Life is stirring.
Light shines higher in the morning sky.
Thickening buds cast a haze over the land.
“But there were certain early days in Casterbridge- days of firmamental exhaustion which followed angry south-westerly tempests-when, if the sun shone, the air was like velvet.”
― Thomas Hardy
Colours emerge and birds sing out a joyous, higher note.
We are officially in the season of Spring in the West of Ireland and the new energy is tangible, from rising in the morning to the growing lateness of dusk.
The temperature seems rather unstable, as you can see evidence of in the photograph above.
The morning began very cold and in the space of minutes, the temperature had climbed by 18 F., causing the mirror on the veranda to steam up!
I recorded this as most of the only real information about climate and weather appears to be anecdotal evidence from social media!
My favourite aspect of Spring is the way the light changes.
If one simply sat in this cottage and never ventured outdoors it would be possible to map the seasons in light play.
I expect birds, animals and even insects are similarly informed.
Living in the glare of artificial light can be dulling to our senses!
“She walks in the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.”
― Vita Sackville-West,
Elsewhere in the woodland gardens at Bealtaine, frogs have emerged from hibernation and busied themselves, as only frogs can in cold ponds!
Frogs in Bealtaine pond have the luxury of a shallow, sheltered, ancillary pond, hand dug by myself, just off the main one.
This water heats faster and earlier, ensuring maximum attention to the detail of frog mating and spawning…a sort of nursery pond!
Anyway, it works a treat and has done for the past eleven years.
As a consequence, the amphibian life force has healthily expanded!
“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.”
― Susanna Clarke,
“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
Diversity of planting not only has created resilience, but bestowed all year round colour to Bealtaine Cottage…so appreciated as Spring emerges…for with this rising of the sap, comes a much defined colour change!
“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
― A.A. Milne,
Catkins have appeared on the Willow…and there’s many different varieties in the Woodland. Pond and even Orchard gardens. Essential food for the bees emerging from a hungry winter hibernation.
“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
― Frances Hodgson Burnett,
This Quince grows in the Bog Garden and has begun to flower!
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
― Margaret Atwood
Where would Spring be without the exquisite little Primroses?
Seen here in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine, surrounded by Spurge!
“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
― Leo Tolstoy,
The Fairy Wood awakens!
You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:
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“The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual dying moment. Patriarchy may try to negate body and flee earth with its constant heartbeat of death, but Goddess forces us back to embrace them, to take our human life in our arms and clasp it for the divine life it is – the nice, sanitary, harmonious moment as well as the painful, dark, splintered ones.
If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will lover her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”
― Sue Monk Kidd,
This quote from Sue Monk Kidd has served as a wonderful source of inspiration for me, as I move slowly on my journey through this world.
In working so closely with the land over the past years, I have come to understand the meaning of the holiness of every single living thing.
Last summer, for example, I came across a beautiful Wasp nest in one of the trees.
When I put the photo of it onto my Facebook site I was immediately alerted by several people to destroy the nest and kill the wasps.
Why, I thought, must this thing of beauty be destroyed if it not causing harm to me?
Wasps are pollinators and help keep a balance among pests too, such as aphids.
In the eleven years working the land here, I have never been stung, by bee or wasp. Creatures only attack when under threat!
“If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same.”…and nothing has been the same in this little three acre plot since becoming aware of the deep connectivity between myself and Mother Earth…call her the Goddess if you will…but the Divine presence for me is compassion itself.
“Yet rather than calling the earliest religions, which embraced such an open acceptance of all human sexuality, ‘fertility cults,’ we might consider the religions of today as strange in that they seem to associate shame and even sin with the very process of conceiving new human life. Perhaps centuries from now scholars and historians will be classifying them as ‘sterility cults.”
― Merlin Stone,
Much of my journey has involved stripping away layers of religious and cultural imposed identity.
This is a hard task, as one tries not to alienate others.
At times this journey has felt like one is walking on eggshells, attempting to negotiate a path between questioning/understanding and simply being part of family and community.
In search of an understanding of soul… a communion with the sacred…and being unafraid of where that takes me.
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“One of the most important things about permaculture is that it is founded on a series of principles that can be applied to any circumstance—agriculture,urban design, or the art of living. The core of the principles is the working relationships and connections between all things.”
― Juliana Birnbaum Fox, Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
Wise words from Juliana…I have discovered to be correct, for all is connected!
I would add, that in my view, we are all a part of a greater consciousness too.
As the eleventh anniversary of the founding of Bealtaine Cottage comes around in May, I have been reflecting on the changes experienced in my personal life and way of seeing the world, through connecting with the great force that is Mother Earth.
The impact of this connection has changed my life utterly, in every way…emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Those who have visited here have shared conversations in this frame and felt an impact upon their own lives too.
Recently I embarked upon a Juice Fast, drinking plants grown here at Bealtaine as well as others bought in, such as fruit.
I feel it important to share this with you, for I am now convinced that much healing can be found through the bounty of Mother Nature.
I have certainly found it to be so, as I move past the halfway mark in a sixty day Juice Fast and realise, day on day, how well I feel!
I intend writing about this in more depth in my next Bealtaine Cottage Good Life blog, for the effects of this have impacted markedly upon my health and well-being!
“A sacred way of life connects us to the people and places around us. That means that a sacred economy must be in large part a local economy, in which we have multidimensional, personal relationships with the land and people who meet our needs, and whose needs are met in turn.”
― Juliana Birnbaum Fox
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Gardens in Spring are one of Nature’s great delights.
Here at Bealtaine Cottage the back door remains open and the sun streams in.
My grandson, Dylan sips tea, whilst nearby, Charlie sleeps on the rocking chair.
It is days like these that are idyllic to recall, as the days of Spring and Summer stretch out before us.
Sammy-Bear sits by the open door, enjoying the strong sunshine.
Somewhere in the scheme of things, as the days lengthen and the early morning birdsong touches our souls, a deep sense of optimism pervades the humdrum of everyday life.
Animals react to Spring with displays of joy.
The image of the Spring lamb are there for all to see, but look at the behaviour of other animals…
And the Earth itself…I can smell the grass growing…it’s an earthy, green, living smell that intoxicates!
As I walk among the Potager beds in the garden, I notice how the Purple Sprouting Broccoli is regenerating, almost as fast as I can pick the small sprouts.
In the tunnel, Calendula flowers on last Summers plants…a welcome reminder of the flowers to come and oh, they smell so sweet!
Buds on the Peach tree are beginning to thicken.
This was a broken tree I rescued from the waste of a big store.
It’s taken four years to nurture it into a strong tree and this year, maybe, just maybe, I shall have some fruit!
The Kale has over-wintered well, keeping me supplied with plenty of this rich food through the dark months.
Now, as almost all the leaves have been harvested, it begins to sprout abundance all over again.
Time to feed and water well!
This Celery was planted and stem harvested last Spring.
It has regenerated and will provide yet more nutrients for juicing!
Spring flowers, beauty to behold…feeding the spirit as I work in the kitchen.
Flowers on the Ribes bushes have opened.
These will be ready to feed early awakening bees.
Wood, stacked in Wigwam shape to air dry before being cut and moved to the barn.
There is so much wood here at Bealtaine that I am never going to get around to coppicing more than about 25%!
Taking the time to bend down and look closer to the Earth, sights like this remind one there is another world below our view, reacting to the energy of Spring.
I hope you make time to go out into Nature and find repose with her, for these are days of Spring magic…Magical days indeed!
Sunday afternoon…picking flowers in the gardens.
This feels like the full, quiet days before giving birth…
I have often felt a slowness as time ascends towards Midsummer…it’s as though Mother Earth is not yet ready to let go…
Evenings merge with night as daylight seems eternal in the west of Ireland…Ox-Eye Daisies reach up toward the sun, basking in summer.
Returning from Belfast and the soft hum of the city to this place of quiet solitude, this otherworldly paradise of sights and scents…
Far back from the lane, this little cottage nestles into silence, a place of tranquil tolerance, a timeless existence at midsummer.
Ground Elder, the bane of many gardeners, is allowed her magnificence here, frothy lace adorning a mantle of green. Ragged Robin dances by the wheels of an old bike.
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- Open Pollinated Seed.
This is the most natural seed, simply because it has not been interfered with in any laboratory.
This seed is pollinated by Nature…bees, insects and wind. Occasionally by us too as we brush up against flowers and accidentally get pollen on our clothes, carrying it to another flower and so on. Sometimes we help Mother Nature a little by gently brushing the pollen from one flower to another. It’s all good! These seeds are what are commonly referred to more and more as “Organic” on the packaging. Organic seeds are fast becoming more difficult to obtain in Garden Shops etc. This is because the big seed companies are busy buying up the small seed companies, leaving the consumer with less and less choice!
- High Yielding Seed. These look attractive in the packet, with lots of blurb attached to get you to buy, but, these seeds thrive on chemicals and are sort of married to chemicals too! Definitely not organic and in many cases a danger to bees and insects.
- Hybrids. These are actually designed not to be saved!
- G.E. Seed. Otherwise known as GM, GMO and all about genetic engineering Nature and patenting the result. These seeds are injected with chemicals and then patented by corporations such as Monsanto. Monsanto declares to be above God Almighty, by stating, and being supported by US Law, that it created the seed!
Vandana Shiva: The seed in its essence is all of the past evolution of the Earth, the evolution of human history, and the potential for future evolution. The seed is the embodiment of culture because culture shaped the seed with careful selection—women picked the best, diversified. So from one grass you get 200,000 rices.
That is a convergence of human intelligence and nature’s intelligence. It is the ultimate expression of life, and in our language, it means “that from which life arises on its own, forever and ever and ever.”
Open pollinated seed is available from Bealtaine Cottage.
Click on the link below to see the current list of seed.
A weekend of storms has settled into sunshine and showers.
The future for those she left behind has re-started.
A lovely calm has descended upon Bealtaine Cottage.
The evening was filled with lighting stoves, making tea and feeding pets.
My mother was a great pragmatist, being a war-child…she was adept at knuckling down, to doing what had to be done!
So, it’s easy for me to follow suit.
The next few weeks are going to be very busy, as there’s masses of work to be finished in the gardens and much preparation for the growing season ahead!
The next few weeks will see the Willow opening and bees beginning to emerge, rather tentatively, from hibernation.
This marks the start of the Celtic Spring…always a month or so earlier in these far reaches of Europe. The earth begins to dry out and warm up…lovely days ahead!
Summer began to melt into Autumn at Bealtaine Cottage amidst a flurry of bees and butterflies, more than ever witnessed in the permaculture gardens.
So few do, but if you choose to make a small donation, then Bless You!
Winter sunlight turns bare branches, that drip with rain, into fascinating fairy lights.
Light is delicate and unpredictable, sometimes overwhelming in its glow, at others, just a whisper of the day.
Fitting too, as water and sun give life.
The coppicing continues and long branches are hauled up from the gardens to the dry environment of the veranda.
This is next year’s fuel for the stove.
Most of the second run of Christmas booklets have been posted… all over the world! http://bealtainecottage.com/christmas-book/
The few remaining will not sit here for long.
Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent down in the Fairy Wood, cutting back the paths and lifting the canopies on some of the bigger trees.
… for I had moved about ten metres through the wood, without taking much note, other than look at what I was sawing.
Taking a breather, I stopped and looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings…I was in a place unknown to me in all the nine years I have worked and planted this land!
This is the most amazing aspect of the Fairy Wood…that it had transformed itself as I planted, worked and took daily walks through this magical place.
I walked around to the far side of this ancient Ash tree, one that had stood in among the briars and thorns, alone, for all the time I have planted here.
The tree looked totally different on the other side…
The Ash tree has been coppiced at some point in the past and has grown into a multi-stemmed tree which now has an underground cave.
Almost all kinds of trees found in the Celtic countries have been thought to have special powers, or to serve as the abode of the fairy folk, but especially the magical trio of the Oak, Ash and Blackthorn.
This a a very special tree and quite magical as you can see…
I just received this petition. Perhaps you can mention it in your blog and get other people to sign it.
Love and best wishes
Bayer has just sued the European Commission to stop the ban on its bee-killing pesticides — despite clear evidence its products are behind the massive bee die-offs.
We can’t let Bayer and Syngenta get away with this blatant threat while the bees disappear. Sign the petition to tell them to drop the lawsuits now!
It’s a bed, with a cover and lots of cushions.
Looks good and is inter-changeable.
Like this fancy mirror above the mantle piece…born from broken mirrors and turned into a mirror mosaic.
The mantle piece cost 50 euros in a second-hand furniture shop.
The simplicity of living, almost cash free, is liberating and allows one to appreciate everything that comes ones way.
Like this mosaic floor, created from broken tiles, throw-a ways from a consumer driven society.
Life within the shop-till-you-drop, over-burdened, corporate-controlled madness that passes as culture, is beginning to wane.
A piece of Bog Oak, found on the beach and stood up in the garden, surrounded by plants…
A simple life, is one where bees are appreciated for the work they do and not just seen as a source of honey.
There are several wild bee nests here in the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage.
I plant food for them, though have no hives.
I want nothing from them, but their labour…let them keep their honey, they deserve it!
With little in material goods, there is less to think about and worry about.
It’s a perfect day for being in the garden, with just the right amount of sun and shade as the voluminous clouds drift overhead, sun shines full in between and there’s just a promise of rain!
The roses on the veranda are hanging so low that one has to limbo-dance under them to get in and out of the cottage.
My friend, Terri brought lots of cardboard and seaweed from Connemara and I laid the cardboard down in the new orchard yesterday.
The seaweed is being spread on the Potager beds much to the disdain of the slugs…but they will move out, deeper into the gardens, where their voracious appetites will be welcomed!
Cara, who now has Gloria, is delighted to report that the aforementioned hen adores slugs and eats 20-30 daily.
Raspberries are coming into fruit.
Salads are continually harvested from the tunnel…mixed with much herbs and very tasty!
Blackcurrants ripen towards a promise of Cordial, Wine, Jam and Chutney.
Mother Earth knows no austerity!
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The morning is hot and sultry.
The sky is clear blue.
Ireland basks in heat.
These self seed and come up more intensely year on year.
May 2013…This is an update on all that’s growing in the permaculture gardens today.
The season has been slow to get going, as the sunshine has been minimal, with rain and cold prevailing.
Despite the appalling weather here in the west of Ireland, Apple trees are laden with blossom and bees are buzzing around the gardens busily pollinating all the blossom.
The bees have been hard at work on the Blackcurrants, thus ensuring a good harvest to come.
Rhubarb is cropping well, due to the top-dressing of manure from the hen house it received last Autumn.
This was mixed well with compost and straw and was well rotted down.
Purple Broccoli is now flowering in the tunnel, so seeds will be available from Bealtaine Cottage later on in the season.
Valerian is coming into flower and the Lunaria is seeding well.
Aquilegia is about to make a show…lots of this beautiful flower this year, as I have been busily throwing seed all over the gravel.
More photographs of the gardens from today…
Bealtaine Cottage has built up a Permaculture Seed Bank.
If you want to see a list of available seeds, this link will take you there… http://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/
Seeds from Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland are posted all over the world!
Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.
There are over 1,000 blogs in the archives on this site.
As an Ark for Nature, birds, bees, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no funding or support from the EU, Irish Government or any Environment agencies.
Your donation helps remedy that…
The new sign at Bealtaine Cottage, alongside a more important one…”No Fracking!”
Time to advertise what it is we stand for!
The power of advertising is immense.
Corporations and governments allocate massive amounts of money each year to get their messages of suppression and control across to the public.
However, we have the access to advertising ourselves, if we decide to use our windows, cars, front doors, entrances to propagate our messages…what a load of free advertising space!
On Saturday 25th May, there is a worldwide March Against Monsanto, taking place in all major cities.
If Monsanto is allowed to pimp it’s wares, as it does so successfully to central governments, then pictures such as this, the bee on Lunaria in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage, will be rare indeed!
Here in Ireland, marches are taking place in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Clare…with more being added.
WE NEED EVERYONES HELP
WE ARE ASKING ALL ANTI GMO, ANTI MONSANTO, PRO NATURE, PRO HEALTH, PRO ENVIRONMENT, ANTI CHEMICAL POLLUTION, PRO ORGANIC, FACEBOOK PAGES WEBSITES, BLOGS, NEWS CHANNELS, AND NEWSPAPERS TO GET BEHIND THIS MOVEMENT. WE HAVE JUST A FEW WEEKS LEFT. LETS ALL WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE THIS A HISTORY MAKING EVENT. THIS IS OUR MARCH, ALL OF US, THE WORLD UNITED AGAINST SELFISH GREED THAT WOULD DESTROY OUR HEALTH AND THE PLANET IN ITS PATH.
MAY 25th EVERYWHERE
THIS IS EVENT IS FOR ALL OF US
THIS IS OUR EVENT
OUR VOICES HEARD
Butterflies are making a welcome appearance here in the permaculture gardens, with this lovely little Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria) making an appearance this morning.
I will be marching against Monsanto in Sligo on Saturday 25th May.
The march begins with a rally at the corner of O’Connell and Grattan Streets at 1pm.
Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.
Over 550 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here.
Thank you for supporting this blog
London Pride ready to open flower on the steps at Bealtaine Cottage.
Years of pushing and shoving by these delicate looking little plants have finally eradicated the creeping buttercup in the heavy clay soil.
It’s at this time of year that bees are working hard and sometimes gardens are bereft of food for the bees.
I have a policy that is enshrined in Bealtaine cottage gardens…plant for the bees, the birds and then myself, always in that order!
This is the tropical Cordyline, growing here thanks to the Gulf Stream.
That means an early start to the growing year and bees follow the same pattern, sometimes emerging as early as late February!
So food at the ready is vital for them!
Ribes, or flowering currant, is a wonderful source of nectar for the hungry bees!
The smallest bit of sunshine and the garden starts to look like paradise!
Missy passes a lush looking Comfrey.
The flowers of the Comfrey plant are truly Bee-Loved, as are the flowers of the humble and easy to grow Nasturtium!
The leaves of the Comfrey will be cut and scattered around the apple trees, creating a source of liquid feed as the rain falls…as it does frequently here in the West of Ireland!
These trees never disappoint, year after year, with heavy blossom and heavy crops of perfect apples that have never been sprayed…never!
The bees are busy into the night around the orchards.
So plant fruit trees for the bees too!
And here you can see the apple under-planted with blackcurrants…much Bee-Loved!
Here you can see Honesty in flower under the Blackcurrants…a delight for the bees and sweet-smelling too!
In the case of the Cotoneaster above, food for the bees and the birds!
The trick is to ensure there is succession planting for the bees.
Hungry bees won’t hang around hungry gardens!
Do have a lovely weekend!
Snow fell this morning…in between rain and brilliant sunshine!
It was like a convergence of all the seasons in one morning!
Legs and arms, uncovered for the first time in months, looked a sickly white in shorts and T-shirts.
This year, the season is late.
About 4-6 weeks in some parts of the garden!
However, the polytunnel is really paying for itself, as I have all the fruit and veg in pots, growing big and strong and ready for when the weather settles down and all danger of frost has passed!
I have been hauling more and more stone from the edges of the land, into specific areas, where the passive solar heat trapped in the stone will help growth in annual crops, creating micro-climates.
As the season is late, it allows more time for me to catch up with the bigger tasks here at Bealtaine Cottage.
Always looking for the silver lining!
The Bats are out from hibernation and yesterday, as I walked down the lane-way, a butterfly fluttered just ahead of me, for most of the walk.
The bees are flitting from one heavily laden Ribes bush to another…their end of hibernation feast!
The EU are making it against the law to save and share seed…
This is not a petition asking the EU for anything, but one that sends a clear, sharp message…We Will Not Comply!
A shot across the bow!
Please sign and share…
Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 85 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.
Over 500 blogs from Bealtaine Cottage in the archives here.
Donations are always welcome.
Thank you for supporting this blog