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 Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Permaculture, Sustainable Living

Thrive

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Seedlings are thriving in the tunnel.

Spring is in full bloom and life is thriving at Bealtaine Cottage.

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There is a certain joy in the air that is spiralling outwards and upwards capturing the energy of all life.

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Primulas and Lady’s Mantle show off their form and colour, jostling for attention as the sun rises higher and higher in the clear blue skies above this little cottage.

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I love archways like this in the gardens, for there is something deeply spiritual and connective about the shape of them, joining one side of a path to another…connecting, as we’re all connected!

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Green, deep shades of green symbolising life at it’s most potent and powerful.

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Healing colour that pulses energy through the eye and deep into the human mind creating calm and joy.

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As Mother Earth thrives, so do we.

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The connection is so very simple to make.

We need little education to understand this most elemental of connectors we share with her.

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage

We need Nature to thrive.

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There is much to be said for the “Green Economy”, including the aspects of personal health and well-being we acquire through allowing Nature and ourselves to thrive.

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If you want to thrive, go to Mother Nature.

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If you want children to thrive, place them in Nature.

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The sounds, sights, scents of Mother Earth are all around us.

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The eminent Archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas, describes the power of Nature so well… “Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hills, trees and flowers. hence the holistic and mythopoeic perception of the sacredness and mystery of all there is on Earth.”

It’s time to go to her and begin to thrive.

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Blessings XXX

Posted in Abundance, Books, Celtic Mythology, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Sustainable Living

The Great Creatrix

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The photographer from Irish Country Magazine has just left…the magazine photo-shoot is over!
You can read all about Bealtaine Cottage in the Dec/Jan edition, which will be on the shelves at the end of November!

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As we walked around the gardens, the conversation turned to the story of how Bealtaine emerged from rushy fields and it became apparent that this story becomes harder to tell…for it all seems so improbable.

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The story has taken on myth-like qualities as visitors look around, finding it hard to believe that Nature could work such magic…but She has…the Great Creatrix!

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The gardens are now a riot of autumnal colour, due in part to what many call ‘mistakes,’ but have turned out to be inspired tree planting, with nothing other than a gut feeling of where to plant and plant without discrimination.

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When one considers it, Mother Nature does not discriminate.

She merely gets on with whatever needs to be done…nurturing and giving all her days.

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Rachel Carson was acutely aware of how the future might be, if humankind did not awaken to the need to live with her…the one…the Mother, Creatrix of beauty and life.

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“Silent Spring” remains to this time, an enduring legacy of the call to wake up and smell the roses.

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We cannot live without her, though she can go on and on into the future without us.

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The question is: does she want to?

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I believe Mother Earth is reaching out to us in a last desperate bid to stop us from destroying our habitat.

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What is being done in the name of economic progress is nothing less than a dance with death.

Despite what is apparent, there appears to be a mass awakening of people, much of it happening on internet media with a  gathering speed and force. permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com 012

If this little website is anything to go by, then all is not lost, for I see the growing numbers of people interested in a more sustainable lifestyle!

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We are living in fast changing times, days of optimism and hope…we are moving into a time of co-creating with the great Creatrix…Mother Earth.

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I did not choose Bealtaine Cottage…it chose me, as one who would be an enabler of the great Mother.

In the Celtic calendar, the first day of May was known in Irish as Bealtaine.

This was the feast of bright fire, the first of summer, one of the four great quarter days of the year.

 The ancient Irish Book of Invasions tells us that the first magical inhabitants of the country, the Tuatha Dé Danaan, arrived on the feast of Bealtaine.

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Bealtaine is all about renewal, another chance, an awakening.

I will let the great Seamus Heaney have the last word…

Beacons at Bealtaine
Phoenix Park, May Day, 2004

Uisce: water. And fionn: the water’s clear.
But dip and find this Gaelic water Greek:
A phoenix flames upon fionn uisce here.

Strangers were barbaroi to the Greek ear.
Now let the heirs of all who could not speak
The language, whose ba-babbling was unclear,

Come with their gift of tongues past each frontier
And find the answering voices that they seek
As fionn and uisce answer phoenix here.

The May Day hills were burning, far and near,
When our land’s first footers beached boats in the creek
In uisce, fionn, strange words that soon grew clear;

So on a day when newcomers appear
Let it be a homecoming and let us speak
The unstrange word, as it behoves us here,

Move lips, move minds and make new meanings flare
Like ancient beacons signalling, peak to peak,
From middle sea to north sea, shining clear
As phoenix flame upon fionn uisce here.

Posted in Autumn, forests, Trees, woods

A Place To Be Endured

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As a species on this Earth, we are separated from other life forms by consciousness, in that we are aware of our own existence.

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In being aware, we are able to make conscious choices every day, as we proceed through the maze of miracles and events that makes up our lives. Autumn in permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 012

“Live like a tree, giving, forgiving and free.”
Debasish Mridha M.D.

The best choices we make are those that involve, in some way or another, a generosity of spirit, for in those choices we give. Autumn in permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 013

I was walking the gardens this morning…really I should say, woodland, for that is what it has become, and pondering on the way in which all this manifested.

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It began with an unblinking, unfettered generosity of spirit…a conscious choice to simply plant trees into a land bereft of habitat.

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Growing and planting trees from seed has been my work over the past ten years.

Growing trees has been the work of Mother Nature for hundreds of thousands of years.

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However, at this point in time, Mother Nature, Mother Earth, needs our help…for she is so badly damaged by humankind!

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For my part, I continue to sow seeds of mighty trees in small pots…to give away with a generous heart, to the hundreds of annual visitors to Bealtaine.

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So many of you have made this sacred journey with me, planting trees wherever you live, in countries all over the Earth.

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“I have come to the conclusion that imperialism and exploitation are forms of cannibalism and, in fact, are precisely those forms of cannibalism which are most diabolical or evil.”
Jack D Forbes

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“Wherever forests have not been mowed down, wherever the animal is recessed in their quiet protection, wherever the Earth is not bereft of four-footed life – that to the white man is an ‘unbroken wilderness.’

But for us there was no wilderness, nature was not dangerous but hospitable, not forbidding but friendly. Our faith sought the harmony of man with his surroundings; the other sought the dominance of surroundings.

For us, the world was full of beauty; for the other, it was a place to be endured until he went to another world.

But we were wise. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.”
Chief Luther Standing Bear

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To plant and restore the sacred Earth means that it will never be “a place to be endured…”

We choose!

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“We return to you, O Earth, the things which you have given us willingly and most graciously; with our hearts, hands and minds, in the best way we know how.”
Taj Mahal

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Bealtaine Cottage website is free, with over 850 blogs and 3,500+ photographs.

However there is a new website for lovers of all things Bealtaine…

” Bealtaine Cottage Good Life”

To subscribe, a small donation of 12 euros per year, will add your name to the subscriber list.

You will then have access to the website and full blog as published twice each week.

This amounts to 104 publications per year, at a cost of 12 cents each!

Click on button below to make your subscription.

Posted in Autumn, environment, healing, magic, mother, woods

The Magical and The Sacred

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It is a rare thing…to be lost for words.

A day in Autumn that changes one perspective on life and the meaning of it all.

Where shall I begin?

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Perhaps where I started, this morning, camera in my dressing gown pocket and mug of hot coffee in my hand, traipsing out in rubber clogs onto grass saturated with morning dew.

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Or maybe, a little earlier, as this year began, immersed in deep sadness, as my mother made her own journey back to the Divine.

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But the Wheel, as they say, turns and the beauty of the Sacred overcomes the grief of the mortal…I stepped out…

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What magic lies in Nature that transforms barren into life again and again?

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The gardens have emerged this year as Woodland…and my mother loved walking in the woods.

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Come walk with me…

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Blessings X

Posted in Sustainable Living, Thoughts

While Rome Burns…

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There are no solutions to the instability in the world that I care to offer, as my voice is irrelevant in the scheme of things that cause mayhem and war.

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I can only offer advice on what works for me…on what keeps me sane in a world filled with lunacy!

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Keep grounded!

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Do what you have to do and do it well!

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Look ahead into the seasons and make plans for planting, working, visiting and caring for the world around you.

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Think about ways in which you can heal the world around you, be positive and nurture.

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Don’t allow the mayhem to grind you down…life went on after the Fall of Rome, as well we know!

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Remember, even as war, austerity and breakdown of society is happening right now in countries around the globe, people continue to look after their children, grow food, make food, wash clothes and generally get on with life as best they can.

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For all the negative and dreadful news we are battered with on a daily basis, remember there are real people around you doing good things!

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The mainstream media rarely reports on good people.

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The next time you share a conversation with someone, compliment them on a little thing to lift their spirits, for it will be paid forward, it will!

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I can say, with absolute certainty,  there are many more good people on this Earth than bad…and sometimes, those we perceive to be bad are just hurting.

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The world is as beautiful, peaceful and abundant as each of us are prepared to make it!

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Blessings for a wonderful weekend XXX

As a member of the other website you get to see another 95 blogs not available publicly. The latest one, “Radical Changes” has been posted today, 29 November 2016. Here’s the link…

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

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Frugal Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Thoughts, Thrift

A Simple Life

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“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”

Victoria Moran

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Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. ~Elise Boulding

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Yesterday, I found myself with two juicers.

Through fortune and kindness, my life had become too full, and so I gave one away, to a friend who needs to take good care of her health.

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She was delighted and my cupboard was, once more, roomy and ready to receive.

To live in a state of abundance, it is necessary to practice frugality.

One cannot work without the other.

Abundance needs space to grow!

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Clinging onto what one does not need creates clutter, confusion and chaos.

Is it any wonder the world is in such a state?

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We don’t need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban

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The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed — it is a process of elimination. ~Elbert Hubbard

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I have two websites… Bealtaine Cottage and Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.

This site, Bealtaine Cottage, is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life costs 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

Making this small donation adds your name to the subscriber list.

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Posted in Baking, Edible Gardens, Garden, Growing Food, Life, Permaculture, Thrift, Trees, Uncategorized

Home Grown and Home Made Food

 

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The cost of food has risen and the overall quality has dropped.

Much of the fruit and vegetables being sold in the supermarkets may look good, but the taste is somewhat lacking. Considering these issues, it is fair to say that there could not be a better time to grow your own food, as well as make, cook and bake your own food!

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Today I have been harvesting potatoes and clearing the beds for the next planting or simply for mulching down with cardboard and straw.

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The compost heap is growing by the day as the beds are cleared and tidied.

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Elsewhere in the gardens, the burgeoning beds await their turn to be harvested.

This Golden Oregano will dry nicely and ensure tasty tomato sauces all winter!

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This is a sheltered part of the fruit gardens to leave the potatoes in the ground for a while to come.

Those at the back of the picture will stay where they are.

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You may remember how I mulched this ground last Autumn, using cardboard, straw and shreddings…now you can see the value of this exercise.

The earth is in good condition and any weeds that did grow were very easy to pull.

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This gives you some idea of how permaculture works…a forest garden with lots of shelter, biodiversity and ultimately, resilience!

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Lots of leaf drop feeds the soil, building a much needed fertility.

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Meanwhile, indoors, one of the few electrical items I own is ready to do a lot of sewing.

I also have a hand sewing machine for less labour intensive tasks.

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And in the kitchen I’ve been baking bread and making Houmous Dip.

There really is no comparison to home made and home grown food!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Edible Gardens, Fairies, hens, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, New Year, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Woodland

A Year at Bealtaine…part 2

Lime tree walk at Bealtaine Cottage

Nine years of planting trees into barren, north-facing land has now awoken a magical earth, with paths that lead forever among dappled shade.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageAnd every now and then open up into a secret garden…

Plant Sanctuary, Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland…or two…

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageSome paths get overgrown fast as Nature’s abundance keeps giving.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageThe thousands of plants all jostle for space…

A Cherry seed grows by an Oak tree at Bealtaine Cottageand are now self-seeding, like this little Cherry tree growing next to an Oak!

Willow arch into the Fairy woodland at Bealtaine CottageWillow arches that lead into the Fairy Wood at Midsummer.

Blossom on a Rowan tree planted in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageThe delicate blossom on the Mountain Ash, also known as the Rowan Tree.

Permaculture Paradise at Bealtaine CottageA place for tea in the garden on long summer days.

Pond at bealtaine cottageThe standing stone by the lower pond in the Bog Garden.

willow archway at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensWillow…

willow arches, dogwood and beechWillow…

crossing the pondAnd more Willow!

bog garden of bealtainePaths…

permaculture gardens of bealtaine cottagePaths…

permaculture gardens of bealtaine cottageAnd more paths!

Manifesting the Divine FeminineThe lane-way in Summer, walking down to collect…

The postbox at Bealtaine Cottagethe post!

Water garden in permaculture at Bealtaine CottageThe plants take over as Summer holds sway…

Roses at bealtaine cottageAnd roses outside on the veranda go completely crazy!

Gosh…there’s lots more to share for 2013, so a “Part 3” will be needed!

Happy New Year from Bealtaine XXX

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Culture, Current Affairs, Food, Fracking, Growing Food, hens, Inspiration, Ireland, New Year, Permaculture, Thoughts, Thrift

Where Do We Go From Here?

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Bealtaine After Samhain

As we approach the end of another year, reflection begins to take form.
As many of you know, I do not have a television and rarely tune into the radio, so, perhaps, I find myself with more time and silence to reflect and think.
www.bealtainecottage.com 003From the little I have experienced this year from the outside world, it appears that economics has been the driving force behind every problem on this tiny planet.
The mass destruction of our earthly home has been driven by economics… cost of living… better termed the cost of dying, for it is like inheritance tax.
The cost of living is an inheritance tax on the planet, forever diminishing what we inherited and scraping the bones of children as yet unborn.
www.bealtainecottage.com 001Fracking the land for gas has been justified by governments and hailed as cheap energy.
Can you tell me the last time your cost of energy fell?
From this little part of Ireland, I have witnessed the rise and rise of energy costs, whether it be gas, oil, coal or renewables…and I look out my kitchen window every day at mountains, covered by wind turbines.
The turbines multiply each year and the cost of electricity spirals out of control.www.bealtainecottage.com 003Why?

Economics…or, a better word, profit.

Nothing for the people who look at these incredible machines every day…nothing!

There is nothing in the present economic model that takes into account the real cost of anything that pays a profit to shareholders.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Take oil for example.

What is the real cost of extracting this energy source from Mother Earth?

The real cost of Nuclear Power is for future children of this Earth to pay for…there is no safe way of dealing with the waste!

Here I stop!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006It is not in my nature to be negative.

I cannot write or talk for long about any sense of helplessness we may feel, looking at the mess we have made.

As a woman, I am a pragmatist.

I was reared in poverty, so have an inbuilt ability to look at the possible.

The solutions are many-fold.

The most immediate solution is, quite simply, consume less.

www.bealtainecottage.com 009By consuming less, we become active participants in a quiet revolution against the status quo that appears to hold sway.

We are only a valued part of the economic model by being greedy consumers.

www.bealtainecottage.com 002We live in a state of scarcity, according to the economic model, for that brings the greatest profit for the economic model. However, as I have said before, we actually live in a world of abundance, if we could just stop and see the possible.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017The possibilities inherent in a simple life, where it is highly regarded to switch off lights, bake a loaf of bread, or cake, keep a few hens and grow basic vegetables…  Walk more, value good quality clothes, make shoes last by polishing them…all this and more makes you a member of society with power and not simply a faceless consumer.

Bench by entrance porchConsider what it is you want in the year that lies before us.

Visualize the world you want to live in.

Create a picture of a future for children as yet unborn…those we will never see, but can only imagine.

Imagine their world, for you are creating it.

www.bealtainecottage.com 013Is that power enough for you?

Posted in Abundance, Animals, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Blessing, Cats, Cottage, Country Living, Dogs, Eco-Living, Edible Gardens, Food, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Trees

Irish Cottage Life

www.bealtainecottage.com 001The permaculture gardens are very wet today…the rain has been quite relentless!

Never mind!

Lots to do indoors and sorting through boxes of “things,” I was happy to find these lovely Yuletide cards.

Doesn’t she look gorgeous in the snow?

As I am receiving orders for the Bealtaine Cottage Christmas Book, I thought that I would add these lovely cards, as a way for me to send the book to someone you love, with a card inscribed with your message.

www.bealtainecottage.com 035Anyway, you can have a peek, using the link at the top of the page!

www.bealtainecottage.com 025Missy continues to make a steady recovery, though has refined her taste-buds to a rather expensive prescription cat food, available only from Suzy the Vet, in Boyle.

When I refer to Missy as a “high maintenance gal!” …I’m not kidding!

Please ignore the clothes drying all over the stove today…it is rather wet outdoors!

Makes it really “Shabby Chic” style!

www.bealtainecottage.com 026I take Jack into see Suzy the Vet, tomorrow morning, to have his “thumb nails” clipped.

Jack loves travelling in the car and tries to snap every other vehicle he sees on the road!

Which is why he can only ever be walked on a lead!

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Dodging in and out, to collect up the logs, my friend Marian delivered to me yesterday, I still managed to get wet!

I’m stacking them under the shelter of the veranda by the lodge.

www.bealtainecottage.com 018Despite the dull, rainy day, the gardens continue to look colourful!

As you can see, the potager beds continue in their abundance, producing herbs, vegetables and flowers.

www.bealtainecottage.com 019There is never any shortage of work to be done here at Bealtaine Cottage!

www.bealtainecottage.com 021Tree coppicing continues along the north bank, in front of the cottage, opening up the view just a little, as well as supplying the stove with kindling and small logs.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016The fact is, no matter what the weather is like, it is simply wonderful to be outdoors in the gardens, working here and there!

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Have a good week ahead everyone…Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage X

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living

The No Dig, No Till Garden

Amethyst Horn at Bealtaine CottageBealtaine Cottage is a permaculture smallholding, as followers of this blog know.

In permaculture we mulch, mulch and carry on mulching, building up the soil as we go.Bealtaine Cottage potager bed

Over the past two years I have been creating Potager gardens near the back of the cottage, using stone found on the land to create raised beds.

Bealtaine Cottage making the Potager beds June 2012 005Into these beds I have packed raw wool, compost, ash, leaf mould and shredding…lots and lots, layer upon layer, of shredding.

Plants are planted into bottomless pots onto the top of all this, so their roots can spread down deep into the goodness!

Bealtaine Cottage Potager bedThis year has seen the extending of these beds to cover yet more of the gravel.

The most useful tool in the permaculture gardens is the shredder!

Bealtaine Cottage potager beds and BuddhaI pile the shredding on the soil, wherever there are plants growing, spreading it around the base and everywhere in-between.

Beaten earth floor in ploytunnel at Bealtaine CottageNot only does this suppress the weeds, but it feeds the soil and therefore the plants.

You can see this practice at work here in the tunnel.

April 2013 Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageAfter a few weeks, the shredding take on the dark look of soil, making it look like the soil has been just tilled…it has not!

permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage, No digCaring for 3 acres, I can assure you that I do not dig and I have no one who helps!

Does it work? …see for yourself.

No sore back and an abundance of food!

Bealtaine Cottage potager garden

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

Over 600 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here.

Thank you for supporting this blog

Posted in Abundance, Culture, Current Affairs, Earth, Gaia, Garden, Permaculture, Spirituality, Uncategorized

A Healthy Eco-system Feeds our Spirituality

Eight years ago this did not exist.

What is now Bealtaine Cottage, sat in the middle of three very barren, small fields.

It is difficult for me to relate to the sad scene I first encountered at that time.

Much has changed during the recent years.

The land has blossomed into abundance.

An abundance I find hard to keep up with.

Scant topsoil, clinging to daub on shallow bedrock seemed impossible.

It was another Findhorn project in the making.

Everything that was reality then has been turned on its head.

This was not possible…every note of common sense and knowledge re-inforced that.

So, what has happened?

The simple answer is, I do not know.

The more complex answer is, energy…physical and spiritual energy.

This energy is linked to the Divine.

Our Earth appears to be in the beginning phase of the process of shifting into a divine and higher  level of consciousness.

I feel it is possible to make a conscious link to the vast energy of Nature that enfolds us.

Every living thing drinks in the energy of the sun in one form or another.

That is the very visible and tangible understanding of what is happening.

For us to make the conscious link, it is necessary to be aware and ultimately inspired by it all.

Posted in Abundance, Bees, biodiversity, Birds, Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized, Woodland

Abundance in the Edible Gardens Today.

Cloud and rain, interspersed with brilliant sunshine as the gardens move into their total abundance period as we approach midsummer.

A cold wind is blowing from the East, but the edible gardens are well sheltered with the warm micro-climate protected by the abundance of growth in the trees, hedging and shrubs.

These are the plants near my desk inside the cottage, on a north-facing window ledge.

I’m heading outside to embrace the morning, armed with tea and camera, followed by two cats…Jack and Flo have already been out for their walk!

Looking back at the cottage before I move through the Laurel Arch and into the Edible Gardens.

I love the colours on the Purple Beech as the leaves collide with the Rosa Rugosa, Sedge and vibrant, lime-green Crocosmia Montbretia!

Willow archways continue to strengthen as the new growth develops.

There are masses of Blackcurrants and Jostaberries growing all around the Willow…appearing to enjoy the company.

Both tolerate shade and damp, in fact, thriving on it!

And then the sun explodes onto the gardens, making everything appear in glorious technicolour!

Lush and abundant, Nature puts forth her expression of sheer joy.

Birds sing and Bees buzz.

No Monsanto here, or Dow or any other enemies of Nature…they are banished!

Apples and soft fruits are plentiful, as they were before the invention of odious chemicals.

No sprays or any other form of ecocide.

Nature is well able to look after herself, for at Bealtaine Cottage, she is officially off the critical list and life support machine that is corporate greed!

Bees find their way from flower to flower in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage.

Archways of roses that have cost nothing more than encouragement of a slip from a rose.

And paths of wild flowers and herbs that lead one towards the deepest and most intimate recesses of Nature…

Posted in Abundance, Ecology, Frugal Living, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Uncategorized

The Transforming Power of Permaculture…Here it is!

This was the land in 2004, at the beginning.

This was poor agricultural land, north facing and very wet.

Certainly a challenge!

One pair of hands and a permaculture plan, turned this into…

Eight years and one pair of female hands later…yes, I wore gloves, so they’re not all hard and gnarled!

Seriously though, the miracle is simply this…Plant, Mulch, Plant, Mulch and keep making the compost!

Of course as everything you’ve planted starts to grow, there is no shortage of material for the compost heap or for mulching.

Also, the more planting one does, the more birds and insects make  the garden their home, so fertility is increased.

The grass and earth had encroached onto the back of the cottage, making it damp and miserable inside.

The only time that heavy machinery was involved here at the beginning of this permaculture project, was in clearing all of this and spreading a gravel driveway and courtyard, digging drains and digging out the two ponds.

That done, all the work since then has been carried out by myself only, by hand!

The back of the cottage faces south and so is a sun-trap.

Building the veranda was a practical measure, allowing a dry space that linked the gardens to the cottage.

Here is the view from the front door of Bealtaine Cottage, taken at the start.

Below is the view today.

The land is planted with over 750 trees and many, many shrubs and plants.

It is now a self-sustaining small-holding, requiring the minimum of work and the maximum of production and delight.

Permaculture requires little money to establish.

Recycling was a key element in my plan.

I collected up and used what other people threw away.

Ireland is now in severe recession.

Many of the people who once threw things away are now trying to get by in a decimated economy.

There is a different way.

A better way.

It only requires a change of direction and will transform your entire life!

Abundance is waiting for you…

Today’s video diary from Bealtaine Cottage…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uKc15Erlyw

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Folklore, Food, Herbs, Permaculture, Tea, Uncategorized

Building Fireplaces and Growing Your Own Herbal Teas…

For a long time, the small fireplace in the bedroom was closed up.

Then I decided to open it up and build a small surround.

In the true vernacular style I have used stones from the area around the cottage.

These were stones that the earth had simply pushed out…pieces of red sandstone.

I collected up the small bits to make two piers, one for either side of the fireplace.

These piers were then built onto the larger stones used for raising up the fire grate.

On the top of the larger stones in the grate I placed a big flag stone I had sitting around by the back of the cottage.

I put this old fire insert in place.

I had this sitting out the back with plants in it for a long time!

An old piece of wood was placed atop of the stone piers to form a small, compact mantelpiece.

It was then painted the same colour as the walls to bring it all together!

As you can see, it serves the purpose well! 

There is nothing quite so comforting as drifting off to sleep in front of a beautiful, open fire! 

I grow over 40 varieties of herbs here at Bealtaine Cottage. These I store in glass jars in the pantry, pictured above…

As well as the cultivated herbs, there are, perhaps hundreds of wild herbs growing here as well, such as Sorrel and Mint…in fact several varieties of mint!

wild herbs at  Bealtaine Permaculture cottageOther wild herbs are less obvious, but are there when one goes looking for them!

The fact is, more and more people are becoming alarmed at the reliance on modern medicines.

herbs at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Many people are seeking natural alternatives and many of these are already known to us.

sage in the tunnel at  bealtaine cottage herbsIt is important that we pass on the wisdom accumulated  in our lifetimes as much of what was common lore, folklore is fast being lost as the lines of communication between people are closing, for people talk with each other much less these days!

Making elderflower cordial at  Bealtaine Cottage Folk wisdom was founded on a combination of what people knew, what was passed on to them, understanding of the human mind and a very deep understanding of the value of herbs and plants.

candle in the window at  Bealtaine cottageWhat is more comforting than a cup of peppermint tea to soothe a bilious stomach?

Or a cup of Camomile tea to calm the nerves, or tea made from Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena?

Wild Mint tea, Nettle tea are ancient recipes for various health problems.

herbs at Bealtaine Cottage All these are now dried teas that we now buy in shops, but these are easily grown, cultivated or even collected from the wild!

Herbal teas are very easy to make!

Simply take half an ounce of the dried herb and pour on one pint of boiling water.  

Alternatively use one ounce of a fresh herb to one pint of boiling water and let it stand for five minutes.

One can add honey or sugar to sweeten and any milk or cream…it really is a matter of personal taste!

early morning at Bealtaine Cottage It’s important to pick the herb before flowering and in the early morning, before the sun is at it’s strongest and many of the oils in the plant are weakened.

If you have a particular herbal tea that you enjoy, it would make sense then to grow an abundance of it, dry and store for all year round use.

willow arches and ponds at bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensIt’s always best to store in either glass, or stoneware jars as these are natural and will not impart any unwanted flavour to the herb.

I often drink herbal teas that I mix with Indian or Ceylon teas…and get the goodness and flavour of both!

Posted in Birds, Country Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Here Comes the Sun…Permaculture Smallholding, Ireland

It’s time to start sowing seeds, especially if you have a propagator. Light has returned and there is a definite stretch in the days.

The signs of spring are to be found everywhere. Daffodils are up really early and buds are starting to thicken on the lower bushes.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.”
– Albert Camus

The Blackbird sits atop the Ash tree in the hedge, enjoying the morning sun.

Lots of food remains in the tunnel. If you grow anything this year, let it be Chard…so very easy to grow and so full of vitamins. It’s colourful and looks lovely planted in flower beds and pots!

In a matter of weeks, the orchard will break into blossom and all will be the promise of abundance! It’s not too late to plant apple and pear trees.

Posted in Art, Christmas, Crafts, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Thrift, Uncategorized

Country Living, Permaculture Style, in the West of Ireland

Aug 2011 Permaculture Cottage 001

Lots of cutting back to be done at the end of the season.

Masses of kindling here that will be stored to dry in the barn.

Aug 2011 Permaculture Cottage 015

The land is slowly returning to fertility as the trees grow and shed leaves each Autumn and the bird-life increases, along with insects and bees.

September 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 001Jack waits patiently for his walk as I take a rest from candle-making…the day is ripe for being outdoors…

There’s something quite delicious about sitting down with a cup of tea and putting one’s feet up…in this case on the coffee table.

I don’t have a television so keep an abundance of books around me…

The candle-making continues…tidying up to do, but not before a dozen or so big candles are made…

Posted in Uncategorized

A Life in the Country ~ Cottage Living

Living in a small cottage in the west of Ireland is easy enough!

Irish dresser in the cottage kitchen at Bealtaine CottageIt’s small…very small…two tiny bedrooms, one sitting room, a kitchen, shower room and porch. 

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012It’s old…ish, and built from stone in the vernacular style and all local stone!

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine CottageBealtaine Cottage, for that is it’s name, nestles nicely into three acres, now mostly set to trees and ponds and permaculture!

The best place to seek God is in a garden.

You can dig for him there.

 ~George Bernard Shaw

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter GardenPermaculture means planting, planting and more planting!

Plant for your life!

The Earth needs trees and cover and food and fuel…lots and lots…and Abundance follows!

Oregano grows wild here, through the gravel, around trees and all over the tunnel and bees love it.

I think it annoys God if you walk by the color purple in a field
and don’t notice.
                                                                                   – Alice Walker
From “The Color Purple”

The Barn at Bealtaine Cottage, midwinter 2012Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated,
inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be.  Nobody
talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and
unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora.  ~Ketzel
Levine’s talkingplants.com

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012Secret Garden…Adagio…beautiful… Click on the link to watch and listen!

http://youtu.be/nNL9Lole-iE

Posted in Abundance, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wine

The Permaculture Centre in N.W. Ireland. Moving Forward.

Lysamachia Punctata is just opening for its annual display of yellow. This is the 7th year of Bealtaine permaculture. It was pointed out to me recently that Bealtaine is becoming more of a centre for permaculture than any other place in the N.W. of Ireland. There are visitors all year round, as well as students who want to view a mature permaculture smallholding , functioning on a daily basis, producing food and energy, as well as a permacultured home, with permaculture principles adopted as a lifestyle choice.

The weather is warm, encouraging flowers to open. Paths are closing in, demanding my attention!

Considering the fact that there are 3 acres of tended gardens here, the total time spent maintaining these is about 2 hours per day, Monday through Friday. This is the biggest bonus to permaculture growing…once established the gardens require little tending. This is because Nature does most of the work and cutting back become the major task through the seasons.

Good harvests of Blackcurrants are promised. None of the bushes are ever covered, as there are lots to share…no need to be selfish!

Redcurrants are ripening. The Redcurrant wine I made last year was very successful and extremely potent, so I know what these will be used for!

The basic recipe I use, from an ancient book, is as follows:

4lbs redcurrants

4lbs sugar

1 gallon of Spring Water

1 tsp wine yeast

Steep the fruit in the water for 4-6 days, stirring daily. Keep covered with a clean cloth. Strain. Add sugar and stir well. Add yeast. Stir well. Pour into demijohn, insert bung and airlock and place in warm area. When clear and no more bubbles rising in airlock, syphon off carefully into bottles and cork.

Abundance in the polytunnel this afternoon.

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, Climate, Current Affairs, Earth, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Gardening, Growing Food, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Woodland

The Benefits of Mulching in a Land without Rain…Ireland ~ Permaculture Living.

There is little space left in the tunnel…plants and seedlings jostle for what is there and the grapevine is setting lots of fruit. Nectarine and Peach trees in here have already set an abundance of small fruits, so the harvest is looking fruitful!

Lots of tiny Pears have set on the Pear trees in Zones 1 and 2. Frost at this point can happen but is not expected, so the majority of settings should mature into good fruit.

Each year for the past four years of the seven Bealtaine has been growing I have siad that this would be a bumper harvest for Apples. I have to say this again…a bumper crop is expected! I will post regular pics to update you on this! You can see some from last harvest, when the trees were heavy with fruit! No sprays, no chemicals, just permaculture!

Heavy mulching arounf fruit trees, bushes and plants have saved them from the ravages of the drought experienced recently here in Ireland.

Living in Ireland where few trees are planted,( except the dreaded Sitka Spruce for money!) Bealtaine is fast growing to look like an Oasis in a desert. Intense planting, as per permaculture, makes this small 3 acres look exceptional. Most farmers in Ireland get financial subsidies and don’t plant trees…I have planted almost 600 and receive zero reward…well, not in financial terms, but you can see the immense rewards here for Gaia, birds, insects, animals, visitors and me! PLANT MORE TREES!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wine

Rescue Dog Jack, Abundant Rhubarb and Irusan…Another Permaculture Day in Ireland

 

Just returned from the Animal Rescue Centre in Leitrim with the latest addition to the family…Jack!

Never a replacement for The Tomster, but in need of a home and Bealtaine is just that! he’s wandering about the cottage at the moment and sussing everything out!

He is a little bit nervous at the moment as you can see, but I expect he will settle in quite rapidly. It’ll take time then for us to bond and become trusting of each other…time will out!

Harvesting Rhubarb yesterday evening, just as the moon was rising…this is some of the crop, now sliced and in bags in the freezer, waiting for the wine and jam making process. The problem with permaculture is just keeping up with the abundance…

This is a plant box I made several years ago from reclaimed timber and driftwood. Planted out with edibles it will be really useful on the veranda, growing within easy reach of the kitchen…especially when it’s raining!

Irusan the cat has gone home to allow Jack to settle in without being continually glowered at…Irusan is pretty good at making a dog feel very uncomfortable…except for those he likes!

It looks like I’m in for an eventful weekend!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Current Affairs, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Fairies, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, News, Organic Garden, Permaculture, photography, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Wildlife, Woodland

Permaculture Health, Wealth and Abundance…May the Force be With You!

Apple blossom this morning at Bealtaine.

As I write this I am listening to Irish Radio…talking endlessly about money, economics, making people spend money, kick-starting the economy! They just don’t get it! The wealth of a country must be measured in the health and wellbeing of its people…

Rhubarb waiting for me to turn it into jam…bumper harvests have begun again!

Apple blossom open today. the bees have feasted on the Ribes and are ready to continue the party on the fruit blossoms.

Irusan in the Fairy Dell this morning. He loves to walk the land with me each morning when he is staying at Bealtaine. Irusan is a Bombay Black Cat, whose mother was feral, living almost wild in London. he is extremely perceptive and interactive with people he chooses to like.

Growth over recent days has begun to impact on the paths that connect the permaculture zones at Bealtaine Cottage. Where monoculture fields around this smallholding are waiting for chemical fertilizer to green them, the grass and herbal pathways do the greening for themselves, for underneath lies a healthy soil that now pushes forth abundance!

Violets have emerged in the Fairy Dell…woodland abundance!