Aquilegia, now growing all over the permaculture gardens and driveway of Bealtaine Cottage, from its beginnings here 8 years ago, with a handful of seed, saved from a some flowers growing in a garden in North London.
The time is near…Mayday, known as Bealtaine here in Ireland. It is pronounced “Be Al Tan Ah”
Irish mythology marks the beginning of May as the the start of the summer.
This was heralded in with the Fire Festival at Bealtaine.
Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition.
There was the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and celebrations were accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by otherworldly spirits. Cattle would be driven through the dying embers of the great bonfires, to protect them from disease.
The Ancient Races who constructed Newgrange in Ireland aligned their monuments to the major solar events.
These were the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox.
The solar year was further divided to mark the half way points between the major solar events giving the cross quarter days of Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasadh and Samhain.
Click on the link below for today’s video from Bealtaine Cottage
Friday at Bealtaine Cottage, featuring Missy and Flo…
Click and watch
(click on the speech bubble on the video to see Flo on her own video!)
It is cold and windy…quite an icy wind at that! maybe the predictions for snow are coming true…brrr!
An indoors day at the cottage…just a quiet time with some thoughts, reflections and maybe a little painting…
There is no need for words.
Listen and watch…
Permaculture is… a design system…
It’s a simple and effective way to apply the principles of ecology in the design of sustainable human habitats.
Building a veranda on the south side of Bealtaine Cottage was a practical and sustainable way of applying the principles…there is now an all-weather area in which to shelter and store humans, plants and fuel.
Permaculture is not just about growing things.
Although permaculture focuses on food production, it is more than just food, as it embraces every aspect of living holistically on this Earth…with this Earth!
All aspects of living well, such as health, and education, are integrated in this new way of living… Aspects of community and architecture, especially living architecture and always sustainable architecture…using locally source materials, especially wood.
It brings sustainability into all aspects of life, even art, as in the stained glass wheel of life using beer bottles!
Permaculture uses resources from, essentially, three main areas.
These are nature, traditional systems…as in the application of permaculture principles at this old stone cottage, and modern scientific /technological knowledge.
Embracing knowledge and applying it in a permaculture way is one way of describing what I do here at Bealtaine Cottage.
For example, retro-fitting the cottage for maximum insulation using minimum £resources, such as sheep’s wool for insulation in the cottage and fertility on the hungry land!
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Totally distracted by the Cuckoo…sorry, but it’s a nice little look at things anyway!
Click on the link below for the very short video…
Fairy Dell and Spring Well
This little area on the 3 acres that make up Bealtaine Cottage has slowly given up it’s secrets to me as the years have passed.
From the first days of discovery, when this appeared to be an overgrown thicket that was impenetrable, to the weeks spent slowly unravelling the beautiful space within…The Fairy Dell has emerged as a very special part of Bealtaine…perhaps the actual heart of the energy that has grown here…
Here is a short video…
The sun has shone brightly in a clear sky over Bealtaine Cottage for many weeks now.
Bluebells have blossomed a month or so earlier than last year.
The seasons have become confused, that I can say with certainty.
However, on a glorious day, despite the little or no water I have in the cottage, I cannot complain… The earth is warming fast below the trees and bushes and plants of every description and Nature continues to take over the conducting of affairs on this small-holding.
Yesterday I planted out peas I had grown in the tunnel in pots…enough to give them a good start and resistance to the slugs…I have a backup group of peas, already big and strong, should the first lot be completely eaten!
A mighty blue sky…with no chemtrails at all!
I have been aware of the stripy trails for some time now and remark on the rare days when I do not see them…no flights today!
As I write this on Sunday morning, it’s about 8am, the sky is cloudy, naturally so!
On a different subject, I am deep in thought considering colour, well, colours to be correct, but shades of colours would be even more so…for, with all the bright sunshine this Spring, I have noticed a need to repaint the interior of my cottage. The bright sun makes the walls look dowdy in comparison!
Shades of white, if, indeed white is a colour, are on my mind…I am testing out mixes, for I mix them myself, being as frugal as possible on a very limited budget that few could live a day on, never mind a month!
It makes the process all the more interesting, as I collect up pots of half used paint from family, friends and neighbours!
There has been a grand de-cluttering process underway at Bealtaine Cottage and I have left bags and bags of “stuff,” into the local charity shop, feeling liberated and unburdened with each trip.
My aim is to have only pictures, books and music on display, with the occasional vase of natural flowers or whatever is growing outside, brought in to display. That way I will be more in tune with, and appreciative of, Nature!
So far, this process has been utterly liberating and joyful…I would heartily recommend it to all who are in search of a happier life!
Valerian has broken into flower in some of the more sheltered areas around the walls of the cottage. This wonderful flower grows readily in limestone gravel, flowers in late spring and stays in bloom for all of the summer and into early autumn…how brilliant is that then!
Why do we continually fight with Nature, when “Mother Knows Best!”
When you apply the permaculture principles and then begin to move with the flow, allowing the intuitive side of your nature to embrace and understand Mother Nature…
There is no problem with Nature…the problem is us…we are control freaks!
Seven years later, of going with the flow…
Here’s the 5 minute power up…watch…
Following on from the short video on Willow and using willow in the garden as living willow fedges and structures, here’s a short video on trees… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBu_fP82VDY&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp
5 minute video on using willow in the garden… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16EYgi14Y7c&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp
Here’s a 5 minute video from Bealtaine Cottage on making and using compost on a permaculture smallholding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLkBREOi8hE&feature=plcp&context=C4035676VDvjVQa1PpcFOWi9w1WJ3Ko7EephcqjG1KM5MBe0Xa1V8%3D
I made a short video about the Fruit and Vegetable garden… It’s around five minutes long and begins to explain how it all works. I hope you enjoy it… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayBXUeT5NL0&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp
One of the real advantages of a permaculture garden is that there is always colour…flowers are not the only colour in the garden!
I took this photo about five minutes ago and even though it’s drizzly, dull and cloudy, the garden at the front of the cottage is dazzling with a veritable artist palette of colour!
There are crispy brown leaves on the grass from the Beech trees, which keep their leaves for most of the winter and only really shed them as the new ones push through.
The Photinia is bright red with the new growth.
Valerian is showing bright green through the gravel and the Pear tree is awash with white blossom.
Permaculture planting is intense planting, the objective being to cover the earth and leave no part exposed to the elements! The effect is incredible and the maintenance is absolutely minimal!
Most of these plants are easily recognised.
One of the big benefits of permaculture planting is the almost immediate transformation for the better, as plants move through the seasons and drop their waste upon the earth.
Pyracantha, Beech, Amelanchier, Spirea and Buddleia all jostle for the light…may the best one win!
Up early this morning and climbed the hill at the back of Bealtaine Cottage to visit the well.
It’s a spring well and feeds water to the cottage via simple gravity…the well being further up the hill than the cottage!
Over the past week or so the water in the pipe has occasionally stopped flowing and this usually means an airlock…so I brought a water can with me to force water down the pipe and release the airlock…it worked!
The morning was sunny and windy, so I made the most of the day that was in it and hung the clothes out to dry…hand-washed in the rain barrel!
The water is flowing in a trickle and building up enough pressure in the pipe to get it flowing into the tank in the loft…I can now light the stove!
Another task completed in the vegetable garden…spreading straw on the path around the tunnel…this proves to be very effective at stopping the rampant growth of weeds over the course of the summer.
As this decays, it will be spread on the vegetable beds at the beginning of autumn, making a good top dressing for insulation over the winter months.
One of the Pear trees in the orchard…covered in blossom that promises a good harvest and a possible vintage Pear Wine.
The bees are out in full around the Ribes and are moving onto the fruit blossom, with the Pear and Cherry trees all showing off! These are the first fruit trees to come into bloom here each year.
More blossom on the Amelanchier trees…I planted all the trees over the past 7 years or so and am always amazed at the vigour each spring…they seem to suddenly shoot up and start to tower overhead. Some of the trees in this picture are Lime trees.
One of these days Bealtaine Cottage will disappear…
Decorating an old cottage on a budget of near zero…
The central design technique is simple…recycle and reuse as much as you can.
Here, the sitting room was given a wall mirror using broken mirrors that would have otherwise gone to the dump.
Cost: just the price of the tile adhesive and my time.
A painted concrete floor and stencilled wall…stencils cut from card.
The floor stencil was spray-painted using left-over gold Christmas decorative spray.
There is hardly a faster and cheaper way to bring beauty and creativity into your home than by putting together an arrangement of foliage and flowers picked from your own garden.
Roman Blinds are the cheapest window covering to make as they only require material to cover the window and no more!
I made these for the kitchen windows.
The material was donated to me as an off-cut from a much bigger project!
This mirror was made in the same way as the bathroom one, but the broken tiles were stuck directly onto a sheet of wood…re-cycled wood!
It now decorates the veranda and reflects the light nicely.
The sitting room floor created entirely from waste…these broken tiles were destined for the rubbish heap before I rescued them and put them to good use.
The sink is recycled and quite old, as is the draining board. As for the dish rack…it doubles up as a cake cooling rack…or is it the other way round?
And the ideas continue, making necessity the true mother of invention!
Green gingham curtains and red geraniums…very Irish cottage!
Painted stones on a window ledge…simplicity at Bealtaine Cottage.
No fitted kitchen…just practical things all pulled together with a little colour.
Donations are always welcome and Blessings returned!
Thank you for supporting the Bealtaine Project