Posted in Abundance, ancient Ireland, biodiversity, Bloom, Celts, forest gardens, Growing Food

Natural Gardening and No-Dig Growing

DSC00027DSC00032Ireland is the richest source of Celtic  myths and legends.

DSC00029Down through the Ages, Ireland remained remote and cut off from mainland Europe, holding onto its rich folklore and spirituality.

DSC00030DSC00031It’s peoples worshipped all aspects of the natural world in which they recognised the Divine, in much the same way as I do here at Bealtaine Cottage.

DSC00034The reason for the wealth of myth and legend that pervades Ireland, today and it’s people lies not just from its isolation from mainland Europe for much of its history.

DSC00035Ireland remained free from pressures exerted by other cultures such as the Roman Empire.

DSC00036So much so, that the great writer, John B. Keane referred to his people as having only a “thin veneer of Christianity…” in that they merged their pre-Christian practices with their newly inducted Christianity.

DSC00037 And so I offer this up as a simple explanation for the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage having evolved through a similar understanding of the natural world and the supreme forces of Nature.

DSC00038This is no ordinary Permaculture garden as you can see, but one deeply nourished and inspired by the Goddess.

DSC00039For me there is a spiritual, otherworldly, ethereal force at work and play here.

DSC00040This is the rational (for me) way of explaining the extraordinary growth and extreme revving-up of biodiversity that has happened at Bealtaine.

DSC00041All beyond my control…not that I ever wanted to control this magnificent force!

I leave that to the Planet-Wreckers!

DSC00042As I re-emerged through my journey with Mother Earth, I came to an intuitive understanding of the need to stop digging Her…to let Her be!

DSC00043So I mulch and cover Her with as much tenderness as befits the Great Mother.

DSC00044You will never see any of Her precious skin exposed.

DSC00045Her mantle remains in place.

DSC00046And so this brings me to the second part of this story…

DSC00047The wonderful success of No-Dig Gardening…

DSC00050And here is the first of over twenty photographs and the story of growing success at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland…continued over at Bealtaine Cottage Good Life… bealtainecottage.org

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Posted in Bloom, cottage style, Country Living, Garden, Ireland, Organic Garden

Cottage Garden Style

DSC09920

There was a full moon last night.

Sammy-Bear couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted in or out.

Previous to this photo I had opened the back door for him twice to go out, whereupon he ran around to the front of the cottage and jumped up on the window sill, as you can see here!

DSC09962It’s always a strange time when the moon is full.

I’m sure you each have stories about weird happenings at this time!

DSC09961This May moon has cast it’s brightness over Ireland, presiding over an extraordinary time of growth.

DSC09960DSC09959 All around the cottage there are flowers opening, plants growing, seemingly overnight and trees now heavy with leaf and blossom.

DSC09958Where would an Irish cottage garden be without the beautiful and traditional Perlagonium?

DSC09957And, of course, every cottage garden has a little spot for Succulents…I plant these in terracotta pots and here in this old planter.

They love dry conditions!

DSC09956DSC09955Always lots of tasks to complete as in painting the old Buddha, so he may survive another winter!

DSC09954DSC09953DSC09952As in all cottage gardens, famous for their mish-mash of flowers, vegetables fruit and just about everything else, edibles share potager beds with their close relations!

DSC09950I have had to move many plants from pots and plant them in spaces wherever I can find them.

For, as always now at this time of the year, there is a drought…sometimes prolonged, but dry enough at the best of times!

DSC09948The nursery bed, essential to a cottage garden, is being cleared fast, with plants going into the long beds down by the road.

DSC09946DSC09943Pieris and Poppies…as always, flowers are squashed in beside the most unsuitable bed mates…the Poppy is planted in with Flowering Currant!

DSC09931And sitting in my chair on the veranda, looking up…the classic cottage garden rose.

DSC09941The all-forgiving Cottage Garden will tolerate just about everything one wants to “throw out!” Except, of course, I throw little away, favouring a good old re-purpose, as in this old, but very comfy, fireside chair!

DSC09937And…the beautiful Wisteria…tougher than it looks and essential “cottage garden!”

DSC09936DSC09933DSC09932Nothing pristine here!

No manicured lawn or well-placed fountain or garden ornament…yet everything knows how to behave itself without supervision.

DSC09930Even Jack…unlike Sammy-Bear!

DSC09927DSC09924Oh Jack, you are a little beaut!

DSC09923Opening my backdoor this morning I see the Fairies have tidied up again!

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Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Edible Gardens, Fairies, Frugal Living, Garden, Home Made Wine, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Summer, Uncategorized, Wine

Bottling Summer

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com

The old tin bath has been taken down from the wall of the barn.

Used wine bottles are left to steep for a few hours in rainwater.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (3)Washed and clean, ready to be filled with home-made Blackcurrant wine.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (4)There is always at least one day during the Summer, when one feels enthusiastic enough to overcome the reluctance to get stuck into bottling wine…today, all the right chords were struck and the work began!

Cork stoppers were duly washed and left to soak and soften, till, finally…

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (2)the wine was securely bottled! All that remains to be done is labelling…Chateau Bealtaine!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (2)Outside the back door, Summer continues in layers of sheer abundance…Feverfew splurges on masses of tiny, daisy-like flowers.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (5) Midsummer has only just crossed over and the garlic is ready to pull, with the first batch of Garlic and Oregano Olive Oil infusing.

Summer just keeps on getting bottled!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (4)There is so much food and flowers, it’s sheer Heaven!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (5)Walking around the cottage is a feast for the senses!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.comEven the ancient Polygonum is covered with bright red flowers…one of the very few plants here that has nothing for the Bees…but a delight for me!  

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (6)Yellow Loosestrife stands tall in the casual cottage borders.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (7)Roses fall over in a drunken Summer stupor, heavy with scent and bees.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (8)Petals cascade onto stone steps, ivory wraps for blushing fairies.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (9)Valerian falls onto the gravel path, dropping seeds and heavy flower-heads onto the visitor’s shoe.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (10)And the Summer that was bottled today, will be brought out amidst smiles and raised glasses in the depths of Midwinter.

Posted in Birds, Bloom, Cats, Food, Garden, Growing Food, hens, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Spring, Uncategorized

Hens in the Permaculture Garden

Hens in permacultureSix hens have come to live at Bealtaine Cottage.

They arrived on Saturday, looking rather bedraggled and grungy.

With their new lifestyle, here at the permaculture gardens, an overall improvement in their appearance and well-being is guaranteed.

hens in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageIt was lovely to take my cup of tea outside and simply watch the hens as they explored their new home.

I can get quite lost just watching them…I think they may be hypnotising me!

Amethyst Horn at Bealtaine CottageThe morning is sunny, though interrupted with showers of rain, sometimes quite heavy too!

Flowering Currant at Bealtaine CottageWe had about a month without rain and so the earth was more than ready to receive the heavy showers.

Seeds in the permaculture gardensSeeds are doing amazingly well as the temperatures rise!

Bealtaine Cottage plants in tinsAnother week or so and it’ll be difficult to keep up with the progress…so all the more important to get everything into shape now in terms of preparedness.

I have made a short video so you can see the girls settling into their new lives here at Bealtaine.

There is also some footage of the seed progress and the flowering Lunaria.

This is the video I’ve posted today…

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Posted in Bees, biodiversity, Bloom, Country Living, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Nature, Orchids, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

A Message from the Master of Relativity

There are many flowers that are great for attracting and keeping bees in your garden.

Most of the berry bearing shrubs and trees are essential for the welfare of the bees.

What is a garden without bees?

Just four years… That’s how long Albert Einstein reportedly said the
human race would last in a world without bees. For the master of
relativity, the equation was relatively simple: no more bees = no more
people. ~ Valentine Warner

There is a worldwide problem concerning bees…the bee population is being decimated and people are becoming concerned…no bees=no food, simple as that!

A survey by the British Beekeepers’ Association in May 2010 revealed their members had lost 19% of their colonies (the population that inhabits a hive) in the previous year alone.

Why is this happening?

Well my own take on the problem concerns monoculture…something we should all be concerned with and striving against!

Where monoculture exists, Nature struggles.

Monoculture requires chemicals, Nature struggles.

  Farmers spray chemicals, Nature struggles.

A terrible loop of destruction is fixed into Nature and world governments are complicit with this decline in the bee population!

Are people blind?

Is science operating with a blindfold on?

I have little formal training in the field of horticulture, yet I am aware of the need to encourage and keep bees on my 3 acres.

Even planting willow like this arch above, creates food for the bees.

Planting for the bees is as important as growing food for myself!

In fact, the two go hand in hand!

 It is estimated that one in every three  households in Britain kept bees for honey to supplement the table right up until the 20th Century.

This is something that could, so easily be encouraged by our governments and our departments of agriculture.

As I walked in the garden earlier today,  the bees were continuing to be busy.

This Viburnum is a late flowering bush and very important for any late working bees!

We need to make their lives easier, not more difficult.

We all, including farmers, who own the majority of agricultural land, need to get out there and plant for the bees!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Bloom, Butterflies, Climate, Country Living, Current Affairs, Ecology, Garden, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

A World Without Butterflies and Bees…

Buddleia are in full, heavy, nectar perfumed bloom all over the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage.

This is one just opposite the front door.

The purple coloured blossoms droop expectantly, waiting for the seasonal Butterflies, but there are none…

What has happened is the fault of humankind, weather, pesticides, corporate greed and ecocide happening all around me.

If the Butterflies had to rely on the Bealtaine gardens alone, then the world is mad.

I fear, in this area, they do.

Flowers like these Perlagoniums hold nothing for Bees or Butterflies.

Colourful they are and I love the vibrancy and traditional look of them, but they are just that, traditional ornaments.

There are no others like this at Bealtaine Cottage.

Yet, parks are filled with these plants and others that are of no value to the natural world around us.

Gardens the same…

There is only one neighbour who tends a garden.

Only really one other garden in bloom with plants so loved by Bees and Butterflies.

The pathways in between are now cut as the silage machines level the meadows of meadowseet and buttercup and all the wild flowers much beloved of the humble Butterfly, whose days in the sun were always few and now, it appears, none.

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Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Cats, Cottage, Country Living, Culture, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Personal, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Thrift, Uncategorized

Growing Grapes in Ireland…Outside!

Those who follow this blog will know that I grow grapes in the polytunnel, very successfully.

This recent experiment is about growing a fruitful grapevine outside, in Ireland.

The first thing is to try to emulate the conditions most favourable for grapes and a recent visitor to Bealtaine cottage spent some time giving me lots of good advice to this end…thanks Sigi!

Sigi grows lots of vines in Austria and is very knowledgeable indeed on this subject.

First, the vine detests wet feet…so ensure that the soil is very well drained.

Well in this case I replanted the vine onto the gravel at the back of the cottage, which faces south, banking it up well.

Stone collects the heat of the sun and holds it well…thermal mass! I added lots of stone around the plant.

Sigi advised me to keep to one main stem, so I cut it back and will cut some more too.

Recycling tins…this one has been serving the Sedum for about 3 years now!

Just punch a few holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail!

The experiment with the tomatoes outdoors as opposed to the tunnel is good so far.

This one is cropping earlier than the several in the tunnel!

Everything in the raised bed is growing fast and furious…less than a month after the first stone was set in place!

Plenty of time yet for sowing seeds…I started these off on Saturday.

The Rudbeckia on the left were transplanted from a small pot.

Harvesting seed from Parsley…save seed, it’s our independence and our future!

Borage flowers adorn the water in the tunnel…ensuring lots of bees visit the plants in here, there’s lots of Borage!

Today’s video…and yes, Missy has barged in!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vejVN3L1_LU

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Country Living, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wine

The Rain-Sodden Lushness of Midsummer in Ireland

Harvests are looking good despite the lack of sunshine.

Today, Sunday, is overcast and still.

If the weather is fine tomorrow I shall begin to harvest the Blackcurrants.

It looks to be a mighty harvest…certainly in excess of last year, when over 100lbs were picked…and the birds had their feast along the way!

Redcurrants are cropping well also and most of these will go in the freezer, as I enjoy fruit yoghurts throughout the winter.

The Redcurrants give the impression of jewels hanging on bushes.

I often wonder why more of these delightful and easy to grow fruit bushes are not planted in borders in the garden.

The leaves are a lovely vivid green and look really attractive!

I bought this lovely lamp in a Charity shop in Enniskillen, on my way to Omagh, my home town.

 I was up visiting my Mum on her 82nd birthday last Friday!

She is in great form and looking fantastic!

I must post a pic of her soon!

Happy Birthday Mum! (I’m saying this because she has recently started looking on the net and perusing the Bealtaine Cottage blogs!)

I notice that the flowers are all in bloom on the St John’s Wort bush…they are all open despite the lack of sun!

The Bealtaine Angel silently surveys the Valerian…

I have been gathering big bouquets of Yellow Loosestrife to fill vases in the cottage.

Everywhere the lushness of midsummer continues to hold sway…

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cats, Country Living, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Health, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Summer, Sustainable Living

Midsummer in an Irish Permaculture Garden

Fruit, flowers and vegetables are all in abundance in the permaculture smallholding of Bealtaine.

Roses are in over-production and some are well on their way to becoming the wonderful, vitamin-C packed hips of harvest for the Autumn.

 Missy continues to direct operations, while listening to the calls of the Pheasant on the hill behind the cottage.

Pumpkin plants are making their way up along bends of Willow, as Peas vie for their territory along the same climbing frames.

All is in full growth and bloom as the day turns into a weekend of stillness and calm after the high winds and heavy rains of previous days!

Today’s video link…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_x8EII9J_c

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Country Living, Edible Gardens, Food, Growing Food, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Recipes, Seed-Saving, Self-Sufficiency, Tea, Wild Flowers

Making Elderflower Cordial…Summer in a Bottle!

The Summer harvest has begun in time for the Solstice…Elderflowers are in abundance and the making of Elderflower Cordial captures the energy of the summer solstice in a bottle of sweety goodness!

30 heads of flowers, 4 lemons, boiled spring water, sugar and citric acid to preserve the cordial well into the dark days of midwinter.

It’s a very simple process.

First boil the one and half litres of water you will use, then stir this onto the 1 kilo of sugar and leave to cool.

Then grate the lemons and slice into thick slices.

Add all to the cooled sugar water, along with the Elderflowers.

Stir well.

Add 50g of citric acid and stir again.

Cover and leave to infuse for 48 hours or so, then strain through muslin and bottle in sterilized glass bottles.

Mmmmm….

Any leftover flowers can be dried in a cool oven and kept in a clean glass jar for making Elderflower tea with during the winter…

This makes a delicious, organic tea!

I love the abundance of summer…

Bealtaine Cottage website is free, with over 1200 blogs and 15,000+ photographs.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Garden, Gardening, Leitrim, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

Free From The Bank…Permaculture Plants, The Growing Investment!

It’s rare to get anything from a bank these days.

Investments and savings are accepted, while little is offered to customers!

However, my local bank, in Carrick-on-Shannon, provided me with one of the best growing investments I have ever had…and one that continues to grow and spread rampantly…Valerian.

To be honest, I stole them!

Now that’s a confession I should not be making, but in this case, as the seeds did not belong to Monsanto, I felt it was my duty to snap them off and spread them as generously as I could, all around Bealtaine Cottage.

Anyway, six or so years later, the seeds continue to spread, of their own volition and infest the gravel with delight, for me and the Bees!

Here they are…Click on the link to see the best investment anyone can make…investing in Nature and the environment…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeJ92Su4Ssg

Posted in Bees, biodiversity, Bloom, Ecology, Garden, Permaculture, Trees, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

Permaculture Flowers and Food for the Bees!

NAMA to Nature – an idea thought up by Andrew Legge and Serena Brabazon – has a Facebook page which records its work with the message:

“Ireland has over 600 ghost estates & 40,000 empty dwellings. Rather than watch government procrastinate let’s help nature take them back.”

This is the kind of direct action for the environment I love…don’t you?

A link to an article about them…do click on and read, it’s fascinating!

Nama to Nature: Why we are planting trees on ghost estates   (via@thejournal_iehttp://jrnl.ie/384378

I thought that was worth sharing with you!

Today I made a short video all about easy flowers for your garden…the easiest, for all you have to do is shake!

Yes, just shake the seed around and wait!

Simplicity is the key to happiness! Make every aspect of life as simple and uncomplicated as possible! De-junk home, life & food cupboards!

Throw those seed around in a display of wanton abandonment!

The Bees will love you for it and Nature will smile upon you!

Here’s the link to today’s video… click and enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2eAB_OKop0&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

And, for your entertainment…Bealtaine Life…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IZFpcjIDH4&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=2&feature=plcp

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cats, Eco-Living, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Trees

Friday at Bealtaine Cottage.

Friday at Bealtaine Cottage, featuring Missy and Flo…

Click and watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvA7AONAaNc&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

(click on the speech bubble on the video to see Flo on her own video!)

Posted in Bloom, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Making Space for Nature

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!

Posted in biodiversity, Bloom, Country Living, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Permaculture Planting at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Over the last few months I have been gradually clearing the compost heaps…5 in total.

The ground under the heaps is in lovely condition, as you can imagine, so I decided to use this area to plant potatoes into tyres.

The chitted potatoes are pushed deep into the earth and the tyre place on top, then gradually filled with compost, from, you guessed right, the nearby heap.

It’s a bit like growing potatoes in the heap, but they’re much easier to find!

There’s quite a few chitted potatoes left, so I am doing the same thing in whatever spaces I can find!

Last year, many of my neighbours lost potatoes to the blight, but mine came through just fine.

I think this may be due to planting the potaoes irregularly…here and there, with no uniform rows, so blight does not get the chance to spread!

Crops in the tunnel are coming along well, with all the sunshine!

The stone edges hold the heat of the sun and release it at night…the perfect passive solar collectors.

 As I walk in the gardens, there is the most tremendous hum of bees and insects…going in a mad frenzy around all the Ribes blossom!

As you can see from the pics, the weather today is marvellous! The temperature is 21c…!

Just a small section of the Ribes…this grow like a weed here and is a stunning bush, windbreak, source of kindling for the stove and, of course, restaurant for the bees!

Early summer! It’s hot in the gardens, so lunch will be served outside!

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Garden, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Permaculture Flowers in a Cottage Garden

July 2011 Permaculture Cottage 010

Permaculture gardens and growers shy away from bare earth.

The introduction of a layered system simply emulates Nature herself, allowing seed to spread and drift onto open land where pioneering species are allowed to take hold.

There is a plant for every place, even here on the limestone gravel…Valerian nestles into whatever spot a seed lands upon.

In this way, this beautiful flowering plant has made the gravel driveway of Bealtaine Cottage it’s home…

Buddleia in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

Buddleia is another pioneering plant that will nestle into stony and inhospitable places.

Have you ever seen this flowering shrub, beloved of Butterflies, growing out from old buildings, between the cracks in the mortar?  

From the introduction of two shrubs, the natural cultivation of hundreds has followed on at Bealtaine Cottage.

Harvesting is simple…pull the seedling out from the gravel path and pot on, ready to replant the following year in it’s new home.

An example of the Valerian along the west wall on the gable end of Bealtaine Cottage.

When flowers appear to grow effortlessly, like weeds, you know they have found their perfect home…let them be!

Wild Orchids here, growing on a land that is allowed to breath free from chemicals…Nature knows best!

Michaelmas Daisies…make great ground-cover under trees and grows in almost any conditions from my experience here.

This is growing under a pine tree in the Bog Garden on the lower slopes of Bealtaine Cottage.

Spiraea, a most beautiful summer flowering bush.

Easy to grow…all here have been started as slips simply pushed into the soil.

Hard pruning will give you lots of kindling for the stove as well as bulk for the all-important compost heap!

Columbine, or Aquilegia, another hardy self-seeder here at the cottage.

This made itself at home in the early days of establishing permaculture at Bealtaine and has thrived and spread ever since!

This purple Columbine comes up each year at the front of  the cottage.

Permaculture flowers are easy to grow and take good care of themselves! 

There are hundreds of photographs showing the flowers that grow here…feel free to look up the summer calender of last year…just click on Calender and hover the mouse over dates for that month, then click to go in…

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Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cats, Cottage, Country Living, Eco-Living, Garden, Growing Food, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Photos from a Permaculture Smallholding

Lavender drying on the back door of my cottage

Certainly one way of keeping the flies out of the cottage here at Bealtaine!

A permaculture floor, using waste tile fragments…Bealtaine Cottage.

Growing lettuce in a tyre at the start of the Bealtaine Project…

Missy in her wild and inquisitive youth!

Dawn at Bealtaine Cottage

The moon over Bealtaine.

Close planting here means no weeds, no chemicals and a permaculture lushness that is at the centre of life here at Bealtaine.

Posted in Birds, Bloom, Country Living, Garden, Ireland, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Remembering Romania…

Gunnera Manicata in the garden today is beginning to unfurl it’s leaves from under the cover of last year’s leaves which have protected the crown of the plant over the cold, winter months.

There is a complex eco-system at work here, under the decaying leaves of last summer

The eco-system is a complex web linking plants, animals humans and every other life form in what we call the “biosphere.”

Many aspects of this early Spring call to mind my trip to Romania in 2002.

I spent ten weeks in that beautiful country and it was there that I made up my mind to return to Ireland and a simpler life in the country!

Romania is a stunningly, beautiful country and it’s people are wonderful.

I stayed with the Pancs family in Arad and travelled to Borsa in the north of the country as well as many towns and villages in between.

At this time of the year in the west of Ireland, I recall the advent of Spring as I drove from the far north of Romania, near the Ukraine border, down into the south and Arad, near the border with Hungary…very fond memories indeed!

Daffodils continue to open at Bealtaine…

The daffodils have bloomed all over Bealtaine this year, starting way back in January!


The very mild winter has had a positive effect on all the plants and trees here, with many coming into bloom very early indeed!


As I type this there is a plethora of birdsong outside the cottage.

This is a variety of Willow that I am unsure of in terms of name…it has red stems as you can see. Any enlightenment would be good!

Sweet, little, wild Primroses, chancing their luck by growing in the centre of the driveway! Each Spring their number increases as Bealtaine Cottage remains chemical and pollutant free! 

Photinia, or Red Robin is at it’s best right now as the new leaves make a show of themselves!

And so the beginning of another week at Bealtaine Cottage…it promises dry weather and lots of tasks to be completed before the time passes on into summer…for that may be just around the corner!

Posted in Bloom, celebrations, Country Living, Culture, hens, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Towards the Equinox…

Pink Ribes and Spring sunshine are both, most welcome.

There was no need to light the stove this morning as the weather is so mild!

The hens are happy to be out on the land for longer as the daylight hours increase and we head towards the Spring Equinox.

Forsythia is in bloom and the “haze,” of green continues to spread over all plant-life…it is both remarkable and beautiful!

Work continues at a rapid pace here at the smallholding, as Spring is advancing with some gusto…there is little time to get all the work that has to be done out of the way…each year is a race against time!

Produce for sale in the porch at the front of the cottage.

Saint Patrick’s day is not far off… 

From Shamrock Song by Katherine Tynan

Irish hills, as grey as the dove,
Know the little plant I love;
Warm and fair it mantles them
Stretching down from throat to hem.

And it laughs o’er many a vale,
Sheltered safe from storm and gale;
Sky and sun and stars thereof
Love the gentle plant I love.

Soft it clothes the ruined floor
Of many an abbey, grey and hoar,
And the still home of the dead
With its green is carpeted.

(If not I?)

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Permaculture, Sligo, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Abundance…

Harvests continue to develop and flowers bloom at Bealtaine Smallholding. Flowers like these Sedums require little or no attention and soon fill out a space.

White Buddleia in full bloom, though there are few butterflies around at the moment. This tree, well, bush really, serves as an air island for the birds nesting in the box nearby.

Pots of Curly Kale, Chard and Pumpkins, some of which will be moved across to the new beds in the Vegetable Garden. All these have been planted in pots filled with home made compost.

The grapevine, grown from a cutting about four years ago, has produced well this season. This was pruned hard at the end of the winter and then lightly at the end of spring. Well developed bunches of grapes have set and continue to thrive.

Another good year for the apple harvest. This part of Ireland is great for growing fruit, as rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrant, plums, apples et al appear to thrive!

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Garden, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Poetry, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Summer, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Midsummer at Bealtaine Cottage.

Today is midsummer. The day is grey with low cloud and soft rain…a steady drizzle.

Summer has magically disappeared, just like in the magicians’ trick. Yesterday was a strange day! The clouds appeared to stand still all day long…

The soft rain has settled in drops on the red Perlagonium…Geranium to you and me! Red geraniums are linked in the minds eye with the Irish cottage. The simple, stark, vivid red stands out against the whitewash of the cottage walls. So much of Irish tradition has become subsumed into the vulgarity that was the so-called Celtic Tiger. One would be heard-pressed to find a traditional cottage that is lived in and cared for…most have been allowed to fall back into the ground.

Sweet William

This is the 5th year of bloom for this lovely white flower, planted into tyres around the veranda rose, it never fails to make a show of itself!

Strawberries in Hanging Baskets…
continue to fruit and ripen and be gorged upon!

The Sun Lounger has been temporarily abandoned…waiting for the sun!

Nasturtiums, emblematic of summer…

Delightful is the season’s splendour,

winter’s rough wind has gone;

bright is every fertile wood,

a joyful peace is summer.

-“Maytime,” Irish, 9th Century.

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Country Living, Culture, Current Affairs, Earth, Ecology, Food, Frugal Living, Gaia, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Life, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Destroying Self-Sufficiency is ALL About CONTROL…Thoughts from a Permaculture Cottage

The Lower pond at Bealtaine this morning.

As I walked around the smallholding I thought about what it is we do to be self-sufficient and ultimately free from tyranny!

Yes…tyranny, because that’s what being at the mercy of the market and banks and importers of food is all about…tyranny!

The world today is governed by commerce, that means banks and business.

These institutions want us to be consumers.

Nothing else!

Just consumers!

In order to be a good consumer it is necessary to have money.

This paper trail enslaves us all.

That is why ‘bartering,’ is referred to as the ‘black market economy.’

Self-sufficiency is about providing as much as one can for oneself, family and wider community.

Is it any wonder that this is not taught in schools?

But then, the ‘make do and mend,’ philosophy does little to support any of the above…

I am not a good citizen.

I did not buy this flowering perennial, the Euphorbia above.

I got a cutting from a friend and propagated it, planted it, allowed it to spread and continued to give this plant forward to other people.

That makes me an economic terrorist.

Yet this is my philosophy for life.

To share.

I am not part of any religion.

Sharing is a human thing to do.

This is a pumpkin grown from a seed saved in Canada, planted yesterday in the tunnel.

I have grown dozens of plants this year  and given most away…because I could and I wanted to.

Growing seeds is an amazing experience as all tenders of Gaia know.

Sharing is liberating.

Why shop when you can share?

Oh dear, am I talking revolution again?

Ha! Ha!

Sharing is a human trait, beaten out of us in this competitive world we are submerged in…

Maybe it’s time to have a major rethink on that, for hard times are here…

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Life, Orchids, Organic Garden, Permaculture, PermaGoddess, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Summer, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, Vegan, Wild Flowers, Wine

Saturday Morning at Permaculture Cottage, Ireland.

Mum sleeps, guarded by Flo!

Mum celebrates her 81st birthday this month and is staying with us for a holiday. Flo is on permanent holiday! mum loves the animals to be close-by and finds great comfort in them. So, she sleeps contentedly on the bed, watched over by Flo, the rescue babe…it’s a joy to see them both in their shared happiness. Long life to them!

Dog Daisies, regarded as a weed, are blooming all over the west of Ireland at present. This is a clump of them near the back of the cottage. Allowed to grow each year, they will begin to form a little colony and eventually become a part of the flowering season, like these!

The apples have all set really well. These are young Bramley Cooking Apples. The recent rains will allow them to continue to grow and prosper.

Eating apples in the orchards this morning…James Grieve. So far, eleven apple trees have been planted at Bealtaine Cottage, with plans for more this year…dependant on visitors bringing presents!

Blackcurrants ripening…soon time to begin harvesting…cordials and wines will be on the top of the list to make from these this year. Since becoming Vegan I am aware of the importance of good quality food and drink and am developing a fondness for cordials. The Elderflower cordial at the moment is being snaffled by visitors, so am having to step up production! I have yet to make Blackcurrant Cordial, but am looking forward to learning and doing!

Here is the recipe for the Elderflower Cordial

It’s so very simple!
Elderflower Cordial
50g flowers
30g citric acid
1 litre water
1kilo sugar
Coll boiled water. Add Elderflowers & citric acid. Leave for about 48hours, strain, add sugar. Dissolve sugar, keep stirring. Bottle.
This recipe was given to me by a Permaculture Visitors to Bealtaine, Derek and Mary, who left me a bottle of the cordial and I was well impressed! It keeps for a year and more…if you have that much willpower! I use glass bottles, the screw top kind

This beautiful little Orchid appeared on one of the paths and I noticed it this morning.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Herbs, Inspiration, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Sunny Permaculture Gardens at Bealtaine…June 1st.

Alder logs ready to be stacked in the barn and seasoned! Such a beautiful colour and such a fast- growing wood.

Spirea, ‘Bridal wreath,’…so-named for its arching habit which would make wreaths easily…beautiful in a bouquet too!

Calendula in the tunnel earlier today. Such a lovely, orangey scent from both the flowers and the foliage!

This gorgeous little Herb Robert is everywhere this year…conditions must be perfect for it!

Willow paths leading under willow arches that lead to other places in the garden…and yes…it was sunny for most of the day!

Posted in Abundance, Angels, Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Today at Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding…Start the Week!

Nasturtiums are now in bloom outside, despite the rain. This one is pot planted outside the veranda and is slowly winding its’ way over pieces of driftwood, stone and Herb Robert.

Our lives are full of clutter. A garden is a retreat and a permaculture garden is a perfect, food-bearing retreat, created for almost no money investment…just time and an opening of the senses. Plants like London Pride, featured here, are so very easy to transplant from snippets and cuttings.

Chives this morning in the vegetable garden, but these have been planted all over the gardens and are great visuals.

The long-flowering Columbine growing in the vegetable garden…a good Bee and pollinator insect attractant.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 004
Density of planting…the essence of permaculture.

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Flowers…just flowers and endless beauty!

Blackcurrants ripening in the sun this morning. Writing this a short time later, the sun has gone back into hiding!

Plums on one of the many fruit trees at Bealtaine this morning…a good harvest is promised!

The many Apple trees are growing heavy with fruit.

Posted in Beltane, Bloom, Cottage, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Life, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Summer, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Gunnera Manicata, Valerian, Arabica and Sedums at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage.


Rain has helped the Gunnera on the north bank really grow tall this year. The weather is usually quite dry around this growing time and this particular Gunnera Manicata tends to remain quite small in comparison to the mother plant near the lower pond.

These Sedums were planted into this old fountain last year and have spread to fill out the space. Sedums are ideal for planting into living or green roofs.

Valerian and Arabica are beginning to make a splash of colour by the veranda. The Roses just keep on giving…growing in 2 tyres, no less! I feed them with a chicken manure tea every week.

Valerian and Arabica make a good contrast when grown together and as they are perennials, are well able to take care of themselves!

Valerian growing along the west gable wall of the cottage today.

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Cottage, Garden, Gardening, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Notes from a Cottage…West of Ireland Permaculture.


The land across the smallholding that is Bealtaine Cottage, is very wet indeed. Too wet to do much, except admire the tremendous growth that has taken place recently! The paths are closing in and so I spent about two hours this morning out with my shears, clipping frantically between showers…about a third done, not bad!

Despite the rain the redcurrants are on course for ripening at their usual pace and time…around the first week in June or thereabouts. Although Bealtaine has become something of a wildlife sanctuary over the seven years of its’ existence, most of the fruits are left on the bushes and trees and have never required netting…that’s what abundance does, provides plenty for all!

Bealtaine has hundreds of metres of paths…one day I will measure them all!

Part of the front gardens on the north side of the smallholding, today.

The cottage sits snugly in the permaculture gardens, zones 1-5.

Dog Daisies on the driveway, with lots of insects on and around them. I shake seed from the flowers onto the gravel, so each year they spread a little further…and they’re wild flowers!

Brilliant colour on the Valerian, another seeded flower on the driveway. Each year I shake more seed further down the driveway and these beautiful flowers just appear!

The delicate blooms of LondonPride line the steps at the back of the cottage. These are perennials and spread every year, now lining the steps and spilling out over them.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Climate, Cottage, Dublin, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

This Morning in the Permaculture Garden and Tunnel at Bealtaine

The storms continue and at times the wind abates for just long enough to get outdoors without being battered by the gusts!

The Sedums planted in and around the old fireplace are now thriving since the rain came…these are ideal for planting on green roofs and will tolerate drought and flood equally well.

Peachy Poppies are peeping through in all corners of the tunnel…abundant in its permaculture state!

The Nectarine tree is loaded down…some of these may have to be removed!

Self-seeded Valerian is blooming in the gravel around the cottage, despite the storms and rain!