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Posts Tagged ‘sunflower’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  I walked past the canal at Paddington on my way home from Marlow without taking a picture so she sent me this one taken further along the canal a few days earlier.  I don’t think that she sampled the rum.

canal

In the end, a combination of the heat, an appointment and things to do persuaded me to put off going to see Matilda for a week.  I had planned for a very leisurely day but I kept pottering about for pretty well the whole time and it was just as well that I didn’t try to fit in a  trip to Edinburgh as well.

I had to do quite a lot of dead heading and some watering too and as this involves carrying heavy watering cans about  (we have been asked not to use garden hoses until it rains again), it also involved quite a bit of resting between trips.  I used the breaks to take some pictures of bees.

I was spoiled for choice.

bee visiting red poppy

Every colour was in demand.

bee visiting blue allium

And every size and sort of flower.

bee visiting foxglove

A new pale astrantia has come out and the bees like it as much as the darker ones.

bee on astrantia

The poppies had benefited from the dead heading and replacements had arrived.

poppy

My appointment was to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up at the health centre and that passed as painlessly as it always does.  Young people won’t realise what a wonderful improvement there has been in needle technology.  Getting injections of any sort when I was a boy was a nightmare and I still have enough needlephobia not to be able to watch an injection when I get one or see one on the telly but actually having an injection nowadays is a breeze and the nurse and I chatted happily about golf while the procedure was performed.

I had a light lunch when I got back and then went out to do some more watering and picture taking.

I think that these are the famous doddering dillies that were on sale at the Church fete.

doddering dillies

They are very pretty but because they dodder about in the lightest breeze, they are not easy to photograph.

There are several sunflowers out in the garden…

small sunflower

…and this is one of the small ones.  I will need a step ladder to take a picture of one of the tall ones.  They are miles above my head now.

We saw a fine example of the Common Riding rose (Excelsa) at the Hampton Court Flower Show but I think that ours is looking every bit as good.

CR rose

CR rose close

Although it only has one flower at the moment, I like one of the new roses that Mrs Tootlepedal planted this year.

Fru Dagmar Hustrup rose

It is called Fru Dagmar Hastrup and I think it is very charming.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes it was a bit more robust.

I went inside to work on the computer to avoid the hottest part of the afternoon and then Mike arrived and I went round to have a cup of tea in his shady garden.  Alison provided the tea and an excellent ginger biscuit and I was so perked up by this that after finishing my computer work and potting out some plants for Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out for a short cycle ride in the relative cool of the evening.

It was a perfect cycling evening and I wished that I had been able to get out for a longer ride.

View from wauchope school brae

I saw a big bunch of bright yellow flowers in the verge so I stopped for a look.  They looked a bit like crosswort at first but it was something different.

yellow verge flowers

I took a close up as best I could while holding up my bike….

yellow wild flower close

…and a shot of a single plant.

yellow wild flower whole

Any help with identification would be welcome.  (My wildflower expert, Mike says that it is Lady’s Bedstraw)

There was plenty of purple around too in the form of thistles….

thistles

…and the first rosebay willowherb of the summer.

rosebay willowherb

I only went twelve miles as it was past my tea time already but I hadn’t quite finished the day yet.

When I got home, I mowed the front lawn.  There will be those who think that it is folly to mow a lawn when the weather is so dry and they may be right but it was a light cut and it made the lawn look better.

front lawn dry

Two beautiful roses lurk behind the box balls at the far end of the lawn but most of the colour was right behind me as I took the picture so I turned round.

colourful corner

On the other side of the garden a new flower has come out.

new red flower

As I am trying to improve the rust content in my diet, I had a good meal of liver with peas, beans, spinach, turnips and potatoes from the garden.

The flying bird of the day is sensibly resting.

blackbird

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa.  He thought that we might need a touch of snow to cool us down.

south african winter

I have had a long day and I am pretty tired so although I am back at my computer, this post will be another brief one as I need an early night.

I left London by train and thanks to a fire along the side of the track ahead of us which held us up a bit, my train managed to get in after the bus to Langholm had departed and I had a hot and unwanted forty minutes to kill in Carlisle before the next one came.

I finally got home about five and had time to walk round the garden to do some watering, pick some peas and beans and gooseberries, dig up a potato and of course, take a picture or two.

I cooked the peas and beans and potatoes and had them for my tea and then went off to a choir practice at the church.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and feel that my voice may be recovering a bit.

I got back home and did some more watering.  We have been asked to try to avoid using garden hoses during the dry spell so there is going to be a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with watering cans until it rains.   The current forecast says that this is unlikely to be in the next ten days at least.

I had  stewed the gooseberries earlier and I ate them after choir practice.

The garden has survived our absence surprisingly well, perhaps because our friend Mike has kindly been doing some watering while we have been away.

Here is the evidence.

nasturtiums

Nasturtiums in a shady spot by the front door

rose Wren

The Wren, showing the dead heading is needed…

rose wren bunch

….but unbothered by the eager dead header, it has produced a fine bunch of flowers.

poppies tired

The poppies have come and gone while I have been away.   I dead headed them and hope for fresh flowers soon.

moss roses

The moss roses are in excellent shape

stachys

And I don’t think that  I have ever seen the stachys looking better.

delphiniums

The delphiniums are less tall (on purpose) than last year and are standing up well.

rambler rose

The Common Riding rose is looking very charming but it is a lot earlier than usual

calendula

Marigolds are coming out in various parts of the garden

special grandma rose

Special Grandma is a fitting tribute to both the gardener and her mother, two special grandmas.

small sunflower

The sunflowers in the vegetable garden have come out while we have been away.

dutvh iris

This Dutch iris couldn’t look any better if it tried.

red poppy

One poppy didn’t need dead heading

I am due to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda tomorrow but that might depend on the heat.

No flying bird of the day today but I was pleased to see that we still have blackbirds in the garden.

blackbird

 

 

Mrs Tootlepedal is staying with her mother for a week or two.  Both the garden and I will miss her.

 

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Nothing doing

Today’s guest picture comes from Clare and shows that Matilda, her daughter, can paddle just as well at Portobello as she can at North Berwick.

Matilda at Portobello

We might have gone paddling ourselves today too but only in the puddles on the drive.

It was raining when we got up and it rained pretty persistently for the rest of the day.   We have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the final whistle has been blown in the game of waiting for summer to come.  There were three unnaturally warm days a month or two ago and that was that.

Looking at some weather statistics for August, it seems that we only had five days in August when we had above average temperatures so my feeling that it was a rather chilly month may have been justified and not just down to my usual gloomy view of life.

It got me down today and, most unusually, I did absolutely nothing all day other than a take a quick trip to the shop to stock up on supplies and make a batch of rolls.

There was a moment when the rain almost stopped and I took a couple of pictures in the garden just for the sake of taking a couple of pictures.

lily longiformum

The big lilies don’t mind a bit of rain.

lily longiformum

There has been so little regular sunshine that the dahlias are facing in many different directions, no doubt trying to find out there the sun is.

dahlias

The flowers beside the front door, sheltered from the worst of the wind and rain, are looking very cheery though.

front door flowers

I did think about braving the rain later in the afternoon when the sun came out and smiled at us sarcastically for about three minutes but by the time that I had decided to go, it was raining again.

The rolls came out very well and while purists may think that it is cheating to get the bread making machine to make the dough, the results are very consistent so I will keep doing it.

The flying bird of the day is a sunflower which accurately sums up our recent weather.

soggy sunflower

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s walk along the Thames.  She saw these two unusual boats in a dock near Tower Bridge.  Not the usual rich people’s yachts.

A splash of colour

I have a wonderfully shiny bruise on my arm so I thought it might be a good plan to have a very quiet morning.  It had rained heavily overnight again so things had time to dry out while I lazed about.

Apart from a quick visit to the corner shop for milk, I didn’t poke my nose out of the door until after lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to see a red admiral butterfly on a marigold.

red admiral on marigold

I looked around and found that it wasn’t alone.  There were several Red Admirals and Peacocks on one of the buddleias.

butterflies

One flew off to bask on a wooden plank.

It is very cheering to see the butterflies just when we were beginning to think that they might not arrive at all this year.

peacock

I looked at the greenhouse grass and decided that arm or no arm, it needed mowing and got the hover mower out and did some of it.  Mrs Tootlepedal offered a cup of tea so I left some still to do and went inside.

It was fairly sunny by now and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the Langholm Moor to look for interesting birds and kindly finished the mowing while I collected my cameras.

We saw plenty of harrier and buzzard action when we got to the moor but they were in teasing mood today and would fly quite close to the road until we stopped the car at which point, they gently eased themselves into the middle and far distance, no doubt chuckling in a raptor sort of way as they flew off.

harriers

Not a bad day for binoculars but not much good for cameras.  I looked at the view down to the Solway instead…

Solway Firth

…but it wasn’t much better with a lot of haze and a curiously flat light.

The heather was looking good in parts and at one stage, we stopped opposite one of the peat banks which are cut for fuel.

Heather and peat

We were hoping to see goats but they were obviously well away from the road so we went down into the Tarras valley and parked for a while there.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a couple of harriers hunting across the hill while I went to look at the river.

I walked along the narrow road to find one of my favourite spots.

Tarras road

Tarras cascade

There was plenty of water coming over the cascade after the night’s rain.

In spite of a sunny appearance to the day, there seemed to be a hazy sky and the light was very flat indeed so I went back to the car, took a picture of the bridge….

Tarras Bridge

…and then we went home.

We stopped on the way back down to take a picture of Castle Hill where I had photographed the charity horse riders on Sunday.

Castle Hill

I walked up that ridge from left to right and considering how hard it is to climb, it looks amazingly gentle when seen from the side like this.

When we got home, I had a look round the garden.

sunflower

The sunflower is enjoying the warm spell

new plants

Two of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new plants looking well set

yew

The yew, which after yesterday’s pruning is mainly acting as a sort of clothes hanger for the perennial nasturtium.  It will come again.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal set about doing some major pruning to a rose so I helped out with the shredding and there was so much material that the box had to be emptied three times.  There is no doubt that looking after a flower garden takes a lot of doing.  I am glad that I live with someone who is not afraid of hard work.

From time to time, I checked on our blackbirds, hoping to get a shot of them eating the rowan berries.

blackbirds

Getting ready to pounce

blackbirds

Almost there

….but I was never quite at the right place at the right time.  Most of the berries have already been eaten so I may have missed my chance for this year.

I was tempted into using the colour picker on my Lumix to take an arty shot of the fuchsia.

fuchsia art

…but perhaps I should have resisted the temptation.

My arm was a little sore so I went in and caught up on my correspondence for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal finished clearing up after the rose pruning.  When she came in, I went out and mowed the middle lawn (very slowly and carefully).

I was tempted by the colour picker again….

clematis

…but I think that I like the full colour version of the clematis by the front door in the evening light better.

clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal came out to enjoy a sit in the garden in the sun while the tea was cooking and we were overlooked by a half finished robin.

robin

In spite of the overnight rain, the weather at the end of August is looking a lot better than the first half of the month (no doubt because the children have gone back to school) but unless we get a very dry spell soon, everywhere is beginning to have that slightly soggy autumn feeling even on a sunny day.

Still, my back is much better and I have reached my minimum cycling mile target for the month so mustn’t grumble.

And a poppy in some sunshine is always a cheerful thing.

poppy

As a point of minor interest, the bread making machine and I made a set of rolls recently and since there were too many for us to eat at once, I froze a couple, something which I have never done before.  We let them unfreeze naturally today and they were as good as new.  I was was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely try freezing rolls again when I next make them.  I realise that this will not be big news to people who freeze bread regularly.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited the south coast of England  yesterday and saw the not quite so famous white cliffs of Brighton.

The white cliffs of Brighton

After the excitements and activity of yesterday, today was very restrained.

The only noticeable activity of the morning was eating some iced buns which Dropscone kindly bought with him when he arrived for coffee.  Dropscone had plenty to relate as he has had a busy time lately, playing golf, refereeing a golf tournament, organising a golf tournament of his own  and visiting the science museum in Glasgow.  He had survived all this very well but I was quite exhausted just listening to his adventures.  He certainly gets about.

It rained heavily while we sipped and chatted but it stopped when it was time for him to go home.

I went out to look at flowers just once in one of the sunny spells.

dahliasdahliaspoppies

The only activity in the afternoon was a drive to the council dump at Annan to get rid of our old dishwasher.  This was made even more exciting than a normal visit to the dump by the fact that we had to pass through several torrential downpours with added thunder and lightning on our way there.

It was fortunate that the downpours were reasonably brief, as in the space of a minute on each occasion, the roads turned into rivers and driving became quite dangerous.  Happily on each occasion, we soon found ourselves back in bright sunshine…although we could see the next shower coming towards us at speed quite clearly.

With heavy showers and bright sunshine alternating rapidly, it wasn’t a day for cycling, walking or gardening so I took the opportunity to give my back a really good rest.

The ironic sunflower is progressing well in spite of the rain…

sunflower

…but the theme of the day was summed up by this large puddle outside the back door.

puddle

It was our younger son’s birthday today and Clare, his wife, sent me this picture of him being terrified by his birthday cakes.  It is acting as the flying bird of the day.

Al birthday cakes

It is the Canonbie Flower Show tomorrow and we are hoping for some better weather.

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Today’s guest picture shows another of the modes of transport that Dropscone encountered on his holiday in Germany.  I don’t think that he travelled on it though.

Paddle steamer in Germany

Our very welcome spell of good weather continued today, helping to dry the garden out after the recent rains.

I didn’t have time to get out before coffee because I had to wait in for a call from a computer company who had promised to sort out some problems arising from my internet provider terminating my email account (for commercial reasons of course).

The firm that has taken over my email hosting had made an appointment to ring me at 10.30 so I was agreeably surprised when they rang at 10.20.  I was even more agreeably surprised when a nice young man solved my problems without any fuss or trying to sell me additional and unwanted services.

The first email that arrived within seconds of the opening of my newly set up mailbox was a bill from my energy supplier but then you can’t have everything.

Over coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, I was able to watch a couple of dunnocks under the feeder.  They are such muted birds that they often look out of focus even when they are quite well shot….

dunnocks

…or that is my excuse anyway.  I am very fond of dunnocks.

After coffee, I went out and did some shredding as Attila the gardener has been busy and there was quite a pile waiting and then I had a walk round the garden.

poppies

The poppies and cornflowers continue to bloom but sharp eyed readers will notice a lot of dead heads in the picture above.  The dead heading routine is a bit relentless but I counted about a hundred poppies still waiting to come out so it is worthwhile.  I was not the only one to find the sunflower by the feeder attractive…

sunflower with bee

…and there was a pleasant hum all round the garden.

The dark astrantia is beginning to go over but it has produced some fresh but simplified flowers to keep it looking bright as it goes.

astrantia

I mowed the grass round the greenhouse and then put the box on the good mower and mowed the middle lawn.  It had been left longer than usual because I had put spot weed killer on some very intrusive weeds with the result that I took five boxes of cut grass off it instead of the usual one or two.

Still, the work was worthwhile as the weeds have been discouraged a fair bit and the grass looks healthy enough.

While I was outside, I did a bit more shredding, pointed the camera at the feeder…

blue tit and chaffinch

The chaffinch was using the sunflower as a jumping off point.

…and did some more dead heading.

After lunch, we went out into the garden again and Mrs Tootlepedal called me over to look at the Michaelmas daisies.   She was amazed by just how many bees there were on the flowers.

Bees on Michaelmas daisies

It is hard to give a really good idea of its how many there were but the sound of buzzing was deafening. I took a closer look.

bees head to head

Mrs Tootlepedal is using up our supply of sieved compost quite quickly so I tested out Bin D to see if it was ready for sieving yet.  I got some usable material but the heap is too soggy after the recent rain for me to get a good return for the effort for the time being.

It was a little cooler than yesterday so I got out the fairly speedy bike and went off for a pedal up the Lockerbie road.  It was lucky that I hadn’t realised how windy it was or I might not have gone.  As it was, the wind blew me merrily along on the outward journey and made the ride home a real battle.  When you are having to pedal full out to go 12 mph down a hill, you know that there is a fresh breeze blowing.

I had noticed that the rowan berries seemed to have been disappearing in a sporadic sort of way lately so I was pleased to catch some of the culprits at it when I got back from my ride.

blackbird in rowan tree

blackbird in rowan tree

There were several blackbirds at work.

blackbird in rowan tree

This one was very busy

There are plenty  of berries left as it has been a spectacular year for rowans.

While I was out blackbird hunting, I cast a few looks back at the feeder.  The sparrows were very busy there.

saprrows on feeder

We are bit short of entertainment at present as all the cycling stage races are over for the year but we were able to drink our afternoon cups of tea out in the garden today and we agreed that sitting in the garden on a sunny afternoon is as good as, if not better than, watching cycle racing on the telly.

dahlia

This was the sort of thing that we were enjoying

After seeing a bee looking very small on a big sunflower in the morning, I saw another been looking very large on a small cornflower in the afternoon.

bee on cornflower

It may even have been the same bee.

Courgette fritters once again graced the tea table and then while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see a friend acting in a play at the Buccleuch Centre, I went off to our Langholm choir as I need all the singing practice that I can get.

We both enjoyed ourselves.

The flower of the day is a poppy with the added promise of more to come.

poppy

And the flying bird is another of the sparring sparrows seen against the background of the house wall instead of the garden.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s continental excursion and shows a fine bridge over the Schlei at Kappeln in Schleswig-Flensburg.  Dropscone points out that it is just the same as Tower Bridge in London….but without the towers of course.

the-bridge-at-kappeln

Our spell of warm weather continued today and it was up to a  most unseasonal 20°C by mid morning and when the sun came out, it became positively hot.

The fat balls on the feeder have become sparrow magnets.

sparrows at feeder

But I managed to tear myself away from the kitchen window and get the final stage of my Archive Group  charity return to the regulators completed. This was a weight off my mind.    It is one of those tasks, quite simple in itself, for which the word procrastination is designed.  I suffer from chronic formophobia but I should have learned to overcome this by now.  Still, it is done.

After a cup of coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, I spent some time cleaning my fairly speedy bike as it had been wheezing and groaning a bit on my last ride.  When this was done, I sat on it and went for a pedal.

I was back home three minutes later as I had forgotten my bike glasses but this worked out well as Mrs Tootlepedal, who was toiling in the garden,  pointed out a painted lady butterfly….

painted lady and red admiral butterflies

…and I noticed a red admiral not far away.

I was going on my standard 20 mile pedal down to Canonbie across country and then back by the old A7 and  I stopped to add a picture of the bridge over the Esk at Canonbie to my recent bridge portfolio.

Canonbie Bridge

The rather ugly railing was added when the footway was widened a few years ago.

Although it was a lovely morning and the river was busy but not full, a glance at the bank above where I was standing….

Esk at canonbie

…showed just how high the Esk had been on Friday night after some heavy rain.  The level would have been above my head as I stood on the edge of the water.

All was quiet today though and I had a last look through the bridge….

Canonbie Bridge

….and then pedalled home in very good humour on dry roads in the warm sunshine with little or no wind.

There were more butterflies to be seen when I got back.

red admiral and peacock butterflies

The painted lady had been replaced by a peacock.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy doing some severe plant shifting requiring a pick axe while I had a light lunch and then we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  It had got a bit hairy…

hairy hedge

…although it only seems like yesterday that I gave it its last trim.

As you can see from the wires along the pavement, we were intending to use our electric hedge trimmer but the rotten thing wouldn’t work and after trying every connection, we gave it up as a bad job and settled for hand powered shears.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working too long in the sun though by this time and had to go in and lie down in a darkened room for a moment so I clipped away by myself until, providentially, the sun went in and Mrs Tootlepedal came out again.

Together we got the job done….

Trimmed hedge

…and though it is not a thing of dead straight lines and knife edge creases, we look at it as a creative work of art reflecting the troubled world that we live in and we are content.

Mrs Tootlepedal kept the shears at work by trimming a yew bush in the garden…

yew clipping

…while I snapped a few flowers….

clematis

…and spotted more butterflies.

red admiral butterfly

When you see one close up, you wouldn’t want to argue with it.

I am very happy about the number of butterflies appearing now.  It is not as large as in some previous years but it is more than we were expecting after cold weather at a crucial time.

I looked at some other flowers too and thought that the buds of a Fuchsia, hanging like lanterns, were perhaps just as pretty as the flowers in this light.

Fuchsia

I always enjoy an astrantia and our pale variety has produced some late flowers.

astrantia

On the edge of the freshly mown lawn, gently green nicotiana blended with yellow crocosmia.

nicotiana and crocosmia

I was able to pick apples for stewing and enough of our autumn fruiting raspberries to have a plate of raspberries and cream at tea time.  The front lawn had dried out enough to make mowing it a pleasure and  I even did a bit of dead heading in an effort to keep the dahlias and poppies going.  Some aspects of gardening are most enjoyable.

While I was clipping the hedge, my trio playing fried Mike had appeared with a new Mozart trio which he has just bought.  It is an arrangement of the trio in E flat K.498 (Kegelstadt) for oboe, bassoon and piano and will do very well for our flute, cello and piano trio.  Music for our combination is hard to come by.  I looked at it when I got in from the garden and enjoyed what I saw.

I went to make a cup of tea for the gardener and me and looked out of the window while we were sipping away….

jackdaw

…and received a hard stare for my trouble.

The jackdaw flew off however and was instantly replace by squabbling sparrows…

sparrows

…while a dunnock was happy to scavenge for tidbits under the feeder.

dunnock

If you have a glut of courgettes, I can heartily recommend courgette fritters.  Mrs Tootlepedal has a good recipe for them, and they are delicious, like potato latkes but better.   I could eat them every day which is handy as we have a lot of courgettes to get through.  Visitors almost always leave with a courgette or two with them.  We had some fritters for our tea with the last of the venison stew.

Later on we enjoyed some stewed apple and custard.  It was a good eating evening.

The flower of the day is a sunflower which Mrs Tootlepedal found bent over to the ground behind some other plants.  She has staked it up and it is looking none the worse for its adventures.

sunflower

The flying bird of the day is one of the disputatious sparrows, flapping furiously as it approached the feeder..

flying sparrow

 

 

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