Posts Tagged ‘Solomon’s Seal’

Today’s guest picture is a weather vane from the Somerset Rural Life Museum sent to me by Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  The weather vane is a memorial to a long serving volunteer at the museum, a nice idea.

weather gauge somerset

The weather here was warm and sunny but not quite as warm and sunny as yesterday as the wind was stronger and the sky a bit hazier.  Nevertheless, it was a great day to be out in the garden, and after an early visit to the town for a bit of business, I spent a lot of the day in the garden.

Before I went out into the garden, I took the advice of a correspondent and tried applying some ice (in this case, a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a  tea towel) to my tender Achilles tendon.  It gave me some relief and I repeated the process a couple more times through the day.

There was plenty to look in the garden as well as to do so in between dead heading daffodils, sawing the sweet pea frame down to fit the new beds, and sieving compost, I admired a small corps de ballet of Ballerina tulips…

ballerina tulips

…and a single in-your-face orange variety of which I do not know the name.

bright orange tulip

Pond skaters have come to the pond in numbers.

three pond sketers

Blossoms have come out on two of the three espalier apples…

two apple blossoms

…and it shouldn’t be long before they are joined by the third one.

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with her trilliums which have just come out too.  They were given to her by Mike Tinker and by coincidence, he passed the garden just as we were looking at them and came in to share the experience.  They are beginning to multiply so we are hoping for more next year.

trillium april

I am noting new things all the time and these tulips, the bluebell, the Solomon’s seal and an alpine clematis have all appeared over the last couple of days.

new flowers april

On top of that, we are getting very excited by the prospect of entering the age of the azalea.

first azalea

If you want eye catching green, then euphorbias are the thing to have.  Mrs Tootlepedal has them in flashy and discreet but they are both very green.

euphorbia panel

We had to stay at home as we  were expecting a visit from an electrical engineer who was going to do interesting things to our meter.  He arrived bang on time, was very polite and efficient, did some extra work beyond the call of duty to make things convenient for another engineer who is coming next week, complimented me on the coffee that I made for him and tidied everything up very neatly before he left.  Not everything in the modern world has gone to pot!

I was interested to see that he took photographs before, during and after he had finished his task as a record of what he had done.   That seemed like a very good idea to me.

While he worked, we stayed out in the garden and I looked at the trout lilies which are enjoying the good weather a lot…

trout lilies

…and the Christmas tree which is growing in every possible direction.

christmas tree busting out

We went in for lunch when the engineer had gone and I saw this blackbird with nesting material on the chimney pot outside.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is nesting in the climbing hydrangea growing on the front wall of the house.

blackbird wirth nest material

On the feeder itself, things were much as normal…

normal feeder

..but we did have visits from too very contrasting birds, a dove and a hawk.

collared dove and sparrowhawk panel

The hawk paid us several visits over the day without catching any of our little birds…

sparrowhawk staring

…and gave us a very exciting chase sequence to watch as it pursued a little bird across and out of the garden with many a squeal of rubber and handbrake turns on the way.

In the afternoon, I looked at the front lawn and felt that this was the day to scarify it.

The panel below shows the unscarified lawn on the left, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth, and on the right, the very large amounts of moss that the machine lifted as it passed.

lawn scarifying

The bottom panel shows the results of going over the lawn a couple of times with the mower on a high setting to pick up the moss and one of the three wheelbarrow loads of moss that I took away.  Don’t be deceived, there is still a mass of moss in the lawn.  I will scarify it again in a few weeks time.

A poor peacock butterfly was trying to sun itself on the drive and had to keep flying up into the air as I passed with wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow.  It settled down again each time and must have been really fed up by the time that I finished disturbing it.

peacock butterfly sunning

The peacocks are appearing about a week earlier than usual this year.

While I was caring for the lawn, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing her sweet pea fortress for the coming hostilities with the sparrows.  I predict a win for Mrs Tootlepedal this year.

sweet pea cage

As the afternoon wore on, I felt that I should make good use of the day by going for another short cycle ride and went out for fourteen miles at a gentle pace, clad in a T shirt and shorts.

The wind was gusting up to 20 mph and blew me up to the top of Callister.  I stopped on the way down to take in the view.  The garden may be springlike but it will the best part of another month until the hills go green.

callister view

I had to pedal hard just to get down the hill into the wind but I made it back to the town and enjoyed the cherry trees along the banks of the Esk between the bridges.

cherry tree beside esk

Our good spell of weather is coming to an end and it is going to get gradually but steadily cooler over the next few days and we may even see some much needed rain soon.  I just hope that it knows when to stop.  I won’t need my cycling T shirt and shorts again for a while, I fear.

The flying bird of the day was almost a sparrow hawk…

missing sparrowhawk

…but as you can see, I was too slow, so a goldfinch takes over the duty instead (no doubt keeping a sharp eye open for any hawks).

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Susan on a visit to Reading.  It shows the Maiwand Lion, commemorating the dead of the Berkshire Regiment of Foot at Girishk Maiwand and Kandahar in 1880. The British were defeated at Girishk Maiwand by the Afghan army at a high cost to both sides during the 2nd Afghan war. reading lion

As the astute reader will gather from the the title of this post, it actually rained today but as this didn’t happen until the early evening and as it didn’t last long, it didn’t make much of a dent in our spell of excellent weather.

We had a sunny morning and made the most of it.  I had to pay an early visit to the health centre for a blood test and was happy to find that I still had some but I wasted no time when I got back in getting to work on the front lawn.  It lives in cold shadows over the winter and gets very mossy and the poor weather of the first four months of the year hasn’t helped it so I gave it a scarifying with our electric scarifier.  I followed this with a rake and a mow and then I topped off the treatment with a dose of seaweed buck-u-uppo.  Did it look grateful after all this? No, it still looked mossy.  Still, I enjoy the challenge.

In between the scarifying and the seaweed, Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and a news catchup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal is busy planting stuff out, she is using the sieved compost as fast as I can produce it so I sieved another batch and the contents of Bin D are decreasing rapidly.

I found time to wander around with the camera.

I often concentrate on single flowers so today for a change,  I went for quantity over quality.





poached egg plant

Limnanthes douglasii or the poached egg flower.  A bit of ‘egg white’ is developing on some of the flowers.





Solomon's Seal

Solomon’s Seal – no sign of sawfly larva yet.

I did take one shot a single flower.  This was the clematis at the front door and I took the single flower shot to show the contrast between the clematis at the front door (two flowers) ….

front door clematis

…and the clematis at the back door (hundreds).

back door clematis

I try to keep an eye out for the new arrivals and today a nectaroscordum had developed enough to get a personal portrait.


It was very breezy but I am still a bit short of cycling miles so I got my new bike out after lunch and decided to test the conditions.  It was warm but the skies had clouded over so the temperature was perfect and I set off with hopes of 30 miles or more.

However, after a few miles at a crisp speed and with not a whisper of wind in my face, it became apparent that the wind was going to make it very hard work pedalling home if I cycled too far out and I lowered my ambitions and went round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

This was a good decision as there was plenty to see…

field of buttercups

A field of buttercups near Langholm

bog cotton

Bog cotton at the Kerr

tarcoon verge

Beautiful verges near Tarcoon

wild geraniums

Wild geraniums on the old A7…

Pyrenean valerian

…and Pyrenean Valerian nearby.

… and the route choice turned out well as I got a good deal more help from the wind than I expected and managed to get my average over 14 mph.  This is very good for me these days.

As I cycled down the road along our garden hedge at the end of my ride, I was detained by the old Rosa Moyesii…

Rosa Moyesii

…and the honeysuckle.


I hadn’t seen these earlier as they can only be seen when you are not in the garden.

The rain started not long after I got home so I had a good excuse to spend some time watching the birds at the feeder.

It was quite busy with siskins and goldfinches…


…with the siskins demonstrating why the seed level goes down so quickly when they are there.  They drop at least half of their food as the seeds are just too big for their beaks.

We have had regular visits from a small group of pigeons recently and they were back again today…


…keeping an eye out for fallen seed.

I am hoping for a less windy day tomorrow to get a last minute addition to my mileage for the month of May but there is a hint of more rain in the forecast so time will tell.

The flying bird(s) of the day is a collection of airborne siskins.

flying siskins



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Today’s guest picture shows Sandend harbour in Banff, on the north east coast of Scotland.  Gavin passed it on a walk today as he is on holiday up there.

banff harbour

We had another dry day here today, although one or two spots of rain did fall in a half hearted way in the afternoon.

After breakfast I had to frame a couple of wild goat pictures for a Moorland Exhibition in the Welcome to Langholm Centre in May and then I had a walk round the garden.

in spite of the frosty weather earlier in the week, many tulips have done very well and even some of the Ballerinas have survived….


…and more tulips are arriving every day.


The tulips that Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick have survived the journey home and the cold and are looking very healthy.  Here are three of them.


I couldn’t pass the anemone by without taking a picture….


…because they are delicate flowers and it might be gone if there is a heavy shower of rain.

Although progress is slow because of the recent chilly mornings, new flowers are arriving.

Solomon's seal and lithospermum

Solomon’s Seal and Lithospermum

I was very impressed by the volubility of a blackbird as I went down the drive in front  of the house.


I didn’t have long to look around though because I was delighted to leave the garden to partake of some treacle scones brought round by Dropscone to go with our first cup of coffee for a while.  Dropscone followed his trip to Skye with a golfing break so he has hardly seen his home for a fortnight.

He hasn’t lost his scone skills though.

After he left, I had to go to the health centre for a routine check but i had time to check on the perching redpolls first.


After lunch I went off for a cycle ride.   The wind had dropped considerably from recent days and had moved round from the north so it was both quite a bit milder and much more helpful as I cycled back to Langholm from Canonbie.    I concentrated so hard on the pedalling that i forgot to take any pictures at all.

When I got home, I took my framed pictures up to the town and helped hang them on the wall beside some offerings from the local art club.

goat pictures in WtL

The Moorland Exhibition has been well publicised so I hope that they get plenty of visitors.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable time playing as always.  On a sobering note though, we put a metronome on as I felt that we were slightly rushing a slow movement in one of the pieces. ‘ Slightly rushing’ turned out to be an understatement as were well ahead of the pace after only four bars.  We shall have to learn to apply the brakes.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, looking a bit shifty I thought.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s springlike guest picture comes from Sandy, which is to say that I stole it from him when he wasn’t looking.

Sandy's leaves

I did see Sandy himself though when he came round for a cup of coffee after filling the Moorland bird feeders.  He has been doing a lot of gardening lately and took advantage of the situation to have a conference with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I should have been cycling as my mileage for May is very poor but we were waiting for an engineer to come and give our gas boiler its annual check so I used that as an excuse for not going anywhere.

I was a bit rude about the weather forecasters yesterday so it is only fair to point out that they said it would be fine in the morning and start to rain at two o’clock today and they were absolutely right to within five minutes.

I used the dry but overcast morning to mow the front lawn, the middle lawn and the grass round the greenhouse and was pleased to see that the newly sharpened mower was cutting a bit better.

I also took the camera round the garden.  My daughter has complained that in my pursuit of striking flower pictures, I don’t show enough general pictures to convey what the garden actually looks like.  This is a fair point but we are in a state of floral pause at the moment and the general picture is quite dull.  I will be looking for colourful corners quite soon.  In the meantime here are some individual promises of better things to come.

Astrantia and geranium

The first signs of a feast to come

Lily of the valley and solomon's seal

A rather Biblical touch of Lily of the Valley and Solomon’s seal


The promise of gooseberry fool


…and there are still some tulips left

After lunch, I was working away at my computer because I have finally been bullied by Microsoft into upgrading to Windows 10 and there are differences to the filing system for pictures which are giving me some grief when Mike Tinker popped in.

When I went out into the garden with him, it had almost stopped raining so when he left, I decided that a short walk would perk me up and I put my coat on.  By the time that I got out of the house, it had started to rain again so I picked up a stout umbrella and went off regardless.  After a dull half mile pushing up the road into the wind and rain, I turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and with the wind and rain behind me, the rest of the walk was very pleasant.

It wasn’t really a day for taking pictures but I poked my lens out under the umbrella from time to time because it was a beautiful stroll in spite of the conditions.

Bluebells on gaskells

Not long ago, Gaskells Walk ran through a dark and flowerless conifer plantation but these trees were cut down and the bluebells which had been lurking underground for many years have seized their chance and the walk is now lined with them.

There were wild flowers in abundance.

wild flowers

…and I was pleased to see some red campion among the bluebells.

red campion

I walked along the track down towards the Murtholm and the bluebells defied the gloomy weather.



As I walked back along the river side towards the park…

Beechy Plains

I know it’s hard but someone has to walk along this path

….it wasn’t only the sight of wild flowers that caught my attention but the smell too.  The wild garlic was rampant, swirling up the banking…

wild garlic

…and lining the path.

wild garlic

They look as good individually as they do en masse.

garlic and bluebell

My umbrella did its job very well and the temperature was kind enough to make my damp walk a real treat.  A little rain brings out the fresh spell of spring to add to the colours.

After a look back at the park…

Buccleuch Park

It really is that colour.  I haven’t Photoshopped it.

…I headed home for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and settled back down to try to get to grips with Windows 10.  At least I can find my files and all my programs work so I am reasonably content.

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we enjoyed a good selection of music dug out from his vast collection by our librarian Roy.  It is very good to be able to play music with old friends without any of the pressure of preparing for public performance but just for the pleasure of hearing and appreciating the music itself.

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Today’s guest picture, a lovely study of the Lake District, comes from my sister Mary who was on holiday there last week.

Lake DistrictYesterday’s sunny and warm day turned out to have been yet another false start on the long march towards summer and we were back to grey, windy and far from warm conditions today.  This put paid to any thought of dashing out for an early pedal and after a late breakfast, my only cycle expedition was to our local Co-operative store for some tomatoes.

I enlivened the return journey by a visit to a furniture maker’s studio which was open as part of the Spring Fling.  Daniel Lacey is the man who was responsible for the bird hide at the Moorland feeders and it was a treat to see his professional work.  Photographs cannot do justice to the sheer beauty of his woodwork.  The impulse to stroke every piece of wood in sight was almost overwhelming.

The tomatoes were a part of the lunch preparations for the visit of my younger son Alistair with his wife Clare and their daughter Matilda, TWGSP, to see Granny.

Granny and matilda

A gap of two feet and 97 years.

I took the opportunity of showing Matilda the delights of bird watching through a window.

Matilda bird watchingMatilda was in great form and spent a good deal of time walking up and down the lawn.  She can stand up unassisted but likes a helping hand while perambulating.

Matilda Al and ClareShe had us all at it.

Matilda Al and Clare Granny and Mum

A four generation outing

They thought that they were taking Matilda for a walk, but she and I knew who was really in charge.

MatildaIt was the second excellent family visit in two days.  We are hoping that Matilda might be persuaded to come and stay a night with us soon.

In spite of the grey day and chilly wind, it was still a bit warmer than it has been and the garden was looking a bit more colourful.

red azalea

The first flower on the red azalea is out…

yellow azalea

…and the yellow azalea is really coming into its own.


We’ve still got just one allium (nearly) out so far.

jacob's Ladder and geum

The Jacob’s Ladder and geums are filling out well.

blue and white

There are small patches of colour round every corner


The potentilla along the dam is flourishing and the first blossoms have appeared on the potentilla in the garden.

Dangling in the cool shade of its leaves the flowers of a Solomons Seal are almost out.

solomon's sealMatilda noticed that the goldfinches prefer the old feeder now hanging on the elder…..

goldfinches…whereas the siskins prefer the new one.

siskinsSometimes, a goldfinch would wait, perched high on the plum tree, to see which looked most inviting.

goldfinchEvery now and again, it would almost turn into a nice day.

goldfinch and greenfinch

A goldfinch and greenfinch share a feeder peaceably but rather standoffishly in a little patch of sunshine….

siskin and goldfinch

…but when the sun went in, a siskin and goldfinch turned ugly too.

I was hoping to sneak out for a pedal when Matilda took her parents home at four o’clock but the sun disappeared and the wind seemed to know my mind and raised its tempo a bit so I stayed at home, shifted a little compost and practised a little singing instead.

The evening was spent in gentle relaxation after the excitements of the past two days.

The flying bird of the day is an incoming goldfinch.


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Today’s guest picture is another of the Santander statuary spotted by my brother on his Spanish jaunt last month.  He remarks that the figures look a little put out by the building works.


It was a grey and windy day and I took the opportunity to give my legs a rest so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a solo breezy cycle ride, I went up to the Moorland feeders with Sandy as it was his day for refilling them.

No sooner had we got out of the car than a flash of white caught my eye.  It was a male hen harrier flying low over the moor opposite the feeders.

hen harrier

In spite of the dim light, the camera was just able to pick it out against the grass but it soon disappeared when it flew over the bog cotton.

bog cotton

The bog cotton was well worth a look in its own right, painting the hillsides with vivid splashes of white..

bog cotton

We didn’t stop when we had filled the feeders as the wind was cold and Sandy is recovering from pneumonia and probably shouldn’t have been out at all.  I couldn’t resist a pheasant shot before I left though.


After a cup of coffee and a slice of sour dough bread, Sandy went off home to rest.  Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from her cycle ride while we were having coffee and she complained that her back tyre seemed flat.  When Sandy had gone, I checked the tyre and it was indeed flat as a pancake.

She rides on very durable tyres so I was surprised at this but I got the tyre off and inflated the inner tube to see where the puncture was.  There was no puncture.  The chances are that the deflation must have been caused by an insufficiently tightened valve top.  I was a bit annoyed with myself for not trying to inflate the tyre when it was still on the bike but Mrs Tootlepedal took advantage of the situation to give her back wheel and sprocket a really thorough clean.  I put the tube back in the tyre and have left it off the bike for the moment to see if it is still inflated tomorrow.

It wasn’t a great day for photographs of flowers because of the thick clouds and the wind but a Geum was near the back door so I shot that.


They have lasted very well and there are still more to come as you can see.

Not every plant in the garden was planted by the gardener.  Nature sometimes has a shot herself.


I had to visit the doctor before lunch to formulate a plan of action regarding some joint niggles and this went very satisfactorily.

By the time that I had got home, a light rain had begun to fall which lasted on and off for the rest of the day.

The rain gave me some time time to get photographs ready for our annual exhibition which starts next week.  Considering how many pictures I dump into my blog posts every day, you might think that it would be easy for me to find ten to print out but the enormity of having to reject one thousand and ninety of the two thousand pictures I have posted since Christmas alone makes it very hard.  A lot of them are easily discarded as they are not sharp or big enough for a print but there is still a huge amount of choice.  Why this one and not that one?  It makes my head hurt and, in the end, I never feel that I have chosen the best ten.  Still it is done and that is a relief.

Mrs Tootlepedal was gardening away in the light rain so I went out to see what she was doing and took a few gloomy pictures while I was out there.


A well camouflaged frog


The dark blue irises have opened out.


Some daisies brightened up the dull day.


A hosta was quietly impressive by the front lawn


A purple geranium has been added to our various geraniums in flower.

solomon's seal

So far the Solomon’s Seal and the gooseberries have avoided the sawfly. Long may this continue.

In the evening, we went to our local choir practice and were slightly handicapped by the fact that no basses at all turned up.  Still, we did some useful practice and even got two new pieces out.

One was a well known song (though not to me) called “Could it be Magic?” by Barry Manilow based on a prelude by F Chopin.  Some members of the choir greeted it as an old friend. I may grow to like it.

The other was “Cantique de Jean Racine”  by G Fauré.   This is very slow and in French.  Even if I do grow to like this one (which I may), we might have to search carefully about to find an audience that would like to hear us trying to sing it.

The non flying flower of the day was found in the vegetable garden.  It is a chive.





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