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Posts Tagged ‘spirea’

Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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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 my sister Susan’s old friend Stephen who has been spending a week with his wife in Port Douglas, in Far North Queensland. He tells me that it is mid-winter there, and so the temperature is down to a chilly 25-26 degrees.  He sent me this suitably wintry illustration.

queensland beach

It is summer here of course and it rained all day and the temperature barely crept up to 18 degrees.  As a result, I spent a very quiet day indeed doing nothing more interesting than a little data entering into the Archive Group database and a short shopping trip with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spent the morning at a meeting regarding the possible community purchase of the Langholm Moor and I sat at my computer.  It was sorry about its bad behaviour last night and worked very competently and quickly today.

I did take time to look out of the window.

siskins in rain 1

…and it is easy to see why I preferred to stay indoors.

The siskins were out in force….

siskins in rain 2

…and spent a lot of time squabbling rather than getting on and eating seed.

siskins beak to beak rain

A sparrow looked disgusted but whether it was because of the weather or the siskins’ behaviour, it is hard to say.

siskins in rain 3

The rain eased off and a blue tit appeared.  The tits prefer the nuts to the seeds…

blur tit on nuts 1

…which ever way they look at it.

blue tit on nuts

We must have a small family of blue tits nearby because several appeared at the same time…

two blue tits

…and unfortunately seemed to have learned from the siskins’ bad habits.

two blue tits arguing

I made some celery and stilton soup for lunch and I enjoyed it in company with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her meeting.

After lunch I took a quick walk round the garden at a moment when the drizzle had slackened off.

The overnight rain had not been heavy enough to beat down the flowers…

wet red poppy

…but there was a soggy feel about the garden….

wet pick foxgloves

…although some of the effects were quite decorative on leaf…

spirea with raindrop

…and petal.

sweet pea with droplets

Yellow lilies are appearing…

wet yellow lily

…and the ligularia is coming on…

ligularia in flower

…so things were still cheerful in places.

I like the sweet peas that Mrs Tootlepedal has grown this year.

sweet pea with droplet

Then, for the want of anything better to do, we drove down to Gretna to do a little shopping.

Then we drove back again.

That ended any excitement for the day as the Tour de France and Wimbledon combined to provide a lengthy excuse for testing the comfort of the sofa.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a meal of chicken and asparagus for our evening meal and we tried very hard not to think of the political situation as it is even more depressing than the weather.

I had hoped that I had captured one of the blue tits for the flying bird of the day…

flying blue tit

…but it was just too quick for me so a sparrow kindly offered to stand in, beating off a siskin who was trying to get the job.

flying sparrow in rain

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  Before she went to Wells with my sister, she was hobnobbing with reindeer in the Highlands.

cairngorm reindeer

We had a cold and wet morning today, more suitable for March than June but it closely matched my mood as I woke up with toothache.  The rain kept going all morning but the toothache eased off so I took a pain killer, bought some mouthwash and hoped for the best.

As I had referred to a spirea with pretty leaves and dull flowers in a previous post, I thought that I ought to show it off.

wet spirea

It probably looks at its best with a few raindrops on it.

We do have irises in the garden which don’t have petals outlined in silver and I thought that they should get a look in too.

old irises

However, it was not a day for wandering about like Basil Fotherington-Thomas, saying, “Hello flowers, hello sky,” so I went back indoors and watched the birds from the comfort of the sitting room.

There were a lot to watch today, perhaps because the wind had dropped and I was pleased to see a completely mixed bunch of sparrow, goldfinch, siskin and redpoll at the same time…

repoll sparrow goldfinch siskin

Though a goldfinch didn’t seem so happy to see a siskin as I was.

goldfinches sneering at siskin

It  was a day when a bird was almost always looming up out of the drizzle..

busy feeder with goldfinch

They might expect to get a rousing welcome when they arrived…

busy feeder with sparrow

…and there was a stiff competition for seats at the table.

busy feeder june

One  of the sparrows tried to put a hex on the other birds.

sparrow putting hex on feeder

Having carefully checked that the trains were running, we went off to Lockerbie after lunch to catch the Edinburgh train.

It was twenty minutes late.

We were not surprised.  We would be deeply surprised if it ever arrived on time.

Mrs Tootlepedal has made Matilda a dress to wear in a dancing competition she brought it up for Matilda to try on today.  It fitted well and Matilda was very pleased with it.

Matilda was in good form and she and her mother beat me all ends up at Go Fish and Beggar my Neighbour again.  But as her father cooked us an excellent evening meal, I was not too downhearted.

The train home was on time as it almost always is.  We have not discovered why going north is so much harder for the railway company than going south.

In the absence of any sunny pictures, I have put in no less than three flying birds of the day.

flying sparrow

They are like buses…

flying siskin in rain

…you wait for ages and then they all come at once…

second flying siskin in rain

…and it was just a pity that it was on such a poor day for taking pictures.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She visited Wells with her friend, my Somerset corespondent Venetia, and took this reflective portrait of the cathedral from the bishop’s garden.

wells cathedral from Bishop's garden

We had a colder, windier day than yesterday, but as it was drier than forecast and the sun even came out briefly once or twice, we were grateful at a time when elsewhere in the country, torrential rain was making life hard.

I started the day by going to collect my bike from the bike shop where it had been serviced.  Because it has a gear box rather then a derailleur, it had had an oil change instead of a new cassette after just under four thousand miles.  The oil change was cheaper than a new cassette and chain but it still made my eyes water.  I will have to learn how to do it myself.

When I got home, I did a little shredding, put the results in compost bin A and then sieved more of compost bin C and put the bits that didn’t go through the sieve into compost bin D.  I lead a deep and exciting life.

Then I compounded the excitement by wandering about with a camera in hand.

The orange hawkweed is also known as ‘fox and cubs’ and this foxy flower looked as though it was brooding its cubs.

fox and cubs hawkweed

We have spireas that have showy leaves and dull flowers and we have spireas with dull leaves and showy flowers, very showy flowers.

spirea blossoms

Although we have had plenty of bees, I haven’t seen a great many smaller insects so I was pleased to see this one on a doronicum.

insect on doronicum

The tropaeolum flowers on the yew were lining up in attacking formation.

three tropaeolum attack

Apart from the rosa moyesii, which is in full flower, the other roses are still mainly work in progress. Like almost everything else in the garden, they could do with a bit of warmth.

four roses

The chives were still attracting various bees…

two bees on chives

…and I managed to get a wing as well as two bees knees in today’s shot.

close up on chive bee

By the front door, one clematis keeps fading while the other keeps flourishing.

clematis seed head and flower

It is hard to say which is prettier though.

By this time, lunch was calling and after lunch, I settled down for a while to watch the birds.

It was still very windy and this siskin was keeping firmly plunked down on the perch.

flat siskin

An anxious sparrow checked to see if there was a vacancy.

hopeful sparrow

I did think of going for a ‘bicycle walk’ just to get out of the house, but the weather was so unforgiving, cold and very windy, that I stayed in and caught up on some of the hymns for next Sunday’s service.

After a couple of hours, I went out to check the weather and noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine crop of doddering dillies growing in the bed at the end of the drive.  This grass has the Sunday name of Briza Media and it is also known as Common Quaking Grass and in the wind today, these doddering and quaking grasses were certainly living up to their name.  I had to pinch a head off one stem and take it inside to get it to stop quaking long enough for me to take a picture.

doddering dillies

The first candelabra primula flowers have appeared beside the pond.  I hope that they do well in spite of the weather, as they are among my favourite flowers…

early candelabra primula

…though of course, this is my absolute favourite.

astrantia

The day hadn’t got any better so I went back in and watched the birds again.

The squad of goldfinches was back….

four goldfinches

…though a siskin managed to sneak in at one point…

five goldfinches

…and occasionally there were more goldfinches than perches.

four goldfinches and a siskin

A greenfinch had no difficulty in persuading a goldfinch to offer it a seat at the table…

greenfinch close

…and when they had all gone off, a redpoll appeared and wasted my valuable seed.

redpoll spitting

My view of redpolls as charming little birds has been somewhat dented by seeing a redpoll nest live on the Springwatch programme on the telly.  It was the most disgustingly untidy nest that you could ever see.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious one pot penne, tomato and cream cheese dish for our tea.  As the rain taps on our windows as I write this, we are just hoping that the weather will let us get to Edinburgh tomorrow.  A tree had fallen on the line today but it has been cleared, so all is well at the moment.

As a bonus for another ‘stay at home’ post, there is not one but two flying sparrows of the day.

flying sparrow looking

In the strong winds, birds had to approach the feeder with care.

flying sparrow hanging

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who passed the Bridge Inn at Duffield while on a bike ride.  As he had already fuelled up elsewhere, he took the picture and went on his way without calling in to sample the wares.

bridge inn Duffield

I know that I ought to be resting my Achilles tendon but I am feeling really exercise deprived and I might easily have done something inadvisable this morning had not the weather come to my rescue by producing another cold and grey day, ideally suited to sitting in and getting stuff done in the house.

I did stroll round the garden after breakfast.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some depressed ranunculus plants in a pot at a garden centre.  She gave them some care, divided them up, planted them out, watered them in and now they are rewarding her with a splendid show.

ranunculus

A berberis in a shady corner caught my eye, with its flowers brightening up a gloomy corner.

berberis

A blackbird was quite happy to help with getting the moss out of the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

I opened the greenhouse and was much struck by this handsome Fuchsia inside.

fuchsia in green house

Mrs Tootlepedal bought it recently and put it outside in the warm spell.  Then it got badly hit by the frosty mornings so Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed off the damage and gave it some shelter and now it is looking very well.

Just outside the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is covered in flowers from top to toe.

rosemary bush

I noticed that the geums are coming along nicely….

geum forest

…and then went inside to get warm.

Later on in the morning, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the sparrowhawk resting in the walnut tree after an unsuccessful fly through the garden.  It stayed there long enough for me to get a camera…

sparrowhawk in walnut tree

…but when I went out to see if I could get a closer shot, it flew off in disgust.  It didn’t take the little birds long to come back to the feeders.

siskin eating peanuts

The quarrelling pigeons were back again today and it went beyond hard stares and descended into flapping and waving which led to both birds losing their focus.

flapping pigeons

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and noticed that if you were shopping in Langholm’s High Street in 1899, you could acquire ‘all the latest London novelties’ from Mr Hyslop, the draper, who had just come back from a visit there.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out for an errand on her bicycle in the late afternoon and as the sun was shining, I went out with her and then turned off to do a little three bridges cycle instead of a walk by myself.

The copper beeches at the park bridge are looking good. two copper beeches

I didn’t go into the park but continued down to the waterside, and was happy to catch a glimpse of a grey wagtail at the Sawmill Brig.  It was living up to its name and waggling about a lot so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

grey wagtail

The trees that have been felled along the Lodge Walks have taken some of the magic away from the green tunnel that used to greet walkers…

lodge walks

…and you can see how big the gaps are when you look at the trees from the other side.

rear of lodge walks

The sun was disappearing rapidly behind the clouds by this time and the colours were rather subdued so I headed home (pedalling very gently)…

castleholm with dog walker

…noting this burst of blossom on a tree beside the Jubilee Bridge.

white blossom beside esk

Once back home, I had a last walk round the garden, enjoying the cow parsley above and the sweet woodruff below in the back border.

cow parsley and sweet woodruffe

The yellow azalea is doing its best to come out to join the pink one and the first yellow potentilla flower of the year has appeared nearby.

azalea and potentilla

There had been a light shower of rain earlier, which was welcome, but it had not been hard enough to wet the soil thoroughly.  It did make the lily of the valley shed tears apparently…

lily of the valley weeping

…and of course it gave me an excuse to take a picture of a spirea with droplets, one of my favourite subjects.

spirea with droplets

In between times, I practised choir songs and prepared some music for Luke.  Our wonderful Carlisle choir conductor has gone done in my personal popularity stakes a bit as she is making us learn another song off by heart.   As it is one of those songs where you sing the same words to slightly different notes each time they reappear (and they reappear a lot), so this means a lot of hard practice is required.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty quorn concoction made a welcome return to the tea table in the evening, this time in the guise of a shepherd’s pie.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today with a siskin coming and a goldfinch going.

two just flying birds

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was very impressed by this floral hedge which she passed not far from her home.

susan's hedge

We had some thought of an expedition today but uncertain feet and a dubious forecast persuaded us that some time spent in the garden while it was still dry would be time well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal did those things which gardeners do. She planted out Sweet Williams, planted seeds in the greenhouse, planted beetroot seeds in a raised bed, weeded, tended and in general way was productive and busy.

I dead headed, mowed the middle lawn with the blades so high that I barely touched the grass, sieved a very little compost and took some pictures.

There is a little pause just now in the garden when it comes to new delights but old friends are thriving…

six april flowers

…and there are various dicentra on all sides, though the cooler weather seems to have discouraged the bumble bees.

four dicentras

The big euphorbias get more fantastic every week and some little ones are coming to join the fun.

two euphorbias

Ferns are unrolling…

fern unfolding

…and some shuttlecock ferns in a very shady spot have unfurled completely.

shuttlecock fern

Shrubs are doing their best to add a bit of colour.

spirea and berberis

But my favourite view of the morning came while I was sitting on the new bench and looking at these tulips.

8 tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal made lightly curried parsnip and carrot soup for lunch (with croutons) and while she was cooking, I watched the birds.

More siskins than ever turned up today and places at the feeder were hard to come by…

siskins and goldfinch

…even for other determined siskins.

siskin arriving amid siksins

Once again, some siskins took to the peanuts, a sound policy in my view.

siskin on peanuts

After a while, redpolls turned up.  They are determined birds too…

redpoll sees an opportunity

…and one saw a chance to nip in while two siskins were fighting each other.

redpoll sneaking in

Another took a calmer view of things while it played a waiting game.

redpoll on feeder pole

In the afternoon, we went up on to the hill in the hope of seeing some hen harriers but all we saw was some very heavy rain as we had chosen to wrong time for our trip.

Once we decided to go home the rain stopped of course and we could at least get a view across the Tarras Valley…

View to Cronksbank

…but there were still clouds behind us….

Tarras cloudscape

…and more in front…

Whita cloudscape

…so we went home anyway.

In the evening, we went down to Canonbie to hear a choir of Ugandan schoolchildren sing in the church there.

The children, most of whom were very young, did tremendously well, singing, dancing and clapping with great vigour.  The concert was nearly two hours long, had no interval and was frequently punctuated with appeals for financial support for the religious charity which had brought them over to the UK.  This left us with the slightly uncomfortable feeling that the children were perhaps being made to work a bit harder than would have been ideal.  Still, we were glad that we had gone to hear them and they sang one beautiful African song which warmed the heart with its harmonies.

The flying bird of the day, taken when the light was poor,  is one of the many siskins.

flying siskin

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