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Posts Tagged ‘tulip’

Today’s guest picture shows one of the two diesel locomotives that together pulled Dropscone and his daughter Susan to Scarborough on a railway special to celebrate her birthday.  They didn’t have ideal weather for a seaside outing.

diesel loco

We had another pleasant morning and it was further brightened by the arrival of Dropscone bearing traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had enough time for a good look round the garden before he came.  The combination of the Japanese azalea and sweet woodruff is delightful even with the azalea not fully in bloom.

sweet woodruff

New flowers are turning up all the time.  This is Veronica…

veronica

…and these are two other white flowers which I haven’t had the time to identify yet.

white flowers

The tulips are going over but they are going out in style…

yellow tulip

red tulip

…and there are still a (very) few lonesome daffodils to be found here and there.

late daffodil

I like an aquilegia and this one caught my eye today.

aquilegia

The garden is well ordered but if you get the right view, it can look quite satisfyingly wild too.

garden in May

When Dropscone came, I got the full story of his trip to Scarborough with Susan.  In spite of some rainy weather, they had enjoyed the outing, although the fact that the weather in Langholm had been very nice in their absence was a little hard to bear.

I cheered him up with some rhubarb and he went off intent on shopping and golf.

I looked at the forecast when he left and it offered heavy rain by four o’clock so I had a quick lunch, got my fairly speedy bike out and got ready to go for a ride.  My saddle has been making creaking noises recently so I took it off and cleaned and greased the fittings.  This is always a risky business because it is hard to ensure that you put a saddle back in exactly the same position that it was in before.

I set off to see whether I had managed this trick.  It turned out that it was fractionally different but as it now seems to be in a better position when I cycle uphill, I may leave it for a while and see how comfortable it is on a longer ride.

It didn’t get much of a test today because I stopped after 23 miles.  I had intended to go a bit further but I felt good when I started and pedalled harder than I meant to so I stopped before I got too tired.

I only took one photo opportunity as I was busy pedalling.

bull and calves

A bull pretending to be a bush and two of his progeny

The short ride gave me the opportunity to mow the drying green and have a chat over the back fence with a neighbour who has just come back from America.  He said that the temperature had been in the 80s there and he was finding our 50s a little chilly.

I sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal who was planting out a couple of rows of carrots and then had another wander round the garden.  I found another newcomer.

lily of the valley

Lily of the valley

allium

A set of alliums with a decided aversion to growing up straight like a good allium should

The hostas are beginning to put on a show.  I like this variegated variety.

hosta

We went in and had a cup of tea and then I put some time into practising both playing and singing.  I wish our conductor wouldn’t make us learn songs off by heart.  It is more trouble than it is worth for me, though I must say that when I do finally get the tenor part of a song confidently off by heart, it does feel like a genuine achievement.

I have always relied on being able to sight read music reasonably well and have never developed a musical memory as I should have.  However, this is a lesson too late to be learned now.

I should say that it rained exactly at four o’clock so the forecast was bang on time today.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable time playing pieces that we know well (but haven’t had to learn by heart).

No flying birds today but some crouching sparrows, house and hedge, on the ground beside the fat ball feeder.

sparrows

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…

bees

…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.

Up…

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…down….

Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…

hawthorn

…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…

blackbirds

…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…

tulip

…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…

horsetails

…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.

horsetail

We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.

Alliums

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…

sparrows

One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…

Garden

…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

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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 Dropscone who had occasion to be in Kent recently and took this picture of Hever Castle just to show that there are castles there too.

Hever castle

We chose the right day to leave North Berwick as it was either raining or just going to rain as we packed up and left after breakfast.  Matilda went back to Edinburgh to a packed social day of dancing and parties so I expect that she will sleep well tonight.

  We had really enjoyed our holiday with her and her parents.

We pottered home cross country in our newly repaired car, hoping that it would last the distance.  In spite f passing through a torrential downpour near Selkirk, the car lasted the distance and we arrived back in time for lunch.  It was raining  lightly but that didn’t discourage us from having a quick look round the garden to see how things had gone during our absence.

The lawn wrecking crew had been hard at work.

pecked lawn

You would think that there must come a time when there are no more insects to peck down there.

The rhododendrons and azaleas are coming into their time…

azalea and rhododendron

…and several azaleas which Mrs Tootlepedal moved late last year seem to have survived the ordeal very well.

The path along the back of the garden is looking very promising.

back path

The rain let up a little in the afternoon so I went out and did a lot of tulip deadheading.  Most of the tulips looked a bit like this…

tulip head

…but in sheltered places, the later tulips were still looking good.

tulips

tulips

There is no shortage of replacements for the tulips.

The first of the geraniums were ignoring the rain.

geraniums

There is a regiment of alliums ready to burst into action and the advance party is out.

allium

The clematis over the back door is looking very healthy after the mild winter.

clematis

Sweet rocket….

sweet rocket

…and cow parsley…

cow parsley…add a little wild flower touch to the back path.

In the vegetable garden, the gooseberries and strawberries will soon need protecting from hungry birds and the Christmas tree has survived being dug up, sat inside and then replanted and should be bigger and better when required next winter.

Christmas Tree

The pulsatillas have finished flowering but are still very decorative, especially on a damp and soggy day like today.

pulsatilla

Altogether, it was a good welcome home.

There has been some small bird disease about so I am not putting any seed in the seed feeders for a while so the flying bird of the day will have to make way for a flower of the day for the next week or so unless I get a lucky shot of a passing starling.

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Today’s guest picture was sent by Gavin, who was on holiday in the north when he took it.  It shows part of the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic henge and stone circle about 6 miles north-east of Stromness on the Mainland, the largest island in Orkney.

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle about 6 miles north-east of Stromness on the Mainland, the largest island in Orkney, Scotland.

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today and is now stretching out into something slightly freakish for such a normally wet corner of Britain.  The brisk north easterly winds are keeping the rain away but are also keeping the temperatures lower than you would expect for such sunny days.

The winds are battering the tulips and they are showing quite a bit of wear and tear.

white tulips

Welsh poppies are popping up all over the garden in sheltered spots.

Welsh poppy

I was intending to go out for a rather longer cycle ride today but once I got going, the wind blew my determination away and I settled for a stately ride down to Canonbie and back.

I had another look at the spruce flowers on my way.  It was hard to miss them as the whole tree is absolutely covered with them.

spruce

I was not the only one who thought that this might be a good day to sit down rather than rush about.

sheep and lambs

Everyone was at it.

bulls

All the same, I pedalled on as best I could until the heavy crosswinds knocked the stuffing out of me and then I pedalled on as slowly as I could, consistent with getting home in time for lunch.

I stopped to look at my three favourite trees…

canonbie trees

…and a burst of blue flowers in the verge a little further on which weren’t there the last time I pedalled past.

blue wild flowers

I took quite a few more pictures of the wild flowers in the verges as I went past but the stiff wind meant that when I checked them on my computer at home, it turned out that they were too blurred to use.  I had thought that this might be the case so I took a picture of a more stable scene near the end of my ride.

Spring at Skippers

When I got home, I checked out the busy bees on the apple blossom.

bees on apple

There were an encouraging number of insects on the apples today.

Matilda has been kind enough to invite us to join her on a week’s holiday and we are going away tomorrow.  The forecast is offering no sign of rain for the week while we are away so we thought it would be sensible to water the soft fruits before we went, just in case they got thirsty.

When we had finished, I had a look at the new euphorbia which Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick.  It has settled in well.

euphorbia

I will try to take a better picture on a less windy day when we get back.

A little ornamental strawberry, hidden among other plants was blushing unseen until I poked about a bit.

ornamental strawberry

Although many tulips have been dead headed and are now composting quietly in the new bin, some are just coming out.

ornamental strawberry

I am hoping that these will last until we get back

When I checked my bike computer to see how I had done on my morning ride, I discovered that it had eaten the statistics and wouldn’t regurgitate them for my spreadsheet.  This was a bit alarming so I put the computer on my slow bike and went out for a short run to see if it was still working.

I combined the test with a visit to the nuthatch tree and was able to catch a glimpse of one of the pair emerging from the nest…

nuthatch

It didn’t hang about and I waited for several minutes to see if it would return.  I was just checking my phone to see how long I had waited, when I saw it return to the nest out of the corner of my eye. and I missed the picture opportunity.  I shall come back in a week to see if they are still there.

I went over to the Lodge Walks on my way back….

Lodge walks

…and was pleased to find them greening up nicely.

I tested the bike computer when I got home and it behaved perfectly, giving up its secrets without complaint.  It must have been just one of those inexplicable blips which seem to affect all digital devices from time to time.

I had a moment to watch a redpoll on the feeder.

redpoll

But I couldn’t spend too long watching nuthatches or redpolls as I had an appointment at the Health Centre for my annual asthma review (still living and breathing, as it turned out) but it is no hardship at all to have to walk across the Suspension Bridge on a day like today.

River Esk

In the evening, Mike and Alison came as usual on a Friday and Alison and I battled away at some of our pieces, neither of us having done quite as much practice as maybe we should have done.  Still, music is music and gives great pleasure even when it is not played absolutely perfectly.

The flying bird(s) of the day are an oyster catcher and a crow which passed over the garden in the early evening making a great commotion.  It was hard to see who was chasing whom but we thought that the oyster catcher was mobbing the crow.

oyster catcher and crow

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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

 

 

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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

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