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Posts Tagged ‘trillium’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this wonderful cave on one of his walks.  Thor’s Cave (also known as Thor’s House Cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave) is a natural cavern located at in the Manifold Valley of the White Peak in Staffordshire,

thor's cave

I got up quite early for me but an early bird had got up even earlier.

partrisge at breakfast

A partridge was out after seed rather than worms.

After breakfast I drove our Kangoo down to Carlisle where I traded it in for a smaller little white thingy which we hope is going to carry us about but need a lot less in the way of running  repairs.

I checked that the new car was going to be fit for purpose by stopping off on the way home to buy a big bag of bird seed.  The car carried it well.

Mrs Tootlepedal couldn’t come with me as she had to stay at home as the garage doors were being painted and she was waiting for a gas engineer to arrive.  The gas engineer had not arrived by the time that I got back and I had time to look at a bee on a dicentra..

bee on dicentra

…the trillums, which continue to do well in a shady corner…

trillium

…and signs of good things to come.  The first flower on the strawberries, the first row of lettuces and some broad beans waiting to be planted out.

strawb, lettuce and beans

The painter finished the undercoat and the gas engineer arrived.  He came to service the boiler which had developed a fault. He discovered that the boiler needs  a new part and we need a new thermostat and as he didn’t have either, he will come back tomorrow and fit them then.

After lunch, we tested the new little white thingy to see if it was up to Mrs Tootlepedal’s requirements by going off to collect some wood chippings to cover paths between the new beds in the vegetable garden.  We filled up the boot with buckets of chippings and we were nearly home, when I forgot that the new car is an automatic and stood heavily on the brake thinking that it was the clutch.  This brought the car to a sudden stop and tipped all the buckets of wood chips over.  What fun we had clearing the chippings out.

I will have to practice driving without a clutch and gear stick.

I sat down to watch the birds for a while and to recover from all this excitement.

The birds were rather dull.  First a set of goldfinches…

four goldfinches

…and then a more varied selection.

siskin, repoll goldfinch

But there weren’t many and so I went out and looked for bees in the garden.  They were quite a few buzzing about, visiting the apple blossom…

bee on apple

…and hanging out on the rosemary with well filled pollen sacs.

bee on rosemary

Back on the feeder pole, a blackbird issued a challenge to all comers…

blackbird speaking

…and waited to see if anyone would take him up.

blackbird silent

In the early evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a useful session, concentrating on musicality and phrasing to good effect.

After he left, I got my bike out and went off to see if my feet were up to a few miles pedalling.

It had been a beautiful sunny day but I hadn’t got far before the clouds gathered together to blot out the sun .  However, it was warm and dry so I enjoyed my ride.

clouds assembling

I stopped to look at two lambs…

two lambs

…which were bleating loudly.  I soon found out that this was because they were part of a small group of lambs on one side of a little stream and their parent were on the other side, also bleating loudly.

lost lambs

The lambs got safely back across though and by the time that I came past on my way back, the families were reunited.

While I was taking these pictures, I was passed by a couple of young ladies out for a bike ride themselves.  Seeing them whizzing up the road, I thought that I ought to try a bit harder too and although I couldn’t catch them up, I pedalled a lot more quickly than I usually do.  Luckily they turned off before I killed myself but all the same, my average speed for my little 12 mile ride was considerably faster than of late.  Pride is a great motivator.

Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked an tasty meal and I was pleased to sit down and eat it when I got home.

We are expecting the painter, the gas man and an electrician tomorrow so it will be a full day.

Flying birds were few and far between and this one nearly got a way before I could catch it.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who strayed as far as Berkshire to take this picture on a sunny walk in Twyford a day or two ago.

Twyford, Berkshire

Our brief summer has gone and we are back to normal spring temperatures.  It felt a bit chilly as a result this morning but it was quite a fine day and there was even a brief glimpse of sunshine to light up Dropscone and Sandy who were doing a bit of bench testing after our morning coffee.

Dropscone and Sandy

They are both keen travellers and as Sandy has just come back from a holiday in the Canary Islands, he was complaining of feeling the chill as a result.

Needless to say we had some good scones with our coffee.

While I waited for them to arrive, I spent a little time staring out of the window in the effort to catch a flying bird.  Birds were scarce though and only goldfinches arrived in any numbers…

golfdfimch

…and they either spent their time deliberately turning their backs on me…

_DSC3857

…or nipping quickly into the feeder before i could catch them.

goldfinch

When Dropscone and Sandy had gone on their way,  I wandered about the garden.

I ignored the tulips today and spent a lot of time dead heading daffodils as the day of the daffodil is almost done.  There are some late comers to the feast…

daffodil

…and this is my daffodil of the day…

daffodil

…but most of them are gone now.

They will soon be replaced by these…

allium

…which are lining up to come into flower.

The silver pear is doing its best…

silver pear

…but although it is covered in flowers, they are so discreet that a casual passer by would hardly notice them.

A single clump of  apple blossom packs more punch than the whole pear tree.

apple blossom

I heard a lot of buzzing on the gooseberry bush and managed to take a striking but indeterminate shot of a visitor to the flowers on its way.

wasp

It looks like a wasp but I couldn’t get it to pose nicely for me.

wasp

It has been a regular visitor to the gooseberry so I hope that I will get a better look at it soon.

Things are going over….

hellebore

The hellebores have been great value this year

…and things are coming on

willow

The willow showing three stages of development on one twig.

Mrs Tootlepedal has three trilliums in the garden and although they are not quite showing up like the carpets of trilliums that appear in America, two of hers are looking quite healthy.

trillium

This is the best of them

I got the hover mower out and mowed the grass round the greenhouse.  Just to annoy me, it has been growing more quickly than the grass on the lawns.

I woke up very early this morning and was nearly deafened by the dawn chorus outside.  Some of the noisiest birds in the garden are the blackbirds and one has taken to sitting on the silver pear during the day and singing as loudly as possible.

blackbird

Mrs Tootlepedal has seen a mother blackbird feeding a youngster and I hope to be able to catch some blackbird family action with the camera.  There are plenty of blackbirds about…

blackbird

…but I haven’t seen a baby blackbird yet.

It started to rain after lunch but that didn’t affect us very much as we spent the afternoon going to Dumfries where Mrs Tootlepedal had an eye appointment.  The eye department is still in the old hospital which has recently been superseded by a brand new building elsewhere in town.  This has the wonderful effect of  letting us park without problem in the vast and largely unoccupied car park.

It made going to hospital a pleasure and we added to the jollity of the day by stopping off at a garden centre on the way home.  We met another Langholm couple there who had been visiting the new hospital.  They told us that parking there was a nightmare.  Land values in the UK are curious and it is an oddity that they can find millions to build a new  hospital but still can’t afford to acquire enough land for adequate car parks for the patients.

A little rain won’t come amiss in the garden after some hot dry days but we just hope it knows when to stop.  The forecast is ominously unsettled.

I couldn’t get a good flying goldfinch today and this rather pointillist effort was the best that I could manage but at least it is flying and it is a bird.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is something Dropscone saw in the moat when he was visiting Hever Castle  last week.  He is pretty sure that it is a bird.

goose

It was a miserable soggy, grey and windy day in the morning and I wisely found things to do indoors.  With seven songs to have off by heart for our Carlisle concert, any time spent going through them is valuable so it wasn’t a wasted morning.

I even shifted more old photos off my computer onto an external drive which is good in two ways.  It makes my computer run a bit faster and it puts them in a safe place in case of computer disaster.

It wasn’t raining in the afternoon so I went out into the garden.   There is a lot to see there even on a rotten day.

The Icelandic poppies were able to hold up their heads today but I had to hold on to the stalk of this one to stop it swaying in the wind for long enough to get a picture of it.

icelandic poppy

The vegetable garden is coming on a bit each day.

Blackcurrants, strawberries and gooseberry all look as though they will be fruitful.

soft fruit

Chives….

chives

…and potatoes are progressing well too.

potatoes

Mrs Tootlepedal is busy constructing a pea fortress against the marauding sparrows and I hope to have a picture of that when she has completed the edifice.

From the vegetable garden, I walked along the back path and found plenty to enjoy there too.

colourful corner

Definitely a colourful corner

rhododendron

The wow factor

I read in an informative blog that trilliums have three of everything and when I looked, this turned out to be true…..

trillium

…although our two little plants are sadly quite a bit worse for wear.

Moving onto the front lawn, I was surrounded by azaleas.  We transplanted this yellow one last autumn and Mrs Tootlepedal cut it back quite severely.  As it is an old plant, we wondered whether the move and the haircut might be too much for it but we need not have worried.  It is thriving in its new place.

azalea (3)

Another one was moved and placed beside it and it too is doing well.

azalea (2)

If I can find a sunny day, I will try to get a pretty picture of the lawn surrounded by azaleas.  This is the third development of spring after the daffodils and tulips.

I went onward, out of the front gate and round the back of the house where I could enjoy the first of the potentillas along the back wall.

potentilla

There are more to come out and they will last for months.

I went back into the garden and took a picture of two of the remaining tulips.

potentilla

The wind and the rain have knocked a lot of petals to the ground and there was quite a bit of tulip dead heading to do.

I had to leave the garden then and go off up to the health centre where I had a very minor operation on the side of my neck .  This left me with a few stitches covered in a theatrical sticking plaster so I look not unlike Frankenstein’s monster but in a modest way.

The whole affair was quick and painless and I was quite able to mow the greenhouse grass when I got back.  The weather had improved a  bit by this time but I thought it was sensible not to go for a pedal or a walk so I contented myself with a few more flower pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a striking blue flower in the back border I had noticed it before but I had passed it by, thinking that it was just another bluebell.  It was in fact a camassia…

camassia

…and well worth a proper look.

There are Welsh poppies popping up all over the place…

welsh poppy

…and I have put one beside a white potentilla in the frame below.

welsh poppy potentilla

The last flower of the day is a nectaroscordum, another flower that blushes unseen…

nectaroscordum

…unless you lie on your back and look up.

)

Or hold your camera facing upwards and hope for the best.

The rhubarb was badly affected by the lack  of rain but I managed to find enough stems to pull to have rhubarb and custard for pudding at our evening meal and that made a dull day end on a brighter note.

The flower of the day is one of our neighbour Liz’s plants, a really stunning azalea on the banks of the dam…

azalea

…and a singing blackbird on our front hedge is the bird of the day.

blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….

trillium

…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….

tulip

…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge

Before

road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.

tadpoles

I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…

siskins

A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.

siskins

The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….

chaffinch

…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.

anemone

Hand painted by mother nature.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was much taken by this planting on the course of the Hawick Golf Club.  It must be just about the neatest planting ever ( and helpful to senior golfers who can’t remember where they are).

IMG_0427

There are strong winds forecast for tomorrow so that made today the last comfortable cycling day of the month.  It was theoretically a degree or two warmer than it has been lately but it was still struggling to get up to 10°C (50°F) and even with the wind coming from the south, it felt chilly as I went out in the morning.

I decided that the best plan would be to start by pedalling 25 miles into the wind and then, as the wind got stronger, I would get the benefit of the breeze at my back for the 18 miles home.  Regular cyclists will be well aware of just how unreliable this sort of planning is as the wind is very unpredictable.   Today however, the plan worked to perfection and by keeping calm and pedalling gently into the wind, I managed the first 25 miles at  12.5 mph and still had enough energy (helped by a guava energy bar) to pedal the 18 miles home at 15.2 mph.   I love it when a plan works out.

The first 25 miles was slow enough for me to keep an eye on the verges and there was plenty to see, though the dull weather and being slightly puffed didn’t make for great photography.

wild flowers

wild flowers

wild flowers

I stopped for a banana at the 25 mile mark and looked at trees on both sides of the road.

catkins and flowers on trees

I passed a very fine clump of pink bluebells (if that is the correct term and not pinkbells) near West Linton….

bluebells

…and shortly afterwards saw the real things at Alstonby Hall.

bluebells

It certainly cheers a cycle ride up when there flowers to look at.

I have passed a Historic Scotland sign pointing to ‘Merkland Cross’ near Kirkpatrick Fleming many, many times and today I finally took a moment out to cycle up a side road to visit the cross.  I had to walk the last quarter mile through wild  flower strewn meadows beside the motorway while being observed by cows…

Merkland Cross

…but…

Merkland Cross

…the cross itself, carved from a single piece of stone, was a bit of a disappointment.  I had been hoping for an elaborate  Celtic cross of great antiquity but this one was rather plain and  from the middle ages.  At least the sign was honest.

Merkland Cross

Between the kindly wind, the flowers and the antiquity, I really enjoyed my ride.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had cooked some leek soup with the last leeks of the season from the garden and together with some cheese and home made bread, it went down very well for a late lunch.

After a shower, I went out into the garden and did some dead heading and mowed the front lawn.

We have three trilliums in the garden  (three trillia?) and the first one has come out.

I passed a very fine clump of pink bluebells (if that is the correct term and not pinkbells) near West Linton.... ...and shortly afterwards saw the real things at Alstonby Hall.

I was just looking at the birds….

redpoll

A pensive redpoll

goldfinch

A startled goldfinch

…when, rather belatedly, I remembered that I was supposed to be filling the Moorland Bird feeders in place of Gavin who is on holiday in the north.

The glade at the bird hide has gone green.

Moorland Feeders

The birds themselves were in a very uncooperative mood and insisted on using the feeders furthest from the hide.  A woodpecker did turn up and i was hopeful but almost immediately another one arrived and they spent so much time chasing each other around that there were very few posing opportunities…

woodepeckers

…so I got fed up and after photographing a blackbird with its mouth full….

blackbird

…and a pheasant on the road outside the hide…

pheasant

It looked exhausted from chasing lady pheasants about

…I took a last look down towards the Tarras…

Tarras valley

…and went home.

I had persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out with me to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening to see a group of six singers called ‘The Westenders’ give a concert of songs from West End musicals.  I could understand Mrs Tootlepedal’s initial reluctance to come because it is very difficult to know what a show like this is going to be like but on this occasion, we made a very good decision and had a grand evening out.

The six singers had a small but competent quartet of musicians behind them and they put everything they possibly could into a very well planned and musically arranged evening of songs.  We both went home positively uplifted by the sheer verve and professionalism of their performances.

I only just caught the flying bird of the day in the nick of time.

siskin

Those interested in the bike route can click on the map below.

garmin route 29 April 2017

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