Permaculture Brings Hope…before and after images!

It’s been almost nine years since I began planting this smallholding in the west of Ireland. Before permaculture. Bealtaine CottageMany of you are familiar with the landscape as it looked then.

The picture above shows Bealtaine Cottage after a lot of cutting and clearing, around the time that the planting began. June 2011 permaculture cottage 021

This picture shows the same view today.

As you can see, the cottage is obscured…melting into the gardens of intense production.

Bealtaine Cottage before and after

The lonely, abandoned cottage on the first day I saw it.

Bealtaine Cottage driveway

Disappeared into the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…nine years of planting by one woman and a spade!

Installin permaculture pond at Bealtaine CottageThis picture shows the Bog Garden after the first pond was created and the surrounding land cleaned up for planting.

Photographs taken at the time depict a barren looking, rushy, wet landscape that offered little hope or sanctuary for gardeners, growers, wildlife or Nature.

Permaculture Cottage July 2011 016The same view down to the pond is obscured with dense and abundant planting.

This nine year journey has opened my eyes and my mind to the problems facing the entire planet in terms of food production, sustainable living and facilitating Nature.

The answer is simple.

June 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 023Plant!

As the planting develops, so fertility returns to the land.

Tree planting at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 015Birds choose to set up home nearby.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 016Frogs, Toads and Newts find their way to your pond and start to breed.

wild orchids at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 019Wild flowers make a show…like these wild Orchids.

apple trees at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage July 2011 011Fruit trees and bushes grow and give you fruit…more than what can be harvested!

tunnel at Bealtaine cottage005Micro-climates evolve as everything grows.

June 2011 Permaculture 002Fuel is harvested.

Small mammals settle into chosen areas…there is a Badger set at Bealtaine Cottage now.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageYour body becomes attuned to the seasons and good health follows.

The best part of all this, is that although permaculture requires  labour to set up, it is maintained with minimal work and attention.

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  1. I so enjoyed the garden tour..I’ve done a lot of the same w/permafrost as I live in Alaska and transformed my place w/flowering trees and perennials..but not at the pace you did.Ireland is so magical;thank you for sharing!!

  2. Dear Colette,

    Your messages always touch me and this one especially. I have followed them through my yearning for land, doing my PDC and now I am ready to relocate to find my little corner of the world to practice permaculture on. On Monday I am going north to the Top of the South Island of New Zealand to find my new home and to start the journey of doing what you do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for showing me and us the way. You are such a blessing to us and to the Earth. My simplest desire is to walk in the garden that is growing around me and to be bathed in nature, My best wishes from another “one woman and a spade”, Lisa xx

    • It is such a delight to read this, you have no idea just how it lifts my heart…proof surely that real change is happening all around us. From those who decide to plant a garden, rent an allotment or grow some seeds in a window box, to those like you Lisa who make that big leap into a new life. It’s all about making the change for the better…re-forging the relationship with Mother Earth. I salute you all! And Lisa, special blessings on your new life…may it be packed with joy and abundance XXX Colette

  3. Reblogged this on A Random Harvest and commented:
    One woman CAN make a difference! If you are not familiar with Colette’s accomplishments, this post illustrates some of them well. She is one of the people who inspire me hugely. ~ Linne

  4. Colleen, I’m having a brain fart, I’ve opened a Words press account, I’ve accessed the Bealtaine Cottage blog, but am having issues with the Bealtaine Cottage Good life blog. ahh, I’m dying to look at your recipes. Help this silly ol’ Lutonian out please.

    • No problem! First of all have you subscribed to the Bealtaine Cottage Good Life website? The link on how to do this is at the top of the page of Bealtaine Cottage.

  5. Colette, I feel transformation is too small a word of description. What you have facilitated at Bealtaine is closer to a miracle. Every view is now of abundant life and richness. I wonder if you had any idea in the beginning of just how much life would come to that cottage and the land through your hard work and awareness. It is an amazing testament to the healing power of love for a place on the earth can be when given care and not looked at as a commodity. Honoring those micro climates instead of insisting on mono cropping obviously has brought new life to you and the land. Honoring the origins of the cottage has done the same for it. Both resurrections are amazing. I’m always waiting for your next blog because I know it will bring more encouragement. Thank you.

    • What an absolutely uplifting comment to read this morning…thank you from the bottom of my heart! 🙂
      These past eleven years have brought me a deep connection to and understanding of who we are on this incredible living planet. I have the deepest respect for Mother Earth and now see her as the living, vibrant consciousness life form she is. I am captivated by her in every way and never felt happier and more spiritually alive…what more can I say?
      Blessings to you XXX

  6. Thanks for the reminder that I’m not crazy for investing all this upfront labor into planting hundreds (thousands?) of plants and trees each year for the past three years. On a hot day like this with another sixty starts to get in the ground, this is a great reminder of what I’m working towards! xo

    • Laura, you are doing such valuable work, work that cannot be measured, for it will grow the future for Mother Earth. Such work is repaid in joy from the Great Mother…She never did betray the heart that loved her. Blessings on you, your work and the hands that toil for Her. XXX

  7. Your is my favorite blog. And a life I hope to lead soon. So much love and hard work has gone into your oasis. I love the rich energy there as well as the rich soil, trees, flowers and critters. Thank you for your inspirational blog!

  8. Wonderful, and shows how hard work, foresight and love once poured into the Earth can reap rich rewards for both sustainable living and for natures habits to thrive…
    Many thanks for sharing..
    I came via Wendy’s reblog of this post..
    Blessings to you

  9. […] te kijken naar die voorbeelden, die ik soms “per toeval” tegenkom. Zoals het artikel Permaculture Brings Hope!… wat een prachtig kort fotoverslag van negen jaar ontwikkeling op Bealtaine Cottage in West […]
    Translated…looking at those examples, I sometimes “by chance” encounter. As the article Permaculture Brings Hope! … What a wonderful short photo report of nine years development
    Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage

  10. hi colette, thank you so much for such an inspiring blog- the transformation is inspirational. we have not long lived in our cottage in north east england and your before picture of bealtaine cottage is very similar to ours! mainly boundary planting! I am very keen to adopt the principles of permaculture but just don’t know where to start! We have a 1 acre plot that has a small veg plot but apart from that only boundary trees. could you recommend a good book/website to get me started or indeed suggest what i should plant first and foremost. the land does not need clearing its just one vast lawn!
    best wishes and blessings margy x
    Lovely to hear from you Margery and great news that you are inspired by permaculture.
    My advice is easy to follow.
    Plant a really wide and varied mix of food for you, food for bees and insects and food for birds and small mammals…and everything in-between. Trees…lots of trees with groups of shrubs underplanted, then perennials underplanting that.
    Emulate nature wherever you can and allow her in to have her benevolence re-instated.
    A pond is always great, especially if it’s in a catchment area naturally.
    Listen to your inner voice, follow your intuition, lose your control…Nature knows best, so help her in whatever way you can…is this making sense to you?
    Most of all, have fun, be joyful and love the day that’s in it! (Permaculture Magazine is great…subscribe.)
    Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage

    • oh thank you so much for your lovely reply – lots of ideas and i will take a look at the magazine. if i could create a place half as amazing as bealtaine cottage i would feel as though i’d benefitted nature. we are hopefully here at our cottage for the long haul so lots of time to make a transformation. there is so much inspiration in your blogs – thank you so much from a snowy afternoon in ne england ..much love x

  11. Colette, It may take awhile to reach you, but I posted a tube of seeds to you today. I won’t spoil the surprise, but the many packages of seeds inside will certainly keep you busy for a day or so. The gal at the post office said “three-weeks to nine weeks” for the 1st-class package to get to you. Eric
    Thank you so very much Eric!
    It will be like a birthday…I love surprises!
    I shall let you know as soon as it arrives!
    Bless you for your kindness X

  12. Down here in Roscommon we are about 9 years behind you, but delighted to use your blog as part of our inspiration and mentoring. Thank you very much. Keep it coming. We love your ‘9 years ago and same view today’ pictures, which we are also taking.
    Great to hear of others on the same road…more power to you!
    Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage

  13. Hello Colette,
    I just loved the Missy in the sink blog and the video, which I will watch again. And Your blog today. The changes are remarkable. Its such a warm and inviting space now for animal kind and humans. Permaculture is the answer for everyone. I can’t wait to dig in the soil again. My best to you and your, thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas.
    I have been reading your wonderful blogs in my email box and will visit to leave some comments soon. Rugs, sheep, the barn in the snow… I’m looking forward to see your planting and pick up some great advice.
    Bright Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage

  14. Wow, what an amazingly lush, attractive and fertile smallholding you’ve created! Just about to get plan a new bit of veggies, flowers and herbs in an area cleared by Berkshire piggies for us last year. It’s currently just a big area of mud – but you’ve inspired me!
    You will have a very fertile plot. It’s always a great idea to clear ground using pigs. Good luck with your planting!
    Bright Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage

  15. Hi Colette, it is very inspirational to see the before and after pictures. Now I feel that our job is not so much an up hill struggle. Slightly different climate but we are gong to swamp the garden with love to make up for the salt air and strong winds.
    That made me laugh…I like the concept though: swamping the garden with love!
    Bright Blessings from Bealtaine

Your comments are welcome!