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Posts Tagged ‘tulips’

Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, a keen fisherman.  Knowing that we have not got much water in our rivers at the moment, he sent me this view of the Einag Falls. They are on a tributary of the river Oykel in the Highlands where he was fishing three weeks ago.  He adds that he caught  two fish.

Einag Falls

After some showery days, the weather gods knew that we had a two choir day today so they arranged for a fine day with no rain.  How we laughed.

The flowers in the garden are having a difficult time with the changeable weather so some are starting to come out and then sticking and others are coming out a bit early and then going over more quickly than usual.

tulip and trout lily

The trout lilies are on the way out and I have dead headed tulips which should  only just be by now.

Still, there are plenty of promising buds just waiting for warmer and steadier weather.

clematis bud

And the trees have gone green in a rush.

My feet are still annoying me so after church, I went out for a cycle ride round my short three bridges walk as fortunately cycling is pain free.

Almost every tree beside the river is in leaf now…

river esk from suspension brig late april

…and the Lodge Walks are looking beautiful.

lodge walks late april

The Castleholm is surrounded by varied greens…

trees green castleholm

…and there is even a tinge starting to show on the hills behind.

trees and timoen

Spring is in full fling.

green growth castleholm

As I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I could just see the Duchess Bridge behind the new foliage.

duchess bridge among leaves

When I got home, I inspected the Charles Ross apple on the fence…

Charles ross apple blossom

..and was very pleased to find a solitary bee hard at work,

bee on apple blossom

The Ballerina tulips are lasting well…

ballerina tulip standing

…and we are still waiting for others to open.

leaning tulip

We combined the trip to our Carlisle Choir with some shopping which included cheese, coffee and dates.  As the choir practice was enjoyable as well as hard working, this made for a good way to spend time even if it was indoors on a fine day.

The forecast is offering us a couple of warmer, dry days to come so we have forgiven the weather gods for their little joke.

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds and for some reason, there weren’t many birds to watch anyway after some very busy days at the feeder.

This didn’t stop a siskin and a goldfinch going beak to beak….

siskin goldfinch eyeball

…but the flying bird of the day turns out to be a small white butterfly instead.

white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was very impressed by this floral hedge which she passed not far from her home.

susan's hedge

We had some thought of an expedition today but uncertain feet and a dubious forecast persuaded us that some time spent in the garden while it was still dry would be time well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal did those things which gardeners do. She planted out Sweet Williams, planted seeds in the greenhouse, planted beetroot seeds in a raised bed, weeded, tended and in general way was productive and busy.

I dead headed, mowed the middle lawn with the blades so high that I barely touched the grass, sieved a very little compost and took some pictures.

There is a little pause just now in the garden when it comes to new delights but old friends are thriving…

six april flowers

…and there are various dicentra on all sides, though the cooler weather seems to have discouraged the bumble bees.

four dicentras

The big euphorbias get more fantastic every week and some little ones are coming to join the fun.

two euphorbias

Ferns are unrolling…

fern unfolding

…and some shuttlecock ferns in a very shady spot have unfurled completely.

shuttlecock fern

Shrubs are doing their best to add a bit of colour.

spirea and berberis

But my favourite view of the morning came while I was sitting on the new bench and looking at these tulips.

8 tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal made lightly curried parsnip and carrot soup for lunch (with croutons) and while she was cooking, I watched the birds.

More siskins than ever turned up today and places at the feeder were hard to come by…

siskins and goldfinch

…even for other determined siskins.

siskin arriving amid siksins

Once again, some siskins took to the peanuts, a sound policy in my view.

siskin on peanuts

After a while, redpolls turned up.  They are determined birds too…

redpoll sees an opportunity

…and one saw a chance to nip in while two siskins were fighting each other.

redpoll sneaking in

Another took a calmer view of things while it played a waiting game.

redpoll on feeder pole

In the afternoon, we went up on to the hill in the hope of seeing some hen harriers but all we saw was some very heavy rain as we had chosen to wrong time for our trip.

Once we decided to go home the rain stopped of course and we could at least get a view across the Tarras Valley…

View to Cronksbank

…but there were still clouds behind us….

Tarras cloudscape

…and more in front…

Whita cloudscape

…so we went home anyway.

In the evening, we went down to Canonbie to hear a choir of Ugandan schoolchildren sing in the church there.

The children, most of whom were very young, did tremendously well, singing, dancing and clapping with great vigour.  The concert was nearly two hours long, had no interval and was frequently punctuated with appeals for financial support for the religious charity which had brought them over to the UK.  This left us with the slightly uncomfortable feeling that the children were perhaps being made to work a bit harder than would have been ideal.  Still, we were glad that we had gone to hear them and they sang one beautiful African song which warmed the heart with its harmonies.

The flying bird of the day, taken when the light was poor,  is one of the many siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is a second from Bruce’s recent visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.  I make no apologies, I love steam engines.  This one was built in 1896 and is a lot older than me.

Bruce's train

We had yet another lovely day here with more wall to wall sunshine and no call for a jumper or jersey at all.  It is going to be a shock when we get back to normal spring temperatures in a few days time.

Meantime we are enjoying the weather without complaint.

The tulips are enjoying the weather too…

two glorious poppies

..with new ones coming out each day.

red and white poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal has a lot of dicentras spread about the garden and that makes me happy as both the bees and I like them a lot.  I got a rare shot of one without a bee nearby today.

dicentra trio

In general, the garden is looking very cheerful with plenty of colour on all sides.

garden flower panel

I spent a happy morning pottering about, chatting to neighbours over the fence and dead heading daffodils as well as doing a little mowing while Mrs Tootlepedal  planted some onions.

The plum blossoms are pretty well over and the birds are now posing among the leaves.

goldfinch and plum tree leaves

After lunch, I went for a short walk, crossing the Wauchope Water which has been reduced to a trickle by the lack of rain…

wauchope in a trickle

…and enjoying a rhododendron in the park as I climbed the steps…

park rhododendron

…up to the Stubholm track, which was looking leafy.

stucholm track

While this adds to the pleasure of going along the track, it detracts from the views along the way.

leave sblocking view

The purpose of my walk was to take a second look at the bluebells to see if two sunny days had brought them on.

They had.

bluebells glade

There were bluebells on all sides.

bluebell panel

The individual plants are looking very healthy this year…

bluebells 1

…and the combined effect is well worth a walk to see.

bluebells 2

At the bottom of the hill, I saw the first wild garlic of the year…

wild garlic april

…and looking along the Murtholm, I could see that the trees are going green in earnest.

murtholm in April

My feet are still a bit troublesome so I turned and walked back to the park along the Beechy Plains.

beechy plains

Keeping an eye on the river as I went along.

corner of Esk

Two gulls were in position on handy rocks.  They were just too far apart to get them both into one shot

gull on rock in river

When I got home, I had a moment to look at the birds…

redpoll

…but there were not a lot about, possibly because the sparrowhawk paid several unsuccessful visits to the garden during the day.

After a short rest, I got my bike out and stretched my tender tendon by cycling fourteen warm and sunny miles at a gentle pace, stopping only once to record a good show of blackthorn along the Cleuchfoot road.

Cleuchfoot blackthorn

The bicycle is a fine mode of transport because not only does it get you from A to B reasonably quickly and very economically, but it also has magical properties.  You may be a fairly elderly person, with unreliable joints and poor eyesight but when the road is flat and the wind is helpful, even you can whizz along at such a speed and with such freedom and ease that you can easily imagine yourself as Young Lochinvar or one of the three men who brought the good news to Aix from Ghent and feel quite young again.

Of course any little hill or change in the wind direction can knock that fantasy on its head in a moment but there is nothing like it while it lasts.

And Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea to round off a good day.

While we were taking a late turn round the garden, we were visited by an old friend who has returned from America after many years away.  He is a good flute player and I hope that when he has time, he will give me some tips to pass on to Luke.  (We didn’t have a lesson today as it was both a holiday and too good a day to waste time indoors.)

The flying bird of the day is a siskin getting ready for a landing on the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz, who recently visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and came across this giant insect.

eden insect

We had another lovely day here and the flowers were looking very cheerful as a result, whether hanging over the edge of the dam…

aubretia

..or popping up in a flower bed.

ballerina tulip

New tulips are opening on all sides…

yellow and orange tulips

…and the euphorbias are growing ever bigger and brighter.

euphorbia

I had a close peer at the magnolia because a reader had asked me if it had a good scent, but sadly, it is scentless for all its handsome looks.

magnolia flower centre

I got out some magic granules that I had bought in a garden centre.  The packet says that they will perk up my grass and eat the moss on the lawn without the dead moss needing to be raked out.  This sounds far too good to be true but nevertheless, I measured and weighed carefully and spread them on the middle lawn as per the instructions on the packet.   I await developments (without holding my breath).

It was warm enough for a blackbird to do a little cooling down on one of the hedges…

blackbird sunning on hedge

…so I resolved to go for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and look for bluebells.

I found a charming red currant beside the river…

currant beside esk

…but soon came upon a good show of bluebells along my favourite bluebell path.

bluebells 5

They are not fully out yet but could still provide the blue ‘carpet’ that makes them so special at this time of year.

bluebells 3

I don’t know who was more surprised when we met, this pheasant or me.

bluebells 4

I walked through the bluebell wood…

bluebells 1

…and took the path the leads to Gaskell’s Walk.

blackthorn stubholm

Although the larches below it are very green, Meikllholm Hill still looks bare.

meikleholm hill from gaskells

There were several peacock butterflies warming their wings on the path as I went along.

Most of them flew off as I approached but this one settled down again for a moment.

peacock butterfly sunning

The path itself was very springlike, and I think that this is the best time of the year to walk along it.

gaskells in spring

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I took a couple of pictures to show that we are still waiting for the leaves to appear on many of the trees around us…

stane brig

…but the bridge is attractive at any time of year on a sunny day.

auld stane bridge with reflection

Sadly, by the time that I got home, it had become apparent that while wearing gel insoles might be very good for arthritic toes, it might also put a strain on an achilles tendon and my ‘good’ foot was so sore as a result that the rest of a lovely day was wasted in sitting around and moaning.

I did get outside enough to admire a pulsatilla…

pulsatilla

…but that was the extent of the excitement.

The foot situation is very annoying as things were definitely getting better.  I hope that a good rest over night will see things back to where they were as it is a pity not get a cycle ride in when the weather is so fine.  Today taught me not to get too adventurous.

Mrs Tootlepedal made fish pie and apple crumble for our tea and that brightened things up a lot.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening.  Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered.  Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.

kowhai flower

I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword.  It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit.  Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.

But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.

M6 at gretna

There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route.  At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.

dandelion, scurvy grass and nettle

In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals.  This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.

tree near todhills

I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship.  To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7.  These routes often have artistic trail markers.

bike route sculpture post

This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.

railway track on NR 7

It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.

Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…

bridge near arthuret

…near the fine church at Arthuret.

arthuret church

I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change.  Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future.  Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.

Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.

bluebells

This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time.  Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.

On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them.  I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion.  As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.

peacock butterfly and lady bird

My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles.  As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance.  Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.

The warmth had brought a new tulip out….

new tulip

…caused others to open wide….

three tulips

…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.

trout lilies

A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged.  I liked it a lot….

red pulsatilla

…as did a bumble bee.

pulsatilla with bee

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.

Redpolls returned to the feeder…

redpoll in sun

…and one took a very dim view of the  loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.

chaffinch about to stamp

Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.

She has finally finished turning this…

old rocking horse

…into this.

new rocking horse

We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s expedition to Wales.  Having left Chester, he headed for Anglesey but found Snowdon in his way….so he walked up it.

snowdon

I wasn’t very happy with the colour that my pocket camera found in the lithodora’s blue flower or in the mystic Van Eijk pink tulips so I took my Nikon out today and shot them in RAW to stop the camera’s software making decisions that I didn’t agree with.  I think that the results are more true to what the eye sees.

raw lithodora

mystic Van Eijk poppies in sun

And while I was there, I took the real Van Eijks….

Van Eijk poppies in bed

…some very pale grape hyacinths…

pale grape hyacinths

…and a stream of standard blue ones.

row of grape hyacinths

The main business of the morning though was not footling about with cameras, but putting in the second of the two new veg beds.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes to have things right so this involved not just digging and shifting soil, but using gardener’s string and a spirit level too.

After the bed was levelled and settled, I left her to sort out the soil and mowed the middle lawn.  This involved stamping on a lot of moss but there was enough grass growing there to fill the lawn mower’s collecting box.

Mrs Tootlepedal called me over when I had finished as she had come across something unusual.  It was very green.

green caterpillar

I am not at all knowledgeable about caterpillars but some research says that this might be an angle shade caterpillar.  I would be happy if a reader can put me right.

I went in to make some potato and onion soup for lunch and had a look at the birds while it was cooking.

goldfinches on feeder

The plum tree is making a very picturesque background for birds waiting to visit the feeder.

two chaffinch with plum blossom

After lunch, I inspected the tulips.  It had been a sunny morning, although it hadn’t felt very warm because of a chilly east wind, and the sun had been enough to open a few petals.

pale yellow poppy heart

yellow poppy heartred poppy heart

I deadheaded the first of the daffodils to go over.  This was the first of many dead heading activities to come.  It is a bit tedious but it keeps the garden looking neat and it encourages the daffodils to come again.

I checked out the veg beds.  They are both the same size although the camera angle makes one look a lot shorter. Mrs Tootlepedal likes the slightly wider paths between the beds that the new layout had created.  The wire netting covering is to protect the soil from cats.

two veg beds

I will have to sieve more compost as there has been quite a lot used lately.

I had time to spot a dunnock lurking in the shadows below the feeder…

dunnock in shadow

…before I got my bike out and went for a pedal.

It was a lovely day as far as the sun went….

Wauchope valley tree

…but the wind was hard work when I was pedalling back into it so I was pleased to stop and admire a couple of oyster catchers on a wall at Bigholms.

oyster catchers on wall

When I looked across the wall, I could see the windfarm on the horizon and I reckoned that this must have been an ideal day for ‘green’ energy with the combination of bright sun and a stiff breeze.

view of windfarm

Now they need to get busy on working out the best way to store it so we can have some to hand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I had enough personal energy left to cycle through the town when I got back to it and go a couple of miles out along the road north.  I was very surprised by the colour of the soil in this field beside the Ewes Water.

ewes valley field

You can see the edge of the field in the bottom of the picture that I took looking up the valley.

Ewes valley April

I managed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s trip and got home after 16 miles.  If the weather permits, I will try to add two miles to my journey every time that I go out for the next few days until I have got back some of the fitness that I lost in an almost cycle free March.

I am taking things steadily as my foot is still tender but the gel insoles for my shoes have been very successful and I would like to thank those who advised me to get them.  I haven’t tried a walk of any length since I got them, but the ordinary walking round the house and garden is very satisfactory and limp free.

The slow cooked lamb stew made its third and final mealtime appearance tonight, this time in the form of a light curry with rice.

The dry cool weather with sunny periods seems set to last for a good few days so I hope to be able to continue to get out and about (as long as my foot continues to be co-operative).

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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