Posted in Cats, Cottage, Edible Gardens, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Vegetarian

The Best Medicine!

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Lists are great things to spend time on.

Despite the wet weather, I’ve been busy making a comprehensive list of what to grow …and the reasons why I should.

The ability to store food is at the forefront of my thinking.

I’ve discovered this year that Beetroot stores very well indeed.

Not just that it stores well, but is a first class root vegetable in the making of healthy juice.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is one taken from a box in the pantry and cut open to be juiced.

Last year was the first year that I grew this wonderful root vegetable and was surprised at how easy it was to grow! www.bealtainecottage.comThe tunnel is now ready to sow.

Most of the seeds will go into the polystyrene fish boxes I used last year.

www.bealtainecottage.comI simply scattered the seeds into the filled boxes and pricked out the seedlings as they came on…the healthiest were those from boxes where the seed was all mixed in together and in no particular order!

Swiss Chard in the tunnel today...Ruby Chard
Swiss Chard in the tunnel today…Ruby Chard

Greens are next on my list…and again, in no particular order, just greens!

Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel
Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel

As a vegetarian who tries to avoid dairy, greens are an important part of my diet.

Mixed greens picked in the gardens and tunnel today
Mixed greens picked in the gardens and tunnel today

I add greens to my juice every day to stay fit and healthy.

Parsley,Fennel,Chard and Broccoli leaves all go into a healthy juice.
Parsley,Fennel,Chard and Broccoli leaves all go into a healthy juice.

I have lived at Bealtaine Cottage for almost ten years and have only needed to visit my doctor once.

The best medicine...fresh juice made from home-grown produce! A healthy alternative to big pharma drugs!
The best medicine…fresh juice made from home-grown produce! A healthy alternative to big pharma drugs!

During this time I have not suffered a cold or infection and never stayed a day in bed…something I must treat myself to at some point!

Fresh straw was laid on the paths between the beds.
Fresh straw was laid on the paths between the beds.

All the Herb beds were cut back and the paths in-between covered with straw…

to keep the weeds down.

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Sometimes we do not even need to sow or plant, as foraging for wild food can produce excellent results.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

When I lived in London there were many places that bordered on wilderness and produced masses of food.

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There’s a growing movement to get local and municipal councils to plant fruit and nut trees in public parks and highways.

November 2011 079Resilience has it’s foundations in food security and is an aspect of life we need to take more seriously, but, more importantly, see that it not only gets onto the political agenda, but stays at the top of all planning!

If you wish you can subscribe to the latest website from Bealtaine Cottage…”Bealtaine Cottage Good Life”…simply make a donation of 12 euros for a full year and access the long list of blogs now on site. Quote: “Bealtaine Cottage Good Life” with your donation.

(Please note that this small donation sustains the work on this website, Bealtaine Cottage YouTube, Bealtaine Cottage Podcast and Bealtaine Cottage Magical Gardens FaceBook.)

 

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Cats, Climate, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Wild Flowers

Monet in Gaia’s Garden

Coppiced wood makes one neat pile to be used in the wood stove next winter.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe small logs burn very well in the wood stove and give tremendous heat!

The building of the next pile is under-way.

www.bealtainecottage.comMuch of today has been spent cutting back the growth on the stream that carries the water into the ponds.

Che-Mousey-Bear has stayed in the Bog Garden with me as I worked, keeping me entertained… www.bealtainecottage.comas you can see!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe lower pond looked like a Monet painting…

www.bealtainecottage.comin the soft afternoon light after the storm.

www.bealtainecottage.comEthereal…

www.bealtainecottage.comAs I worked silently along the banks of the stream, frogs croaked, mating, swimming and spawning in both ponds.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe spawn was visible…

www.bealtainecottage.comand floated in big chunks across the water and weeds.

www.bealtainecottage.comWillow and Dogwood was pruned back and cuttings inserted along the stream banks,

www.bealtainecottage.comwhere they will root and keep the earth from being eroded by the ever-increasing rain…this is building resilience and adapting to Climate Change!

www.bealtainecottage.comBirdsong filled the gardens all afternoon and Coltsfoot made an early show of yellow flowers in the gravel…

www.bealtainecottage.comnear the lower pond.

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

There are over 600 blogs in the archives on this site.

Heartfelt thanks for supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Earth, Food, Garden, Gardens, GM Food, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Monsanto, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Seed-Saving, Seeds, Sustainable Living

Know Your Seeds

August 2011 permaculture cottage 010There are basically four different kinds of seed you can purchase.

  1. Open Pollinated Seed.    Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland 001
    This is the most natural seed, simply because it has not been interfered with in any laboratory.Seed growing in the polytunnel in late April at Bealtaine Cottage
    This seed is pollinated by Nature…bees, insects and wind. Occasionally by us too as we brush up against flowers and accidentally get pollen on our clothes, carrying it to another flower and so on. Permaculture Cottage August 2011 007Sometimes we help Mother Nature a little by gently brushing the pollen from one flower to another. It’s all good! August 2011 permaculture cottage 024These seeds are what are commonly referred to more and more as “Organic” on the packaging. August 2011 permaculture cottage 010Organic seeds are fast becoming more difficult to obtain in Garden Shops etc. August 2011 permaculture cottage 008This is because the big seed companies are busy buying up the small seed companies, leaving the consumer with less and less choice!
  2. Gloria, me and FloHigh Yielding Seed.    These look attractive in the packet, with lots of blurb attached to get you to buy, but, these seeds thrive on chemicals and are sort of married to chemicals too! Definitely not organic and in many cases a danger to bees and insects.
  3. www.bealtainecottage.comHybrids.   These are actually designed not to be saved!
  4. www.bealtainecottage.com 006G.E. Seed.   Otherwise known as GM, GMO and all about genetic engineering Nature and patenting the result. These seeds are injected with chemicals and then patented by corporations such as Monsanto. Monsanto declares to be above God Almighty, by stating, and being supported by US Law, that it created the seed!

Bealtaine Cottage 2nd August 2011 Permaculture Cottage 007This is merely a guide for you to build on.

August 2011 permaculture 048Find out all you can about seed, for it is your future and that of your children.

Veranda at Bealtaine CottageVandana Shiva: The seed in its essence is all of the past evolution of the Earth, the evolution of human history, and the potential for future evolution. The seed is the embodiment of culture because culture shaped the seed with careful selection—women picked the best, diversified. So from one grass you get 200,000 rices.

That is a convergence of human intelligence and nature’s intelligence. It is the ultimate expression of life, and in our language, it means “that from which life arises on its own, forever and ever and ever.”

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July permaculture 2011 008Here at Bealtaine Cottage in the West of Ireland I save seed…grown under Permaculture conditions which seek to protect both the integrity of the seed and the environment!

Open pollinated seed is available from Bealtaine Cottage.

Click on the link below to see the current list of seed.

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Current Affairs, E.U., Ecology, GM Food, Monsanto, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Seeds

A Grievous Sin

midwinter cottage 012The biggest threat to our food security lurks in the shadowy depths of the Halls of Power…the buildings housing the European Parliament in Brussels.

www.bealtainecottage.com 037You may or may not be aware of something called The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

www.bealtainecottage.com 002TTIP is a trade agreement presently being negotiated between the European Union and the United States.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006In my estimation, this will allow full and unfettered access to our food production, from multi-national corporations, such as Monsanto, that carry the weapon of GMOs.

Polytunnel at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens in April 2013I call this manifestation of utter madness, GMOs, a weapon, because that is precisely what it is…and a weapon that will cause more devastation to the environment than anything concocted in laboratories ever before!

An early bee in April 2013 at bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensThis is already the case in the US, as small farmers, producing Organic food, are hauled before courts accused of property rights violations by Monsanto.

April 2011. Permaculturecottage 001Monsanto claims ownership of any plant material infected by their GMOs!

April 2011 Earth Day at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardensOnce this insidious and odious polluted seed of mass destruction is unleashed into the environment of Europe, supported in Law by the TTIP, then the takeover will be fast-tracked by our own governments, who are mandated by us to protect us, not US Corporate interests!

April  Bealtaine Cottage PolytunnelThe countdown to the ultimate weapon of mass control and destruction is under way.

April 2011 Bealtaine 001You need to know what is happening.

April 2011 Bealtaine 011Knowledge is power.

April 2011 Bealtaine 003For my part, I will not comply with any law that says a corporation controls and profits from the very essence of life itself…seed.

April 2011 bealtaine Cottage 042For their part, all they have done is take the seed of the Divine Creator and pollute it.

April Bealtaine Cottage 2011 004That, in my eyes, is a grievous sin.

Bealtaine Cottage has built up a Permaculture Seed Bank.

If you want to see a list of available seeds, this link will take you there… https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-from-bealtaine-cottage/

Seeds from Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland are posted all over the world!

No More Seed Available At Present!

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              Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.
                                                    There are almost 800 blogs in the archives on this site.

I write, photograph and film, in a small way, to give a voice to Mother Earth.

Posted in Animals, Badgers, Birds, Cottage, Dogs, Edible Gardens, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Seeds, Spring, Sustainable Living, Woodland

Permaculture Gardens

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The growing season has begun, with Rhubarb sending forth strong pink stems despite the storms of recent weeks.

www.bealtainecottage.comMeanwhile, down in the Fairy Wood, ferns have kept their green in the shelter of the dell. Mosses grow bright in the sunlight and ivy twists and twirls around the Goat Willow.

www.bealtainecottage.comLots of Goat Willow has been coppiced over recent months, and although it takes a year or so to season, it makes excellent logs for the stove, giving out masses of heat for free!

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther down the gardens, Pine, laurel and Great Western Cedar all grow happily together and appear healthy in the spring sunshine.

www.bealtainecottage.comDaffodils are on their way to opening under the shelter of the Beech hedge. This is down beside the pond by the driveway.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd as I turn around from the Daffodils, the Ivy that hangs from some of the mature Goat Willow, swings about in the wind and sunshine…this is turning into a lovely walk around the gardens!

www.bealtainecottage.comI amble around the lower pond, snapping as I go…Jack moves ahead of me, tugging on his lead for he has picked up the scent of a fox or badger!

www.bealtainecottage.comI put my camera away and let Jack pull me along, hot on the scent of other life…we finally stop as we come up to the east side of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comWe move around towards the polytunnel and one of the orchards. Pyracantha and Cotoneaster are now devoid of berries. This can be a hungry time for the birds as they mate and nest…there is a big bag of Oats I can scatter around in handfuls for the hungry birds and will do this later.

www.bealtainecottage.comBack to the cottage and the shelter of the veranda…it’s very stormy, despite the sunshine!

www.bealtainecottage.comWith a full moon over Bealtaine Cottage tonight and a hard frost to come, the evening will be cold for sure.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe coppicing continues and the woodpile grows…

www.bealtainecottage.comFennel is beginning to send forth lots of new growth in the shelter of the veranda and the back of the cottage. These new shoots are delicious added to salad!

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd just across from the Fennel…

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd a reminder for anyone wanting 100% Bealtaine seeds from Bealtaine Cottage…there is a link at the top of this page where you can choose what you want.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Current Affairs, Ireland, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Don’t Wait For The Cavalry!

www.bealtainecottage.comSammy-Bear is filthy.

From head to paw, disgusting in the extreme!

Last night, as the moon came towards its fullest, Sammy refused to come in.

As I walked Jack in the full light of a post storm moon, I could see Sammy on the hill behind the cottage darting here and there as he chased something.

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Hours later he slunk home in this disgraceful state!

He refuses to clean himself, ignoring my chastisements and sits in full state, on the executive chair, in front of the stove!

I may as well talk to the wall!

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There is a full moon tonight and the air is still.

Over recent days the storms have been intense, with rain, snow, wind and tornado!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe extremes of weather are being felt all across the world.

The British Isles have been hit quite badly with floods and high winds all over.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe effects of this extreme weather in terms of financial cost has not been talked about too much in the media.

There appears to be an Ostrich reaction to it all, as economies are talked up and realities are ignored.

www.bealtainecottage.comI don’t feel I need to write about the cost to our environments, as I do so all the time really, but the financial cost to countries will be immense and will certainly slow any hoped-for economic recovery.

www.bealtainecottage.comSo it is well worth mentioning once more the power we all have, to grow food and make plans for our own home economies as best we can!

I might add here, that our worst, can only really equal the best that our own governments appear to be doing in the face of environmental disaster.

By applying common sense and with a little foresight and planning, we will ensure some security of tenure on this battered planet.

www.bealtainecottage.com 058For my part, planting trees for coppicing and energy needs will ensure a warm home next winter.

Storing and familiarising myself with the use of dried pulses, growing and successfully storing home-grown produce, as well as becoming well-versed in the very best home-made soups and potage dishes, continues to occupy my spare time.

candle_004_reasonably_smallMy advice, for what it’s worth…Don’t Wait For The Cavalry!

Posted in Baking, Bealtaine Cottage, Books, Culture, Dogs, Frugal Living, Personal, Spring, Uncategorized

An Evening with Mr D’Arcy

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Snow is falling this evening.
It has fallen in small flurries all day, only to melt and try again.
This evening the snow is sticking.
A near full moon rose in the afternoon sky.
Spring has scurried back under a blanket of white.
www.bealtainecottage.comThe oven is very hot as the stove has been kept topped up with wood, so I have slid a tray of vegetables onto the top shelf to roast…always a healthy, tasty meal.
What remains will be blended into a soup, with stock and red lentils…tomorrows lunch!
DSCF0480I visited the library in town today and borrowed  books and DVDs, always good value, as the yearly membership of less than ten euros covers all loans, unlimited throughout the year.
DSCF0478Tonight will be a cosy time watching Pride and Prejudice, (The BBC version) on DVD in the lodge, wood-burning stove hot and kettle boiling for tea atop!
www.bealtainecottage.comIt will be cosy enough to enjoy the thought of snow all around the cottage.
www.bealtainecottage.comIt is a dreadful thing to be cold.
If I relied on Electric, Gas or Oil, I would be huddled in blankets for sure, as all are prohibitively expensive.
The advantage of the wood stove is that I can even burn old pallet wood in it and be assured of heat.
The skips in cities are filled with waste wood and many people are cold…this is nonsensical!
www.bealtainecottage.comEarlier today, as the sun shone into the cottage, Jack spread himself across the floor, enjoying the day that was.
www.bealtainecottage.comIt was lovely to watch him lapping up the Spring sunshine.
www.bealtainecottage.comThere has been a small lapse back into winter, but Spring is here!
Posted in Abundance, Badgers, Bealtaine Cottage, Gardens, Inspiration, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Trees, Woodland

Free to Install, Renewable, Clean Energy

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Coppicing has taken up much of the day.

It’s remarkable just how much wood can be grown from scratch on a small amount of land.

It’s safe to say that there is a surplus of wood here, much of which will continue to grow until next winter.

Coppicing increases the amount of wood growing, as each cut tree will produces up to half a dozen more trees and so the stock increases.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe logs are easy to cut, no chainsaw is required and the cut wood dries out quicker.

The brushwood makes excellent kindling!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the most environmentally friendly energy on the planet, totally renewable and beneficial to wildlife, water and air!

Can it get any better?

Then why, oh why are governments not rushing to plant deciduous trees and develop wood-burning stove systems in homes? 

 

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Cutting back hedging and dead growth continues apace…I can see the steps once more!

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Spurge has come up early, carpeting the Fairy Wood with soft green.

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There is a gradual movement of green through the land from this Spurge, all the way through to the Mosses and Lichens of Autumn.

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The badgers will come through the wood soon and disturb some of this Spurge in their quest for food, but that disturbance will help in the spreading of this lovely carpet.

As it begins to die back a little, the primroses will make their appearance…and so the succession continues.

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Clouds have maintained a westerly sweep, in from the Atlantic Ocean, heavy with rain.

The wind has calmed down, thankfully…I worry that my cottage roof may get blown away.

It’s old and in need of replacement!

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 More rain is on the way.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe forecast is simply that, more rain to follow!

www.bealtainecottage.comStill, living on a hill is a bonus, for as I turn around and point the camera at the  wide expanse of sky, it is blue…and there’s the moon!

 

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Cottage, Current Affairs, Earth, Frugal Living, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Spring, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Why It Matters!

www.bealtainecottage.comExtreme weather is fast becoming normal.

Another storm is on the way.

This storm, according to the radio, will unleash a massive amount of water in the form of heavy rain.

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This morning was beautiful, as the photographs testify, today is one of extremes…or is that normal too?

www.bealtainecottage.comApart from the predictably unpredictable weather, there is a lot of work getting done here at Bealtaine.

www.bealtainecottage.comI have been moving around the gardens with my secateurs, nipping and cutting here and there, followed by sticking and stamping in other places…inserting cuttings straight into the earth!

www.bealtainecottage.comMost of the shrubs I cut from are serious proliferators, given half a chance!

Ribes, Spirea, Senecio, Willow, Fuschia, Rubus…the list goes on.

www.bealtainecottage.comI was totting up all the energy saving so far in slowly divesting myself of electrical items…it’s substantial indeed.

Many say that one person cannot make a difference.

My acquired wisdom says the opposite…one person can make a difference.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mindset of mindfulness and care for our great Mother, Earth, is a growing consciousness.

Each one person adds to that.

www.bealtainecottage.com A hero of mine, David Holmgren, co-founder of the Permaculture movement, urges us all reduce consumption and be domestically responsible.

I heartily agree with David, in that if enough of us scale down our impact on the planet, then one becomes many and a real shift starts to take place.

www.bealtainecottage.comOver the past few decades humanity has committed acts of great violence against its home, Earth. Now we see acts of great violence being reciprocated in extreme weather.

If we love our home, we will do all we can to protect it and all life therein.

This, I believe, is what connects us to the Divine, in life and after.

Love is all.

Love for all Creation, every last nano particle of it.

www.bealtainecottage.comTo switch off a light is to love and appreciate the environment that has to produce that power.

Love is all.

It’s time we really loved and appreciated this incredible home.

It is the only one we have.

Posted in Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Cottage, Current Affairs, Eco-Living, Ecology, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Thrift

Small Spaces and Tiny Homes

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Tiny homes are becoming popular.

We are realizing the importance of space…the space we actually need to live comfortably.

If I had the opportunity to build another home, it would, undoubtedly, be much, much smaller than Bealtaine Cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comLiving comfortably means a warm home, less opening and closing of doors, one big room where all comforts are to be found, much in the same way as the old cottages used to be here in Ireland.

www.bealtainecottage.comHere in this little Lodge, built onto the back of the cottage, constructed mostly from re-cycled materials, over-wintering is now embedded into my lifestyle.

www.bealtainecottage.comEnergy use is one-quarter of that needed for the cottage.

Small pieces of coppiced wood has fed the wood-burning stove, keeping all snug and cosy.

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This was a decision I made out of a challenge, to prove that it was possible to be warm and comfortable through winter…and it is more than possible, it is a new-found freedom!

Cheap energy!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is possible with a multi-faceted approach: one small, medium or even big living space; masses of insulation; small wood-burning stove; low energy lamps; a sofa bed, or, as in my case a bed that doubles as a sofa; woollen blankets and rugs; thick curtains and menu plan for cooking one-pot meals on the stove!

www.bealtainecottage.comA small clothes-rail doubles as a drying rail as the heat from the wood burner keeps the place toasty!

www.bealtainecottage.comI am a fan of the Tiny Home movement for many reasons, but, primarily because this way of living empowers one…absolutely! www.bealtainecottage.comThe more one can conserve and live minimally, the more power one actually has !

www.bealtainecottage.comPlanting lots of shelter-giving plants, shrubs and trees around it also helps the micro-climate inside and out.

www.bealtainecottage.comA place to sew and knit in comfort with the luxury of a kettle of ever-free-boiling water is magic!

www.bealtainecottage.comA door that opens onto the most sheltered part of the garden is a bonus.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd yes…that is an old table top up-cycled as a step!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, compost, Crafts, Dogs, Edible Gardens, Garden, Inspiration, Permaculture, photography, Spring, Trees

A Day in Early Spring

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Juicing is a great way to ensure one has the maximum of vitamins and minerals and this is something I do every day.
It’s also a reason to keep greens growing all the year around, as even small bits can be added to the juicer and vital vitamins extracted.
I’ve used some small bits of Kale that have escaped the frost and storms.
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There is no waste in Permaculture, just compost and more vegetables growing! Compost is the food needed to grow food!
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Slowly, slowly the Willow is cut and stacked…time is running out as the buds thicken! Baskets, Fedges and Obelisks are standing here!
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These beds are fairly sheltered and continue to produce Kale, which is processed in the juicer.
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Fine Willow used in basket weaving waiting to be harvested. The gardens look colourful all the way through Winter, as the stems of Willow, Dogwood, Ash and Birch are revealed.
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So much rain has fallen here in Ireland this Winter and now, in the early days of Spring, the flooding has begun to dominate the landscape. Here at Bealtaine cottage I spent much time in the early days digging out drains and water channels, as well as keeping them maintained over the past ten years…and it has paid off, as you can see from the lower pond. The water runs free, out into the streams and rivers that take it to the Atlantic Ocean. 
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In sheltered areas all over the gardens the ferns have remained green, though a little bit droopy. The winter was mild and warm, with plenty of rain!
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This is the beginning of the wood pile for next winter. It comprises of coppiced logs of Birch, Ash and Hazel. The twiggy bits are thrown into the back of the pile as they make wonderful kindling! These logs may be small, but are perfect for a small wood-burning stove!
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I’ve been stocking up on straw recently, as this makes great mulch around the garden helping to suppress weeds and line paths.
www.bealtainecottage.comGreen Beech hold their leaves right through Winter, adding even more colour and shelter to the gardens! 
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And look who’s keeping an eye on me as I type…my loyal Jack!