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Posts Tagged ‘spirea’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the misty mountains of Madeira.

madeira

As I am still resting my singing voice under doctor’s orders, Mrs Tootlepedal went by herself to sing in the church choir while I kept myself busy at home.

I may have occasionally glanced about as I went about my business…

butter and sugar iris

more butter and sugar irises are out

…but there was washing to be hung out….

yellow onion

and a handsome yellow oniony sort of thing has come out too

…lawns to be mowed…

lupins

the kindly weather has meant that the lupins are out from bottom to top of their stems

…and watered…

lupin close up

.and worth a closer look as well

…the car windscreen to be cleared of huge amounts of squashed insects (we had hardly any insects last year bit this year numbers seem to have recovered)….

philadelphus with roses

a large philadelphus with a scattering of roses in the back corner of the front lawn

…a second load of washing to be hung out…

astrantia

a garden in a single flower

…a sausage stew to be prepared for the slow cooker…

foxgloves

foxgloves are popping up everywhere

…and quite a bit of watering to be done too….

spirea bridal wreath

a better look at the tiny spirea flowers

…in spite of a forecast of thunderstorms later in the day (after yesterday’s disappointments, we weren’t taking the forecast seriously)…

lamium

and the lamium has burst in flower too

…so there was hardly any time to look at flowers at all.

hawkweed and white flowers

 

Mrs Tootlepedal is considering scattering more of the white flowers among the orange hawkweed for next year.  I think that that would be a good idea.

I did take a look at the hydrangea on the wall of the house.  Uninstructed people like me might imagine that the big white things are the important part of the flowers….

hydrangea

…but bees know better where the real interest lies.

bee on hydrangea

A blackbird took advantage of the lawn watering to have a quick shower.

blackbird having shower

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and got busy in the garden.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon waiting for the rain to come.  We were entertained by some prolonged rumbles of thunder but the lightning that caused them must have been a good distance away as we saw no evidence of it at all.

monument from garden

In spite of some very dark skies to the north of the town, the monument stayed bathed in sunshine and only a few drops of rain came with the thunder.

I had taken a camera upsatirs in the hope of some lightning shots but had to make do with looking at the birds instead.  They came to the feeder below the window, apparently quite unworried by the rumbling overhead.

goldfinch

goldfinch (2)

Two siskins felt the need to quarrel.

fighting siskins

It did start to rain more heavily eventually and for a while, it looked as though it was going to take things seriously but in the end, we only got a couple of short showers, enough to wet the garden which was welcome but not enough to store up some moisture on the ground for the future.

Now the threat of thunder and lightning has receded, I hope to get out on the bike again next week.

The flower of the day is the  Ooh La La Clematis, a pretty flower with an awful name.

Ooh La La clematis

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s stay in Aberdeenshire.  He visited Lil’ C’s American Diner near Oyne and sent me this picture.  The beer, Doom Bar, had come a long way as it is brewed in Cornwall and Bruce and I had drunk a pint of it ten years ago in a pub in Cornwall when he was acting as driver for the Tootlepedal Lands End to John o’ Groats cycle tour.

doom bar

In an effort to preserve my voice as much as possible, I didn’t go to sing in the church choir today.  While Mrs Tootlepedal went off, I stayed quietly in and cooked a beef stew for the slow cooker and checked out the garden after the overnight rain.

It looked refreshed…

foxglove

hosta with raindrops

…although one of the delicate peony flowers had found it all too much.

peony after rain

A white spirea is just beginning to show the first of its many little flowers…

spirea

…and the mini forest of orange hawkweed is thickening up.

orange hawkweed

As we had a practice in store before the concert itself, we had to leave for Carlisle not long after Mrs Tootlepedal got back from church, packing a snack to fortify ourselves after the practice and before the concert.

We picked up a fellow singer from Canonbie and got to the venue in good time.  We were singing at a new venue for us, St Barnabas Church, and it looked a bit run down as we approached it….

choir church

Inside, it was a different story entirely…

choir church interior

…and I wish that I had had the time and a camera to do it justice.  The church was built in 1936 and has been thoroughly refurbished inside so that it may well be the most cheerful church that I have ever been in.

As is often our custom at concerts, we were joined  by a local primary school.  This has the excellent twin effect of adding variety to the programme and numbers to the audience.  The children sang very well and I was pleased to see several boys in the school choir.  Our choir was about eighty strong and the acoustic was rich so we were able to make a good sound too.

The church was packed when the concert got under way and it went off pretty well and I managed to get through it surprisingly well.   We sang a little tribute to Andrew, our departing conductor, as a final number and he was much touched.  We will miss him.

Our Carlisle concerts are never too long so we got home in good time to eat the slow cooked stew and although it had obviously rained a bit more while we had been away….

pulsatilla

…it was still, warm and pleasant when we arrived back so while we were waiting for the kettle to boil for a refreshing cup of tea, we took a quick stroll round the garden.

The irises are looking well….

blue iris

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the latest arrival, a very dark and attractive variety.

dark iris

The naked eye sees it as almost black.

While we were looking around, a blackbird paused for a moment on its way back to the nest.

blackbird with worms

There will be no worms left in the garden at this rate.

There should be some food for us later though, as the plums are looking promising.

plums

Now the choir season is over, I am hoping for some good weather to get value out of my new bicycle.  The immediate forecast is looking promising.

I didn’t get a chance to catch a flying bird but the feeder was busy while we were outing singing and I had to refill it when we got home.  It was soon in use again.

siskins and goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from another inveterate traveller.  My Somerset correspondent Venetia has been eyeing up some tasty chocolates in Toulouse.

toulouse chocs

It was a day that would have been familiar to fans of Waiting for Godot….except that in this version, Godot finally turned up.

While I was waiting for the call from the bike shop to come, a perfectly wonderful day of sunny weather with light winds was just begging for some bicycling.  The garden offered consolations and I sieved some compost and chatted away while Mrs Tootlepedal worked at some of the many tasks a gardener faces in spring.  We also tested the new bench again.

There was a lot of colour about in the sunshine.

New on the scene was this anemone….

anemone

…and the first of the azalea flowers to open.

azalea

There was a colourful corner, entirely of tulips with a hint of grape hyacinth in the background…

colourful corner tulips

…and some individual flowers to admire as well.

tulip

Particularly this one.

tulip

The spirea is at is best.

spirea

And on the back wall of the house beside the dam, the first potentilla flower of the year was to be seen.  I expect to still be able to see potentilla flowers in autumn.

potentilla

More unusually, I found our neighbour Charlotte’s dog cooling its heels in the dam.

kenny's dog in dam

Charlotte was sitting in the sun nearby but resisted the temptation to jump in too.

There was fauna as well as flora.

A rook flew overhead…

rook

…a bee buzzed about…

bee

… a baby blackbird looked indignant (they always look indignant).

baby blackbird

…and a frog basked in the pond…

frog

…with what looks like a tadpole hanging from its lip.

The most interesting visitor to the garden though was human.  Our friend Bruce arrived on his electric bike…

bruce

…with news that he had not only heard a cuckoo on his bike ride but seen it as well.  Seeing a cuckoo is a very rare experience so he was quite excited.  His electric bicycle looked very exciting too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a sparrowhawk collecting its breakfast from the feeder early in the morning and while we were eating our lunch, presumably the same sparrowhawk returned for another meal….

sparrowhawk

…but this time in vain.

After sitting in the tree for a while, it suddenly flew to the ground and started prowling about among the flowers.

sparrowhawk

I have never seen this behaviour before but I suspected that it was after one of the baby blackbirds which tend to lurk in the undergrowth there so I went out and shooed the hawk away.

It went reluctantly, circling round the garden for several minutes getting higher on each turn before it flew off.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting and I killed a little time until the phone finally rang and I drove off to collect my new bike from the bike shop in Longtown.

Levi at the bike shop fitted the pedals of my choice, I paid him a king’s ransom and then, putting the slow bike in for a service at the same time, I drove home with my prize.

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived back from her meeting shortly afterwards and got her bike out and came with me for an inaugural ride up to Wauchope Schoolhouse.  Then she returned and floated back downhill and downwind to Wauchope Cottage while I completed the twenty miles of my usual Canonbie circuit.

She took this picture before we set out.

new bike

The bike may not look much but it has sealed bearings, a belt drive, a 14 speed internal hub gear, mudguards and a rack so it is dirt proof and needs no day to day maintenance at all and is in every way suited to the needs of an elderly cycle tourist.  I say nothing about the state of the cyclist.

It was still a beautiful day, although the clouds were beginning to build up….

Cloudscape

…and as a day to test a new bike, it couldn’t have been better.

I kept an ear out for Bruce’s cuckoo as I went across the hill but there was no sight or sound of it and I had to be content with seeing both  a fox and a hare crossing the road in front of me (but not at the same time).

The sight of a rain shower developing to the south made me keep pedalling rather than stopping for photo opportunities though and the new bike couldn’t have been more co-operative.  It is light, firm and comfortable with the feeling that every bit of power that I was putting through the pedals was being put to good use on the road.

The 14 speed hub gear has a ratio for every occasion and I was able to drift up any little hills with an ease and grace far removed from the inelegant puffing occasioned by striving to get the slow bike up any incline.

For those with a motoring interest, it was like driving a Lotus 7 (but quite a bit slower).

I did force myself to stop a couple of times, the first to note the leaves arriving on my three favourite trees at Grainstonehead…

trees at Grainstone head

…and the second to pay tribute to fine bunch of primroses at Irvine House.

primroses

I arrived home having done 17 miles at 15 mph, a very satisfactory speed for me these days and on a real high.  I had been worried that I might have found the new bike not to my taste and would have regretted the money invested but it turned out that Levi had been quite right when I first visited him after my old bike needed replacing.  He said then that he had just the bike for me in mind and it turned out that he was quite right.

Now I hope for some good weather and the chance to give it a real workout.

The flying bird of the day is the sparrowhawk as it circled above the garden after I had disturbed it.

_DSC4008

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a child friendly door that took Mary Jo’s fancy on her visit to Copenhagen.  Clever marketing.

copenhagen door

We could hardly believe it when we got another warm and pleasant day today.  It made cycling to church to sing in the choir a treat and gave us every incentive to get out in the garden when we got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent her time productively while I wandered around taking pictures.

Things are coming on.

Old friends are getting better…

cowslip

…and new ones are coming to join them.

primrose

Grape hyacinths are appearing everywhere…

muscari

..and the scillas are bunching up nicely.

scilla

We are getting nearer to peak daffodil each day…

daffodil

…and some flowers which have been modestly out for quite a bit in the chilly weather are throwing out more colour in the warmth.

primrose

primula

There are exciting hints of delights to come (though the magnolia is taking its time).

magnolia and tulip

…and some shrubs are showing colour too, like this spirea.

spirea

I had a lot of choice but this was my daffodil of the day.

daffodil

Putting down my camera, I picked up the lawn mower and gave some moss a fright.

lawn care

This was the first mowing of the reshaped middle lawn.  There is evidence of some grass growing on it which is a relief after a long, cold, damp spell when it looked as though it was going to be totally mossy.  There is a lot of work to be done before that one beautiful week in late June or early July when the currently speckled mossy area will look like a proper grassy lawn.  (It starts to go downhill again shortly afterwards.)

In the afternoon we combined some shopping, including getting some slabs for Mrs Tootlepedal’s new bench area, with singing with our Carlisle choir.  Our musical director, Andrew was back for the first time for a while and it was a treat to get the meticulous attention which he plays both to our singing and to the learning of new songs.

Just so that we didn’t get carried away, it was raining gently when we came out of the practice but it had stopped by the time that we got home and our warmer spell looks set to continue for a while at least.

In the gap between mowing the lawn and going to Carlisle, I had sardines on toast for my lunch and an opportunity to look out of the kitchen window.  The usual suspects were busy…

busy feeder

…and sometimes, very busy.

busy feeder

The redpolls have become a permanent fixture for a while at least, returning every day…

redpoll

…and I was particularly pleased to see a newcomer at the feeder today in the shape of a tree sparrow.

tree sparrow

I had been thinking only a day or two ago that it would be nice to see a tree sparrow and hey presto, one appeared.  Now I am thinking that it would be nice to win the lottery.

Any spare moments during the day were taken up by battling with an intransigent crossword puzzle.  In the end, I had to ring up my sister Mary to share notes on the more convoluted answers and between us we puzzled out the setter’s obscurities to our mutual satisfaction.

The flying bird of the day is one of our standard chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary, who popped over to Paris for some culture.  She bravely used that external escalator.

The excalators snaking up outside the Pompidou building

It was frosty again when we got up and I recorded the fact with the aid of a spirea.

frozen spirea

frozen spirea

My recovery from the cold has been delayed again and so I took advantage of a cancellation at the Health Centre to get a check on my chest from a doctor this morning.  It’s just a cold and will go away in its own sweet time.  He didn’t have much of a view about when and suggested sticking my head over a bowl of boiling water three times a day for a week.  I think he said ‘over’ and not ‘in’.

I was wasting another day of very light winds but as the temperature never got much above 5°C, I wasn’t as distraught about this as I might have been on a warmer day.

I looked out of the window as the morning went on.

I couldn’t see much because flying chaffinches kept getting in the way.

flying chaffinches

There were other birds about….some cute…

robin

…some stern…

blackbird

…and some that I may have seen at Gretna yesterday evening.

starlings

After a nourishing lunch of sombre looking but quite tasty soup, I went for a short walk just to stretch the legs.  When it is not windy, even 5°C seems pleasantly warm for a walk if you are properly dressed.

I walked through the park to the Stubholm and then followed track through the Kernigal wood and down to Skipperscleuch and came back along the river.

There was lichen and fungus to be seen as I went along.

fungus

And I liked the way that two leaves had become imprinted on a rock much in the way that we used to press leaves when we were in the infant school.

lichen and leaves

Although I was among trees for a lot of the walk, there were occasional views.

mist in the hills

Hillside

And even a little late autumn colour.

late autumn colour

Most of the colour from my walk was in the form of larches, which looked golden to my eye from a distance….

larches

…but not quite as pretty to my camera’s sensor.

The actual needles were mostly brownish yellow but still surprisingly green in places.

P1050101

There were plenty of bare trees to enjoy.

bare tree

And when I got down to Skippers Bridge, I went down to the waterside and took the obligatory shot.  For some reason Roy Orbison came to mind.

skippers bridge

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepdal had been very busy doing another section of her path and clearing the nasturtiums from around the front door,

nasturtiums

It was sad to see them go as they had done very well in resisting the early frosts but the last one had been too much for them.

I lent a hand on some more tidying up.

There are still a few survivors about.

sweet rocket and clematis in november

It was too cold and gloomy to linger in the garden for long so we came in for a cup of tea and a slice or two of a Selkirk bannock.  In this we had a lot in common with Queen Victoria who is said to have been very partial to a slice or two of a Selkirk bannock with her afternoon cup of tea.

In the evening, I went off to do some more croaking with Langholm Sings, our local choir.  There were only two tenors there tonight and so we enjoyed a very quiet and peaceful evening and were modestly pleased with our efforts.

In spite of all the flying chaffinches, the flying bird of the day is a blue tit.  It not the best picture but it makes a change.

flying blue tit

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows the roadside repair man fitting a new wheel to Dropscone’s car after he had inadvertently lost the original while driving along.

Dropscone's car

Dropscone arrived for coffee today with a tale of woe.  He had been driving back from a golf event up the borders at the weekend, when he suddenly found himself one wheel short of a full set.  He managed to get the car safely off the road and called for assistance.

Sadly, however hard he looked while the spare wheel was being put in place, he couldn’t find the errant wheel.  It had disappeared into the undergrowth, never to be seen again.

Still, the car (with Dropscone)  was brought back to Langholm on a trailer and it is currently receiving some TLC in a garage and will soon be back on the road.  Dropscone seemed very calm about the whole affair but it would make me lose a bit of confidence in my car if it happened to me.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I had a walk round the garden.  It was pleasantly warm and still for once but it had rained overnight and there was an air of dampness all around.

Dahlia

A hint of sparkle caught my eye and when I looked closely, I saw that among the plants, there was a spider’s web suspended….

spider's web

…with the very diminutive manufacturer in residence at the heart of it.

I took a lot of shots, trying to capture the best general view of it….

spider's web

…and of the tiny spider itself….

spider's web

…which was suspended in an almost invisible filigree net.

spider's web

I even went to the length of getting a tripod out and setting the camera up on it but what I really needed was some sunshine to make everything sparkle.

Still, it was fun trying.

The bees were busy trying to find poppies that had survived the rain.  These two had found a rich seam of pollen…

bees on poppies

…but other poppies held no attraction.

poppy soaked

They are pretty but fragile.  Later in the day I dead headed over forty poppies.

Mrs Tootlepedal joined me and noticed a green fly and bee combination on the the dahlia…

bee and greenfly on Dahlia

…and was generally a bit discouraged by how wet things were.  She did think the raindrops on the crocosmia leaves were very pretty though.

crocosmia

Dropscone brought a large mound of drop scones with him and we ate our way through it as he related his adventures.

When he had gone, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to help with the lunches and I got my bike out and went round my 20 mile Canonbie circle.  It was warm enough for me to expose my knees to the public and at 70°F or 20°C, it was hot enough to make me careful to drink sufficient water as I went round.  A novel experience this summer.

It was a day when I could have gone further but although my back is improving, my arm had a nasty swelling so I thought it wise to take things gently.  I did take one picture as I went round to show off a quietly green corner of the ride…

Old A7

….but the muggy conditions had steamed up the lens on my phone camera so it wasn’t very successful.  The old main road, now a cycle track, is being gradually narrowed by the encroaching greenery, year on year.

I gave my bike a good good wash and clean when I got back as I have been pedalling on damp roads lately and then had a late lunch and a shower.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back from the Buccleuch Centre and started work in the garden.   My arm was a bit sore so I wandered about taking a few photographs instead of mowing or sieving.  In spite of the warmth, it had not been a drying day.

spirea and sedum

Spirea and sedum

More sparkle attracted my attention.

raindrops

The yew bush was covered in small webs which had caught the raindrops.  I processed the picture so that the web on which the drops are suspended is visible too.

raindrops

I thought that it looked a bit like one of those neural network maps that scientists produce to show how your brain works.

It was lucky that I had taken the picture when I did because later in the afternoon, Attila the Gardener attacked the bush with loppers and secateurs and all the webs went off to the shredder along with the branches that held them.

Mrs Tootlepedal took great care of the tropaeolum which lives in the yew and it should thrive on the greatly reduced bush.  She found some of the bright blue berries which follow the red flowers.

tropaeolum berries

A garden colour like no other.

I noticed a new clematis in a philadelphus…

clematis

…and I took a couple of pictures of a poppy and a cornflower which brightened up a rather gloomy day.

poppy and cornflower

Then I took my sore arm, which had swollen up slightly alarmingly overnight,  off to visit the doctor.  He diagnosed a haematoma on my biceps caused, he suggested politely, by being a bit old and not having very good muscle tone.  However, as I had feared that I might have torn something serious, this minor injury diagnosis was quite a relief and the advice that it will take several weeks to heal itself was not too hard to bear.

The doctor was not my regular physician and he called for a second opinion just to confirm his opinion that there was no serious damage and this doctor, knowing me well, advised me not to fall off my bike for a bit.  I am going to try to pay very good attention to that helpful instruction.

Once back in the garden, I was able to put the ex yew bush trimmings through the strimmer and so heartily had Mrs Tootlepedal approached her task, that we had to empty the box three times.  It all went back on the garden as a weed suppressing mulch.

Now I know that I won’t do any harm to my arm, I hope to get out for a longer ride before the end of the month as soon the days will be shorter and colder.

No flying bird of the day today but another welcome butterfly visitor stands in.

red admiral butterfly

 

 

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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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