It’s been a long and lovely day, filled with wonderful garden visitors, followed by some serious cutting back and clearing over near the tunnel.
However, before I begin, I must say that I’ve been reading the comments on the Bealtaine Cottage Magical Gardens site on FaceBook and feel compelled to make a very important comment, for all to read…
The lovely Bridget Birkner had this to say about her garden…
“Colette, my dear sweet friend. You know I started this year as my first year with Goddess-Inspired Permacultre Gardening and Food Forest since moving here some months ago, but being now in August, having only 1 cucumber, 6 cherry tomatoes that only turned orange and one sweet banana pepper, I wanted to sit down and cry at the lack of harvest. My soil is so insanely poor, and it looks like I need to do some more tending and research. My Willows, everything you sent me, the moment I transplanted it, it withered. I’m crushed to say the least, but I promised myself at least 10 years before I can say “goal!” It truly is hard but amazing work, but right now I feel so defeated because Mum Gaia seems so sad at the state she is in my area. I look to you with such hope and KNOW She WILL prevail! Why? Because SHE can live without us, we however, cannot live without Her. And for that, I humbly bow before her in grace and humility, that she give me another chance in helping me tend to the area where she is so sad right now in the United States”
So in response… and for this valuable knowledge to reach the wider world…
Especially for Bridget…and those who are struggling with restoring fertility to soil…here’s a little secret…and what I have done and continue to do to restore health to the soil…
I pee in a bucket and mix it 10:1 with rainwater…it is marvellous liquid fertiliser and helps to get good bacteria developing in the soil.
However if you are on serious medication it’s best not to use it!
Fresh urine is high in nitrogen, moderate in phosphorus and low in potassium and can act as an excellent high-nitrogen liquid fertiliser
In a healthy person, urine is sterile.
Urine is great as an activator for compost heaps and, in highly concentrated form, as a weed-killer.
Dilute fresh urine at a 10:1 ratio and apply to the root-zone of fruiting plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, or to leafy crops like cabbage, broccoli, spinach and lettuce every two weeks or as needed.
Dilute fresh urine at a 20:1 ratio and water in to the root zone of seedlings and new transplants.
So, there you have it folks! No more supporting chemical fertilisers or paying extraordinary amounts of money for organic fertiliser…get yourself a bucket and a watering can and help Mother Earth the natural way!
Now that’s out of the way, here’s an update on garden work today…this has involved an immense amount of cutting back. I have stacked all the cuttings and wood into various big piles to biodegrade naturally, whilst at the same time providing essential habitat for hibernators and small mammals.
You can see from the followings pics the difference this has made in terms of light and space for the woodland floor to regenerate.
Bealtaine Cottage Good Life membership is 12 euros per year and allows me a small income to continue to grow the Bealtaine Project both here in Ireland and in the hearts and minds of good people all over the world.
I have been reading much of late…in particular, two books by James Lovelock, setting out the case for Gaia and the ensuing extreme weather generated by a change in our climate, among other things, some would argue!
This is not a blog about Climate Change or, even, extreme weather…enduring it is quite enough!
This is about an extraordinary human being, who, 400 years before James Lovelock, set out the case for our Earth being alive…as I know her to be today!
For this and other beliefs, Giordano was burned at the stake in the year 1600.
He is remembered for his cosmological theories, which conceptually extended the then novel Copernican model.
He proposed that the stars were just distant suns surrounded by their own exoplanets and raised the possibility that these planets could even foster life of their own (a philosophical position known as cosmic pluralism).
He also insisted that the universe is in fact infinite and could have no celestial body at its “centre”.
In short, Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake just over 400 years ago for maintaining that the Earth was alive!
After many years of isolation in the science community, James Lovelock was acknowledged as the bearer of truth, sometimes a painful burden to carry in a society fixated with staying well inside the box!
I know from my intimate work with Mother Earth, that she is indeed alive.
I open myself to her communication.
Her voice grows louder with each passing day…indeed, many of you hear or feel her communication.
The change in acceptance of James Lovelock’s Gaia theory was summed up in a declaration published by scientists from the four international research programmes in 2001 which said…
“The Earth system behaves as a single, self-regulating system,comprised of physical, chemical, biological and human components. The interactions and feedbacks between the component parts are complex and exhibit multi-scale temporal and spatial variability.” We need to make peace with Her…and to do that we need to listen!
Thank you for supporting Bealtaine Cottage…there is a link at the top of this page where you may choose to purchase a book, calendar or map. Blessings X Colette
After so much rain during the past few weeks, it was a relief to have a relatively dry day! You may remember that last week I visited the Atlantic shoreline to harvest some seaweed to use on the garden. The strands to the south of Sligo town have piles of loose seaweed here and there along the beaches.
Always only ever take the loose stuff…don’t pull seaweed from stones as these form habitats and are essential to the ecology of the seashore!
In the end I managed about three big bags of seaweed and headed home with my foraged booty!
The first thing I do is to spread it on the gravel around the cottage and allow the rain to wash out excess salt.
After about a week, I start to spread the seaweed around established plants in the garden and tunnel.
The seaweed acts as a wonderful feed and a weed-suppressing mulch!
One of the best things about growing food in the garden is the opportunity to use local and near resources that are free to be foraged or collected…seaweed is an organic fertiliser! Seaweed is washed in by the tide, so is easy to forage!
Only ever take what you need!
It can be used straight away too by the way!
It’s packed with Potassium and Nitrogen, bot wonderful for the garden!
In the next blog, over at Bealtaine Cottage Good Life, I will explain how to make Liquid Seaweed Manure…along with lots more pics of the vegetable beds mulched with seaweed and how this feeds the plants!
For the 99 percent of the time we’ve been on Earth, we were hunter and gatherers, our lives dependent on knowing the fine, small details of our world. Deep inside, we still have a longing to be reconnected with the nature that shaped our imagination, our language, our song and dance, our sense of the divine.
Janine M. Benyus
As an integral part of the global awakening that is happening, humankind are being called back to the earth, to reconnect with Gaia.
Not everyone is feeling this at the same time…as each one of us on our own sacred journey comes to experience in own time.
This morning, awakening around six thirty, I ventured out into the gardens to experience the early morning mist, which, as I type at almost 11am, prevails.
Ireland has been experiencing some incredibly good weather in recent weeks and so it goes on.
In other parts of the world, devastating storms have wreaked havoc!
Yet, in all of this uncertainty and upset, the advance of those seeking to connect with Mother Earth increases.
We are like lost children in need of the comfort of a parent.
And perhaps this is a good thing, for to be like children on this Sacred Earth will connect us much easier than any other way.
So what is it about children that gives them the advantage in understanding their place in the Universe?
Could it be that they are naturally curious?
Is it our loss that we accept so much and question so little?
Have we allowed our lives to become subsumed in the detritus of the material world?
I often pass gardens where all is so perfectly straight and neat that I actively squint in attempting to see Mother Nature…and often I do not see Her at all!
Yet I know that control of Nature brings unhappiness and discontent…the sort of feeling where frustration begins to eat at one’s very soul!
So what are the tools we need to enable us to reconnect with Mother Earth.
I have the privilege to be able to observe small children when they visit Bealtaine with their parents and it is nothing less than a joy to behold!
They hold the keys to the kingdom!
What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more,
to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks
where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes,
or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that
tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness!
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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!
It’s always a strange time when the moon is full.
I’m sure you each have stories about weird happenings at this time!
This May moon has cast it’s brightness over Ireland, presiding over an extraordinary time of growth.
All around the cottage there are flowers opening, plants growing, seemingly overnight and trees now heavy with leaf and blossom.
Where would an Irish cottage garden be without the beautiful and traditional Perlagonium?
And, 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!
Always lots of tasks to complete as in painting the old Buddha, so he may survive another winter!
As 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!
I 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!
The nursery bed, essential to a cottage garden, is being cleared fast, with plants going into the long beds down by the road.
Pieris and Poppies…as always, flowers are squashed in beside the most unsuitable bed mates…the Poppy is planted in with Flowering Currant!
And sitting in my chair on the veranda, looking up…the classic cottage garden rose.
The 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!
And…the beautiful Wisteria…tougher than it looks and essential “cottage garden!”
Nothing pristine here!
No manicured lawn or well-placed fountain or garden ornament…yet everything knows how to behave itself without supervision.
Even Jack…unlike Sammy-Bear!
Oh Jack, you are a little beaut!
Opening my backdoor this morning I see the Fairies have tidied up again!
The sun has set into the west, far out on the Atlantic Ocean and the night draws in.
The candle is lit in the kitchen window, a soft light to welcome the night, while on the far side of the room a small lamp illuminates the dark.
“I love to watch the fine mist of the night come on,
The windows and the stars illumined, one by one,
The rivers of dark smoke pour upward lazily,
And the moon rise and turn them silver. I shall see
The springs, the summers, and the autumns slowly pass;
And when old Winter puts his blank face to the glass,
I shall close all my shutters, pull the curtains tight,
And build me stately palaces by candlelight.”
― Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal
The Blackbird has sung out the day and in the night, as it flies around it’s territory, marking out it’s boundary in song.
“Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful ev’ning in.”
― William Cowper, The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper
The time between blue and black is quiet, almost timeless.
Being able to upload 31 photos is a real treat for me, and, I hope you will get a taste of Bealtaine Cottage today.
I have snapped these minutes ago and come straight in to upload and write this blog…taking time en route to give Jack a cracker treat.
As you can see he’s fully engrossed with chomping!
There is an abundance of Poppies this year…these are just outside the back door and almost ready to burst open!
Thanks and blessings to my dear friends and supporters of the Bealtaine Cottage project.
It is so very heartening to read the wonderful feedback and special messages of support.
There was enough rain overnight to half-fill the water barrels and all is looking lush this morning! Aquilegia is in full bloom and has grown well from an extra scattering of seeds I did last Autumn. Here is the perennial Yellow Poppy.
This seed sold out fast last year, so I shall be harvesting as much as I can this summer.
It’s a much smaller, more delicate bloom, but strong and hardy!
I’ve moved potted seedlings and more robust plants out of the tunnel.
Planting will be wherever I can find a space!
The symbolism of the Goddess is not a parallel structure to the symbolism of God the Father.
The Goddess does not rule the world…She is the world!
Manifest in each of us, She can be known internally by every individual, in all her magnificent glory.
The Permaculture design and planting at Bealtaine is not just inspired by the Goddess, but is the Goddess manifest…as natural and intuitive as the energy that flows from Mother Earth herself.
This is the difference between Permaculture and Goddess-inspired Permaculture.
The spirit is fed as much as the stomach!
Each Summer the harvest grows more abundant. Redcurrants hang in droplets waiting to ripen and reveal their jewel-like qualities.“
Hawthorn has opened…
Garden paths become enclosed, dark, shady places…
The Spindle bush sits covered with blossom yet to open…
“I walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer. My bank of wild grass is majestic
and full of music. It is a fire that solitude presses against my lips.” – Violette Leduc
To meet it — nameless as it is —
Without celestial Mail —
Audacious as without a Knock
To walk within the Veil.” – Emily Dickinson
Lilac is open…
“That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“Dirty hands, iced tea, garden fragrances thick in the air and a blanket of color before me,
who could ask for more?”
– Bev Adams
“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most
beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James
“The smell of manure, of sun on foliage, of evaporating water, rose to my head; two steps farther,
and I could look down into the vegetable garden enclosed within its tall pale of reeds – rich chocolate
earth studded emerald green, frothed with the white of cauliflowers, jeweled with the purple globes
of eggplant and the scarlet wealth of tomatoes.” – Doris Lessing
“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
― Wendell Berry
Went for a walk down to the pond and made a video on the way, as the sun shone and the birds sang…what a beautiful day!
The lower pond is filled with Frogspawn…almost heaving really…I’ve never seen so much!
Just recalling how a mere twelve years ago there was nothing here by wet, rushy ground that was impenetrable to the spade!
Now it’s packed with wildlife, young woodland, ponds, streams, orchards, soft fruits and vegetables!
There is even a Spring Well, dug out from stone, deep within the Fairy Wood! Bealtaine Cottage…from monoculture to permaculture in twelve short years!
Enjoy the video!
Those interested in the Fuchsia, Blackcurrant or Rubus cuttings need to hurry and order, as they are fast coming into leaf…another couple of weeks left to get them in the ground and growing…and they will grow very fast indeed! To place your order, click on the link below…
With the back door wide open and the birds singing out a chorus more resonant of Spring than Winter, welcome to Sunday morning at Bealtaine Cottage in the west of Ireland!
Despite the mild Winter, snow has fallen and added a seasonal touch to the landscape…in fact it remains on the mountains to the north of the cottage and here and there on banks and ditches.
I’ve been very busy in the gardens since the end of December, pruning hard, cutting back, washing the tunnel, cleaning pots and generally trying to stay ahead of the work that will suddenly seem oppressive at the start of Spring!
If previous years are anything to go by, the Spring will be very short and Summer will make itself known in mid to late March!
Shocking I know, but that is the measure of it!
So, for a gardener like myself there’s nothing else for it but to adapt!
Seeds are sown in the propagator and compost will be mixed today in preparation for the potting on that is to come in the next few weeks!
It’s a case of just getting on with it as best I can!
There is a distinct difference in the shadow patterns as the outline of the roof of the cottage falls beneath the tree tops…
“Much of the oxygen we breathe comes from plants that died long ago. We can give thanks to these ancestors of our present-pay foliage, but we can’t give back to them. We can, however, give forward. When we are unable to return the favor, we can pay it forward to someone or something else. Using this approach, we can see ourselves as part of a larger flow of giving and receiving throughout time. Receiving from the past, we can give to the future. When tackling issues such as climate change, the stance of gratitude is a refreshing alternative to guilt or fear as a source of motivation.”
― Joanna Macy & Chris Johnstone
Sowing and planting, growing tiny trees in pots of hope, tending Mother Earth with love…brings me joy.
Sitting here, with the back door open in the middle of January, may be a cause for concern, but it is over-ridden by the call of Mother Earth from outside.
And for the many visitors to Bealtaine Cottage this year, there will be small pots of hope to take away…
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Stoves are keeping the cottage and the lodge warm and snug.
The nip in the morning and evening air is quite tangible.
In the scheme of things, Autumn is an exuberant finale to the year, filled with colour and joy, mindful of all that’s passed and all left to come, as the descent towards midwinter moves ceaselessly on.
“The tints of autumn…a mighty flower garden blossoming under the spell of the enchanter, frost.”
― John Greenleaf Whittier
Perlagoniums resist the cold, staying in full flower, continuing in their summer glory.
The pink roses of Midsummer have passed, leaving behind the fruits of each visiting bee…rose-hips hang plump upon the branches.
Wisteria turns golden on the veranda.
The morning and evening air hangs heavy and still, laden with mist.
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who’s to say where
The harvest shall stop?”
― Robert Frost
Salix Contorta and Honesty catch the morning sun.
“I saw old Autumn in the misty morn
Stand shadowless like silence, listening
To silence, for no lonely bird would sing
Into his hollow ear from woods forlorn,
Nor lowly hedge nor solitary thorn; —
Shaking his languid locks all dewy bright
With tangled gossamer that fell by night,
Pearling his coronet of golden corn.”
― Thomas Hood
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
“I ate breakfast in the kitchen by candle-light, and then drove the five miles to the station through the most glorious October colouring. The sun came up on the way, and the swamp maples and dogwood glowed crimson and orange and the stone walls and cornfields sparkled with hoar frost; the air was keen and clear and full of promise. I knew something was going to happen. ”
― Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs
“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Time and Chance
“There was a filmy veil of soft dull mist obscuring, but not hiding, all objects, giving them a lilac hue, for the sun had not yet fully set; a robin was singing … The leaves were more gorgeous than ever; the first touch of frost would lay them all low to the ground. Already one or two kept constantly floating down, amber and golden in the low slanting sun-rays.”
― Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South