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Posts Tagged ‘sweet pea’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He has been on a tour of the north east with my sisters Mary and Susan.  They returned home by train today and he drove back to Derby by way of Fountains Abbey.

Fountains Abbey

Mrs Tootlepedal and I also came home today, leaving Evelyn Rose with some sadness but the heat and hurly-burly of London with less regret.  Our train was punctual to the minute and as a result we were able to catch the bus home without delay.

Our first thought was for a reviving cup of tea…

…and our second was to look round the garden.

lawn on return

It had survived without us very well, though as you can see, the grass on the lawn was far too long.

The salvias are glorious and Mrs Tootlepedal is thinking of planting some more for next year (but perhaps not quite so many).

slavia

A lot of poppies needed dead heading but there were a few still in flower…

brilliant poppy

…and the hosta was in ebullient form.

hosta in full flower

There had been no heavy wind or rain to knock the delphinums over…

delphinum ligularia

…and in general, there are still plenty of things to catch the eye.

four lovely flowers

There were not a lot of new flowers about but the first dahlia of the year has appeared.

first dahlia 2019

The roses are enjoying themselves this year and Special Grandma was appropriately well lit up in its shadowy place in its bed.

special grandma lit up

At the other end of the lawn both The Wren…

Rose Wren

…and Lilian Austin were showing different stages of development.

Lilian Austin pair

At the other end of the garden, the Common Riding rose has burst into flower while we were away.

commin riding rose

The call of the lawns was too strong to be resisted so I knuckled down and got the mower out.  The recent feed that I gave the front lawn has been very effective and the grass had grown strongly in the time that we were in London.  I took a wheelbarrow full of grass off it on the first cut and then ran over it again in a different direction to get a smooth finish.

mown front lawn and barrow

Because of the lush growth, it was  hard job job on a warm afternoon, so I had one or two shady and fragrant rests on a handy bench at the end of the lawn while I toiled away.  The shade was provided by the walnut tree and the fragrance was supplied by a combination of privet and honeysuckle.

privet and hioneysuckle

Then I mowed the middle lawn.

mown middle lawn

Although it may look like a bit of a monocultural desert, the middle lawn has a good many weeds in it, including some self heal which  grows so low to the ground that the flowers duck under my mower blades and can still be clearly seen even after this trim..

Elsewhere in the garden, we have clover in the grass.

clover lawn

A good day was rounded off by the arrival of three recorder players after tea and we sat and played recorder quartets both ancient and modern with great enjoyment as the sun set  in the clear sky outside.

As they left, after a cup of tea and a biscuit, we could hear the swifts calling high above the house.

No flying bird of the day today, so one of the many sweet peas that needed picking stands in instead.

sweet pea

We would like to thank everyone who has sent us good wishes on the arrival of our new granddaughter.  We receive them with gratitude and they have been forwarded on to Annie and Joe.

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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 is another from our son Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has sent me a lot of good pictures but this one gets my seal of approval.

Tonys highland seal

We had another fine day and I had hoped to get some useful cycling in, but a sore back when I got up put paid to any expansive ideas.  As it happened, it was just as well that I was at home as the power company men turned up to put up a new fence.  The old one had been knocked down when they replaced one of the poles in our garden.

They turned out to be as handy with hammer and saw as they were with big poles and the new fence was soon in place.

new fence

While they worked, I hobbled round the garden doing some weeding, dead heading and snapping.

There was a lot to look at.

I was pleased to see a red admiral butterfly…

red admiral butterfly

…though I would be even more pleased to see more than one.

Poppies and an anemone caught the eye….

poppies and anemone

…and Bobbie James has come out to join  Goldfinch on the fence between the middle lawn and the vegetable garden.

bobbie James and goldfinch roses

I picked some sweet peas and thought that this one was the pick of the bunch.

sweet pea

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica (to give it its Sunday name) proves to be a very interesting plant with a lot going on.

salvia turkestanica

And as always, the astrantias attracted me….

astrantia

…and a great number of wasps as well.

wasp on astrantia

We haven’t found out where the wasps’ nest is yet and just hope that it isn’t in some hole in the roof.

Looking up at the walnut tree, I could see that we should have walnuts to eat again this year.

walnuts July

After the power company men left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some watering in the vegetable garden and then I mowed the front lawn , and then it was time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal had Moorland business to attend to after lunch and went off to collect more signatures of interest in the possible purchase while I watched the birds.

A goldfinch took poorly to being menaced by a greenfinch…

goldfinch and greenfinch

….but was fast asleep a moment later to the possibility of getting a rude awakening from a sparrow.

sparrow kicking goldfinch

I got a message from Mrs Tootlepedal that she had forgotten something so I was galvanised into action. I got my cycling gear on, delivered the item and then kept cycling southwards.

I took the main road out of town and stopped to admire the substantial field of daisies on one side of the road…

daisies on new A7

…and two orchids on the other.

orchids at Auchenrivock diversion

I didn’t stop again for a while, as a kindly wind was blowing me down the hill to the end of the Canonbie bypass and I was going too fast to notice much as I passed.

The way back was a slower business altogether, uphill and with an unhelpful wind so I was happy to stop to note hedges thick with honeysuckle and privet…

honeysuckle and privet in hedge

…and a field of interested bullocks.

a load of bullocks

I usually do this route in the opposite direction so I am often whizzing down this hill without looking.

kerr wood road

Today I had time to look and the inclination to take a breather.

kerr wood road wood flowers

The wind helped me along the last three miles and I arrived home after 20 miles in a cheerful frame of mind, considering how sore my back had been when I got up in the morning.

I had a wander round the garden….

foxglove trumpets

…before Mrs Tootlepedal came home and then I went to have a shower.

That concluded the business of the day apart from rather gloomily watching England’s ladies not quite being up to the task of winning their semi final in the world cup in spite of the USA kindly offering them some chances to do so.  The better team won.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow with its eyes on the prize.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who said that he was quite surprised to find any group of people pulling together in these divided times.

Andrew's rowers

We left the kind hospitality of my sisters behind after breakfast and set off to catch an underground train to Euston Station.  It was still the busy period as people headed for work and we had to let three terrifically crowded trains go past until we found one with enough space to let us squeeze aboard with our cases.  In the days when I was a regular commuter in London 60 years ago, I used to love the hurly-burly and pushing and shoving of city life but now I am not at all anxious to be treated like cattle just to get on a train.

Anyway, we still arrived at the station in plenty of time and were pleased to find that heavy rain showers in the night had not affected our line, although other lines from London had been affected.

Our train left smoothly for the north, but thanks to a signal problem along the way, it arrived in Carlisle just after our bus to Langholm had departed.  With an hour to wait, we were fortunate to find a good quality cream tea at a modest price in the M&S cafe to assuage our grief and pass the hour until the next bus arrived on time and took us home.

When we got off the train at Carlisle Station, I had noticed this reminder of times past waiting on another line.   Heritage railway excursions have become very popular lately.

sdr

It was good to get home and have a walk round the garden and while we were strolling about, we were joined  by our neighbour Liz.  She had also been away and had missed the same bus as us.  She had found a different way to get to Langholm though and we exchanged notes over a restorative cup of tea.

I walked out into the garden with Liz when she left and noticed a great pile of pollen on the ground under the hydrangea on our house wall.  The hydrangea is totally covered with flowers and, naturally enough, bees too.

bee on hydrangea

I checked on Mrs Tootlepedal’s carefully constructed anti bird defences in the vegetable garden.  They had obviously been working well while we had been away, and there were signs of promising fruits…

strawberry

…and flowers to come.

sweet pea

I had a check for new roses and was very pleased to find that Lilian Austin….

Lilian Austin

…Crown Princess Margareta…

crown princess

…and Ginger Syllabub…

ginger syllabub

…had all appeared since we went away.

In the pond, the first water lily was shyly peeping out from behind a leaf.

water lily

Other new flowers were out.  A Dutch iris…

dutch iris

…a handsome stand of Campanula…

camanula

…and the very first flowers on the Delphiniums.

delphinium

We still have things to come though.

salvia

The weather must have been good while we were away, because the peonies were looking very smart indeed…

pink peony

…in a variety of colours…

coral peony out

…shapes…

coral peony

…and sizes.

white peony out

The daises and geraniums are standing up very well.

daisies and geraniums

It was very good to visit the big city and between us see eleven of our extended family while we were there but it is equally nice to be back among the comforts of our own home again (even though it was quite chilly).

And a siskin was there to welcome us back.

siskin posing

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Shugborough Hall and shows the modest dwelling itself.

Shugborough Hall

The forecast was gloomy again and the day was pretty gloomy but not quite as gloomy as the forecast.

I checked out how the trimmed hydrangea looked after my efforts last night…

hydrangea

…and reckoned that the haircut was neat enough.

The day was cheered up by the arrival of Sandy for coffee.  He has been having great fun fitting out his new shed with storage and tool racks and all those things which really make a shed a shed.

While we drank our coffee, a blend of Kenyan and Ethiopian, I noticed a blue tit visiting the last of the fat balls on the feeder.

blue tit

The blue tits look rather green at this time of year.

I took a tour round the garden with Sandy before he left and then did a tour of my own dead heading a considerable number of flowers.  Mrs Tootlepedal had already been out dead heading but there is always more to do.

Then I pointed the camera at flowers.

The dahlia of the day…

yellow dahlia

…a pale poppy…

pale poppy

…and some very bright and poisonous Lords and Ladies (arum maculatum).

lord and ladies

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe over lunchtime and I set up the camera at the kitchen window.

Business both at the Buccleuch Centre and our feeder was brisk.

I started by seeing sparrows…

sparrows 4

…sometimes quite caring and sharing…

sparrows 2

…sometimes a little bit threatening…

sparrows

…and sometimes not very welcoming at all.

sparrows 3

Within minutes, the sparrows had turned into greenfinches…

greenfinches

…who were just as competitive as the sparrows.

greenfinches 2

A couple of chaffinches crept onto the bottom perches…

greenfinches and chaffinches

…and had to put on their hardest stare to keep the greenfinches away.

greenfinches and chaffinches 2

After 6 minutes of bird watching, I had taken 45 pictures so I hurriedly put the camera away again and went out to pick a lettuce and have my lunch, a lettuce and tomato and a lettuce and marmite sandwich.

I did think about a bike ride but it was grey and windy and every now and again some light drizzle floated down from above so I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database until Mrs Tootlepedal came back from the Buccleuch Centre.

It didn’t look as though it was going to get any brighter so we got into the car and went off to Carlisle to do a little shopping.

I bought some new photo frames and then we topped up on dates, cheese, coffee and other necessities of life before rolling home.  It was one of those annoying days when the weather in Carlisle, a mere twenty miles south of us, was much better than in Langholm.  It is the price we play for living in beautiful hilly country.

I had a last look round the garden, picking out a strongly coloured sweet pea today…

sweet pea red

…and then went in and shut the grey day out.

I have updated my photo editor and I now have a lot of new things to learn so perhaps a few wet, cloudy and windy days won’t come amiss while I grapple with the mysteries of ‘Cloud Computing’ indoors.

The flying bird of the day is one of the greenfinches.

greenfinch flying

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from a splendid set that my brother sent me after his visit to Shugborough Hall near Stafford a week ago.

shugborough bridge

We awoke to find it was still raining after a night of rain and a check on the scientific rain gauge showed two centimetres had fallen.  This is a fair amount of rain for us and it is an indication of how dry things have been that the garden wasn’t awash with puddles.

It was too wet for gardening though so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I made a beef stew for the slow cooker and then watched the birds for a while.

A rather anxious looking sparrow appeared first.

worried sparrow

It was probably right to be anxious as there was quite a lot of demand for a seat at the table.

chaffinch incoming

incoming sparrow

flying chaffinch

I was pleased to see a blue tit among the sparrows and chaffinches. The sunflower seeds are too big for a blue tit to chew whole so they usually take one off and trap it under their feet on a handy tree nearby while they peck at them….but sometimes they just drop them.

bluetit dropping seed

The rain soon eased off but it was still pretty wet and when I put the camera away, I stayed inside and put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

This took me up to lunchtime and after lunch, I nearly succumbed to the temptation of watching more of the European Championships on the telly but I managed to pull myself together in the nick of time and put on my cycling gear.

I was punished for saying there weren’t many insects about by being bitten by a horsefly when I had stopped for a breather on my bike ride but there are still not many of them in the garden.

I took this one by accident when I was shooting the dahlia of the day while wasting time before cycling…

dahlia

..and zoomed in for a closer look.

hoverfly

There are still geraniums about although they haven’t been at their best this year.

geranium

A close look at a rose mallow revealed a very fluffy interior.

rose mallow

The second flowering of the orange hawkweed goes from strength to strength.

orange hawkweed august

In the end, I stopped looking at flowers in my cycling gear and actually got on my bike.

It was an odd sort of day.  It looked very autumnal, gloomy and  grey and overcast but it felt rather summery with the temperature at a very pleasant 20°C so I  went off wearing shorts but with a rain jacket packed just in case.

After the overnight rain, I checked on the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse and was not surprised to find quite a bit of water splashing over the rocks.

Wauchope cascade

There were a lot of wild flowers growing near the river, some familiar…

wauchope wild flowers

…and one which was quite new to me.  I have no idea what it is.

white wild flower

When I stopped after ten miles to admire the view…gair road

…and have a drink and a nibble of guava jelly, I found that my lost water bottle was back on my bike again.

two water bottles

I had had a reasonable idea of where I had lost it on my previous ride and wondered whether it would be visible today.  It was just resting quietly in the grassy verge on top of Callister.  I took it home with me and though it will have to go in the bin, at least I haven’t left litter beside the road.

There is a stretch of this striking grass beside the road near Springkell and considering how full the seed heads are, I am surprised that I don’t see more of it about.

seedy grass

I saw a bright yellow flower in the verge at one point and wondered what it was.  A closer look makes me think that it is a bird’s foot trefoil but it has come rather late in the season if that is what it is.

trefoil

The weather gods played an amusing game with me over the last ten miles of the trip.  They sent down enough light rain to make me think about stopping and putting my rain jacket on and then, just as I was about to stop, the rain stopped.  And then, of course, a mile or so later, it started again.  This went on for some time and they only got fed up when it became apparent that I wasn’t going to stop even if it rained quite hard  (which it did for a few minutes) and they went off to annoy someone else.

I managed 35 miles at a modest pace and got home in time to have a walk round the garden before tea.

There were pale pink sweet peas to be seen today.

pink sweet peas

I picked a plum from the plum tree (a good place to look for a plum)…

first plum

…and went inside for a shower.  The plum will need to ripen for a day before it is ready to eat.

With more rain forecast for every day next week, I am glad to have got some miles in this weekend.  I still have plenty of archiving work to do so perhaps it will be a case of every cloud having a silver lining, a statement with which I do not agree in general.

I was spoiled for choice as far as flying birds went but the poor light didn’t let me get a very good picture.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She took it a week ago at the height of the hot weather in London and it shows a fine crop of green algae on the canal.

Canal basin, King's Place

The mornings are getting chillier now and I had to wait for a bit until the thermometer hit 10°C, which I thought was warm enough to start cycling.

It was an excellent day for a pedal with sunshine and clouds giving a perfect temperature and with a only a light wind which wasn’t a nuisance at all.

It might have been a day for a long ride if I hadn’t had something to do in the early afternoon.   With that in mind, I stuck to the main roads and cycled down to my favourite bench in Newtown and back again.   I was going to go on a more interesting route but I found that the Cumbria Highway Authority had just spent a lot of money resurfacing some of the bumpiest bits of the road south of Longtown so I thought that it would be rude not to go and try the new surfaces out.

They were very smooth and any cyclists will know just what a treat it is to cycle on a really smooth surface.

I was concentrating really hard on pedalling and forgot to take any pictures until I reached the thirty mile mark on my way home.  This is the broad sweep of the Esk…

River Esk at Longtown

…but the real reason that I stopped was to take a picture of this fine bunch of machines in a lay-by.

road menders vehicles

They are going to smooth out another bumpy section of the main road next week, this time to the north of Longtown.

With light traffic and winds and lots of good surfaces, I was able to average over 15 mph for my 40 miles, a very rare thing these days.  My new bike, although admirable in every way, is a little heavier than my old bike and thus a little slower.  I have done 1500 miles on it now and have no complaints about the extra weight as this comes with increased stability and comfort, important elements for the older cyclist.

I had time for a very quick look round the garden….

dahlias growing well

The dahlias are enjoying the weather a lot.

white sweet peas

Paper white sweet peas.

Mrs Tootlepedal occasionally buys gardening magazines and sometimes they have free packets of seed taped to the cover.  She has done very well out of two of these lately as the lilies were free…

big white lilies

…and so were the zinnias.

zinnia

After a quick lunch and a shower, I was ready for the next item on the calendar, an organ recital in the Parish Church in aid of the organ restoration fund.

As we got to the church, I looked back and saw the Kirk Brig looking decidedly overgrown.

kirk brig

The Wauchope Water is down there somewhere.

Once inside the church, I admired the bright colours in the stained glass windows…

Kirk window

…in front of which a former congregation in their wisdom erected a large sounding board above the pulpit.  This ruins the view of the window from the body of the church and I am told that there are plans to remove it but to place it elsewhere in the church as many parishioners like its ornamental carving a lot.  The minister is ‘miked up’ these days so the need for a sounding board has gone anyway.

The organ recital, given by Dr John Kitchen, a very competent organist from Edinburgh,  was excellent.  He had a delightful touch and was able to make the organ sound very musical to my ears, not something that every organist can manage.

Dr Kitchen is the official Edinburgh City Organist and gives many recitals in the Usher Hall there so he had no difficulty in preparing a varied and interesting programme for us.

It was a still a fine day when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal sat on the new bench with a fellow soprano from the church choir who had been at the recital  and considered the joys of gardening.

sopranos

They couldn’t help noticing a pair of butterflies making sure that there would more butterflies available in times to come.

white butterflies mating

I had a look on the buddleia….

another peacock butterfly

…but there was a disappointing turn out of coloured butterflies with just a couple of peacocks, with no small tortoiseshell, painted ladies or red admirals to be seen.  It is looking as though it is going to be a very poor year for coloured butterflies after all.

And although there are quite a few bees about…

lamium

…other insects are in very short supply with many less hoverflies about than I would expect and no clouds of small flying insects in the sunny evenings.

I thought that I ought to take a bit of action after a slow day yesterday so I mowed and edged the middle lawn, then did the same to the front lawn and while I was in the mood, I trimmed a couple of the box balls on the edge of the front lawn as well.

After a short sit down, I went out and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green.

I paused long enough to admire the clematis on the fence…

fence clematis

…and then went inside to enjoy a delicious meal made by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Luckily, there was a great deal of interesting athletics on the television in the evening so I refrained from any more activity.

There was no opportunity amid all this fun to set up the camera to watch the birds so the flying bird of the day is a close look at the Ooh La La clematis.

clematis centre

 

 

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