Posts Tagged ‘rudbeckia’

There are two guest pictures from Clare today which show why Matilda was so cheerful yesterday.  She went on a boat trip round the Bass Rock with her aunt and cousin……

Bass Rock Matilda

…and saw lots of gannets. (This one was taken by Clare with her phone while holding Matilda in a rocking boat.  That takes great skill.) …..


…which is quite enough to make anyone feel cheerful.  I am very envious.

We had one of those days today.  If it was raining, the sun was about to come out and if it was sunny, it was about to rain.

I should have got up earlier because the best sunny spell was before and during breakfast.  The lawn was busy with thrushes and blackbirds.

thrush and blackbird

There were  two thrushes and lots of blackbirds.


I don’t think that we have ever had so many blackbirds in the garden in summer.  I wouldn’t mind but they are eating all my raspberries.

I got up into my cycling gear but wasted a lot of time in sitting and thinking before I finally got going.  There had been a lot of overnight rain and the river was quite full as I cycled over the Hollows Bridge…

River Esk

…but it had obviously been quite local as I passed from dry roads to roads awash with enormous puddles several times.

I was taking things easy again as my back is not quite at 100% yet but managed a few more gentle hills than on my last excursion.  I didn’t take many pictures as it kept on raining and I spent a lot of time putting my rain jacket on and taking it off again.

I did take a picture of the old church at Half Morton, now a family home…

Half Morton church

…and although it was in the sun, you can see the next shower looming up behind it.

On one of the occasions that I stopped for my rain jacket, I saw a fungus by the roadside. ..


…and I am surprised that I haven’t seen more considering the wet weather.

The rain showers didn’t last long and it was reasonably warm so I enjoyed my ride well enough.  I was rather clammy when I got home though.

I had a late lunch and a shower and then I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden.  She was planting out her three new purchases and I hope that they will flower soon so that I can take a picture or two of them.

In the meantime, I sieved a couple of barrows of compost and mowed first the middle lawn and then the front lawn.  Although they were both very soggy at one stage of the day, a brisk wind and a warm sun dried them out just enough to be worth cutting.

I also looked at a flower or two.


We may get more sunshine in the garden soon

battered poppy

The weather was too much for the poppies today


I had to stand on tiptoe to take this shot of a Rudbeckia. Mrs Tootlepedal has just bought a shorter one.


The clematis on the fence is battered but (mainly) unbowed. It has its back to the prevailing wind.

With the poppies keeping their heads well down today, dahlias and nasturtiums were the most colourful things on display…


…with the exception of the phlox which has been brightening up our dull weather a great deal.


I even saw a red admiral butterfly on the phlox today but it fluttered off before I could fetch a camera.

More rain showers drove us indoors and we rounded off the day with a meal of lamb garnished with courgettes, spring onions and potatoes from the garden.

It is very difficult to make a good plan when the weather is so changeable but sadly, the forecast for the next few days shows that the cool showery spell is going to continue.

The flying bird of the day is a rather grey cow from my bike ride, not a colour that you often see.

grey cow



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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who met this nose diving elephant at a Regent’s Park art fair.

An elephant balancing on its trunk - Frieze scupture Fair - Regent's Park

Unfortunately, it was another fine day today.  I say unfortunately because my back was still giving me trouble and I had to waste it by doing nothing more energetic than wandering about the garden and groaning theatrically from time to time.

The sunshine brought out the best in the poppies.





And once again the bees were very busy.

From the shade of the walnut tree, a blackbird stared at me.


The most striking flower was a pot marigold pretending to be a dahlia.

pot marigold

Though I did like  a modest dahlia against a background of phlox.


My back kindly lets me lean forward without trouble so I got the hedge clipper out and trimmed two of the box balls on the front lawn and I was just about to put the clipper away when I was visited by my South African correspondent Tom, who was returning from a cycle ride.  He is staying with family in Langholm for a few weeks and called in to see how I was going on.

He asked me what pictures I would like him to send and I have requested some South African wild flowers so I will wait with interest for what he sends me. Listening to his tales of a months long drought, thorny bushes and venomous snakes made me grateful for for the gentler surroundings of Langholm even if does rain quite a lot here.

We saw a coloured butterfly, probably a red admiral,  whizz past us as we talked but even though I had several searches later on in  the day, I couldn’t see it in the garden and had to settle for one of the frequent white visitors.

white butterfly

There are a lot of these about

A recent picture of an American spirea in a blog that I was reading made me take a look at one of the bushes in our garden.


It has very tiny flowers

One of the astilbes is in top form.


Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  Sitting in  a train didn’t seem like a good idea to me so I stayed at home.  This turned out to be a very good decision as her train was held up by a broken down train in front and the journey took an hour and a half longer than it should have.

This left me still wandering about the garden as sitting down for long is not an option at the moment.

The first rudbeckia is out…

rudbeckia and clematis

…and the Cherokee or Ooh La La clematis is lasting very well.

The day clouded over in the afternoon and I spent most of it inside relearning and instantly forgetting songs for the Carlisle choir concert in a month or so.

I did go out and look at blackbirds.


Then I set the camera up on a tripod upstairs and looked out of the window to see what the blackbirds were doing.  It mostly seemed to involve sitting on hedges…


…sometimes with friends.

blackbird and sparrows

I feel that there are more blackbirds about in the garden this year than ever before.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s return train journey was more successful than the outward trip and she got back safely.

I did go out on my slow bike to deliver a letter during the afternoon and I passed Mike and Alison hard at work in their garden on my way.  They gave me some sound back treatment advice and although I rather dismissed it at the time, I followed it when I got home and it turned out to be be very good.  It is possibly a sensible idea to take advice when offered from a retired doctor and nurse.

I nearly got a genuine flying bird of the day today.



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Today’s dramatic guest picture comes from my friend Sue who is on holiday in Greece.  She visited the island of Hydra, just off the coast of the Peloponnese.


We had a not dissimilar day here today, the difference being about 10°C as it was decidedly autumnal in temperature in Langholm.  I heard on the radio that this September has been one of the warmest on record which I can well believe but it is making our present more normal temperatures seem quite chilly.

On the plus side, the sun was out more or less all the time and there was only the smallest rain shower to upset the equilibrium later in the day.

I went out into the garden in  the morning to enjoy the sunshine.

Lillian Austin

Lillian Austin was enjoying it too


The Fuschia is still in full swing

I watched the sparrows having fun at the feeder…


..and noticed one or two more chaffinches around.  Perhaps they will start to come back now that I am filling the feeder again.  Watch this space.

I had seen quite a lot of flying things on my first walk round the garden….


…so I when I had come back from getting my flu jab at the health centre, I put on the macro lens and went out again.

bee on dahlia

hoverfly on cornflower

sunflower with hoverfly

The world’s smallest sunflower with friend

I took a look at the very last of the rowan berries.  They should be gone by tomorrow.


I also enjoyed some moss and lichen on the elder tree by the feeder.

lichen and moss on elder

For some reason, Mrs Tootlepedal prefers trees with leaves on rather than moss and lichen so this may be the last year that I can enjoy this sight.

Mrs Tootlepedal borrowed my track pump and blew up the tyres on her town bike and went off shopping.  She was rather a long time in coming back and it turned out that one of her tyres had actually blown up with a loud explosion on her way and she had had to walk a lot of the way home.  On inspection, the tyre was rather worn out and had split.

After having lunch and checking that my arm was showing no reaction to the flu jab, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to go up to the town and buy a new tyre and tube and I went off for a pedal on the fairly speedy bike.  I pumped my tyres up carefully before I left.

It was a good day for a pedal, even though there was quite a breeze blowing.


The hills are turning brown and the bracken is dying or dead.

My legs were in a more co-operative mood than on my last outing so I went for a 27 mile circular ride, though still at a pretty leisurely pace.

I stopped for a look down the Esk when I got near Langholm on my way back.


Not much sign of autumn here yet.

When I got home, I put Mrs Tootlepedal’s new tyre and tube on her bike.  The front tyre looks about as worn as her back tyre was so it may not be long before another replacement is due.

Before I had my shower, I had a look out of the kitchen window….

coal tit and blue tit

A coal tit and blue tit share the pink pellet feeder.

…and then I took another walk round the garden.

A sunny evening is perhaps my favourite time in the garden.


The rudbeckias are nearly over


But the poppies keep on coming


And there are still quite a few cornflowers

Mrs Tootlepedal is hard at it in the garden, taking out flowers that are over and preparing the ground for next year’s display.  It makes me quite tired just watching her work.

In the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for the second time this week for another concert.  This time we were privileged to enjoy listening to Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain, regular visitors to Langholm and in many people’s eyes, the two best musicians in Scotland.

They might  be classed as ‘folk’ musicians but their work together  on fiddle and accordion transcends such limiting boundaries and they provided us with a feast of good music by any standards.  They were amplified but gently, they interspersed the music with a stream of hilarious reminiscences and observations and they provided a golden couple of hours of sheer pleasure to the capacity audience.  No recording or video can properly capture the warmth of their live performances.

The flower of the day is a late blooming of an astrantia…


…and the flying bird of the day is the headmaster on an upward trajectory.

flying jackdaw





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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who, while on a motorised meander round the borders, came upon an unusual road sign near Hobkirk.

hobkirk road sign

The day started off rather gloomily as far as the weather went but improved hour by hour as it went on. I should have made better use of it than I did but yesterday’s cycling efforts had taken their toll and I couldn’t get myself enthused enough to get up and go.

Luckily there were several diversions to help me pass the time.  The garden was full of butterflies, bees and insects of all shapes and sizes and I spent quite a lot of time chasing round after them.


Dahlias were popular spots

Sandy came round for coffee and then, just as he was leaving, a couple of visitors called in…..

dogs in garden

…bringing with them a group of cheerful walkers to have a look round the garden.

Ada and friends

They thoroughly enjoyed looking at Mrs Tootlepedal’s work and were struck by how much colour there still is in the garden.

The butterflies agreed with them that the garden was worth a visit.


 After they had gone, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round for a bit and then Mrs Tootlepedal, in her role as Attila the gardener uprooted several of the white cosmos in the front beds that had gone past their sell-by date and I put them through the shredder.

I had noticed so many insects about that I went and got my macro lens and tried to record the invasion.


They were queuing up

poppy with hoverflies

This was my favourite.  The hoverflies may be helophilus

Other flies were available.

green fly

There were so many to chose from that I could have spent all day clicking away….

hoverfly on japanese anemone

This one was on a Japanese anemone. It may be a Sericomyia

…but I had to go in and fill up and send off my annual  return for the Langholm Archive Group to the charity regulator.  I am only three months late in submitting it so that is quite early for me.  They have made the form much simpler of late and it didn’t take as much time or effort as I had feared.

After lunch, I politely (but foolishly) turned on the telly so that Mrs Tootlepedal could relax with some knitting and watch the Tour of Britain while I went for a walk and two hours later, we both got up and went out into the garden.   Mrs Tootlepedal did some more work preparing a flower bed for new planting for next year while I took advantage of the dry weather to mow the drying green, the greenhouse grass and both lawns.  I have slowed down a bit over the years and with lots of grass on the lawn, I had to use the grass box on the mower so these tasks took me exactly and hour.

The warm and wet weather has caused a serious outbreak of tiny weeds on the middle lawn, probably as a result of birds in the plum tree so that I had to do a bit of spot weed killing.  I didn’t want to do it as it means that the grass cuttings have to be treated with great care for weeks and weeks but so bad was the weed infestation that there was a danger of the grass being overcome altogether in places.

I did spot a few more butterflies about.


These two both had seriously damaged wings but still seemed to be able fly quite well.

The purple buddleia is going over but has a flower or two left to attract bees.


I left Mrs Tootlepedal to her gardening and went out on the slow bike down to the river to see what was going on there.

There were ducks zooming about at great speed….

flying duck

….and ducks water skiing….

duck landing

….but the wagtails were shy today and wouldn’t come within range of my lens.

It was very warm and as I was going out in the evening, I thought that I had better have a shower after my mowing exertions and duck spotting and this gave me a chance to look at some of the flowers in the garden from an upstairs window.


Crocosmia beside the front lawn


The pond side poppies


The middle lawn rudbeckias

After tea, we went out for the first meeting of the autumn season for  Langholm Sings, our local choir.  It was a bit of a shock to the system to have to get my voice back in action and I will need to get a bit of practice in before next week as it was very creaky.

I shall regret not pedalling today as the forecast is for brisk winds and showers again from tomorrow.  However, yesterday’s ride took me over 3000 miles for the year so I am ahead of schedule in the pursuit of 4000 miles for the whole year and a day or two missed shouldn’t be fatal.

No flower of the day today as I was too busy looking at insects but a duck is the flying bird of the day.

flying duck


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Today was another very grey day here so I looked back for a sunny picture from my sister Mary’s portfolio to brighten things up by way of the guest picture of the day.  It shows the Victoria and Albert Museum with a paddling pool.

The Victoria and Albert Museum inner courtyard with paddling pool

The Victoria and Albert Museum inner courtyard with paddling pool

The forecast was very gloomy for the day but when Sandy and I drove up to Bentpath early in the morning to put our pictures for the show into the tent, it was at least dry.  It started to rain as we drove back home and things looked rather ominous for the show.

After breakfast, I had to go and get petrol as the car had been beeping at me to fill up as we drove down from Bentpath and then I visited the producers’ market to stock up on fish, cheese, honey and venison.  It was lucky that I was in the car as rain lashed down just as it was time for me to go home.

A few minutes later it had stopped and Sandy joined us for a cup of coffee.

This was the pattern for the day as the rain came and went and I got a moment to look round the garden in a dry spell after Sandy had gone home. Unsurprisingly it was still wet out there.

wet poppy

A soggy poppy


Depressed sunflowers

There were bright spots though.

Virginia creeper

Japanese anemones

And there were still plums waiting to be picked.


After lunch, I stayed inside, out of the weather and did a tricky crossword until it was time to put on waterproof trousers and wellies and go back up to the flower show to see how we had done.

I picked Sandy up and we were pleased to see that the weather was looking a tiny bit brighter as we went up the road and for the moment at least there was no sign of rain.

We were greeted at the show field by a fine set of scarecrows….

Benty scarecrows

…one of whom was particularly pleased to see us.

Benty scarecrow

In spite of the gloomy weather the show was in full swing and there were a fair few people in the tents.  We joined them and Sandy was very pleased to see that he had won the cup for most points in the photographic section.  As he had claimed two firsts, four seconds and a third, he had won the cup by an ample margin.

I had a first, a second and a third so I was reasonably pleased too but very conscious that having been walloped by Sandy at two shows running, I will have to up my game a bit.  Mind you, Sandy is a good photographer so it is no shame to lag a bit behind him.

The afternoon stayed dry but it was still very dark and gloomy so it was not a day for happy show snaps.  There were only two terriers in the terrier race…

terrier race benty show

…and one was much better at jumping than running so that contest was exactly thrilling.

I had hoped to get some exciting pictures of the trail hounds leaping fences, fording the river and racing to the finish in the show field but the bad weather on the hill tops had obviously put them off severely because they didn’t come down the hill and into the field to complete the trail at all and the owners went off to try to find out where they had got to.

I had to make do with a distant shot of the leading two runners in the fell race reaching the select crowd at the summit before coming back down.

Benty Fell race

A bright spot was the success of one of one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s cardoons in gaining a first prize for a friend who had used it in a flower set piece.

cardoon at Benty

I looked at some machinery that had been lined up for people to guess what the original use was….

machinery at Benty

Your guess is as good as mine

…enjoyed an unusual angle when viewing at the church across the river…

Westerkirk church

…and tried not to slip over in the mud.

All that was left to do was to wait for Sandy to collect his well earned trophy….

Sandy at Benty Show

…and then drive home.  As we left the field, it started to rain again so we felt that we and the show’s organisers had been very lucky with the weather, all things considered.

I had some fish for my tea and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some delicious courgette fritters to go with it so a quiet day ended well.

No flying bird on such a gloomy day but a the brightest bloom I could find in the garden, a rudbeckia, as flower of the day.


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Today’s guest pictures were sent to me by Langholm exile Tom and show that the South Africans are just as good at spoiling beautiful scenery with power lines as we are.


We enjoyed the last day of our good weather today and I had a busy but uneventful time.

It started when Sandy came round to borrow my trimmer to trim his entries for the Canonbie Flower Show (who rather annoyingly use a non standard size for their entries).

Then I popped out for a quick 20 mile bicycle ride (and because of the very light wind, it was quite quick by my standards).

Then there was time to look round the garden and see some of the new flowers which have arrived, some quite routine…



…and others, more exciting.




The first hint of colour in the cardoons

There is a lot of colour in one of the beds along the front lawn.

Special Grandma at her best

Special Grandma at her best



dahlia and astrantia

dahlia and astrantia

There are clematis flowers to be seen elsewhere.  One is a curious green and white affair where it is hard to tell the flowers from the leaves and the other is in the wrong place or so the gardener tells me.


And the Golden Syllabub has finally produced a reasonable bloom.

Golden Syllabub

So in spite of it being the season of berries…


…and seeds….

next years poppies

Next year’s poppies being prepared

…we are still in cheerful mood.

Especially as I ate the first plum of the year today.

The rest of the day was spent going to Edinburgh to visit Matilda, who was in excellent form.


A little football on the lawn revealed that she has an excellent left foot and can shoot straight.

We had a good time playing in her tiny garden and enjoyed a meal of various curries before walking back through the town in a very mellow evening light…

Calton Hill

…and catching the train home again.

Our drive from Lockerbie to Langholm was illuminated by a generous moon and I took a picture of it when we got home.

full moon

In fact, I took two pictures with different exposures and very different results.

Full moon

A tree just got into the picture in this shot.

The flower of the day is one of the prolific poppies (and friend) which brighten our garden up at the moment.


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Today’s guest picture shows Mrs Tootlepedal’s nephew Julian near the summit of the famous Alpe d’Huez.  He was taking part in the second year of a stupendous fund raising cycle event with family and friends which has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a cancer charity over the past two years.  The amount of climbing they did every day makes my knees hurt just thinking about it.

JulianI didn’t climb any mountains today.  In fact the only mountain that I saw was a mountain of drop scones brought round by you know who to go with the morning coffee.  I should have been cycling and not sipping and nibbling because the although the morning was grey, chilly and windy, it was a lot better than the afternoon which was grey, chilly, windy and wet as well.

Still, all this let me get another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and prepare myself for going to Brampton in the evening to conduct the community choir there.

It was not a day for wandering round the neighbourhood (or even the garden) taking pictures though  I did mange to  mow the front lawn before the rain started.


Poppies were battered and bruised

I spent a little time looking out of the window through the gloom.


A chaffinch ruffled by the wind and dampened by the rain


The weather didn’t stop a regular procession to the feeder though.

I took one quick wander around after going off to get some supplies from our corner shop.

rudbeckia and sunflowers

Rudbeckia and sunflowers did their best to brighten my day

Japanese anemone

And the Japanese anemones, well sheltered under the walnut tree, laugh at bad weather.

Fortunately, Scotland were playing Japan in the Rugby World Cup in the afternoon and I was able to sit out the miserable weather while watching the game.   To the chagrin of many commentators, Scotland won quite easily in the end.

While I sheltered myself from the rain indoors, the blue and coal tits used the new feeder to keep dry for a moment or two.

blue tit and coal titblue tit and coal titIt has definitely been a success.

In the evening, I drove down to Brampton, 23 miles away, to visit the choir there.  They have two applicants for the job of conductor and each of us is being given an interview and then 45 minutes to do a bit of conducting.  It was my turn tonight and the other candidate goes next week.  Then the choir will vote for their choice.  While I was doing this, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with our Langholm Choir.

I hope for better weather tomorrow and a chance to take some more interesting pictures than today.

At least the flying bird of the day makes a change from the usual chaffinches.  A fleeting glimpse of a blue tit in the rain is in the frame instead.

flying blue tit

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