Posts Tagged ‘Veronica’

Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is enjoying good weather in Aberdeenshire near the former fishing village of Collieston.


We had another day today which would have been very welcome in mid summer and it is becoming pretty clear that it will be very unlikely that summer, when it comes, could be any better than late spring has been.  It may well be all downhill from here on when this good spell ends.

Still, we are really enjoying the lovely weather while it lasts even though it does mean that quite a lot of garden watering is going on.

watering the lawn

I have given both lawns a soaking and Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the flower beds with hose and watering can.

I should add that we are not at all keen to get one of the torrential downpours which they have been getting in England.  A light shower would do very well.

I had an early look round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I couldn’t get past the best of the rhododendrons without clicking my shutter finger.


The Rosa Moyesii is more modest but very pretty too.

rosa moyesii

I had to admit that I was wrong and Mrs Tootlepedal was right (there’s a surprise) because when I looked really closely at the Veronica, I could see that it is blue after all and not pure white at all.  I had to look pretty hard though.


A blackbird took a good look and agreed that it was blue.


Our walnut tree is almost fully clothed.  It is one of the last trees to get its leaves.


I didn’t have the long to enjoy the morning sunshine as I was doing my very last stint in the Welcome to Langholm Office.  After many years, I have decided to retire as a welcomer.  I had quite a few people to welcome today but I still had enough time to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive database.

While I was at work welcoming people, Mrs Tootlepedal was also doing some welcoming. A friend from the choir and her partner, Anita and Nick who live in Canonbie, had been visiting the dentist in Langholm and took the opportunity to come round and look at our garden which they had seen on this blog.  They gave the new bench a test and declared that it was as good as sitting in a National Trust garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased at such a nice compliment.  Not being a photographer though, this whole event went unrecorded.

I passed a gull as I crossed the suspension bridge on my way home at midday…


…it was probably wondering where all the water has gone, The river is very low.

There was plenty to see in the garden when I got there.

Beside the front door, another clematis has just come out…

clematis front door

…and almost hidden beside it, is a tiny lily of the valley.

Lily of the Valley

Across the drive, Mrs Tootlepedal has some very vigorous variegated hostas.


After lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then got my cycling gear on and took the new bike out for a spin.  It was really very hot and I was wondering if I would get cooked but luckily,  a surprisingly cool and steady wind kept me at a reasonable temperature and I enjoyed a thirty mile run which brought my total on the new bike up to 250 miles.    I think that I can safely say that it is going to suit me very well.

I wasn’t the only one keeping cool.

bull keeping cool

The verges were full of interest.  I saw these flowers when I stopped for a drink after ten miles.

Gair road wildflowers

And I saw these beside the old A74 near Kirkpatrick Fleming.

Old A74 wildflowers

The dandelions may have gone over but there was ample yellow colour near Sprinkell…

Sprinkell road (2)

…and looking ahead at this point, I think anyone would have to admit that it looks like a good day and place for a pedal (even taking the vast amount of traffic into consideration).

Sprinkell road

When I got back, I had time to admire the Japanese azalea…

Japanese azalea

…before my flute pupil Luke turned up.  We are making steady progress even though wonderfully sunny weather does not make flute practice the first thing one thinks of doing.

After a really nourishing tea of mince and tatties, I went out and sat on the new bench and admired some late colour.

evening colour

Then I mowed the middle lawn and trimmed the edges which was a good way to end the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a baby thrush in the garden while I had been out cycling and when she came out to admire the lawn, she spotted it again.   I fetched my camera and found that it had flown up onto a fence and was making quite a noise.

Baby thrush

Curiously it was joined not by its mother but by a blackbird which was making a noise too.  Then a small flock of sparrows started to join in and I went over to see what the racket was all about.

It was a dratted cat, stalking about among the flowers below, seeing what little birds it could snaffle. In  my view, cat owners should feed their animals so much that they lose their appetite for birds…. or at least keep them in their own gardens.

I shooed the cat away and there were no fatalities.

The mother thrush, flew up to join her infant and she became in that moment, a quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying thrush



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Today’s guest picture come from Venetia’s trip to Toulouse a couple of weeks ago.  She came across this very cheerful lady with a rather macabre exhibit in a local flea market there.

toulouse flea market

Our spell of remarkably fine weather continued with temperatures so far above the seasonal average that we were quite pleased to find them moderated by a brisk wind.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the sunshine before we went off to sing in the church choir.  The choir sang a short anthem between the bible readings and we were stunned to receive a totally unexpected round of applause from the congregation when we finished.  It might have been sparked off by the visiting minister who was taking the service. I have never encountered this in the middle of a service before but it was very pleasing to be on the receiving end of it.

My throat is not much better but as I was singing bass, I was able to croak my way through without too much trouble.

When we got back to the house, there was a few minutes to look round the garden.  There is a lot to look at as the garden has been transformed in the week that we were away.

There is a good variety of colour ranging from the white of the  clematis round the back door…


…and a new veronica beside the middle lawn (which Mrs Tootlepedal assures me is blue but it looks dead white to me)…veronica

…and some sweet rocket near the silver pear.

sweet rockety

Slightly more colour can be seen in the pale aquilegias…


…and more still in the potentillas along the back wall of the house beside the dam.


This year Mrs Tootlepedal has decided to be pleased by the various Welsh poppies which tend to pop up randomly all over the garden…

welsh poppy

…this one beside a promising looking hosta.

On the opposite side of the dam, Kenny’s euphorbia is going from strength to strength.


Stronger shades of colour have cropped up unexpectedly beside the yellow potentilla in the shape of this blue aquilegia which has dropped in from somewhere unknown.  It is very welcome.


In the garden, there was more blue as the first cornflower has come out.


But for ‘big colour’, it is hard to beat a peony.  This is the first of the year.


However, all things considered, this azalea does probably carry more zing.


Mrs Tootlepedal was worried because its leaves were tinged with what looked like an unhealthy colour but as you can see, it is looking very well.

We didn’t have time to do any lawn care or large scale watering as we had to rush off to Carlisle to get to an early start for the last practice of the community choir there before its season ending concert next Sunday.  Our excellent conductor is leaving us to go on to bigger and better things and as he will be sorely missed, the practice was a bitter sweet occasion.

My croaky voice just about stood up to singing the tenor part as luckily, the parts were generally in the lower range of tenor part singing but there were times when it gave up and I was left looking a bit like a beached fish with my mouth opening but nothing coming out.  The conductor has prescribed a week of not talking.  Those who know me will gauge how likely that is to happen.

It was a beautiful evening when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal rushed to water her seedlings in the greenhouse (the temperature was in the mid twenties) and then she was able to do some useful work in the garden while I took a few more pictures.

The clematis at the back door is at its best when the evening sun lights it up…


…and the peony looked good too.


Also looking good but not quite so welcome was this striking rhubarb flower.

rhubarb flower

The rhubarb has been neglected while we have been away and may be past its best for eating but there are promising signs of meals to come in the bean department.

broad  beans

The evening light was kind to our white potentilla…


…but a new plant, recently purchased by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking good in a shady bed.  It is a Choisya…


…and a good one as far as I am concerned.

The ornamental strawberries are having a very good year and Mrs Tootlepedal is spreading them about a bit.

ornamental  strawberries

I had no time to linger around at the kitchen window waiting for birds to come to the feeder today…


…but I did catch a siskin having words with someone.

The best I could do for a flying bird was a couple of shots of an aggressive pigeon trying to get another pigeon to fly away.








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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…


…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.


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


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.


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.


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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who is back in England and went to visit an enormous limestone quarry with a geological interest group.   Her picture shows the Torr Works (after a Mr. Torr, nothing to do with Glastonbury) in the east Mendips. It is a Carboniferous limestone quarry.

Torr WorksWe finally got a summer day today, complete with fluffy clouds, light winds and some genuine (but not excessive) warmth.  After long discussion with my knees, I decided that a day of light exercise not on a bicycle was the best idea and I started it by sawing some logs.

Dropscone has  recently taken advantage of the arrival of his oldest son for a family gathering to  get him to cut down a small sycamore tree that was getting too big for his garden.  Somehow, the tree, only partially sliced up, had arrived in our garden and I am going to turn it into logs for our new stove.  The major length of trunk was about six foot long and nine inches in diameter and although this is nothing to a man with a chain saw, it was quite a task for me with a rather blunt bow saw so I took it in stages throughout the day.  (The sawing of a log doesn’t take too long but the sitting down and recovering is a lengthy business.)

My first break was for a walk round the garden.

polemonium and veronica

Polemonium and Veronica, young and fresh.

tulip and azalea

A very tired tulip and an azalea coming out three weeks late with the flowers clashing with the leaves.

Neither of these lovely flowers come high Mrs Tootlepedal's approval list.

Neither of these lovely flowers come very high on Mrs Tootlepedal’s approval list.

My next break was for coffee and scones with Dropscone and Sandy.  Dropscone had been round his favourite morning cycle ride but had been much hampered by the council’s current enthusiasm for covering the back roads with gravel.

After coffee, I went with Sandy for one of our favourite walks along the banks of the river from Hagg on Esk to Irvine House and back.  We use a fisherman’s path which has some useful aids along the way.

Fisherman's pathWe were able to watch dippers, wagtails, sandpipers, mallards, oyster catchers and goosanders as we walked along but they were in flighty mood…


This goosander’s disappearance was typical

…or perched too far away for a good shot.



There were plenty of other things though to keep the eye entertained as we walked along.  There were too many wild flowers to record even a fraction of them.  I don’t know what this one is, but there were a lot of them along the way, growing to three or four foot in height.

unknown pink wild flower

unknown blue and yellow

I should know what the blue one is but I don’t recognise the yellow ones at all


We saw the first bracken of the season getting ready to unfurl.

There were arty grass opportunities…

grass…and tiny insect shots….

insect with wild flower…as well as butterflies….



The reverse dotted one on the left landed on my sleeve.

…and fishermen.

fishermanThere were two  fisherman and they looked like a pair of men who enjoyed standing in running water without having to be too pestered by fish.

We sat on a bench beside the river and Sandy remarked that it seemed like an idyllic spot.

Esk near Irvine HouseI couldn’t disagree with that.

After a last look down the river…

Esk…we went back to the car and on the way home, we passed Mrs Tootlepedal going in the opposite direction, off to help with pony driving for the disabled.

In  her absence, I had a light lunch and sawed the rest of the main trunk into logs.  I interspersed the sawing with some light mowing and compost turning.  It was so warm that I had to take my jumper off.  In fact, it was such a nice day that every time that I went into the house for a little sit down, I was forced to come back outside almost immediately just to enjoy the warmth again.

Both Mrs Tootlepedal and the starling family…

starlings…made a welcome return.

In the evening, I met up with Sandy again and we went to the Archive Centre as usual on a Thursday and while he got to grips with setting up a refurbished computer, I put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database.

It was such a relief to get a decent day today that I nearly didn’t look at the forecast in case it depressed me.  Unfortunately, I did look at it and it did depress me.   After another reasonable day, we are back to low temperatures and very strong winds at the weekend,.  Ah well, summer was good while it lasted.

On our river bank walk, we went very close to a dipper’s nest in a hole in a small cliff next to the path and as we passed going up river, a dipper shot out of the nest just above my head, giving me quite a shock.  As we came back down river, it did the same to Sandy.  The flying bird of the day is a snatched glimpse of this shocking bird on its way to the nest site.

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture comes from the collection sent to me by my brother-in-law Huseyin and shows Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire.

Mottisfont Abbey_2

I got up early and set off up the A7 on the fairly speedy bike in an effort to avoid some forecast showers.  As a plan it worked well as I saw a huge shower blow across the Ewes valley in front of me on my way back down the road and it had cleared away by the time that I had  got to where it had been.  I was so cheered by this that I hardly noticed the shower of light rain that got me a bit wet a mile or two further down the road.

The rest of the day was much the same with alternating sunshine and showers.  I did get to wander round the garden.

leaf with rain

A summary of the day

There are quite a few promising rosebuds about but for the moment we have to make do with the Rosa Moyesii.

Rosa Moyesii

The chief bird residents are sparrows and blackbirds.  One of the blackbirds seems to have come off worse in one of the many blackbird battles.


It flies about regardless and looks quite chirpy.

The sparrows are everywhere, even in the newly turned compost.


They are in family groups with anxious parents shepherding demanding children around.

A swift zipped across the garden at speed…


…while a jackdaw held a watching brief from a nearby telephone pole.


There were a couple of new flowers to be seen, a Veronica…


…and the first of many big daisies.


When Mrs Tootlepedal came back from singing in the church choir, she was soon busy in her greenhouse doing  the sort of things that people do in greenhouses (it’s a mystery to me).

I was busy looking at bees.

brown bee

There were a number of these light brown bees about today, all with full pollen sacs.  The bees seem to like the Dicentra more than any other flower in the garden.  I know nothing about the habits and tastes of bees but I am surprised that they seem to ignore our large display of Azaleas altogether.  The more usual white tailed bees were about as well.


Also on a Dicentra

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and soon after enjoying a plateful, we set off for our choir in Carlisle.  We made an early start as we were combining the singing with some shopping.

Our choir practice was extremely hard working because we have three engagements coming up and not as much time as we would like to prepare for them all.  Nevertheless, the hard work of the musical director and his excellent accompanist is paying off and the choir knuckled down well and sounded really quite musical.  I just wish that I had been able to find a choir with a good musical director like this years ago when my voice might have been more up to meeting the demands which are being made on it.

When we came out of the practice, the heavens had opened and the road outside the church had turned to a river.  We were seriously worried about our chances of getting safely home but the rain eased off as we left Carlisle and the garden was in sunshine when we arrived back.

A rook in the walnut tree was enjoying the quiet evening air.


Up above, the sky was criss-crossed by darting swifts….


…but the occasional rumble of thunder behind the house reminded us that the weather was fickle.


I am hoping that the weather settles down during the next week as it has been very windy recently and this and the frequent showers have made planning cycle rides and walks a dodgy business.

In the absence of any satisfactory flying birds, I have taken Zyriacus’ suggestion to heart and am putting in a non flying flower of the day instead.  It another shot of the newly arrived Veronica.  I like the little pairs of dancing shoes which each flower has.





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