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Posts Tagged ‘rudbeckia’

Today’s guest post was sent to me by Sandy.  He is on holiday somewhere and I don’t think it is North Berwick.  I am looking forward to finding out all about it when he gets home.

Thailand scene

It was calm and nearly warm today so after a leisurely breakfast and a read of the newspapers which stretched until morning coffee time with Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out for a bike ride to try to get my October miles to look a bit more respectable.  This was only my fourth ride in 17 days.

Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a young starling at the feeder while we were having coffee…

young starling

…and I took a shot of it with my pocket camera before I went off.

I cycled past the landslip on the Lockerbie road and was pleased to see that the authorities have installed traffic lights and a sturdy barrier rather than keeping the road closed.  This may have been making the best of a bad job as people had been seen, while the road was still officially closed, removing the barriers and driving past anyway.

It was mostly a rather gloomy ride as far as the weather went and several leafless trees…

leafless trees

…and wet roads made memories of cycling in shorts and sun cream in the summer seem a very long time ago.

I always hope that the beech hedges along the road will be colourful at this time of year….

colourful hedges

…but they are have been disappointing and this was the best that I passed today.

The prancing animal at Hagg-on-Esk has changed colour.

poodle tree

But there are still a lot of green leaves about among the browns and yellows.

Irvine House mid october

I got caught in a couple of light showers on my way but I was well equipped and got home after 34 miles feeling dry and cheerful.

The afternoon was fine enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden for some autumn clearing up and I came out after a late lunch to mow the middle lawn (mostly to get walnut leaves off it) and I was surprised by how much growth of grass there has been lately.

There was a little shredding to do and then I picked a couple of late carrots while Mrs Tootlepedal looked at the turnips….

turnips and carrots october

…which were very clean and good.  Mrs Tootlepedal ate the turnips for her tea.

The fuchsia which got left behind in the great fuchsia move is thriving….

late fuschia

…and one of the ones which were moved and which I thought had given up for the year has taken on a new lease of life.

late fuschia 2

In the veg garden, a new small rudbeckia, which Mrs Tootlepedal grew from seed this year, is looking promising and she hopes that it can survive the winter…

rudbeckia

…the chives can survive anything it seems.

chives october

A secret clematis flower could be found well sheltered among other plants along the vegetable garden fence.

watery clematis

The late delphinium has done so well that Mrs Tootlepedal thought it was worthwhile to give it a cane to help it hold its head up.

delphinium october

I had a quick look at the birds when I came in.  There were no more starlings to be seen, just the usual suspects…

mixed feeder

…with the occasional added coal tit.

miced feeder with coal tit

The afternoon seemed to fly by with some tasks on the computer to be done after the gardening and in no time at all, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.

With only two basses present, we had to work hard to make ourselves heard but it made for an enjoyable couple of hours.  With the inevitable December concerts looming and a week off next week, it will be even harder work in November.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch, caught in a  sunny moment.

flying goldfinch

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I have kindly been sent a lot of guest pictures lately and I am working through them so I apologise to those whose great images have fallen through the sieve of time.  Today’s effort is from our younger son and shows his washing line on a typical recent day.

wet washing line

We had another grey day today here for the most part, a day when it always looked as though it was going to rain soon….but it didn’t and as a result there was lots of time for work in the garden.

As soon as the worst of the early dampness had worn off, I got various mowers out and mowed the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle and the front lawns and then strimmed the edges of everything that I could see.  There was hardly a blade of grass standing in the garden by the time that I had finished.

counterstriped lawn

I went for a fancy pattern to please Julie, a faithful reader from Australia, who had suggested that  a little variety in the lawn striping would not go amiss.

Then I sieved some compost.

After some slack dead heading days because of the drizzle, there was any amount of dead heading to be done and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I went round several times snipping off the ones we had missed on the previous circuit.

Some flowers survived the snippers.  The camera makes things look a lot brighter than they actually were.

white and red poppies

sunny reggae dahlias

Even on a drab day these ‘Sunny Reggae’ dahlias shine.

There are an encouraging amount of insects about.  Sometimes it seemed that every flower had one.

wild strawberry with tiny insect

phlox with insect

been on daisy

Or two!

dahlia with two insects

But butterflies were scarce.  The strong wind may have made life hard for them

peacock butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre over lunch so I set the kitchen window camera up in the vain hope of seeing the nuthatch again.

I saw a blue tit first….

blue tit on feeder

…and then the usual stramash of sparrows…

mass of sparrows

…with occasional greenfinch incursions…

incoming greenfinch

…but no nuthatch.  I am revising my nuthatch expectations down to nil.

We were having our outside doors painted for the second time as it had rained very heavily after the first effort and the work needed to be redone.  The painter went off after lunch and looking at the clouds, it seemed that it might be quite likely that the same thing would happen again but fortunately the rain held off and the doors dried.

I had received a call from a data miner in the Archive Centre to say that an unfortunate train of events had led to one of the microfiche readers losing some vital parts so after lunch, I snapped a siskin on the feeder…

perching siskin

,…and  went up to the Archive Centre to see what I could do about this, taking a picture of the clematis by the front door on my way out.

big hearted clematis

This is a late flowering and you might say that it is all heart.

It was a bit of a struggle to fix the microfiche reader as one of the errant parts had suffered minor damage but I got it cobbled back together in the end and the miners should be able to get back to work (with care).

When I got home again, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and I joined her, mostly in a  supervisory role but from time to time actually doing something helpful.

After a while, we both needed a sit down so we tested out the newly oiled bench and admired the flowers in the new bed beside the lawn.

new bed by middle lawn

On our other side, tall rudbeckias looked down on us.

rudbeckia

I like these rudbeckias because the flowers are durable and don’t need much dead heading.

However, there was plenty of dead heading still to do on a final tour.

There are many flowers about that don’t need dead heading all the time.

pansy and anemone

We are sawing up the old, rather rotten bench a bit at a time and I was cutting through a plank on the back when I noticed some lichen on one of the uprights.

lichen on old bench

We were probably right to think that it was time for a replacement.

I had thought of a walk (it was too windy for a cycle ride) but all this gardening had knocked some of the stuffing out of me so a cup of tea and a sit down looked like a more attractive proposition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious evening meal and there were just enough raspberries to have as a dessert.

In any spare moments during the day, I ate a plum.  More plums are ripening all the time.  The wasps and the jackdaws are dealing with a lot of them but there are more than enough left to satisfy the most enthusiastic plum eater.  I can see plum chutney looming.

I hope to widen my horizon tomorrow as the forecast is quite cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jenni.  She went even further north from Inverness for a cruise and found herself in Alaskan waters.

alaskan cruise

We had an uncharacteristically dull day here both as far as the weather went and my level of activity.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and at it early with a trip to Carlisle and back by bus before lunch but drizzly rain and a brisk breeze discouraged me from doing much more than a little garden tidying and a trip to the corner shop in a dry spell.

I didn’t even get my camera out until after lunch.

The dahlias don’t seem to mind the rain much…

yellow dahlia

…but a hellenium…

hellenium

..and a rudbeckia appear rather depressed.

rudbeckia

The small sunflowers make up in numbers what they lack in height…

short sunflowers

…and both the plums…

crowded plums

…and the apples can’t be accused of any lack of effort.

apples

Indeed, I have thinned the plums several times already and took off another twenty today without making any noticeable difference to the crop.

The Christmas tree, which is having its summer holiday in the vegetable garden, doesn’t seem very sure about which way it is going at all.

christmas tree august

I had some fun trying to photograph a fine red poppy.  It was exposed to the breeze and after several complete failures…

red poppy in wind 1

…I finally managed to catch it at the top of its swaying motion.

red poppy in wind 2

This little excursion completed my outdoor work for the day and I went in to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have another unavailing round in my battle against the recalcitrant printer. Printer 4 Tom 0.

A gloomy afternoon was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly flute playing efforts and I got a couple of new studies from the internet for us to play.  The internet is an endless source of free flute duets and I put that in the balance against the greed and manipulation of the big internet companies.

Our good spell of weather looks as though it has finally come to an end, with cooler temperatures and rain forecast for every day this week until the weekend.  I will have to remember what it is like to bicycle in less than perfect conditions if I am not to fall behind my schedule again.

For some mysterious reason, there have been hardly any birds in the garden for the last two days after a very busy spell so the flying bird of the day is a solitary siskin sitting down.

siskin

 

 

 

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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.) …..

gannet

…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.

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. ..

fungus

…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.

sunflower

We may get more sunshine in the garden soon

battered poppy

The weather was too much for the poppies today

Rudbeckia

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

clematis

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…

nasturtiumdahlia

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

phlox

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.

poppy

poppy

poppy

poppy

And once again the bees were very busy.

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

blackbird

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.

dahlia

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.

spirea

It has very tiny flowers

One of the astilbes is in top form.

Astilbe

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.

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…

blackbirds

…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.

blackbird

 

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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.

Hydra

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

Fuschia

The Fuschia is still in full swing

I watched the sparrows having fun at the feeder…

sparrows

..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….

dahlia

…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.

rowan

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.

Wauchopedale

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.

Esk

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.

rudbeckias

The rudbeckias are nearly over

poppy

But the poppies keep on coming

cornflowers

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…

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

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.

Butterflies

 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.

hoverflies

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.

butterflies

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.

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

Crocosmia beside the front lawn

poppies

The pond side poppies

rudbeckias

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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