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Posts Tagged ‘rosemary’

Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s permitted walks.  He tells me that the bluebells were much more exciting in real life than they are in the picture, but that is always the case as any photographer will tell you.  That is why photo editing programs sell so well.  I think the bluebells look good.

Andrew's bluebells

We had a some rain overnight and although it had stopped by the time that I got out into the garden, there was still evidence of it to be seen…

drops on leaf

…and this was my favourite example.

drop on lupin leaves

The feeder was getting more attention than of late, with a siskin, a sparrow and greenfinch among the visitors.

siskin, greenfinch, chaffinch

Goldfinches appeared too, waiting their turn in Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree….

two goldfinches fake tree

…and so did this pair of chaffinches, who appeared to be a bit hard of hearing.

deaf chaffinches

During the morning I didn’t do much in the garden while Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted some alliums, though I managed some light daffodil deadheading.

I had a look in the greenhouse and marvelled at just how whiskery meconopsis plants are.

meconopsis greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are not looking quite as well as she would hope.  I have my fingers crossed for them as they are being specially grown for me to take pictures of them later in the year.

Lettuces and peas in the greenhouse are looking good.

lettuce peas greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal recently transplanted some tulips and in the course of the action, one tulip suffered fatal injuries.  The garden’s loss is the kitchen windowsill’s gain.

tulips indoors

When I came out of the greenhouse, I couldn’t resist taking another look at the rosemary plant just beside it.  It has really enjoyed the rather odd weather this year.

rosemary flowers april

After lunch, I went for my permitted walk.

My friends Nancy and Bob had told me two days ago that they had seen a few early bluebells on a recent walk so I went in the direction that they indicated to see if I could spot some for myself.  It didn’t feel like bluebell weather so i wasn’t very hopeful.

It still looked rather wintery as I got on to the Stubholm track on a chilly, grey afternoon…

stubholm track april

…but it is April and there were lots of sprouting leaves to be seen, and a bluebell.

green shoots stubholm track

Yes, a bluebell.

And not just one bluebell but several more as I went along….

early bluebells

…and a small carpet of bluebells when I got to the track up into the Kernigal wood.

bluebells kernigal

Just as my brother says, they looked better in real life than they do in the picture, but a few days growth and some sunshine should make a difference.  I will return.

While I was looking at them, I met fellow camera club member Mairi, also out for her permitted walk, and we chatted (at a distance) for a few minutes.

Like me, she is rather fed up at having to do the same walks all the time and longs for freedom but the coming of the bluebells had cheered her up a bit.

I walked up through the wood, pleased to see fresh green leaves on the young birch saplings beside the path..

young birches kernigal

…and then went onto the track that leads to the top of Warbla.

Even on a grey, chilly day it is an inviting prospect, especially when things are dry underfoot as they at present.

track to warbla

Not long afterwards, I heard a strange gasping noise behind me and I found myself being passed by a young fellow on a mountain bike.  He pedalled off up the track in front of me and must have been quite surprised when he passed me again before he got to the summit.  The track takes a wide route to the top of the hill and I had walked briskly up the more direct route across the grassy hill.

As the cyclist had parked his bike against the trig point at the top of the hill and was busy putting on a jacket for the descent, I didn’t linger.

It wasn’t a great day for views anyway…

view from warbla

…and after taking a single shot, I set off down the rough track towards Skippers Bridge….and was surprised to be passed by the cyclist again.  He soon disappeared from view though and I took my time over the tussocky terrain and didn’t see him again this time.

I had met a lady early on my walk who uttered those fateful words, “You should have been there with your camera yesterday.”   It seemed that she had been sitting under Skippers Bridge in the sunshine when she had seen an entertaining frog.

I thought that since I was there, I should see if I could see an entertaining frog today.

I couldn’t, but the view of the bridge never fails to please so I didn’t miss the frog too much.skippers bridge

The water is so low at the moment that I could get close to the bridge and look up to see how much it was widened to cope with increasing traffic.  It was built in 1690 and widened in 1807.

skippers two tone brodge

I took a puzzle picture while I was there.  The water was so calm below the bridge that is difficult to see what is above the surface and what is under it.

esk rocks at skippers

I walked back home along the right bank of the river and enjoyed this tree stump with a skirt of daisies and a lone lady’s smock flower on top, looking much like a candle on a birthday cake.

tree stump land's end

Some fresh green leaves down on the river bank caught my eye and I saw many little yellow flowers among them.  I had no idea what they are and indeed, I wasn’t even sure if the leaves and the flowers were related or just coincidental.

yellow flowers beside esk

(I have consulted Mrs Tootlepedal and she thinks that flowers are marsh marigolds and the leaves are not.)

When I got home, I once again reflected that you can get a lot of value out of a four mile walk round Langholm.

My good mood was further enhanced by an excellent meal of roast chicken, roast potatoes with stuffing and peas.  It had been prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal as an Easter treat.

Tomorrow is going to be even chillier than today, but with a bit of luck, the sun may come out in time for an afternoon bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings that zoom about above the garden.  They have very neat wings.

flying starling

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  It shows that when it comes to Scottish sparrows, a sparrow’s home is its castle.

bruce's sparrow

I am starting this post with a cheat, as it is a picture that I took a couple of day ago but forgot to include in that day’s post.   Mrs Tootlepedal saw a most unusual visitor on the plum and I got there in time  to take its picture.  It is a meadow pipit.  You would expect to see it up on the moor not on the plum tree in our garden, so I thought that it ought to appear on the blog, even if a bit belatedly.

meadow pipit on plum tree

Back to today.

It wasn’t as warm as yesterday by a long chalk and there was no sun about, but it wasn’t raining and we are still happy to count any dry day as a good day, even if it is a bit cold and grey.

Oddly enough, the light outside suited my pocket camera very well, and when I walked round the garden, it picked out some good detail, like the rosemary flower with its tongue out….

rosemary flower

…the emerging leaves on a raspberry cane…

raspberry shoot

…and the tiny fruits on the silver pear.

sliver pear nlossom

I am endlessly fascinated by the lengths that euophorbias go to make themselves interesting.

euphorbias

The recent compost bin reorganisation left Mrs Tootlepedal with some rough mulch on her hands, and she has bestowed it on one of the front hedges which is now well mulched.

mulched hedge

The continuing cool weather is making flowers hesitant to emerge but every day shows a little more progress…

four garden flowers

…and the magnolia is gradually shedding its winter fur coat.

magnolia peeping

Mrs Tootlepedal filled up the third log library shelf and then made a fourth while I sawed up some logs to help fill it up.

The result was very satisfactory and some sweeping up made sure that the flags on the floor of the log shed saw the light of day for the first time for many years.

completed log library

There is a little more sorting and tidying still to be done but it looks as though we will have plenty of time on our hands to do it.

We sat on a bench in front of the espalier apples to rest after our labours, and I was pleased to see the first shoots appearing on one of the apple trees.

firs apple shoot

Across the vegetable garden, the rose shoots on the fence were standing up very straight.

upright rose leaves

I went to the corner shop to collect a jar of honey which the shopkeeper had kindly procured for me and was a bit puzzled when I saw a line of people standing several yards apart from each other in front of the Buccleuch Centre which is currently closed.  The puzzle was resolved when I remembered that a butcher’s van visits the town and parks beside the Centre on a Friday.  I realised that the queue was would be shoppers correctly socially distancing themselves as they waited to buy their pound of mince.

People are taking these things seriously and I had to queue outside the ex-corner shop until it was safe for me to go in.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal took a well earned siesta and I went out for my permitted exercise.  After yesterday’s walk, it was time for a cycle ride today.  The cooler weather and a brisk wind made sure that I was back to being very well wrapped up.  Although the wind helped to get me across the hill and down to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass in good time, it also meant that the trip back up to Langholm on the old A7 was a bit of a battle.

Talking of battles, I noticed as I passed that Hollows Tower had lost the fight against the virus and was closed to visitors.

hollows tower shut

And as it was a grey day, I took a picture of a grey bridge.  It carries the new A7 and is much wider than the camera angle makes it seem

grey bridge auchenrivock

Whether on the cross country roads, the new A7, or the old A7, there was very little traffic about and I enjoyed a peaceful ride.

When I got home, I had another walk round the garden and found the daffodils in a mathematical mood.  They came in squares…

square of daffodils

…straight lines…

line of daffodils

..and triangles.

triangle of daffodils

As I came through to the middle lawn, I saw a jackdaw trying to creep off unobserved…

jackdaw leaving after lawn pecking

…but it was no good, I could see the evidence of savage lawn pecking which it had left behind.

lawn pecking

Checking the news on my phone when I got in, I found that in the midst of the virus mayhem, the government had released a statement saying that they are intending to reduce private motor car travel and increase cycling and the use of public transport.   This is a jaw dropping change of tack for a government and the Ministry of Transport whose only plan for many decades has been to increase roads and road congestion at any cost.  I don’t suppose that it will actually happen, but to have the government even thinking about it must be a good thing.

The non-flying bird of the day is a ‘shopping trip’ goosander having a nap beside the river this morning.

goosander

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who took refuge from some rain in a coffee shop.  I thought that his biscuit wittily showed rain coming down from a cloud but a closer look makes it clear that it is a sheep.

andrews biscuit

Storm Jorge politely delayed its arrival in Langholm until the late afternoon.  This allowed a small group of jackdaws to visit the feeder in peace.  I had put out some fat balls which the jackdaws like.

One of the jackdaws with white markings was the first to fly in…

clambering jackdaw

…and its friend with the strange white feather was not far behind.  It always looks as though the feather might fall out at any moment but it seems to be very well attached.

white feather jackdaw

Although it was dry and occasionally sunny, it was quite breezy as this ruffled jackdaw shows.

ruffled jackdaw

A rather battered looking blackbird turned up too.

curious blackbird

I was not feeling very perky today so although Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked to make better use of the extra day which the leap year had given us, I was all for lounging around at home.

We were able to get out into the garden after coffee to complete our work on a holly bush which had got a bit too tall in the back border.  A well organised photographer would have taken before and after pictures to show the progress but such a person was not available.  All the same, the holly bush looks more ordered now.

A reader was asking how the frog spawn in the pond is getting.  Recent cold mornings have taken their toll but a lot of the future tadpoles still look OK(ish), though the cold temperatures mean that not much development is to be seen. It is early for frogspawn though and we expect more to arrive later on.

frogspawn late Feb

In other areas of the garden, there is definite movement with leaves on a rose…

rose leaves shooting

…and more on a spirea…

first spirea leaves

…and signs of a peony…

peony shoot

…and actual flowers on the rosemary by the greenhouse.

rosemary flower february

The rhubarb is developing delightful complications.

growing rhubarb

When we had finished clipping and shredding and then distributing the shredded mulch back on to the garden, it was time for lunch.  Our work was speeded up by the arrival in the garden of a young lad who declared that he was bored and was looking for old people to help.  There should be more young people like this.

After lunch, I settled down to do some bird watching while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to shop for supplies.

There were plenty of birds about, stocking up before the stormy weather to come (and wasting seed again).

more siskins

As always, where there are two siskins about, there is likely to be an argument going on.

two flying siskins sparring

A hopeful female approaches a feeder full of males…

lady siskin at a loss

…and another looks heavenward as there is no room at the inn.

siskin praying

The feeder became quiet for a moment and a redpoll sneaked in.

redpoll in sun

Often I have to look hard to see a flying bird but today, I couldn’t miss them.

four flying birds

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her shopping trip and we settled down to gently snooze while watching horse racing on the telly.

Outside, the siskin horde had arrived and the walnut tree, the sky above the garden, and the feeder were all alive with busy movement.

lots of siskins

As the evening went on, the wind became stronger and the rain became heavier but if it gets no worse than this, we should bebe alright.  We are keeping our fingers crossed once again.

The flying bird of the day is one of the visiting jackdaws.

flying jackdaw

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jim and Sandra who are used to their bird feeder being visited by woodpeckers and nuthatches but got quite a surprise when this fellow turned. up.

whitaside pheasant

Owing to the impending return home of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a busy morning of tidying up, hoovering  and floor sweeping.  The weather was much better outside than it has been but the housework and my sore foot kept me firmly anchored at home.

The birds were also pretty busy and I had to fill the feeders as there was a steady stream of chaffinches…

chaffinch shouting

…followed by a flurry of siskins and goldfinches.

sisikins overwhelm a chaffinch

After a cup of coffee, I stretched my legs to the extent of walking round the garden.  The crocuses have not really enjoyed the very variable weather this spring , coming out early and then being battered by rain and wind, but here and there one can be found looking quite cheerful.

open crocus

And the rosemary is busy  flowering.  It is a tricky plant to photograph so I was pleased to find a still moment with enough (but not too much) light to take a picture of it.

rosemary flower

When I got back inside and looked out, a chaffinch and a siskin obligingly posed for me above the feeder…

chaffinch on feeder pole

…while they were waiting for a free perch…

siskin on feeder pole

…and a collared dove looked for fallen seed below.

collared dove under feeder

I made some potato soup for lunch and after getting things sorted out for the evening’s camera club meeting, I tested my foot out on a very short three bridges walk.

I was hoping for some waterside bird life and spotted two oyster catchers on the gull’s usual posts.  They were very vocal as I got near and flew off before I could get close.

two oyster catchers on posts

Just below the sawmill brig, I saw a pair of goosanders and managed to get a fuzzy shot with the zoom well extended before they too…

two goosanders

…scooted off before I could get a good shot.

gosander going off

In the absence of co-operative birds, I had to be content with more static subjects like this script lichen on a tree…

script lichen

…and these handsome bracket fungi on a fallen tree.  They have withstood frost, snow, rain and wind without looking any the worse for wear.

polypore fungus

The hazels were in full flower….

hazel flowers omn twig

…and the willows at the Jubilee Bridge  are breaking out too.

willow flowers

The wild strawberries which are growing out of a crack in the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field are doing very well.

wild strawberry

Just before I got back to our garden, I had to stop to record the flourishing flowering currant of our neighbours.

flowering currant

I had a final look round and then set off to Carlisle to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.  I was very surprised and pleased in equal measure to find that the station can now boast some very smart new seats for those waiting for trains to arrive.  They are padded and very comfortable.  I hope that they get treated with the respect that they deserve.

dav

I didn’t have long to enjoy the comfortable seating as Mrs Tootlepedal’s train arrived bang on time and we were soon heading home.

When we got back, she pointed out this new daffodil whihc has just come out.  It is called Rip van Winkle.  I hope that we can get some nicer weather for it to show off its charms more fully.

Rip van Winkle daffodil

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  There was a good attendance with the welcome addition of a new member and as usual, we got an interesting selection of images to enjoy, with nine members contributing.  One good idea which was demonstrated was the use of a mirror to enable the photographer to take pictures of snowdrop flowers without having to lie on the ground.  I shall definitely try that next year.

It was decided that we should make an effort to have a summer club outing this year and we shall have to think of where to go.  We have a promising suggestion already and I hope that it actually comes off.

A female chaffinch makes for a neat flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

I should add that all is well with the world in spite of bad news in every continent and continuing sore feet because any day is greatly improved by the addition of a Mrs Tootlepedal.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who sent me this picture of a misty Schiehallion taken during her highland break over the festive season.

schiehallion

We woke to another chilly grey day here but the weather forecast suggested that a little sunshine might be available in the afternoon.  This turned out to be one of the forecasters little jokes but it didn’t matter as we had our own little ray of sunshine today in the form of a visit from our friend Sue.

She came in time for a coffee and not only were we pleased to see her, but we were pleased to see a small flock of birds at the feeder to entertain us as we sipped and chatted.

busy feeder

There was a constant coming and going for a while…

birds coming and going

…with visits from jackdaws to the fat ball feeder as well.

jackdaws in elder

In order to work up an appetite for lunch, we went for a walk to the top of Whita Hill after coffee.  Well, in fact, we went for a drive up to the White Yett and then walked the three quarters of mile up the easy track…

sue and mrs t on whita

…to the summit.

The track has a fine collection of boulders with colourful lichens at the bottom….

lichen at mcdiarmid memorial

…and an even more colourful set of lichens on the wall at the top.

lichen at whita summit

I took a worm’s eye view of the lightning conductor that is embedded in one side of the monument…

worms eye view of monument

…looked over the wall at the mist shrouded valleys to the south….

view over tarras

…and then we walked gently back down the track and admired the MacDiarmid memorial outlined against the Ewes Valley.

mcdiarmid memorial and ewes valley

The memorial celebrates the life and work of Langholm’s most famous poetical son, Hugh MacDiarmid.

mcdiarmid memorial

The sculpture is in the form of an open book and is constructed in Corten steel and bronze. Corten is a weathering steel which oxidises on the surface; it forms a protective skin and therefore requires no maintenance and to my eye, it looks thoroughly at home among the hills which MacDiarmid loved.

When we got home, Sue tried out our new bench and declared it to be very comfortable even in January.

 

sue and mrs t at bench

We marvelled at the rosemary, which thanks to the protected spot that it lives in, is still in flower…

december rosemary

…and then we went in to a lunch of curried parsnip soup and cheese flan provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sue is one of the recorder group with whom I have played for many years and after lunch, she and I played a selection of duets while Mrs Tootlepedal got on with the crochet blanket she is making.

All too soon, it was time for Sue to head for home and while Mrs Tootlepedal continued with her crochet, I made an unavailing effort to solve the Saturday prize crossword.  Usually these crosswords yield to concentrated effort but today’s one has got me baffled.  I shall sleep on it and try again tomorrow.

All being well, we shall see Sue again tomorrow as she sings in our Carlisle choir and it meets for the first time in 2019 tomorrow afternoon.  I am looking forward to it.

There are not one but two flying birds of the day today which is cheering.

two flying goldfinches

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who found herself, with a crowd of other musicians, singing the European National Anthem very loudly outside the Houses of Parliament to indicate their support for free movement for  musicians after any Brexit.  This is niche protesting brought to a fine art.

20181210_121726_007_01

There were no protests here today and the temperature was comfortably above freezing at 4°C when I walked up to the health centre after an early breakfast to give a thimbleful of blood for testing.  This is to check my iron levels which were a bit low a few months ago.

In a way, I would be obscurely pleased if the levels were  still a bit low as it would give me a medical excuse for being frequently tired as opposed to a well founded suspicion that this might be down to a general dilapidation of mind and body on account of having had too many birthdays in the past.  Mind you, it might just be the onset of winter.

It was  grey day and when I got home the light meter on my camera told me that it wasn’t just grey, it was really grey so while Mrs Tootlepedal put in some time on her bike to nowhere, I did the crossword and occasionally looked out of the window, hoping that the temperature might rise a degree or two and that things  might brighten up.

In the gloom, I could pick out a dunnock scavenging for fallen seed..

_DSC9056

…and a party of greenfinches, peacefully munching away on the feeer.

_DSC9054

The peace didn’t last long….

_DSC9053

…as chaffinches and sparrows barged in.

_DSC9049

It is always fun to see the concentration needed for landing safely on a perch.

_DSC9050

I don’t know whether the gloomy weather makes it harder for birds to judge the landing but this chaffinch looks as though he is working hard.

_DSC9048

I was frustrated to find that although the temperature had gone up a degree or two before lunchtime, it had also started to rain in a morose but persistent way so I gave up thoughts of cycling or walking, had some soup and turned to music practice and preparation to fill my day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on some errands but when she got back, she thought the day was good enough to plant out the last of her tulips.  I went out to offer her some light supervision and was delighted to find that one of the perennial wallflowers still had a flower or two on show…

P1150928

…though it was so dark that I had to use my flash to capture it.

Our ever patient heron was on guard at the pond and I liked the pattern that the perennial nasturtium’s leaves made on the yew behind it.

P1150929

(I had an appalling panto thought: It’s a behind yew.)

Next to the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is in very perky form…

P1150933

…and one or two enterprising shoots have pushed through the ventilator into the greenhouse itself where they are putting out a few flowers.

P1150930

In the early evening, seven members of the Archive Group assembled in our front room for our AGM.  You may think that AGM stands for Annual General Meeting but I have been taking lesson from you know who and can tell you that AGM stands for A Great Meeting …and not just a great meeting but a really great meeting, a really, really great meeting….probably the best meeting in the world.

At any rate, we were happy with it as we have once again done a lot of work and met with appreciation for our efforts.

After our evening meal, I pulled myself together and spent a gentle half hour on my bike to nowhere in the garage and that rounded off a quiet but useful day.

The flying bird of the day can be seen pushing through the miserable drizzle.

_DSC9057

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew and shows Great Malvern Priory.  He tells me that when Henry VIII’s men came to sell off Great Malvern Priory, they accepted £20 from the parish for the Priory church (after removing the lead from the roof!)

Great Malvern Priory

We had one of those days which the weather gods must have found very amusing.

In the morning, when I was free to go for a walk and see nuthatches and wonderful wild flowers, it rained persistently.  The rain stopped as we were having lunch and then the day cleared up very nicely just as we had to head off for Carlisle for our weekly choir practice.

It was still very nice when we got back but by that time the light had faded and I was too tired to make any good use of a lovely evening.

The reason that we were both tired was that after whizzing up to Glasgow on the main line (in 90 minutes) late yesterday afternoon and enjoying a wonderful performance of Verdi’s requiem by the Bearsden choir (of well over a hundred singers) and the Orchestra of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with top quality soloists under the direction of our choir conductor Andrew Nunn, we then had to catch a very slow train back to Carlisle.

Nothing condescends to go down the main line on a Saturday night so we found ourselves on a two coach local train which trundled through the wilds of Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire at a very sedate pace (150 minutes) and in the end, we got back home at half past one in the morning.

The train was packed with young and youngish people returning home after a good night out in the city and a flavour of the journey can be gathered by the fact at one time, in the midst of some serious unrest, the nice lady sitting next to me leant over and said, “You’ll be all right dear, I’m a trained martial arts instructor.”

This was in fact, very reassuring.

Still it all passed the time well and we got home safely.

So as far as today went, I never got further than the far end of the garden with my camera.

The Japanese azalea is coming out.  It is a wonderful colour.

Japanese azalea

The last of the other azaleas is about to join the party too.

azalea

Geraniums are popping up all over the place but my current two favourites are these ones.

geraniums

I like the detailed work that the designer has put into these flowers.

What is better that one Camassia?  Three Camassias of course…..

camassias

…though I see that from a photographer’s point of view, these are one of those annoying plants that start dying at the bottom before they are finished at the top.  This is definitely one of those cases when you can’t have everything.

It fell to us to pick up Andrew, our conductor and Gillian, our accompanist  from the station in Carlisle today.  They come down from  Glasgow every week for our practice and I must say, Andrew’s energy seems inexhaustible and far from being a mere shadow of himself after last night’s concert, he was in excellent form and put our choir through our paces without flagging.

We are very fortunate to have the services of such an accomplished musician (even if he does give the tenors a hard time).

After the practice, we dropped Andrew and Gillian off at the station and then made our way home.

I had prepared a lamb stew in the morning while Mrs Tootlepedal sang with the church choir and in a moment of supreme efficiency, I had not only put the stew into the slow cooker but I had also turned the slow cooker on  so this week we were able to enjoy a hot meal when we got in.

I had time for a last walk round the garden before we ate.

An aquilegia turned its head and winked at me as I went past.

aquilegia

Our tree peony is thriving but its flowers are deeply and darkly buried among the leaves….

tree peony

…and need a helping hand if they are to be seen.

tree peony

In the vegetable garden the chives are flowering….

chives

…and the rosemary continues to do very well.

rosemary

With a busy day ahead tomorrow, it seems like a good night for an early bed.

No flying bird of the day today but a young sparrow stands in as ‘bathing bird’ of the day.

sparrow in puddle

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