My Wildest Dreams

IMG_0096Bees are declining all over the world, for multiple reasons.
The most serious one in my estimation is habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation…in other words… Homelessness!
IMG_0097This is not a problem at Bealtaine Cottage, as Bee habitat and food source creation was implemented in the early years of the Bealtaine project.

IMG_0087As a direct consequence of this, the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage are thriving!

This is a part of the new Lughnasadh Garden, created especially for the bees and butterflies.

IMG_0046One only has to plant it and they will come! One only has to be a little untidy and they will create a home!

IMG_0085Sadly, many gardeners are not aware of the ways in which habitat and food source can be secured and managed for wildlife.  Here I’ve planted Blueberry bushes, and heaped mulch around them…a possible habitat! The flowers are pollinated by bees and in return I get masses of fruit!

IMG_0098However, some time spent observing Nature can be very empowering and planting near the cottage means I get to sit and watch the bees and butterflies as well as discover more about their feeding habits.

IMG_0089 In planning and planting this new garden, I observed a quiet respect for “nooks and crannies,” …stones, logs, small mounds…all areas of potential habitat. When cutting back the Jostaberry, above, I stacked the cut wood underneath the bush as potential habitat. Some species of Butterflies can over-winter, (leaf piles are particularly good!) and guess what…I got to see two butterflies in the garden at the end of March!

The sight of new and first butterflies in spring is a joyful, reaffirming vision of hope.

IMG_0080Water availability, layers of plants, trees, shrubs, a succession of flowers for the majority of the year…and much more was taken into the planning and planting of the garden. Habitat and food are the main drivers in my planning and planting.

The trending emphasis, when it comes to bee-decline, seems to be on bee-keeping rather than bee-habitat…the latter being something that each of us can do something about.

bees and peas at bealtaine cottageFor my part, I don’t keep bees…they keep me…and all are wild and free!

A Cottage and Three Acres…the book, available now.

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The cost of the book is 21.00 euros, plus 5.50 P&P for addresses in Ireland, 6.50 P&P the rest of the world.

Thus books posted to Ireland, total cost 26.50 euros

All other countries worldwide, total cost 27.50 euros

I am happy to inscribe and sign your copy.

To order and pay, use this button…

Building an Ark…One Garden At ATime

dsc03401As the thousand and more trees and thousands of plants of the Bealtaine Project grow taller and more dense, so it is the once barren land seems more and more as it is…an Ark for Earth, set into a monoculture landscape of Cash-Crop-Forestry and  animal grazing fields.

dsc03400This summer witnessed the most Bees, Butterflies, Pollinators and Birds ever!

dsc03399The wildlife in search of home are migrating to the oasis of Bealtaine Cottage.

dsc03398They know where the food, shelter and ultimate habitat is to be found!

dsc03397So, I thought to myself, what if those with gardens, allotments, smallholdings etc., pledged to devote a percentage of what they tend or own to wildlife?

dsc03396 We are talking Arks, where wildlife can not only survive, but thrive!

dsc03395This takes the presumption that one cannot make a difference and turns it on it’s ridiculous head! dsc03394For one can make a difference!

dsc03393Two can double that little Ark for Earth…hundreds can create a huge difference and thousands…well, thousands can begin to stack the odds in favour of Mother Earth!

dsc03392Now don’t get me thinking of hundreds of thousands or even millions, for my head will almost explode with possibilities…but you see where this is going, don’t you?

dsc03391 And as for Guerrilla Gardening…oh joy!

dsc03390 What about seed bombs chucked out of the car window onto the motorway verges?

dsc03389We are creative people who care…if you’ve landed here on this website you most certainly are!

dsc03388So let’s get to it!

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And, by the way, if I’d listened to all the experts on where one can and cannot successfully plant a garden, never mind three acres, the Bealtaine Project would still be on the back-burner with little hope of ever happening!

dsc03386Oh, and the Lughnasadh Garden is being worked on little by little, with a grand opening and dedication ceremony next Bealtaine (May 1st)

dsc03385…the Ark is being extended…

dsc03372…One Garden At A Time

dsc03381and…it’s going to be mighty!

How To Plant A Woodland On A Monoculture Field!

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It’s been one of those incredible Autumn days, when one’s heart sings to the rhythm of it all…bees, butterflies and birds all in sublime togetherness across the gardens and woodland.

dsc02964I say woodland, because, as you’ll appreciate from the video, that is what it now is.

dsc02965The transformation has happened and it is wonderful to behold!

dsc02972Many of you have recently bought seeds from the website…I want to say a massive thank you and blessings!

You really are wonderful in your continued support of Bealtaine Cottage…bless you one and all!


Find me in the garden…
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Private Website
https://bealtainecottage.org/   To become a member…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

To have your own little bit of Bealtaine… 

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

And now, for today’s video…

Creating Environment and Powering Down!

DSC09873Most of the energy we use at home comes from burning fossil fuels.

DSC09872Using less energy means burning fewer fossil fuels and putting less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Over the past twelve years I have endeavoured to reduce not just my own carbon footprint, but that of Bealtaine Cottage and gardens.

DSC09866When first planting the forest gardens it was important to keep the paths open, so mowing once a week during the growing season was a huge task!

DSC09868That issue is now almost resolves as the trees have shaded the paths…

DSC09855 and dropped lots of leaves to create quite a dense mulch.

DSC09865I am now tackling the long grass area that is the frontage of the gardens onto the road.

I began this task about three days ago, sculpting as I prepared a strip into which I planted.

DSC09829DSC09832DSC09831Planting is diverse and from my own Nursery where I grow trees, flowers, shrubs, herbs and vegetables.

DSC09834DSC09833DSC09835DSC09839It has always been important to me to keep this neat and attractive as it is an encouragement to passers-by to consider Goddess-Inspired Permaculture in a positive light! 

DSC09827DSC09828This is the stage I am at today. I simply strip back some grass and turn the sod upside down behind the strip…then plant!

DSC09848DSC09849DSC09850The end result will be that there is about half the amount of grass to mow…so half the amount of fossil fuel used!

Best of all will be an extended feeding ground for the Bees!

DSC09857That’s what I call a result!

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Signs of Spring

Catnip Heart Toy made at Bealtaine Cottage

Life is stirring.

Light shines higher in the morning sky.

Thickening buds cast a haze over the land.

“But there were certain early days in Casterbridge- days of firmamental exhaustion which followed angry south-westerly tempests-when, if the sun shone, the air was like velvet.”
Thomas Hardy

The woodland that surrounds Bealtaine Cottage

Colours emerge and birds sing out a joyous, higher note.

Warm weather in January

We are officially in the season of Spring in the West of Ireland and the new energy is tangible, from rising in the morning to the growing lateness of dusk.

The temperature seems rather unstable, as you can see evidence of in the photograph above.

The morning began very cold and in the space of minutes, the temperature had climbed by 18 F., causing the mirror on the veranda to steam up!

I recorded this as most of the only real information about climate and weather appears to be anecdotal evidence from social media! Cottage interior at Bealtaine, 2016

My favourite aspect of Spring is the way the light changes.

If one simply sat in this cottage and never ventured outdoors it would be possible to map the seasons in light play.

I expect birds, animals and even insects are similarly informed.

Living in the glare of artificial light can be dulling to our senses!

“She walks in the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.”
Vita Sackville-West, The Land

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Elsewhere in the woodland gardens at Bealtaine, frogs have emerged from hibernation and busied themselves, as only frogs can in cold ponds!

Frogs in Bealtaine pond have the luxury of a shallow, sheltered, ancillary pond, hand dug by myself, just off the main one.

This water heats faster and earlier, ensuring maximum attention to the detail of frog mating and spawning…a sort of nursery pond!

Anyway, it works a treat and has done for the past eleven years.

As a consequence, the amphibian life force has healthily expanded!

“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.”
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

 

Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016

Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2016

Diversity of planting not only has created resilience, but bestowed all year round colour to Bealtaine Cottage…so appreciated as Spring emerges…for with this rising of the sap, comes a much defined colour change!

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Pussy Willow at Bealtaine Cottage. Ireland

Catkins have appeared on the Willow…and there’s many different varieties in the Woodland. Pond and even Orchard gardens. Essential food for the bees emerging from a hungry winter hibernation.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Quince flowers, Bealtaine Cottage, Feb 2016

This Quince grows in the Bog Garden and has begun to flower!

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Margaret Atwood

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Where would Spring be without the exquisite little Primroses?

Seen here in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine, surrounded by Spurge!

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Spurge at bealtaine cottage in the Fairy Wood

The Fairy Wood awakens!

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You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:

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

 

I’m happy to write, photograph, podcast, YouTube and Facebook on behalf of Mother Earth…it would be great if you could take a second or two to press the LIKE button, leave a comment, or even subscribe to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

The Great Force

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“One of the most important things about permaculture is that it is founded on a series of principles that can be applied to any circumstance—agriculture,urban design, or the art of living. The core of the principles is the working relationships and connections between all things.”
Juliana Birnbaum Fox, Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide

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Wise words from Juliana…I have discovered to be correct, for all is connected!

I would add, that in my view, we are all a part of a greater consciousness too.

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As the eleventh anniversary of the founding of Bealtaine Cottage comes around in May, I have been reflecting on the changes experienced in my personal life and way of seeing the world, through connecting with the great force that is Mother Earth.

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The impact of this connection has changed my life utterly, in every way…emotionally, physically and spiritually.

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Those who have visited here have shared conversations in this frame and felt an impact upon their own lives too.

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Recently I embarked upon a Juice Fast, drinking plants grown here at Bealtaine as well as others bought in, such as fruit.

I feel it important to share this with you, for I am now convinced that much healing can be found through the bounty of Mother Nature.

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I have certainly found it to be so, as I move past the halfway mark in a sixty day Juice Fast and realise, day on day, how well I feel!

I intend writing about this in more depth in my next Bealtaine Cottage Good Life blog, for the effects of this have impacted markedly upon my health and well-being!

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“A sacred way of life connects us to the people and places around us. That means that a sacred economy must be in large part a local economy, in which we have multidimensional, personal relationships with the land and people who meet our needs, and whose needs are met in turn.”
Juliana Birnbaum Fox

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Irish Country Magazine

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With the sun shining bright in the sky and just a touch of autumn in the air, I spent some lovely time being interviewed for Irish Country Magazine.

The interest in sustainable living is growing!

I’ll let you know when the interview is published.

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There is something of an Indian Summer happening here in the west of Ireland and it’s pretty gorgeous too!

Grapes are beginning to turn colour and ripen on the vine.

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The early morning walk was tempered with a small chill in the air.

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Yesterday was spent cutting the overgrowth in the undergrowth along the hedge on the west side of the driveway.

I am cutting all the Goat Willow, which will grow very fast next year and fill the gaps.

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In the meantime, there are stacks of wood every couple of metres along the hedge!

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It promises to be a good week, filled with sunshine and warmth…our promised “Indian Summer!”

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I shall leave the seed-heads on the Buddleia for the small birds to enjoy eating over the first few months of Autumn…time enough in cutting them back!

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Something of the Mediterranean about the cottage this morning, as the day warmed up…

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It’s not often that the sky is as blue as the watering can, but…

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The bees continue to enjoy Nasturtiums flowers…

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As the leaves hold onto the precious morning dew.

New Permaculture Orchard

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 007Last year I planted a new orchard at Bealtaine Cottage.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 008To date there are thirty eight fruit trees planted across the three acres of land here.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 012This new orchard was planted on an area previously fenced off and used for hens over a period of years.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 009This is always a good start, as the land was prepared by the hens in terms of manuring and picking over.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 010Before the trees were planted I laid down a generous spread of seaweed and covered this with cardboard, to hold back the weeds for a year or so.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 013Over the morning I have been planting yet more layers into the orchard, mainly flowers and herbs to attract and feed the bees…my secret of abundant harvests; where would we be without the bees?

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 014The next phase will include planting a bee-friendly hedge along the south edge of the area.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 015I planted Fuschia and Berberis, Dogwood and Rubus along the north edge.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 016As I cut back around the orchard, cuttings are dropped onto the ground around the trees and bushes as a mulch.
permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 021The planting continues as more and more flowers and herbs are brought from my small nursery area, a really important part of any permaculture garden or smallholding! 

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 019As with all my projects here at Bealtaine, I couldn’t resist using some Willow to effect, constructing a simple arbour that will eventually house a home-made bench, on which to sit and sup a cup of tea!
permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 024The plan of maximum planting has worked well all over the land here, building resilience as well as fertility into the land, as a forest does naturally.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 002The days have been warm and sunny, with the back door open all day long.

There is such a good balance of biodiversity here that flies don’t seem to be a bother…this can be a serious Irish complaint during the summer months!

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 003I pulled the sofa chair over to the open door as I find the soft sounds of life in the gardens very soothing.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 001Sammy does too!

The idea of planting food trees is taking off here in the west of Ireland.

My local town of Drumshanbo has planted a Community Orchard near the entrance to the town…a great Transition Towns inspiration!