Magical Wild Herbs and Other Things

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Hawthorn is one of the sacred Ogham trees of Ireland. It goes by the name Huath in Irish,  being the tree that symbolises Bealtaine, the merry month of May! This is also a wonderful, magical herb of abundant medicine. Hawthorn, or whitethorn, is easily identifiable during this time as her creamy blossoms brighten hedgerows, stone walls, fields and sacred sites.

IMG_0087Hawthorn is also known as the fairy tree for it is believed, especially a solo tree in a field, that it is a place that fairies would stop to rest (or party!) as they traversed across the land.

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There was a frost this morning, as you can see from the roof of the cottage. Insulation in the loft keeps the frost on the roof. You can always tell a poorly insulated home from the state of the roof on frosty mornings!

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An icy cover on the rain barrel by the lodge!

IMG_0165Myself and Jack set off for a morning stroll in the woodland gardens.

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I was reminded of the many herbs growing freely at Bealtaine Cottage and all along the roadsides here in the west of Ireland, as I walked along the woodland paths.

IMG_0169Dandelion, another exceptional wild herb growing abundantly here, with Its young leaves that can be used to make a tea with potassium-saving diuretic properties, so very useful for treating people suffering from high blood pressure.

IMG_0170Consumption of the bitter leaves will also aid digestion and act as a general laxative, while eating the ground root helps detoxify the liver.

IMG_0172It’s good to remember that the sticky, milky- white latex contained within its stalks can be used externally to kill warts and veruccas.

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The fire pit near the cottage has lots of precious wood ash to be spread out into the gardens. I continue to burn some of the dried blackcurrant stems from last year.

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The tidy up continues as I move the rusted bin over to the back of the old compost heap near the tunnel.

IMG_0175There are many wild and naturalised herbs growing in this semi-wild area, such as Comfrey, Nettle and Wild Garlic. Sweet Bay is planted to the right of the path in this picture. The Potager Bed is filled with many other cultivated herbs, growing happily alongside their wild cousins!

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Growing here at Bealtaine Cottage, in damp, grassy places, from July to September, this majestic, sweet- scented perennial, Wild Angelica, is known as Gallfheabhrán in Irish. Here it is, covered in frost this morning…

IMG_0178Wild Angelica was eaten in past times as a vegetable and used for dyeing cloth.

IMG_0182Traditionally it was used to treat rheumatism, gout and indigestion or to flavour liqueurs.

IMG_0184It really is amazing the vast quantities of wild herbs that are growing all around us. We have forgotten many of them and know very little of the edibility and uses of many of the recognisable plants. You can see some of the Chives spilling out from one of the Potager beds here by the Sedum.

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The colour wash across the woodland gardens continues this morning, the second day of Samhain as the progression of winter moves across the land. Flat Parsley is visible to the front of the bed! I moved all the Nasturtiums this morning from near the old Hen House, as the great tidy-up continues.

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Burdock, Nettle and Meadowsweet all grow with wild abandon here at Bealtaine Cottage. Meadowsweet contains essential oils, flavonoids and tannins. It is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, analgesic, and relaxant qualities. Just walking among it during the heady days of summer induces all of the above!

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Wild Oregano, or Marjoram, Yarrow, Coltsfoot and, Mullein…still in flower in the Lughnasadh Garden by the way!

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I shall post a photo of this over on the Twitter account for Bealtaine Cottage later on…

Bealtaine Cottage Goddess Permaculture Gardens

@PermaGoddess

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Plantain, Herb Robert and Feverfew can be added to the extensive list…I am now imagining a Bealtaine Book of Herbs and their uses, as I realise what a Herb Sanctuary this little acreage has blossomed into!

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Books, map and calendar can be accessed through the link at the top of the website.

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The calendar is packed with 46 photographs! The months of the year are all in Irish and there is room enough to write notes and appointments daily.

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The map is printed back and front on thick card with beautiful detailed artwork just waiting to be coloured in!

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Moon phases for 2019 and 2020 are all included!

Another Trip Around The Sun!

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IMG_9956My birthday has passed.

IMG_9961 It was a wonderful day and here I am in a new year of my life, another journey around the sun!

IMG_9951It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and, as usual, it’s been a wonderful time for casting the occasional, cursory glance over my shoulder to the past.

IMG_9960To this end, I have recalled many aspects of my relationship with my parents, especially in my younger years, realising more and more just how wonderful they both were!

IMG_9962When one is in the thick of it all it’s sometimes very hard to see the people behind the parent mask.

IMG_9959As a parent it became obvious to me how much of a mask one had to don, at times…from the tough to the understanding and sometimes with little in-between!

IMG_9963However, I recall much of my memories of my parents with enduring humour, for I now am fully cognisant of what I put them through!

IMG_9965And so my birthday was a time to celebrate with both my parents in mind, especially my Mother! IMG_9969Her permanent optimism must have been difficult to carry at times, especially when faced with loss, grief, unhappiness and the all-permeating poverty.

IMG_9970I admire her more than ever with each passing year of wisdom and reflection.

IMG_9968Love endures.

IMG_9971I am fortunate to have reached a point in my journey where it is possible for me to understand the woman who was my Mother and the man behind the mask of fatherhood…one he rarely let slip, but I was lucky enough to see the interesting and caring man behind that mask.

IMG_9974The celebrations continue into Samhain, the 31st of October.

IMG_9972Tomorrow the fire will be lit and the ancestors invited into the midst of the family and friends who will gather.

IMG_9975The following day will herald in the first day of the Celtic New Year…a great time of renewal, wishes and hopes for the journey ahead.

IMG_9973On another note, I am aware that Thursday will be the first day of November and I have several boxes of calendars here in the study, waiting to be re-homed!

IMG_9978So if you want to think about possible Yuletide gifts, then look no further!

IMG_9979I am happy to post on your behalf to anywhere in the world!

IMG_9980There is also a wonderful selection of Bealtaine Cottage books and a magical, mythical map…here are the links:

 

Bealtaine Cottage Calendar for 2019

Price includes postage and packing worldwide! The calendar hosts a page of colour photographs from Bealtaine Cottage for each month of the year. The months of the year are written in Celtic script…ie: May is Bealtaine, August is Lughnasadh and so on…many of you are already familiar with the Celtic Calendar. The pictures on each month also feature some added wisdom from Bealtaine Cottage and information on the ancient festivals of Celtic Ireland.

€17.00

 

Magical Mythical Map of Bealtaine Cottage and Gardens

Beautiful map created by the artist David Gascoigne, especially for Bealtaine Cottage. The picture shows one side of the map…it is printed on both sides, see the photos on this page. The price includes all Postage and Packing to wherever you live in the world! Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€10.00

 

Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter

A little Yuletide book filled with colour photographs, recipes, reflections, lore, poetry and mirth to guide you through the wonderful days ahead. Fifty pages of sheer delight from Bealtaine Cottage to you. The book is fully bound and can be posted direct as a gift. Price includes P&P worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€13.00

 

In Search of The Goddess Rising

This is the second book in the Goddess Permaculture series from Colette O’Neill at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland. In this book I explore the ancient landscape, mythology, literature and life around Bealtaine Cottage… in search of the Great Goddess. The price of the book includes all postage and packing to wherever you live in the world! Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€19.00

 

“A Cottage and Three Acres,” by Colette O’Neill

Please email Colette if you would like a particular inscription in your book. From a desolate cottage set in 3 acres of monoculture sadness, to a vibrant, thriving food forest of life…the journey back to Eden over 13 years… Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€25.00

Renewal

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Every now and then I feel the need to recharge my batteries.

This is one of those times.

IMG_8690I have, once again, over-stretched myself across social media platforms, as well as working every day in the gardens and continuing to refresh and update the interior of Bealtaine Cottage…and all my own work, unaided.

IMG_8696My main work should be focused on writing, as this is my income, but, more often than not, I allow my energies to flow in too many directions.

IMG_8698So, for the next month, I am away from social media, concentrating my efforts on this website and YouTube channel instead.

IMG_8694All the little finishing tasks that are outstanding in the cottage will, hopefully, get finished!

IMG_8681I managed to finally hand-sew the curtain for underneath the worktop in the kitchen and hang it.

IMG_8702This week has been spent working in the Lughnasadh Garden and tidying up around the upper woodland.

IMG_8700I even managed a trip into town and to the market…not often enough I think, for I do need to get out more as I am becoming too much of a recluse!

IMG_8707Of course it is hard to leave  Bealtaine Cottage at present as the colours of Autumn are simply divine!

IMG_8711Often times I feel there is a constant pull from FaceBook and Twitter, but then this is the clever way both are set up…to keep drawing one back!

IMG_8708This website is my first love and will remain so, above all other aspects of the internet, for it is where so many discovered Bealtaine Cottage and fell in love with this land as I have done.

IMG_8712It is where I found community and support. It is also a safe place to post all my photographic work, on this website which hosts thousands of images of Bealtaine Cottage and Woodland Sanctuary.

IMG_8714It is a labour of love and devotion to Mother Earth, for sometimes I am at the computer for over an hour just uploading the images to the website…I don’t have internet, just a hotspot on my phone!

IMG_8715Much of social media is so fast-flowing that images get drowned in the tide of ‘stuff!’

IMG_8716All of the images I capture on camera add up to a tiny fraction of what I want to photograph.

IMG_8727These are then sifted down to what I upload onto this website.

IMG_8732I am on a daily quest to present the beauty of Mother Earth here at Bealtaine Cottage to the world.

IMG_8717IMG_8719IMG_8720IMG_8731So, for the next twenty eight days or so, a lunar month, I shall be posting here on my website and YouTube.

Touching base can be such a relief!

Edible Permaculture Gardens at Bealtaine Cottage

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It is early evening as the clock shows and the day has been long.

I was up and working by 6am, so this evening will be early to bed!

Summer is like that here in the west of Ireland.

Much work is finished by early afternoon, so the evening is a time for gentle reflection on a working day.

One of the jobs I managed to get done today was that of polishing the stove in the sitting room.

It’s a long, messy job, but gives the stove such a mighty face-lift that it’s worth it!

Oh…is that one of the cloths on the mantle-piece…?

I walked out into the garden at the back of Bealtaine and was surrounded by Valerian, which is heavy with flower and as long as the seed-heads are picked, will stay in flower until September.

And as I turned around from the Valerian, there was Missy, sitting regally on one of the benches under the Cotoneaster, enjoying the sun as only cats seem able to do, despite their fur coats!

Most of the lettuce in the first vegetable bed is ready for eating and there’s some Chard growing alongside it, ready to occupy the empty space…

Rosa Rugosa in flower behind one of the sheds…Such a vivid Cerise Pink!

An abundance of young apples on the trees in the orchard…hard to believe that this was planted 6 years ago and has fruited every year!

And several hundred pounds of Blackcurrants almost ready for harvesting!

More visitors to the Permaculture Smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage tomorrow.

There are so many people now into growing food and living sustainably.

Permaculture is the ideal way to do both in Ireland, as they are linked into a living circle.

A recent visitor brought me some interesting books and C.D.’s so I shall curl up into a cosy bed to read and listen, earlier than usual!

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