in short bursts which was a relief.

The forecast is for some typical April showers to come over the next couple of days..

The flying bird of the day is a questing redpoll.

flying redpoll

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my Canadian correspondents, Lucie.  She has been visiting relatives in the UK and when she passed through Edinburgh on her way north, she stopped off to check out the view from the castle.

edinburgh castle

We had a warm and sunny day today and with lighter winds, it felt like a good day to discard some layers of clothing at last.

The flowers in the garden enjoyed the warmth too and my favourite tulip was looking at its best….

lovely tulip

…though the same could not be said for a very ragged anemone which has not enjoyed the cold while waiting to spread its wings.

grotty anemone

I had to go to the doctor to discuss the x-ray and the state of my foot.  The gel insoles are continuing to help and the lack of serious pain after my cycle ride yesterday is also encouraging so the policy is ‘steady as you go’ and to fix an appointment with a physio to see how much my back is contributing to the problem.

As I cycled over the suspension bridge on my way to the doctor, I noticed that the poplar trees beside the church are going green.poplars in leaf

Back in the garden, I checked out more flowers and found a fancy tulip not looking at its best…

twisted poppy

…but the brunnera is doing very well.

brunnera

I discovered that some of the newest flowers on the magnolia have no brown tips on their petals as they missed the frosty mornings…

untouched magnolia bloom

…and that the drumstick primulas are doing superbly, regardless of the weather.

nearly a sphere primula

Things have been both cold and dry and some of the tulips are beginning to look a little tired…

blowsy pink tulips

…even some of the ones that have come out most recently.

three yelow tulips

I don’t know where the siskins have been for the last few days, but they came back here today and there were a good number of them about.

four siskins

They are very much the same size and shape as the redpolls though siskins like to perch head down more than the redpolls.

redpoll and siskin

There is so much blossom on the plum tree that it is sometimes hard to see the birds so it was good of this chaffinch to find a space to perch where I could see him clearly.

chaffinch among the blossom

After lunch, we went off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her family.  There are great plans afoot to improve Waverley Station but I hope that they are not going to improve out this fine ceiling in the main waiting room.

station ceiling

When we got to Matilda’s new house, we found the last blossom still on the tree which the builders kindly planted in their garden…

Ediburgh blossom

…and we found Matilda in the garden too.

Here she is having a rest after playing ball with her grandfather.

Matilda in the sun

We had a good time mowing the new lawn and gathering up the grass and after some indoor games too, we had a delicious mixed bean chilli cooked by Alistair, Matilda’s father which we ate in the company of Matilda’s other grandparents and an aunt so it was a thoroughly convivial occasion.

The journey home was uneventful and we look forward to seeing Matilda, Al and Clare getting settled into their new home over the next few weeks.

I didn’t have time to hang about for a flying bird to day so the best I could do was a rather vague siskin in the background.

distant flying siskin

 

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Tony who has been having wonderful weather lately on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

East wemyss Riviera

Our day started brightly….

sunny fritallaries

…after another frosty morning but as the day went on, the clouds came over.

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, bringing treacle scones with him.  He is very excited because it is the first day of the official golfing season at Langholm tomorrow and he is the club captain this year.  It looks as though he is going to have a lovely sunny day as he sets the season  going when he drives off the first tee.

Apart from the coffee and scones, I had a very quiet morning with the occasional stroll round the garden.  The cloudy weather made it easier to photograph pale flowers and there were a number about.

Our first pulsatilla flower opened this morning.  It is an amazingly furry flower.

furry pulsatilla

The drumstick primulas are having a race to see which can produce a fully spherical flower head first.

drumstick primulas

This is my favourite of the white daffodils.

pale daffodil

The feeder was doing brisk business.  I had filled it after breakfast and it was half empty by lunchtime when a female redpoll arrived for a snack…

redpoll

…and I had to fill it again in the late afternoon.

I was very excited to receive a much anticipated parcel at lunchtime, but a great deal less excited when I found that I had been sent the wrong thing. It was my fault entirely.  I needed ‘type 2  to type 2’ and had ordered ‘type 2 to type 1’, a small but crucial error.

It was little consolation when I rang up to ask about exchanging it, to be told that lots of people had made the same mistake.  If that was true and not just said in a kindly spirit to cheer me up, then the seller’s website should be altered to make it less easy to make the mistake.

I took the parcel up to our post office and made it through the door just in time to catch the post before the office closed.  We have an outreach post office from a branch near Carlisle now because our post office closed a few months ago.  It only has limited hours and won’t open again until Wednesday, so I was pleased not to have missed out.

When I got home, I pulled myself together and went off to do twenty miles on my bike. My last ride of 20 miles, two days ago, left me with a very sore foot so I pedalled gently up and down the road a couple of times today, avoiding any steep hills and not cycling into the wind for any length of time and I only went 200 yards further than the last ride.

This seems to have been successful as my foot is not complaining as I write this.

I was limited for views but saw some life in passing.

A traditional spring family scene…

ewe with two lambs

…our resident gull looking downstream…

upstanding gull

…a goosander looking for fish…

goosander fishing

…and an oyster catcher not looking at anything.

oyster catcher snoozing

When I got back, the feeder was empty so I filled it and on the principle of, “If you fill it, they will come,”  the goldfinches  came.

They were anxious about infiltrating chaffinches….

fierce goldfinches

…but were soon able to check that they had complete control.

goldfinch gang

I had a final wander round the garden and saw more pale flowers….

pale tulips

…the very first of the trout lilies had appeared…

triout lily

…and the pulsatilla, which had opened out from this morning, stuck its tongue out at me as I passed.

pulsatilla

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the afternoon working on the rocking horse,  She bought a little hammer this morning and I can report that she hammered in the morning and she hammered in the afternoon but fortunately she laid down her hammer and cooked a delicious meal of roast chicken in the evening.

We are promised another frosty morning tomorrow so although the weather has been very dry and generally sunny, it has been a bit nervous making for the gardener.

The flying chaffinch of the day, although enjoying the early sunshine, looked a bit nervous too, I thought.

worried flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a child friendly door that took Mary Jo’s fancy on her visit to Copenhagen.  Clever marketing.

copenhagen door

We could hardly believe it when we got another warm and pleasant day today.  It made cycling to church to sing in the choir a treat and gave us every incentive to get out in the garden when we got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent her time productively while I wandered around taking pictures.

Things are coming on.

Old friends are getting better…

cowslip

…and new ones are coming to join them.

primrose

Grape hyacinths are appearing everywhere…

muscari

..and the scillas are bunching up nicely.

scilla

We are getting nearer to peak daffodil each day…

daffodil

…and some flowers which have been modestly out for quite a bit in the chilly weather are throwing out more colour in the warmth.

primrose

primula

There are exciting hints of delights to come (though the magnolia is taking its time).

magnolia and tulip

…and some shrubs are showing colour too, like this spirea.

spirea

I had a lot of choice but this was my daffodil of the day.

daffodil

Putting down my camera, I picked up the lawn mower and gave some moss a fright.

lawn care

This was the first mowing of the reshaped middle lawn.  There is evidence of some grass growing on it which is a relief after a long, cold, damp spell when it looked as though it was going to be totally mossy.  There is a lot of work to be done before that one beautiful week in late June or early July when the currently speckled mossy area will look like a proper grassy lawn.  (It starts to go downhill again shortly afterwards.)

In the afternoon we combined some shopping, including getting some slabs for Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bench area, with singing with our Carlisle choir.  Our musical director, Andrew was back for the first time for a while and it was a treat to get the meticulous attention which he plays both to our singing and to the learning of new songs.

Just so that we didn’t get carried away, it was raining gently when we came out of the practice but it had stopped by the time that we got home and our warmer spell looks set to continue for a while at least.

In the gap between mowing the lawn and going to Carlisle, I had sardines on toast for my lunch and an opportunity to look out of the kitchen window.  The usual suspects were busy…

busy feeder

…and sometimes, very busy.

busy feeder

The redpolls have become a permanent fixture for a while at least, returning every day…

redpoll

…and I was particularly pleased to see a newcomer at the feeder today in the shape of a tree sparrow.

tree sparrow

I had been thinking only a day or two ago that it would be nice to see a tree sparrow and hey presto, one appeared.  Now I am thinking that it would be nice to win the lottery.

Any spare moments during the day were taken up by battling with an intransigent crossword puzzle.  In the end, I had to ring up my sister Mary to share notes on the more convoluted answers and between us we puzzled out the setter’s obscurities to our mutual satisfaction.

The flying bird of the day is one of our standard chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s sister, Elizabeth, who took advantage of a recent sunny day to climb up a hill and look down on the town.

Liz's picture of Langholm

Our warm spell continued but in the absence of any sunshine.

I had a busy morning, starting with a trip to the producers’ market to stock up on meat, fish and cheese, which with the help of any amount of good advice from concerned onlookers, I managed to accomplish.

Then there was just time to greet the return of the goldfinches to the feeder after a day off…

goldfinch

…before I got the slow bike out and went for a fifteen mile ride. I had a job to do after lunch so  I had a choice of a shorter ride in the morning or a longer one in the afternoon.  The forecast wasn’t very positive so I chose the short morning ride.

Unlike yesterday there were no views available….

View from Megsfield

….so I kept my eyes down today.  I stopped near the top of Callister on my way out to see what a bit of roadside wall might hold.  It turned out that it held quite a lot.

Every lichen seemed to have a red tip if you looked closely enough, whether it was tall and stringy…

lichen on Callister wall

…or short and fat among the moss…

P1080670

…or so tiny that you could hardly see it all.

lichen on Callister wall

I stopped at the bottom of the hill on my way back when I saw some clumps of wild primroses near the new bridge at Westwater Cottage.

wild primroses

So I had to have a look at the bridge while I was there…

Collin Bridge lichen

…and some very fine lichen on the parapet…

Collin Bridge lichen

…as well as a potential wild flower in the grass verge.

wild flower

My choice of a fifteen mile trip turned out to be well judged as it started to rain just after I got home and it kept raining until seven o’clock in the evening.

I had time to walk round the garden before the rain started and had another go at doing justice to the pulmonaria but the camera always seems more interested in the back of the plant than the front.  I shall keep trying.

pulmonaria

The magnolia was poking its nose out….

magnolia

…and so was a surprise frog in the pond.

frog

I chased after a bumble bee with no success so I took a picture of the developing primula and went in.

primula

Once in, I looked out.

The goldfinches were back in good numbers and blowing each other away in style.

goldfinch

Some, but not many, siskins joined in the fun…

goldfinch and siskin

..and once again, there was always a queue for a perch.

flying goldfinch

…with the chaffinches at the back of it.

_DSC3016

We had the usual suspects, goldfinches, siskins and chaffinches with a couple of redpolls arriving after I had put the camera away but I did see one unusual bird in the plum tree.

At first I thought that it was  a sparrow…

reed bunting

…but that didn’t look quite right so I had a close look when I put the picture on my computer and I think that it is a reed bunting, though I am always open to correction from knowledgeable readers.

reed bunting

It is a pleasure to have new visitors to the garden.

I did my lunchtime task, which was to open the meeting room for the Embroiderers’ Guild in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal and then retired home in heavy rain to waste the rest of the afternoon watching the early stages of the third round of the Masters golf tournament.

I cooked a smoked fish kedgeree for my tea and then went off to the Buccleuch Centre for a concert where I met Sandy.  I was very vexed during the afternoon when a friend rang up to ask if I was going to the party to find that I had inadvertently double booked myself as I was also supposed to be going to a choir member’s birthday do today.

This was embarrassing but as the choice was driving thirty miles in the rain to the party which however enjoyable would go on very well without me or walking 200 yards to the Buccleuch Centre where I had bought an expensive ticket, I chose the short walk.

I just hoped that the concert would make the choice worthwhile.

It did.

It was by YolanDa Brown, a jazz, reggae, soul fusion saxophonist backed by a very well drilled, skilled and creative quartet.  You can find YolanDa on Youtube  and very pretty she sounds but the recording does no justice at all to her live show which was sensational.

It was loud and at times the rhythm was so funky that you risked breaking an ankle if you tried to tap your foot but the flow of inventive music was so overwhelmingly immersive that I came out at half time feeling pretty euphoric.  The whole thing was like being caught in a landslide of joy.

YolanDa is personally very charming as well as being extremely accomplished and she managed without any strain at all to get the entire largely elderly audience on its feet and rocking to a reggae beat.

The second half was better.

I should say that the audience was not large, especially for a band which was on a world tour including, Australia, America, Europe, Morocco and Langholm but the band didn’t stint and obviously loved playing the music as much as the audience enjoyed listening to it.

I walked home a happy man…and the rain had stopped.

The flying bird of the day is one of our loyal band of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Liz, a professional gardener.  It shows what can be done in a miserable spring if you have the right facilities, in this case a polytunnel,  and green fingers.  Liz is Mike Tinker’s daughter and he kindly forwarded the picture to me.

polytunnel

No one could accuse our weather of being static because after two rather chilly, wet and miserable days, we got a totally terrible day today with wind, rain and snow all day.  As I write this at ten o’clock in the evening, the temperature outside is 1.8°C and going down.

Hopefully, we have now hit rock bottom for April and the only way is up.  There are wild rumours that we may have a sunny day tomorrow but they are only rumours.

As it happened, I got a late call to occupy the Welcome to Langholm Office in the morning so I didn’t have to worry about being stuck in the house with nothing to do.  I did some archive work, greeted a visitor or two and even sold a postcard so I felt quite virtuous.

There was a tremendous racket in the garden when I got back and it continued, along with the rain and snow, for the rest of the day.

There were some relatively quieter moments…

goldfinch and siskins

…but mostly it was like this….

siskins

…or this….

siskins

…and there was always an enormous queue in the plum tree…

siskins in plum tree

…where I can count more than fifty birds sitting or flying around in this snapshot.  You can click for a bigger picture if you want to count for yourself.  They are mostly siskins.

And  I can count fifteen flying birds in the picture below.

busy feeder

I reckon that there might have been 100 small birds in the garden at one time between the birds in the walnut and plum trees and the birds on the feeder and the ground below.

We have had a very quiet winter as far as visiting birds go but it looks as though we are in the ‘hungry gap’ now with food in the countryside very scarce and the cold keeping any new supplies at bay.   I filled the feeders three times today.

There was so much action and the light was so poor that it was hard to get detailed pictures.

Goldfinches were having a hard time getting and keeping a perch among the flood of siskins…

siskin and goldfinch

…and they often took to arguing among themselves.

goldfinches

It got dark early as the snow got thicker but it was too wet for the snow to settle. The snow has stopped now and we are promised no rain or snow at all tomorrow.  This is a relief.

I occupied myself with dull but useful activity indoors for the afternoon but I did poke my nose out in the wet for a couple of minutes…

primula

…just to get a glimpse of colour on a dull day.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who is visiting her mother in the deep south, tells me that the weather is not much better down there.

Roll on spring.

The flying bird of the day is one of the siskin horde.

flying siskin

 

 

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