Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘tulip’

Today’s guest picture shows a fine waterfall visited by Dropscone and family on his Skye holiday.

Skye waterfall

In spite of a forecast of rain, we had yet another dry, cool day with a brisk wind until the evening.  I should have gone cycling (my neighbour Ken did 40 miles in the morning) but I was feeling lazy so I had a cup of coffee with Sandy instead

After coffee, I combined doing the crossword with some lawn mowing and compost shredding and occasionally looking at the birds.

greenfinch

A greenfinch dropped in

I had yet another go or two at photographing the rosemary.

rosemary

The slightly different colours reflect the fact that I tried with two different cameras.

I did some deadheading too and looked at flowers as I went round.

tulips

The chilly weather means that daffodils and tulips are still our staples but I was pleased to see a butterfly although I couldn’t get a very good picture of it.  It was struggling to get enough warmth to fly.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and started on giving our topiary chicken a very severe haircut after lunch so I had plenty of clippings to put through the shredder.

I had to stop though when Sandy reappeared for a prearranged outing.

We went up to the Moorland bird feeders at the Laverock Hide in the hope of seeing something interesting.  We did see a couple on unusual sights.  A hare ran across the clearing right in front of the hide and a goshawk made a pass up the clearing and then flew across it later on. All three of these events were good to see but unfortunately too quick for catching on camera.

One thing we couldn’t miss was the male pheasants….

pheasant

…strutting around and pestering the females.  Some of the females were chased about on the ground and got rather ruffled while others took to the trees to escape unwanted attention.

female pheasants

Of course there were plenty of small birds to see too.

chaffinch, blue tit and robin

After the goshawk had thoroughly cleared the clearing for the second time, we gave up and went down to the Castleholm to see if the nuthatches were at the nest by the bridge.

Two were to be seen.  One arrived at the tree and flitted from branch to branch before perching and singing furiously.

nuthatch

It flew off and almost immediately, another nuthatch emerged from the nest hole, gave a backward glance….

nuthatch

…and flew off.

After a moment or two the first nuthatch returned with something in its beak…..

nuthatch

…which it dropped into the nest hole without entering and then it too flew off and all was quiet.

We waited for a bit and then the call of teatime became too insistent and we left.

We did see some promising bluebells on our way to the nest….

bluebells

..and some fine primroses on our way back to the car.

primroses

…as well as any amount of attempted growth on the trees.

leaf buds

There had been a lot of waiting for some indifferent bird pictures but seeing the nuthatches and goshawk had made the outing worthwhile.

When I got home, the formerly plump chicken….

topiary chicken

…had been reduced to this….

thin chicken

…by Attila but she is hoping that the end result will be a slimmer and better looking bird.  Think of it as a work by Brancusi meanwhile.

A little sunshine had arrived rather late in the day and it lit up a tulip for me….

backlit tulip

…before I went in for my tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came and Alison and I played music in a style which fairly accurately reflected the lack of practice opportunities for us both during the preceding week.

It is the London Marathon on Sunday and while we talking about it after playing, Mike revealed that he had run no less than seventeen marathons in his younger days.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I were very impressed indeed.  We knew he had run several marathons but had no idea that he had done so many, quite a few in under three hours, a very respectable speed indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch about to give a siskin a hard time.

flying goldfinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

The guest picture of the day comes from Gavin who has deserted the wild woods of Yosemite and taken to the groves of Academe at Stanford University.

stanford university

We were expecting wet weather today but in spite of a gloomy forecast, it remained pretty dry and this would have been more welcome if it hadn’t come with a drop in the temperature and a very nagging and cold wind.

Under these conditions I took my cue from the celebrated Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator, who became famous for hanging around doing nothing during the Second Punic War.  He was an amateur compared with me this morning.

I stirred myself a bit after lunch and went out into the garden where the sun was shining and Mrs Tootlepedal was quietly snoozing in the warmth of the greenhouse.

I looked at the tulips which were glowing in the sunshine.

tulips

Peered inside one.

tulip

Dark secrets

Admired the wide spreading petals of another group….

tulips

…but realised that in the prevailing brisk winds, this broadness is just a prelude to tulip death.

daff and tulip

A morose daffodil and wind blown tulip reminisce over those great days in the garden that are now gone for ever.

There are hundreds of daffodils in the garden and the cool weather means that they have lasted very well but there are still a lot that need dead heading every day so I did my rounds and then went back to see Mrs Tootlepedal.

I disturbed her by mowing the grass round the greenhouse.   When she emerged into the real world, we set about simultaneously narrowing the raspberry bed and widening the path beside it in the vegetable garden.

Having achieved this, we went inside for a cup of tea.

On my way, I had a check on the espalier apples.

apple blossom

It is nearly apple blossom time.

Unlike me, the birds were very active again today.

We had two very occasional visitors, a starling early in the day….

starling

…and a greenfinch a little later on.  It seemed to spend more time flying away than coming…

greenfinch

…but it managed to fit in a nibble or two.

greenfinch

While i was having my cup of tea in the afternoon, a flock of birds descended on the feeders.  I tried to see how many flying birds I could get in one shot.

busy feeder

Four and a half in this shot

busy feeder

Five in this shot

busy feeder

And seven in this shot

Several threatening clouds rushed by without raining on us so I thought that I would cycle round to the Jubilee Bridge to see if I could see the nuthatches.

When I got there, I could hear them but I couldn’t see them.

I spent so long waiting that the light had gone for taking any bird pictures by the time that I cycled back past the Kilngreen so I contented myself with a picture of the poplars on the river bank below the suspension bridge…

poplars

…and came home again.

The light perked up for a moment and I looked at the rosemary bush…

rosemary

A decent close up of the flowers still eludes but I will keep trying.

Mrs Tootlepedal went out to a celebration dinner for one of her ex work colleagues in the evening and I relaxed again.  I felt surprisingly tired considering my quiet day but the wind is going to drop tomorrow so I hope that my day of rest will have put me in good fettle for a cycle ride.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from a visit that my brother Andrew made to the River Dove.  ‘Rock Cottage’ is set into the cliff beside the river and manages to look like a rock and a cottage at the same time.

rock cottage

We had another dry and breezy day here with the temperature struggling to get into double figures (10°C – 50°F) and the wind still on the chilly side so I had to wrap up well when I went out on my bike to do the twenty mile Canonbie circuit.  It was one of those days.  I thought that I was trying harder and going faster than the last time that I made the same trip but I still managed to take three minutes longer.

Of course I was three days older so that may have explained it.

The cold, breezy weather doesn’t encourage stopping for photos but I did stop once for a breather and a look at a couple of bare trees.

Irvine House trees

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden so I walked round enjoying the results of her work.

It was quite bright for a while and the tulips were looking good.

yellow tulip

tulips

Ballerinas dancing in the wind

tulips and daffodils

tulip centres

Two of my favourite centres. I think of the one on the left as ‘plums and custard’

The grape hyacinths are good at forming pools even if they don’t quite constitute a river.

hyacinths

The dog tooth violets are thriving….

dog tooth violet

…but are keen to turn their backs on me.  The cowslippy things are more polite.

cowslips

And I think that we could call this a colourful corner.

colourful corner

I didn’t have long to spend in the garden, although I did as much dead heading of daffodils as I could, because we had to set off to Lockerbie after lunch to visit Matilda in Edinburgh.

I found a moment to look out of the kitchen window while my soup was heating up.

flying goldfinch

A seed is wasted by disputatious birds

flying goldfinch

A siskin is unmoved by a hard stare from a goldfinch.

siskin and chaffinch

And another is more than ready to repel an invading chaffinch

I have mentioned Lockerbie Station a lot so here is a picture to show it in all its glory.  It has the air of one of those stations on a model railway layout.

Lockerbie Station

I wandered up the platform while I was waiting for our train, which was a little late, and was very taken by this lonely diesel locomotive which came shuffling down the track in the opposite direction.

diesel loco at Lockerbie

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and took the bus down to Matilda’s.  Some people might think that a city bus could be a little dull but this bus took a very scenic route.  I was fortunate to find a vacant seat upstairs and at the front.

view from the 104

view from the 104

Matilda was in good form when we arrived.  Her other grandparents were visiting too so she had no shortage of adults willing to give her their best attention.  In fact she found the attention a little too much and retired behind some very fashionable shades.

Matilda

Her ‘other’ granny can be seen in the background

Before you ask, I thought that everyone knew that specs are being worn upside down this year.  It is de rigeur.

We had a very good time and it seemed almost no time at all before it was time for us to leave and catch our train home.  The view from the bus was good again…..

The Royal Mile

…and the view from the bus stop in Prince Street was even better.

view from Princes Street

Our journey home was improved by sharing a portion of chips from the chip shop in Lockerbie.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch doing the breaststroke.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Todays’ guest picture shows the Monteath Mausoleum which overlooks the Lilliardsedge Golf Course where Dropscone was playing at the official opening of the Borders Golf Association season on Sunday.

Monteath Mausoleum

It was another fine day in Langholm but slightly marred by a persistent and chilly wind which made me glad that I had an excuse not to go cycling in the morning.  I was due to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm centre so first I pottered around the garden in the sunshine….

lamium

…where the lamium, after a false start earlier in the year, has got going for real.

It lurks beneath our little silver pear tree which is just starting to blossom.

silver pear

The ‘river of blue’ has not quite swept through the garden with as much force as Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked but it is very pretty in places…

grape hyacinths

…and comes in two shades of blue.

I was pleased to find that all the moss on the middle lawn was of some use to someone.

lawn moss

It had been extensively harvested for nesting material by birds before we got up.

I went off to the tourist office armed with a laptop computer and a week of the newspaper index to enter into the Archive Group database and the combination of a steady trickle of visitors and the archive work kept me fully occupied for the two hours so I hardly minded people coming in and saying what a lovely day it was outside, hardly at all.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden, having had a busy morning catching up with business herself.

I noticed that a new fritillary had come out but it needed a helping hand to show its full colour to the world.

fritillary

A fancy tulip needed no help at all.

tulip

My favourite though was the more modest pulsatilla nearby.

pulsatilla

It packs a lot into a small flower head

However, I stopped watching Mrs Tootlepedal gardening and went composting.  I set about finishing turning the contents of Bin A into Bin B.  When that was done, old Bin A made way for the sparkling new Bin A and with the help of Mrs Tootlepedal it was made level and built up.  Compost City is now complete.

 compost city

The beauty of the system is that Bins A and B are adaptable to the needs of the composter.  At present, as it is in the process of getting filled up with new material, Bin A is kept low to make putting the material as easy as possible.  As it fills up, the extra sections from Bin B can moved to Bin A.  The compost in Bin B will have reduced in volume considerably and the bin can then be lowered layer by layer when the time has come to turn it into Bin C.    The nameless plastic bin on the left can be used for anything that we don’t want to put in the main compost and can be left untouched for as long as is necessary.

I went off to look at the Euphorbias which grow more fantastic every day.

euphorbia

This one is like some crazy hat worn by a fashionable lady on Ladies’ Day at the races.

euphorbia

And this one has stuck all its tongues out

It is hard to imagine the small gains that have led the process of natural selection to come up with these elaborate designs.

Then I went in and had a toasted cheese sandwich for a late lunch.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to buy a hedge trimmer.  We have been impressed by the new Li-ion batteries so we laid out good money to get a hedge trimmer with one.   On our way there, I went into the bird food place and bought another big bag of birdseed and two new feeders.  On our way back, we went into a garden centre and Mrs Tootlepedal bought a Spirea so we both came home feeling pretty cheerful.

Unlike yesterday, it was a really clear day today and from the garden centre car park, I could see the northern fells very clearly.

Northern Fells

It would have been good to be out among the hills but you can’t do everything.

I tested the bird feeders on the birds when we got back.  The old ones had got rather tatty and battered and have now gone in the dustbin so I hoped that our garden visitors would appreciate some better eating arrangements.

A chaffinch gave one a very wary look…

chaffinch new feeder

…but soon both feeders were being fully used.

goldfinches and a chaffinch

goldfinches

A chaffinch gave a slouching goldfinch a lesson in how to sit up straight at the dinner table.

goldfinches and chaffinch

In the absence of siskins, the goldfinches were the biggest users and approached the new feeders with verve.

goldfinches

Though some waited calmly among the plum blossom.

goldfinch

While it was not the most active day that I have ever spent, it was enjoyable and fruitful and it was rounded off by a very good plate of rhubarb crumble and ice cream. Mrs Tootlepedal had forced some rhubarb under a bucket as an experiment and used the resulting crop in her recipe so perhaps this was why the dish tasted so good.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches giving the new feeders a hard stare.

goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  A wood pigeon has made a nest in her hornbeam tree and looks quite comfortable there.

pigeon in hornbeam

We had a dry and sunless day and the wind had calmed down a lot so I thought it might be a good day to get out on my bike.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to help sort the choir music out and in her absence, I pleasantly surprised myself by getting my bike out,  then cleaning and lubricating the chain and finally getting on it and actually going for a ride.

Even with the lighter wind, it was still quite chilly so I concentrated on getting round the 20 mile Canonbie route as quickly as possible (not very quickly) and didn’t stop to take any pictures.

I made up for that when I got home and watched the birds and walked round the garden with camera in hand.

Flowers first:

cowslippy things

A bunch of ‘cowslippy’ things

scilla

The scillas are still looking good

euphorbia

Tiny little flowers have appeared among the crabs claws on the euphorbia

tulip

Some tulips are looking good but there are plenty of tulips still to come

daffodil

My favourite of the day

The birds keep coming…

busy feeder

…from all directions.

And they keep squabbling too.

siskins squabbling

siskins squabbling

While I watched the birds, I made some red soup for lunch (carrots, sweet potato, red peppers…..it was very red) and when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Carlisle, she had time to have some for her lunch before she went off again, this time to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda…

matilda

…who was enjoying some flowers herself this morning.  (Photo by Dad)

When she had gone, I sieved a little more compost and then put my camera in the slow bike’s back bag and went off to see what i could see beside the river.

There were a lot of grey and pied wagtails flitting about on the rocks in the Esk at the Cogie….

wagtails

…but the light was dull and they were too far away to get good pictures.  I enjoyed sitting on a handy bench and watching them though.

Then I went up to the stretch between the bridges where I had seen the goosanders yesterday but they weren’t there today.

Two oyster catchers kindly stood in for them.

oyster catchers

One looked for food in the pools among the rocks.

oyster catcher

While I was watching the oyster catchers and simultaneously talking to a fellow camera club member and his wife, I was distracted by a low flying object….

goosanders

…which turned out to be the goosanders going up river at speed.

I followed them at a leisurely pace and found them floating about in the Ewes.

goosanders

They did a lot of underwater work but I would need a whole different camera set up to photograph them fishing.

I hoped to catch a dipper too but I only got a fleeting glance of one as it flew off immediately I got near it at the Sawmill Brig.  I didn’t spend time hoping that it would come back but moved on past the tree of the day…

tree with sheep

…which was enhanced by sheep and went on to the Jubilee Bridge in the hope of seeing nuthatches at the nest there.

I was in luck and saw a couple of visits.

nuthatches

I think that the nuthatch was busy making the insert into the nesting hole which makes it as narrow as practicable.

I got home with time to tackle the crossword before settling down to process the day’s pictures and then have a baked potato for my tea.

In the evening, Susan came to pick me up and we went to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  We had an excellent evening of music (and first rate biscuits and tea to follow).   We are going to meet a little less often after many years of trying to meet weekly and our next meeting won’t be until the end of May so it was good that we had such an enjoyable evening of playing to mark the end of an era.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned safely from Matilda, with whom she had played Snap, by the time that I got home.

The flying bird of the day is a serious minded chaffinch, keeping a wary eye out for any unseemly rough behaviour at the feeder.

chaffinch

He has the air of Mrs May about him, I thought.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa.  While he was up near the Orange River, he saw this a tree.  It may not look much but he tells me that  the tree is a Shepherd Tree, the tree of life which is useful for man and beast.  It is probably 3 to 4 hundred years old.

P3150069

My plan for the morning was to get up early, have a nourishing breakfast and then cycle 40 miles and be back before noon.  It was a good plan and it worked.

I chose a very boring route, straight down the main roads and back but it was very satisfying except that my average was 14.99 mph rather than the 15 mph that was in my mind.  You can’t have everything though.

Conditions were perfect and the roads were empty….

A7

…and there is a very convenient bench exactly at the twenty mile turning point where an old man can get a seat for a few minutes and eat his banana.

seat at Newtown

The sharp eyed will notice a pair of thick gloves beside the banana.  It was quite crisp when I started and although it was a lovely day, it never got very warm and I kept the gloves on for the whole ride.

Beside the bench was a gate and a willow tree so that made it an even better place to spend some time.

Newtown

On my way, I passed a large number of people behaving very suspiciously in a field.  It turned out to be a metal detectorists’ rally.    Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked to have been there as she dreams of turning up a Roman coin in our garden.

I got home in plenty of time to make a venison and mushroom stew for the slow cooker, watch the birds for a bit and walk round the garden.

The birds were very active again even though the sparrowhawk is making regular flying visits.

Newtown

It is hard to look really threatening when your mouth is full

redpoll and chaffinch

The little redpoll is not scared of the bigger chaffinch

goldfinch and siskin

A goldfinch and siskin rose to heights of aggression

flying chaffinch

And a chaffinch has had enough of all this and is going home.

In the garden, the tulips are coming on well…

red tulips

..in a good variety of colours.

tulips

The chionodoxas have swiftly passed but the scillas are still very much alive and kicking…

fritillary and scilla

…and they make a dainty contrast to the more sober fritillaries.

The reason that I had to be back from the cycle ride was that it was a choir day so after a shower and some lunch, I went off to Carlisle to have a sing.

There are a lot of very small houses in Carlisle dating from the time when it was a railway centre and had a thriving industrial scene.  This row is right opposite the church where we sing.

Carlisle terrace

There are seven front doors in the picture and severalof the houses are just about as small as a house can be.

We spent the whole practice on one song, a tricky thing for me with a heavily syncopated style and a lot of words in a very short space.  Ominously, the practice went so well that the conductor talked of us be able to learn it off by heart.  This undoubtedly means that he has his heart set on some clapping at the very least and possibly clapping and swaying.  Nightmare!

We should have tried less hard.

I thought about a little sightseeing on my way home but instead settled for the direct route and a walk round the town when I got back.

I passed our magnolia on my way out of the garden and thought that it was worth another look.

Magnolia

My aim was to enjoy the evening light and take a picture of anything that caught my fancy in the course of a half mile stroll.

Parish Church

The Parish Church seen across the Wauchope

Castleholm trees

Trees on the Castleholm, seen across the Esk

But I was distracted by birds.  There were two goosanders again.  The male was floating down the choppy waters of the Esk between the bridges at a great rate…

goosanders

…and I saw the female doing a little fishing in some calmer waters further upstream.

Mr Grumpy must have done something bad because he was behind bars.

heron

Whatever it was, he looked sorry about it.

When I got back, I sieved another modest amount of compost and picked the first rhubarb of the year.  Subsequently, I ate my venison stew and followed it up with some rhubarb and custard.

Mrs Tootlepedal is having a good time with Matilda in Edinburgh but plans to be home some time tomorrow.  I shall be pleased to see her.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Annie’s visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.  Alliums are Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourites but hers don’t usually look as regimented as these.

Alliums

As it happened, I had a chance to look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s alliums this morning after breakfast and I thought that they looked very good…

Alliums

Allium alley

…even though they are not so perfectly spherical as the ones at Chelsea.

I had taken the camera out into the garden because I had spotted a frog in the pond…

frog

…and while I was out there, I looked at the Camassia…

Camassia

It has nearly gone as far as it can go

…and the Irises….

iris

…which are just starting out on their journey

I went back in and saw one of our many beady eyed blackbirds through the kitchen window….

blackbird

…before packing up some newspapers and a packet of Jaffa Cakes and setting off to to do two hours in the Information Hub on the High Street.

The Hub is hosting an art exhibition by two talented local artists so I was quite busy in my role as ‘curator’ of the exhibition as well as answering requests for information from several actual tourists and I had a good time.  As a bonus Dropscone dropped in to give me some company.  I will be sconeless for a while, as he is going off to act as an offical at a big international children’s golf competition near Edinburgh for several days.

I had hoped to  make good use of another very fine and sunny day with some extensive lawn care and a cycle ride but for some reason or other, my back had taken the huff and I was having a bit of difficulty walking let alone doing anything more vigorous.  It is just a twinge from a long standing problem and should be gone soon with some careful management.

After lunch, I went out and had a longing look at the lawns, which could have done with some tender care, and then looked at flowers instead.

geraniums

A brisk wind was fluttering the geraniums

tulips

The fancy tulips by the front door are being reduced in number every day and their red companions have all gone.

clematis

The clematis round the back door is coming on strongly

It was such a lovely day that staying indoors seemed a sin.  I was able to pedal my slow bike about if I was careful so I went off to the nuthatch nest to see if the parents would be about.  They were obviously feeding young as they went in and out with great regularity…

nuthatch

…and even took some time to tidy the nest out.

nuthatch

The sun is in the wrong place for getting good pictures of the birds in the afternoon and I should try to get up early if the weather is fine again tomorrow and take some better shots.  I wouldn’t bet the house on that happening though.

The nest is in a fine pair of trees, worth looking at in their own right.

Nuthatch trees

While I was watching the nuthatches, I could hear some flapping nearby and after some investigation, I could see a pigeon sitting on a nest on a branch of the same tree.

pigeon

From time to time her partner arrived with food and on one occasion, with some additional furniture for the apartment.

pigeon

I pottered off on the slow bike just to turn my legs over for a mile or so and stopped to look at a cheerful patch of wild flowers on the Castleholm.

Castleholm Wildflowers

Castleholm Wildflowers

Garden escapes provided some other colour beside the Lodge Walks.

azalea

In the surroundings of green this azalea stands out like a flickering flame

Rododendron

There are plenty of rhododendrons about too

I was hoping to get a flying bird or two at the Kilngreen but being a bank holiday, the Kilngreen was full of human visitors rather than birds so I settled for a nougat wafer slider from Pelosi’s ice cream van and pedalled home slowly.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was just finishing her gardening for the day. After a look at a promising peony…

peony

…we went inside, where we were soon joined by Mike Tinker who arrived in nice time for a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit.

My back was giving me enough trouble to persuade me to reluctantly cancel an evening of trio playing with Mike and Isabel but I managed to give Luke his flute lesson before retiring to sit down for the rest of the evening.

I didn’t spend much time looking at birds out of the kitchen window so this was my best effort at a flying bird of the day.   Must do better.

flying siskin

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »