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Posts Tagged ‘verbena’

Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan found a very steep gorge to walk along, but Susan made sure that he didn’t go too near the edge.

Highland gorge

After yesterday’s excitements. I was very happy to a have gentle morning with nothing more exciting than a cup of coffee and a treacle scone with Dropscone to keep me entertained.  When he left (with some of our surplus runner beans), I went out and had a wander round the garden.

After last night’s rain, it was dry and quiet and the garden was full of birds.  Some were easier to spot than others…

blackbird and thrush

…and some were very easy to spot indeed.

six starlings

Crown Princess Margareta is ignoring cold mornings and rainy evenings and producing more late flowers all the time.

four roses

And generally, flowers are lasting well.

four garden flowers

It was rather cool and gloomy though so I went back in and settled down to being baffled by a tricky crossword and this helped me pass the time until Mrs Tootlepedal returned.  She had spent the morning talking to the public about the proposed community land purchase and had had some very interesting and useful conversations.

After lunch, she went back to talk to people again and i mowed the greenhouse grass and pottered around the garden.

I am very happy to see the dahlias continuing to make up for their slow start.

two dahlias

The insects are pleased too.

pair of dahlias

The day brightened up and a couple of red admiral butterflies  arrived.

two red admiral; butterflies

I had thought that the Abyssinian gladioli had come to the end of their run but a single flower has popped up to say that they are not all dead yet.  It has been joined by a surprising lone Sweet William flower.

gladiolus, sweet william, verbena, sedum

The verbena attracted a bee but the sedum  had no friends.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, we decided to go for a walk and drove a few miles up and out of the Esk Valley and down into the valley of the Tarras Water to take a walk along the river there.

There was plenty of water in the Tarras…

tarras at bridge

…and the track was muddy and full of puddles in places so we had to keep an eye on where we were walking.  We were able to pause and look around though.

We were struck but the look of this conifer plantation.  It is not at all usual to be able to see the trunks of the trees like this and we wondered what had caused the trees to grow so thinly.

spruce trunks

We followed the track into a wood and met a fine crop of horsetails.

equisetum detail

We followed a trail up the hill through the woods…

tarras wood track

…which had been used by people going to fill the feeders for the pheasants….

pheasant tarras wood

…which have been put out in the woods for people to shoot at.

Although the season has just begun, there was no shooting today so we were able to enjoy our walk in peace.

The sun came out as we walked and the wood looked delightful…

tarras wood sunlit

…whichever way we turned.

tarras wood into sun

It was notable that the birch trees here had almost all lost their leaves already.

There was occasional fungus to see…

four fungi tarras wood

…and the horsetails caught the low sun as we came back down the hill.

equisetum backlit

There were hints of autumn colour

tarras wood colour

…and it had turned into a beautiful evening for a walk.

tarras wood bank

We had our flu jabs yesterday before we went to Edinburgh and we don’t seem to have had any ill effects from them but we are both still a little below par so we enjoyed a quiet evening in watching supremely talented athletes running and jumping at the World Championships, perhaps wishing that we were still young enough to run about in a vigorous way too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow going downhill.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew.  As well as the moon, Derby has been visited by the sombre ‘Knife Angel’, an artwork designed to highlight the problem of knife crime in Britain.

knife angel

Autumn gave us a sharp reminder that it is here with a chilly start to the day, not far above freezing.  But having nudged us in the ribs, it then provided us with a beautifully sunny day to cheer us up again.

All the same, it was too chilly to spend much time outside early on as my cold has not given up altogether.  I did pop out into the garden from time to time to enjoy the sunshine and watch birds…

chaffinch, blackbird, starlings

…and check that the flowers hadn’t been knocked out by the cold morning.  In general, the flowers had survived very well…

argyranthemum, cosmos, nasturtium

…and as the day warmed up…

verbena and nerine

…insects came out to enjoy the flowers too

insects on flowers

There were not many butterflies about but seeing any was a bonus.  I didn’t see any in October at all last year and 10th Oct was the last that I saw any in 2017 so we are right at the end of the butterfly season.

This red admiral looked to be in excellent condition.

red admiral butterfly

Rather annoyingly, the transplanted fuchsia finally showed a flower at the very last moment, much too late to be sensible, and…

fuchsia october

…Mrs Tootlepedal, worried about another cold night coming, picked a spray and took them indoors.

fuchsia indoors

Finally I spotted a butterfly on the sedum.

rd admiral on sedum

I made a leek, onion and potato soup for lunch, all from the garden, though I did add a little shop bought carrot for colour.

It had warmed up quite a bit by the time that lunch was over, so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business, I got my bike out and tested my chest with a gentle twenty miles round my customary Canonbie circuit.

I wrapped up very well and in the sunshine, it was really a good day for cycling for semi invalids.

I was a bit alarmed to see that my favourite tree has already lost all its leaves…

bare tree bloch

..but other trees are hanging on.

two trees with leaves

It was another clear day and i could see the Lake District hills clearly on the far side of the gleaming Solway.

view over Solway

Canonbie Church was looking at its best…

Canonbie Church

…and when I looked around, the trees at Canonbie seem undecided about changing colour yet.

trees with leaves october

I stopped at Hollows Bridge for a rest and looking down at the rocks in the river, I could just make out…

hollows brodge view

…Mr Grumpy’s Canonbie cousin.

heron at hollows

Some of the route back from Canonbie is on the old A7, now bypassed by a wide new road, and it is hard to believe that this was once a busy main road.  It makes for a quiet ride now, although cyclists have to join the traffic on the main road for the last couple of miles back into Langholm.

old A7 seven sisters

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  Among other things, she is trying to pinpoint an annoying leak in our pond.  This may be an insoluble problem but Mrs Tootlepedal is not giving up yet.

I recorded a visit from a small tortoiseshell butterfly…

small tortoishell butterfly october

…and went off to sieve the last of the compost in Bin D.  When I had finished, I took the cover off the compost in Bin C and started to shift it into Bin D.  However, for one reason or another, the compost turned out to be in excellent condition, and I may be able to use it straight away without more shifting.

I have never managed to make such good compost so quickly before and I would like to know how I’ve done it.

good compost

It might be the steady warm weather we have had this summer, or possibly some careful layering of green and woody materials when it was put into Bin A, or perhaps just the right amount of moisture in the pile, or a combination of all of these things…or possibly pure chance.  Whatever the reason was, it will save a lot of sieving.

In the evening, I went off to the first meeting of the season of the Langholm community choir, ‘Langholm Sings’.  We have a new conductor and a new accompanist but because two concerts have been arranged in early December and we are going to be pushed for time, we are still singing some old and familiar songs.  As a result, the meeting was not quite as exciting as I had hoped.   Still, as hitting any low notes made me cough a bit, some undemanding work was probably a good thing.

As my cold is getting better, Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold has returned.  I hope that this sort of thing is going to stop soon.

The flying bird of the day was being checked out for style by an interested spectator.

flying starling and spectator

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Orviedo while he is in Spain.  It shows the  800 AD church of St Julian, built in the Byzanto-romano style, which the ruling Visigoths of Asturia liked.

orviedo church

The advance forecast has been rather gloomy about the weather this week, but we got a stay of sentence today and enjoyed a dry day which got better as it went along.  I had a quiet morning in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal, involving paying a bill, doing a load of washing and hanging it out, some random dead heading and occasional looks round the garden where I could see blackbirds early in the morning ….

two blackbirds

…and, as the sun came out, a full house of butterflies later on.

four butterflies

I spent quite a lot of time making a little spreadsheet of the amount of electricity that we have used charging the Zoe.  We have charged the car three or four times while away from home but mostly we have used our home charger and it looks as though we are paying about 3.5p per mile, which is a lot less than we used to pay for petrol for our old car.  An added bonus is that our electricity supplier claims to be getting its electricity entirely from renewable sources.

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and ate it with an apple and some cheese and then set off for a short cycle ride.

I didn’t want to go too far from home with the Mrs Tootlepedal Rescue Service unavailable and other friends on holiday, so I  went up and down the roads around the town.

The upland country is turning brown and won’t go green again for about eight months…

callister brown

…but there are still a few flowers in the roadside verges…

roadside yellow flower

…and there is now a lot of interest on walls, with lichen…

callisterwall lichen

…and moss…

callisterwall fungus

…and more lichen to be seen.

callisterwall lichen (2)

From the top of Callister, I looked  down past Chapelcross and across the Solway Firth to Skinburness on the English side, with the Irish Sea beyond.

view of skinburness from callister

On my way back to the town, I stopped to admire this fine show of hawthorns on the hillside.

hawthorns on wauchope road

I cycled through the town and headed south, stopping to admire Skippers Bridge..

skippers bridge in the round

…and enjoying more lichen on the wall at Broomholm.

broomholm wall lichen

There is more than a hint of autumn about…

broomholm view

…and I enjoyed this burst of colour at Whitshiels when I cycled back through the town.

whitshile colour

I would have gone a bit further but I wanted to look round the garden while the sun was out and I had my flute pupil Luke coming, so I settled for 21 miles, and as this was 21 miles more than I had expected to do, I was content.

I took far too many pictures in the garden over the day so I have put them into panels, mixing morning and afternoon shots together in a haphazard way.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s transplanted nerines are enjoying life among the calendulas.

clrematis, daisies, nerines

…and clematis and Michaelmas daisies are doing well too.

It is often easier to take flower shots when the sun isn’t shining as the detail can be clearer.  The cosmos and red zinnia were cloudy shots…

four flowers am and pm

…and the orange zinnia and the Icelandic poppy came later.

The garden had a summer feel to it when the sun shone in the afternoon…

bee, butterfly and flowers

…and butterflies tried new flowers.

red admiral butterfly on verbena

My flute pupil Luke appeared and we had a really good time playing duets.  I am not a very good flute player myself so I have to practise quite hard to keep up with him.  It does me a lot of good.

I am spiking the middle lawn with a garden fork and brushing sand into the spike holes in an effort to improve drainage and keep moss at bay (ha ha) but because I am having to take care of my feet, the work is proceeding at snail’s pace.  I did two rows across the lawn in the course of today and I will be lucky to finish before winter comes.

I was hoping to get a genuine flying bird of the day today and spent some time lurking in the garden with my camera at the ready.  Starlings were keen to help…

four flying starlings

…and a co-operative bird flew over the garden at a modest speed…

passing flying bird

…but in the end, I couldn’t go past a delightful white butterfly in mid flap, a shot that I have never managed to take before. Not quite a flying bird of the day, but quite satisfactory all the same.

flying white butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  He is visiting his son in California where he was impressed to see that every other parking space at his son’s place of work had an electric charging point..

Apple EV charging

We had an unusual day here today in that it didn’t rain at all.  People were walking round the town looking nervously at the sky and wondering what had gone wrong.

It was an early autumn sunny day though, being quite chilly in the morning and not warming up until later in the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the whole morning manning a stall at the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where she gave out information about the proposed community land purchase scheme.  I went along for the more mundane purpose of buying fish and meat.  I would have bought cheese and honey too, but the cheese man has stopped coming, and the honey will not be ready for another month or two.

When I got home, I prepared for a cycle ride by drinking coffee and doing the crossword until it got a bit warmer.

I went out into the garden to check the temperature and spotted not one, not two, but three butterflies, a peacock by itself, a red admiral with a small tortoiseshell, and finally all three together.

three butterfly panel

The Abyssinian gladiolus and the mallow were pleased to see the sunshine….

galdiolus and mallow

…but the pick of the flowers for me today was this cosmos.  It was very happy not to be bowed down with raindrops.

cosmos

I went back in and fuelled up on some haggis and finally got going just before midday.

For once, the wind was behind me as I cycled out of town and I had a most enjoyable time cycling through the peaceful pastoral countryside…

pastoral scene

…though the verges have been so heavily mown that there was not much in the way of wildflowers to be seen.  This ragwort was growing in a crack in the concrete on a motorway bridge.

ragwort and insect

My route took me down into England.  There are many good things about cycling on the back roads of North Cumbria; the generally excellent road surfaces, the lack of traffic and the absence of hills among them, but one of the things that I like best are the many lone pine trees that I pass along the way.

Some are tall and thin…

pine tree harker

…and others, shorter and stout.

pine tree 2 harker

After 30 miles with the wind being mostly helpful, there came the inevitable time when I had to turn into the wind to pedal home.  It wasn’t very strong so I made reasonable progress but I was happy to stop and look at the cliff beside the River Lyne where it is crossed by the Longtown road.

It is a strikingly coloured sandstone cliff, all the more surprising…

cliff cliff

…because it sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise gentle and flat  landscape

river lyne at cliff

Looking  from the bridge, I could see the Longtown windmills slowly tuning in the light breeze.  The fact that they were facing directly in the direction that I was going to have to pedal to get home was not encouraging.

longtown windmills

Still, as I say, the wind was not strong so I made steady progress.  On the longer rides, I like to stop roughly every five miles for a minute or so just to stretch and to make sure that I remember to eat and drink regularly.

My next stop after the bridge over the Lyne gave me the chance to look across the River Esk and see Netherby Hall, the site of Young Lochinvar’s daring feat.

netherby hall

On this occasion there was no “racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea” as I maintained what could charitably be described as a steady pace for the rest of my way home.  The journey was enlivened by having to listen to remarks made by  my legs on the lines of,  “Whose idea was this then?” and “Any chance of a cup of tea soon?” and “I hope you’re happy because we aren’t.”

I had to stop to talk to them severely at the bus stop at the Hollows and this let me enjoy some orange hawkweed and a hedge full of convolvulus.

hawkweed and convolvulus

I don’t know why my legs were reluctant to co-operate over the last few miles.  Perhaps the hilly walk yesterday had put them off.  Still, they got me home and 50 sunny miles had been completed so I wasn’t complaining (much).

Mrs Tootlepedal, with great forethought, was cooking a large heap of drop scones when I got in and half a dozen of these with some homemade raspberry jam soon made everything right.

So right, in fact, that I was able to go out and mow the middle lawn.  When I had put the mower away, I had a last look round the garden.

The verbena is looking very fine.  I wasn’t very taken with it when it first came out, as I thought that it was rather spindly and insubstantial, but it has got better and better as time goes on, and it is another of those flowers of which each head is a little garden in itself.  I like that.

verbena

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the gorgeous blue of the gentians which are growing in a pot beside the chimney.

gentian

The sedums were glowing in the evening sun and they had attracted several visitors.

sedum and insect

As well as flowers, the garden is full of flying things.  The starlings which live in our neighbour’s holly tree have taken to perching on our new electricity lines and there are often several to be seen.

starling on wire

The mint is still very busy with these bright green flies…

greenbottle on mint

… and every time you walk past it, there is a mighty buzzing as they all fly up into the air..

There was a family of sparrows lined up on the house gutter and I was interested to see that as in all families, there was one that was sulking and refusing to get its picture taken.

sparrows on gutter

Mrs Tootlepedal rounded the day off by cooking some the fish from the morning’s market for our tea.  It went well with potatoes, turnips and beans from the garden.

Then we had the double pleasure of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  The Tour of Britain is in Scotland for a couple of days and it was nice to see the peleton on familiar roads.

The flying bird of the day is a mechanical one.  It passed over the garden in the evening and as it was carrying a big TV camera, I wondered if it had been busy photographing cyclists earlier in the day and was on its way to Kelso for tomorrow’s stage.

helicopter

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Today’s guest picture comes from my former colleague Ada and comes as a reminder of the Tour de France.  She tells me that she was sipping coffee in a cafe at the bottom of the mountain when her husband had this picture taken at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.  Hats off to him.

Tourmalet

I didn’t think of cycling in the morning here as it was a grey and drizzly day, and as it wasn’t a day for gardening either, we went off in the car to top up our supplies.

My requirement was for sunflower hearts for the birds as the siskins and sparrows have nearly finished my current stock.  Mrs Tootlepedal was after a little colour for the garden as her Sweet Williams are almost all over now.  Luckily we could combine both needs in a short circular tour and we were back home in time for lunch.

I filled the feeder with the last of the old seed and a sparrow took a very dim view of my camera’s intrusion on his meal.

staring sparrow

It was soon joined by more sparrows and the new seed will obviously be needed soon.

three sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal bought three boxes of flowers, begonias and dianthus, to plant out and left them out until she is ready to stick them in.

new flowers

She was busy in the garden after lunch and I lent a hand where I could and took the occasional picture too.

Another zinnia has come out.

zinnia

…and a new set of privet flowers have appeared.

privet

The first mallow has appeared.

mallow

I took pictures throughout the afternoon of various clematis and you can see that the rain stopped and things dried out as the day progressed.

four clematis

Some flowers seem to retain raindrops longer than others.   I took this poppy at the same time as the mallow above.

spotted poppy

As well as feeding the birds, I gave Zoe a top up feed too.

car with nosebag

There weren’t any tortoiseshell or peacock butterflies about but the garden had plenty of insects buzzing around.

two insects

And a rather scruffy blackbird hopped around while Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the hope of picking up a disturbed worm or two.

spotty blackbird

I went to sit on our new bench for a rest at one point and liked the picture made by a triple shoot of the verbena behind it.

three verbenas

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared some space in a border and planted out a new rose which she had bought in the morning.  This is part of her policy to get some less heavy headed roses into the garden.

two new roses

I was surprised to find runner bean flowers of two different colours on the vegetable garden fence but Mrs Tootlepedal told me that she had bought a mixed bag of beans so that explained it.

two beans

The weather gradually improved as the day went on and I took the opportunity to top up my monthly mileage with another twenty miles round my Canonbie circuit.  There was quite a brisk wind and my legs were less keen on the whole topping up  business than I was so I had to work quite hard to get round and mostly kept my camera in my back pocket…

…but I did wonder what the tall tree had said to its friend to make it feel quite so crushed.

distant trees

My legs could have done with a rest but there is rain in the forecast for every day in the week ahead so I thought that I was well advised to take advantage of this dry spell.

I looked for butterflies when I got back but only saw a single white butterfly on the buddleias.  It is a problem of taking pictures with a pocket camera that it sometimes thinks that I am more interested in focussing on the leaves in the background than the glaringly obvious subject of the photo dead centre in the foreground.

out of focus butterfly

A couple of our main crop potato plants looked a bit unwell, so although it was too early, I dug the plants up.  The potatoes seemed sound enough and we had some with lamb mince for our tea.  They had a very acceptable taste.

main potatoes

It was not the most exciting day of the summer but the temperature remained at a perfect level (around 20°C, 70°F) and the rain was very light so we should count ourselves lucky.  All the same, there is no doubt that there is a slight feeling in the air that it is not that long till Christmas now.  Summers fairly whistle by these days.

One of the sparrows is the flying bird of the day.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  There are caves near his house in East Wemyss which have a rich history dating back to the Picts and some archaeologists are currently having a dig around to find out more.

smacap_Bright

It has been getting steadily warmer here, although nothing like the heatwaves in the USA and mainland Europe and although the morning was grey, it was quite warm enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal to put on her wellies and do some heavy clearing of old plants from the dam behind our house.

I was so busy wheeling barrow loads of soggy stuff round to our compost bins that I forgot to take any pictures of the activity, though when were finishing, I did spot a duck swimming in the part of the dam that our neighbour had previously cleared on the other side of the bridge.

duck on dam

When that task was finished, we had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal set about other garden business while I took a few pictures.

The poppies had perked up after being battered by the wind yesterday…

three poppies

…and I was pleased to find a lot of the taller flowers were still upstanding.

colourful border

A hosta flower stuck out its tongue for me…

hosta stamens

…and the St John’s Wort berries positively gleamed.

st johns wort berries

I was going to sit down on our new bench for a rest when I noticed that a verbena had sneaked though from behind the seat.

verbena and bench

The privet is a hive of activity.  Not only is it filling the garden with its scent, it has a continuous hum as you approach it, so full of bees is it.  I managed to spot a few today (and a butterfly out of the corner of my eye).

privet with bees

The individual flowers are very fancy with their rolled back petals and they cover the ground below the branches like snow when they fall.

Above the privet, the walnut tree is full of nuts again this year.  Whether the weather will be fine enough to ripen them is another question, but they are looking good at the moment.

walnuts

I noted the first crocosmia in the garden…

crocosmia

…and then went in for lunch, having picked masses more sweet peas and some garden peas to add to our summer soup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out, we could just keep the soup pot going for quite a time by adding more fresh veg every day, but we probably won’t.

I noted a couple of greenfinches had come to join the crowds on the feeder…

two greenfinches

..but once again, the chief seed eaters were siskins.

passing siskin

By the time that lunch was over, the wind had calmed down a lot and there was the promise of sun for the rest of the day.  I was almost waylaid by a stage of the Tour de France but as it was a flat stage with all the excitement in the last twenty seconds and still some hours away, I pulled myself together and went off to do some pedalling myself.

I did have a choice, since it was such a pleasant day, of a more hilly scenic ride or a slightly more boring and flat ride.  Luckily I chose the boring flat ride as it turned out that while my legs were very happy to co-operate while the going was easy, as soon as I hit a rise, they started to grumble tremendously.

There were no interesting views so I stopped occasionally if I saw something interesting in the verge…

wild flower with bee

…like this great burnet or sanguisorba officinalis.  There is a lot of grass about and I had a bit of trouble in finding a burnet flower without some grass in front of it.

great burnet and grass

The grass and its many seeds may be part of the reason that my legs were a bit unhelpful as grass pollen doesn’t help my breathing.

Still, as my route was largely flat after the first eleven miles, I plodded on down into England where I saw just about the most silver silver birch that I have ever seen.

silver birch

Still in England, I stopped beside the River Esk in Longtown to have a honey sandwich and admire the handsome bridge over the river.

Longtown bridge

After the recent rain, there was enough water in the river to to tempt a fisherman to put on his waders and have a go.

fisherman at Longtown

Thanks to adopting a very sensible speed, I managed to do fifty miles exactly before sinking into a chair in the kitchen and having a reviving cup of tea.  At a bit over 20°C (70°F), and with the sun beating down, it was as hot as I can cope with these days so I was pleased to find that the house was quite cool.

When I had finished my tea, I went out into the garden in pursuit of butterflies.  I had seen quite a lot of them on my ride, so I thought that there were bound to be some in the garden.

I was disappointed.

The fancy roses are trying to prove that Mrs Tootlepedal is wrong to think of replacing with them with simpler varieties…

rose in sunshine

…though these little red charmers which live very close to the ground would probably survive a cull anyway.

roses on ground

The astilbes were beautifully back lit.

backlit astilbe

I went in to enjoy a tasty evening meal, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, and then rather collapsed for the rest of the evening for some incalculable reason.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It must have been feeling the heat too as it needed a friend to blow strongly just to keep it in the air.

flying siskin blown up

 

 

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