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Posts Tagged ‘rhododendron’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba who is not in Manitoba at all at the moment.  She is in London and visited Kew Gardens where she took this picture.  You might think that as it was taken in a famous garden it shows a wonderful plant but in fact it is an even more wonderful glass sculpture by glass blower Dale Chihuly.

glass blower Dale Chihuly’s career KEW

We had another very fine day here today and with the wind coming up from the south, it was warm as well as sunny.

I pottered around the garden in the morning when I wasn’t drinking coffee or doing the crossword.

There was colour galore…

red flowers

…with old and new plants enjoying the weather.

purple flowers

There were more bees and other insects about today and I found two of them visiting a Welsh poppy…

welsh poppy with flies

…but they hadn’t discovered the first of the Icelandic poppies yet.

icelnadic poppy

When I walked over the pond bridge, there was a lot of tension on every side…

surface tension with frog

…but viewed from another angle, the frog seemed quite relaxed.

frog may

Nearby I saw this puzzle picture.  Was it a version of Jonah and the Whale?….

tadpole om lily leaf

….or was it just a water lily leaf half out of the water with a tadpole resting at its heart?

I walked along the dam at the back of the house to see if birds were bathing in the water there.

A sparrow had obviously just taken a dip when I arrived.

wet saprrow on barbed wire

When I came through the back gate, I passed one of the less cultivated areas of the garden.  Against all her ingrained gardening instincts, Mrs Tootlepedal is going a little wilder each year.

dandelions in garden

Blackbirds are nesting in the climbing hydrangea on the front wall of the house and this one took a moment to rest on the feeder pole before going off to collect more worms from the lawn.

blackbird

It had a wisp of nest stuck on its head which made me think how lucky we are to have hands and arms.  It twisted its head this way and that, so I imagined that it knew something was stuck up there, but it had no way of getting it off.

Although the crossword was quite tricky and took some time, I managed to have several wanders among the flowers.

This is Mrs Tootlepedal’s current favourite….

rhododendron in bloom

…and this is mine.

late tulip

I had a close look at the cow parsley and found, as so often is the case, that there is more to some flowers than you think.

cow parsley blossom

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and when she came back she sat on a garden bench and had a snack while I scarified the front lawn and collected the moss with the mower.

It has been very dry over the past weeks and as there is no rain in the immediate forecast, Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing a lot of watering in the vegetable garden before breakfast.  I thought that I ought to do my bit, so I watered the azaleas round the front lawn and one of the hedges which we have been cutting back.  Most of the azaleas have been refusing to progress from buds to flowers and I wondered if the dry spell was the cause.

The next task was putting the netting onto the metal frames for the two small fruit cages in the vegetable garden.  This involved measuring and cutting, and a good deal of bending and stretching.  By this time, the afternoon had got decidedly hot and we had to stop before we had quite finished the job.  Although a trick of the light makes it look as though we have only done the sides, we have done the front and back of the two cages as well.  Just the front section of the top of the left hand cage remains to be done.

fruit cages netting

After a short collapse and a cup of tea to recover from the heat, Mrs Tootlepedal made a fish pie for our tea.  When we had eaten our meal, she went back to the Buccleuch Centre where she was acting as a front of house volunteer, and stayed on to watch a screening of All My Sons by Arthur Miller.

I got my natty cycling shorts on and went out for a suitably short evening ride.  I am still trying to take care of my feet by mixing rest and gentle exercise (with frozen peas applied from time to time) but at least I can cycle without pain so I enjoyed my ten mile outing.

I looked up to see a tree at one point and was surprised to see the moon high in the sky behind it.

tree and moon

It was a grand evening to be out on very quiet roads and it was good to be able to cycle far enough to get a view.

wauchope road evening

I was keeping an eye out for hawthorn blossom but I only saw two bushes in flower and they were in a sheltered but sunny spot near the town.

first hawthorn

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the Buccleuch Centre with her withers thoroughly wring by the Miller drama and this made me quite glad that I hadn’t gone too.  I generally need cheering up not wringing out just now.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrow which appeared earlier in the post.  It came back down off the fence and took a bath.  The water was certainly flying even if the bird was not.

sparrow splashing

 

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Today’s guest picture shows we are not the only people in town to have siskins in the garden.  Our friend and near neighbour Bruce took this picture of one of his visitors.

bruce's siskin

It was another grey and chilly morning here and apart from going out to mow the lawn again to clear up more jackdaw depredations, I had a quiet time of it in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal.

She was up visiting Matilda as she had stayed the night in Edinburgh after going to our young church organist’s degree recital in St Giles.  She had been very impressed by the 32 foot organ stop which had caused the whole building to tremble.

She has been busy recently making a little stump work embroidery of Matilda sitting on our back stairs the last time she visited us.  It is not framed yet but I think it is very charming.

matilda embroidery

The usual birds turned up at the feeder and had the usual conversations.

sikin chaffinch cinverstaion

The greenfinch was back again.  They never look very grateful for the seeds.

greenfinch with seed

A siskin took a rather patrician view of what was going on below.

siskin on pole

The garden is still very much on hold in the cool weather but individual flowers are appearing on the rhododendrons…

three rhododendrons

…and two of the azaleas are trying their best.

two aazaleas

I took a picture of two Welsh poppies and although it didn’t come out at all well, I have put it in anyway just to show you how annoying my pocket camera can be when it wants.

out of ficus poppies

How can it possibly have thought that I didn’t want the two very noticeable poppies to be in focus and what I really wanted to look at was some dull leaves and stones?  I will visit the poppies again tomorrow and try to get it right.

A blackbird appeared on the chimney pot at the feeders.  As it is carrying worms, I hope that this means that we will see little blackbirds soon.

blackbird on chimney

My neighbour Liz tells me that she has blackbirds with young already in her garden.

I set off after lunch to drive to Lockerbie to catch a train to join Mrs Tootlepedal in Edinburgh.  The little electric car behaved very well but when I got to the station, things went downhill.

I had pondered so much on the car before setting off that I had completely forgotten to take my card wallet with me so I had left my railcard and my bus pass behind, not to mention my debit card as well.  I had no money in my pocket as I was expecting to pay for my (cheap) ticket with my car.  Disaster!  Luckily I remembered that I had a secret twenty pound note stashed in a secret pocket in my phone case for just such an emergency so I was able to buy my (expensive) ticket for exactly £20 and catch the train.  It was late again but it was actually running  this week so I was grateful for that.

When I got to Edinburgh, because I didn’t have my bus pass and had spent all my  money, I decided to walk down to Matilda’s house.  Things were going well until just outside the Scottish parliament building, my Achilles tendon gave up almost entirely and I had to limp painfully the rest of the way.

The pain was made worse by the subsequent discovery that I did have enough money in a ‘wrong’ pocket to have bought a bus ticket and saved my ankle.  I shouldn’t really be allowed out by myself.

The visit to Matilda and her parents went well.  We introduced Matilda to the delights of Beggar My Neighbour, a card game, and as she won handsomely, she thought that it was a very good game indeed.

She has birds in her garden too.

sdr

She and Mrs Tootlepedal had spent some of the morning making sticky toffee pudding so together with a delicious pasta dish knocked up by Clare and Al, we had a good evening meal.  As Al then kindly drove us back to the station, our journey home was uneventful.  Of course I had a minder on the way back or who knows what else might have gone wrong.

I was interested to see whether driving home in the dusk with the headlights on would make a big difference to the power drain on the car’s battery but it seemed to take it in its stride.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, not the greatest shot I know, but I put it in to show that it is another ringed bird.  Someone is keeping a good eye on our visitors.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another from the East Wemyss riviera where the sun always shines it seems.  Our son Tony sent us this shadowy portrait of one of his dogs.

shadowy wemyss dog

The run of cool, dry weather continued today and we needed a coat to keep us warm as we cycled to church after breakfast to sing in the choir.  There was a very good attendance as it was a baptism service, the second in a row.  To my surprise, our ex-minister Scott came down from Glasgow to conduct the service.  It was a great pleasure to meet him again and I was very envious when he told me that he had taken part in an 85 mile cycle sportive yesterday.  He was feeling rather stiff as he has not had the opportunity to a lot of training but he managed very well when he was left holding the baby during the baptism.

After we got home, I had a cup of coffee and a walk round the garden.  My feet had been very sore yesterday so I put Sunday to good use by making it a day of rest today and the walk round the garden was as far as I went.

The cool weather has put growth on hold but there are occasional signs of what is to come and the apple blossom is doing well regardless.

four red-pink flowers

I always like nature’s attention to geometry and my eye was caught by the diagonals on the Solomon’s seal…

solomons seal diagonals

…and the design of the cow parsley.

cow parsley geometry

One rhododendron bud remained tightly furled..

rhododendron bus

…while another had opened up to interested visitors.

inside a white rhododendron

A Welsh poppy didn’t look as though it had attracted any pollinators yet…

welsh poppy may

…and the garden did not have many bees about at all.

One plant that is enjoying the weather is the Lithodora which has never looked so good.

lithodora May

It did attract a bee but it flew off before I could catch it on camera.

Pulsatillas are rewarding little flowers because not only are they pretty when in bloom, but they also look rather dashing when their seed heads appear.

pulsatilla seed head

I didn’t stay out long as it was rather chilly.

The feeder was busy again and goldfinches and siskins were playing copycat.  First it was ‘who could give the best sideways look’…

sideways glances

…and then it was ‘who could stand up straightest’.

standing up straight contest

Some birds were bad losers and resorted to violence.

goldfinch arrowing in on siskin

A sparrow made an attempt to get some seed and got the usual cheery welcome from a siskin.

flying sparrow unwelcome

After lunch we went off to Carlisle in the zingy little white thingy.   As it is an electric car and we are new to driving it, we spend a lot of time watching the meter which tells you how many theoretical miles you have left in the battery and comparing it to how many miles we have actually done..

This encourages very smooth driving with a light touch on the accelerator.  It is early days yet but if the battery continues to behave, it looks as though we will have  a range of comfortably over 100 miles as long as we are not in a hurry.  This is all we need for our normal use.

When we got home after another excellent afternoon’s singing with our Carlisle choir, we plugged the car into the wall socket and it was feeding time at the Zoe.

feeding time at the zoe

As the plug goes right into the nose of the car, it feels a lot like putting a nosebag on a horse after a hard day pulling a carriage.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrow, still trying to find a way to get some seed.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is a second from Bruce’s recent visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.  I make no apologies, I love steam engines.  This one was built in 1896 and is a lot older than me.

Bruce's train

We had yet another lovely day here with more wall to wall sunshine and no call for a jumper or jersey at all.  It is going to be a shock when we get back to normal spring temperatures in a few days time.

Meantime we are enjoying the weather without complaint.

The tulips are enjoying the weather too…

two glorious poppies

..with new ones coming out each day.

red and white poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal has a lot of dicentras spread about the garden and that makes me happy as both the bees and I like them a lot.  I got a rare shot of one without a bee nearby today.

dicentra trio

In general, the garden is looking very cheerful with plenty of colour on all sides.

garden flower panel

I spent a happy morning pottering about, chatting to neighbours over the fence and dead heading daffodils as well as doing a little mowing while Mrs Tootlepedal  planted some onions.

The plum blossoms are pretty well over and the birds are now posing among the leaves.

goldfinch and plum tree leaves

After lunch, I went for a short walk, crossing the Wauchope Water which has been reduced to a trickle by the lack of rain…

wauchope in a trickle

…and enjoying a rhododendron in the park as I climbed the steps…

park rhododendron

…up to the Stubholm track, which was looking leafy.

stucholm track

While this adds to the pleasure of going along the track, it detracts from the views along the way.

leave sblocking view

The purpose of my walk was to take a second look at the bluebells to see if two sunny days had brought them on.

They had.

bluebells glade

There were bluebells on all sides.

bluebell panel

The individual plants are looking very healthy this year…

bluebells 1

…and the combined effect is well worth a walk to see.

bluebells 2

At the bottom of the hill, I saw the first wild garlic of the year…

wild garlic april

…and looking along the Murtholm, I could see that the trees are going green in earnest.

murtholm in April

My feet are still a bit troublesome so I turned and walked back to the park along the Beechy Plains.

beechy plains

Keeping an eye on the river as I went along.

corner of Esk

Two gulls were in position on handy rocks.  They were just too far apart to get them both into one shot

gull on rock in river

When I got home, I had a moment to look at the birds…

redpoll

…but there were not a lot about, possibly because the sparrowhawk paid several unsuccessful visits to the garden during the day.

After a short rest, I got my bike out and stretched my tender tendon by cycling fourteen warm and sunny miles at a gentle pace, stopping only once to record a good show of blackthorn along the Cleuchfoot road.

Cleuchfoot blackthorn

The bicycle is a fine mode of transport because not only does it get you from A to B reasonably quickly and very economically, but it also has magical properties.  You may be a fairly elderly person, with unreliable joints and poor eyesight but when the road is flat and the wind is helpful, even you can whizz along at such a speed and with such freedom and ease that you can easily imagine yourself as Young Lochinvar or one of the three men who brought the good news to Aix from Ghent and feel quite young again.

Of course any little hill or change in the wind direction can knock that fantasy on its head in a moment but there is nothing like it while it lasts.

And Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea to round off a good day.

While we were taking a late turn round the garden, we were visited by an old friend who has returned from America after many years away.  He is a good flute player and I hope that when he has time, he will give me some tips to pass on to Luke.  (We didn’t have a lesson today as it was both a holiday and too good a day to waste time indoors.)

The flying bird of the day is a siskin getting ready for a landing on the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is from my sister Mary’s recent visit to the Lake District where she stopped at a cafe in Grange and enjoyed this lovely view.

cafe garden at Grange.

We stopped at a cafe today.  This one was at a garden centre near North Berwick where we had an excellent breakfast this morning as we left for home after a very enjoyable week at the sea side.  It seemed easier to eat out than have to do a lot of washing up just before we left our holiday cottage.

Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to acquire a few plants while we were there.

We then took a road that we haven’t travelled along before to get home and drove over the Lammermuir hills to Duns and Kelso, adding about 15 miles to our trip but getting some wonderful views in exchange.  Unfortunately, it was rather hazy and there weren’t a lot of handy parking spots so you will have to take the views on trust but they were good enough to make us think of going that way again.

We did stop at the Whiteadder reservoir in the heart of the hills.

P1100510

There was enough sun to give the water some sparkle.

Whiteadder Reservoir

The Lammermuir hills are treeless and heather covered as they are extensively used for grouse shooting and their spare beauty is entirely man made.  It is sad that this also means that birds of prey have a hard time here and often suffer mysterious accidental deaths.

We passed a great number of cyclists who were testing their legs against some impressive climbs on the good surfaces of the East Lothian roads.

Soon after leaving the reservoir, we crossed the River Whiteadder on this fine bridge.

Lammermuir bridge

After we had passed through Kelso, we stopped again at another garden centre (can you detect a pattern here?) for a cup of tea and a tea cake .  This one has a water garden and caters for lovers of pet fish…

Teviot fish

…and it also has a very charming garden that tumbles down the bank…

Teviot water garden

…from the centre to the river Teviot running past below.

River Teviot

It had a most spectacular aquilegia in its plants for sale section.

aquilegia

We didn’t buy one but I did get some good cheese from their smokery department.

Were were nearly home when we got caught up in a rush of traffic heading for Mosspaul to meet the rideout from Hawick, part of the Hawick Common Riding proceedings.  Luckily, we were early enough to avoid the horses and riders so we didn’t suffer too much of a delay.

After all this excitement, we got home in the early afternoon and had a look round to see how the garden had got on without us.

Very well.

blue flowersred/purple flowersyellow flowerswhite flowersazaleas and rhododendrons

I will go round again soon taking a more detailed look at what is new as I have not got all the new flowers in by a long chalk.

Things needed watering though so I got the sprinkler out and gave the vegetable garden a good soaking while I cut the grass on the middle lawn.

Then I cut the front lawn while the sprinkler sprinkled water on the middle lawn.

The sprinkler was adjusted so delicately, that Mrs Tootlepedal and our neighbour Liz were able to sit on the new bench and catch up with the news as the water drops stopped a few inches away from their feet.

Mrs Tootlepedal is pleased with the way that her new bed at the end of the middle lawn is shaping up.

new bed

In the background to the picture above, the tree peony is in flower and this year, unlike last year, the flowers are not (entirely) hidden behind the leaves.

tree peony

Mrs Tootlepedal filled the pond, which had gone down a lot during a dry week, and we were relieved to see plenty of tadpoles swimming around once the water level had gone up.

tadpoles

The path along the back of the garden, familiarly known as “Ally’s allium alley” is looking good…

P1100546

…from either direction.

Ally's alley

There wasn’t a lot of time to look at birds today but I did catch a couple of siskins and a goldfinch on the feeder.

siskins

…and while I was hoping for a flying bird, my attention was diverted by this colourful corner.

colourful corner

We enjoyed our holiday a lot but we are nevertheless very pleased to be back on home territory again.  The forecast is good for the next few days so we should be able to catch up on garden tasks that need doing and perhaps get some cycling in too.

There was no flying bird of the day available so a creeping thrush is here instead.

thrush

I hope to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who enjoyed the view at Buttermere on her recent flying visit to the Lake District.

buttermere

Our fine weather continued unabated today and there were gardening and cycling opportunities as a result.  Mrs Tootlepedal seized the gardening opportunities with both hands (and a trowel)  while I rather let the cycling chances slip through my fingers.

I still had a mysteriously croaky throat when I woke up so I was happy to try to soothe it with coffee and treacle scones.  The scones were accompanied by Dropscone and came with additional agreeable conversation.

I went up to the town before coffee to replenish my stock of coffee beans and was pleased to find that a local shop had been able to source a good quantity of organic beans from Sumatra and Ethiopia.  We tried the Sumatran beans today and they were very good…though we failed to detect the overtones of apricot promised by the blurb on the packet..

When Dropscone departed, I wandered round the garden, an easy thing to do on a sunny spring morning.

The blackbird, who has been very busy feeding demanding young, was looking a bit tired, I thought….

blackbird

…and had paused for a moment before diving into the compost heap looking for worms.

The alliums are finally coming out and one or two are getting near having the perfect globe…

allium

….with all that goes with it.

allium closer

The brilliant azaleas, both red….

azalea red

…and yellow….

azalea yellow

…caught the eyes of our neighbours Liz and Ken, the pig transporters, when they stopped to exchange a few words over the garden hedge.

Liz and ken

The delights of the geums….

 

geum

…bergenia…

bergenia

…and astrantia were harder to see from the road.

astrantia

I did a little work and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting out needs.

Mostly though, I took things easy and only got my new bike out well after lunch.  The new bike is a delight to ride and I had an enjoyable hour and a half pottering round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Yesterday, I took pictures of both cows and trees and to save time today, I took a picture featuring both subjects in the same shot.

cows and tree

Nearer home, I stopped to look at some ‘Jack in the Hedge’…

Jack in the hedge

…although it was actually alongside a wall and not in a hedge at all.

I had a cup of tea sitting on the new bench with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back but it was hard not to jump up and take more pictures.

Tulips get some added colour as the flowers mature.

tulip

The rhododendrons just get brighter.

rhododendrons

The first pink tinged flowers have appeared on the white potentilla in the garden.

potentilla

The clematis at the back door is heavy with buds and a few flowers are giving a hint of what is to come.

clematis

And the bees were busy visiting the dicentra again.

bee on dicentra

After an early burst of visits from honey bees when it was still pretty cold, there have been hardly any in the garden during the good weather.  We must have had some blossom available when there was not much elsewhere but presumably, the bees are spoiled for choice now.   As you can see from the bumble bee in the picture above, there is plenty of pollen available here.

We are going on holiday for a week beside the sea with Matilda from tomorrow so patient readers will get a break from incessant garden flowers for a while.  There may be sand castles and sea birds instead.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good time renewing our acquaintance with some pieces which we haven’t played for some years.  It was hard work but worthwhile as the pieces were good.

Mike and Alison are kindly going to look after the greenhouse and keep an eye on the vegetable garden while we are away and Liz is going to fill the bird feeder so all should be well at Wauchope Cottage.  Whether there are any blog posts will depend on the wi-fi in our holiday cottage.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch with a background of the very last of the daffodils..

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture  comes from my brother Andrew who is working his way back south after his visit to Langholm.  He took this picture of Morecambe Bay in the distance from the wonderfully named Hutton Roof.  By the time he got down to the seaside, the tide was out.

hutton roof

Our spell of excellent weather continued and it now feels as though we have had more good days this year already than we had in the whole of last year. Long may it go on.

My throat was still strangely creaky (but with no other ill effects) so I pottered about in the morning, looking at young birds….

blackbird and baby

Dad looks a little fed up with the incessant demands of the big baby.

baby dunnock

A fluffy dunnock looked a bit unhappy….

BABY DUNNOCK

…until it found a more secure place to rest.

…as well as supervising the hard working Mrs Tootlepedal, sieving a little compost and mowing the middle lawn.

And looking at some small flowers.

Mrs Tootlepedal gave the lithodora a severe haircut the other day but it seems to be thriving on this rough treatment…

lithodora

…and along with the more showy flowers on the back path, there are some nice clumps of sweet woodruff.

sweet woodruff

There were some grown up birds in the garden too.

rook

rook

Rooks are handsome birds.

Mrs Tootlepedal edged the lawn after I had mowed it and I took a picture in the late afternoon to show the effect that all this care had.

lawn with edges

I made some carrot and lentil soup for lunch and then, after a restful moment or two, I got the new bike out and went round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I did stop for photos today and after taking a picture of the road that climbs out of the Wauchope valley…

bloch road

…a pattern developed:

tree at Bloch

A tree

cows

Some cows posing

trees at grainstonehead

Some trees

highland cow

A cow posing

trees on esk at Hollows

Lots of trees.  The Esk is fully clothed at the Hollows now.

The pattern was interrupted when I stopped off at Irvine House in an effort to capture some orange tip butterfly pictures.  I succeeded after a fashion…

orange tip butterfly

Female on left, male on right

…but I would have needed to spend a lot more time to get good shots as the butterflies were in a flighty mood.

There was time for another walk round the garden when I got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse is full of plants waiting to go out….

greenhouse

…but there are quite a lot already in place in the vegetable garden with individual greenhouses.

bottle greenhouses

You may have heard of bottle green.  These are green bottles.

The drumstick primula in front of the pond was looking lovely.

candlestick primula

…and it is hard to pass the rhododendrons without the shutter finger twitching.

rhododendron

In the evening, Susan arrived and gave me a lift to Carlisle where we enjoyed a very entertaining evening of recorder playing with our group.  As an added bonus, we were treated to a very elegant new moon in the sky as we drove back.  Sadly, it was behind the hill by the time that we got home.

Although not a flying bird, the most interesting animal we saw all day was this amazing pig  in our neighbour Liz’s garden.

pig

It was having a rest on a journey from Corby to Aberdeen.

The actual flying bird of the day is a greenfinch leaving the feeder in a hurry when Mrs Tootlepedal went out to shut up the greenhouse for the night.

flying greenfinch

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