Permaculture Gardens

www.bealtainecottage.com

The growing season has begun, with Rhubarb sending forth strong pink stems despite the storms of recent weeks.

www.bealtainecottage.comMeanwhile, down in the Fairy Wood, ferns have kept their green in the shelter of the dell. Mosses grow bright in the sunlight and ivy twists and twirls around the Goat Willow.

www.bealtainecottage.comLots of Goat Willow has been coppiced over recent months, and although it takes a year or so to season, it makes excellent logs for the stove, giving out masses of heat for free!

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther down the gardens, Pine, laurel and Great Western Cedar all grow happily together and appear healthy in the spring sunshine.

www.bealtainecottage.comDaffodils are on their way to opening under the shelter of the Beech hedge. This is down beside the pond by the driveway.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd as I turn around from the Daffodils, the Ivy that hangs from some of the mature Goat Willow, swings about in the wind and sunshine…this is turning into a lovely walk around the gardens!

www.bealtainecottage.comI amble around the lower pond, snapping as I go…Jack moves ahead of me, tugging on his lead for he has picked up the scent of a fox or badger!

www.bealtainecottage.comI put my camera away and let Jack pull me along, hot on the scent of other life…we finally stop as we come up to the east side of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comWe move around towards the polytunnel and one of the orchards. Pyracantha and Cotoneaster are now devoid of berries. This can be a hungry time for the birds as they mate and nest…there is a big bag of Oats I can scatter around in handfuls for the hungry birds and will do this later.

www.bealtainecottage.comBack to the cottage and the shelter of the veranda…it’s very stormy, despite the sunshine!

www.bealtainecottage.comWith a full moon over Bealtaine Cottage tonight and a hard frost to come, the evening will be cold for sure.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe coppicing continues and the woodpile grows…

www.bealtainecottage.comFennel is beginning to send forth lots of new growth in the shelter of the veranda and the back of the cottage. These new shoots are delicious added to salad!

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd just across from the Fennel…

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd a reminder for anyone wanting 100% Bealtaine seeds from Bealtaine Cottage…there is a link at the top of this page where you can choose what you want.

A New Era at Bealtaine Cottage

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Smoke rises into a clear blue January sky.

The birds are singing like it’s Spring and black ice covers the road by the gate. www.bealtainecottage.com 012My friend Michael is here this morning to finally remove the toilet and install my compost loo.

The septic tank is, from today, a grey water tank!

www.bealtainecottage.com 008I have been using the compost system for the past year, keeping the flush toilet for visitors, but this is the time to finally say goodbye to a system that no longer makes any sense!

www.bealtainecottage.com 019Those who visit, or stay at Bealtaine Cottage, will experience a neat loo, that is both efficient and hygienic, adding to the environment rather than being a source of pollution.

I shall write a blog and post pics of the new loo in a few days time…

www.bealtainecottage.com 006Meanwhile, there are signs of life all the way through the permaculture gardens, with Daffodils pushing up through the more sheltered earth under the Beech trees.

www.bealtainecottage.com 027The sun is not yet high enough on the horizon to reach the paths in the Bog Garden, many of which will remain frozen for weeks to come.

www.bealtainecottage.com 026In the sheltered parts of the woodland, Ferns remain green and quite lush.

Many keep their life until new fronds unfurl in late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.com 005The Willow continues to be cut, tied and stacked in the barn.

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Many of the Fedges will need to be pruned before Spring and vigorous new growth that follows.

This Fedge borders the stream that runs from the Spring Well.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038Many of the Bird Boxes around the gardens will need to be water-proofed with whatever I have to hand…usually a coat or two of gloss paint.

This does not seep into the wood and so does not harm nestlings in the box.

                                  Many thanks for the continuing support for the work of this Bealtaine Cottage  website.

Blessings

It Looks Like Spring!

Toad in Bealtaine permaculture garden

The sun shone all morning and there was a hint of Spring in the air.

Mr Toad…not a real toad, you understand…caught the rays of the late winter sun and looked quite animated.

Spring is officially welcomed into the west of Ireland on February the 1st, Imbolc, Brigid’s day.

I would not be surprised to see it arrive early!

Certainly here at Bealtaine Cottage, the Daffodils are ready to open flower and Primroses are out.

permaculture tunnel at Bealtaine CottageClearing the polytunnel formed part of this morning’s work, one of the first dry, sunny  mornings in some time.

This involved scraping the weeds off the paths and composting them.

Then the top layer of last year’s straw was cleared from the topsoil and spread on the beds. it doesn’t take long and the result is worth the small effort.

I use an Oscillating Hoe, which although expensive to buy is a great investment, as it saves a lot of hard work.

The winter has been mild and most of the herbs in the tunnel have kept their leaves, with Fennel beginning to grow already and broccoli making a good show.

January in the permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageThe garden took on a mantle of life in the sunshine and the birds all appeared to be very lively.

A beautiful fox has made an appearance over recent nights and even sauntered along the front of the cottage in broad daylight yesterday morning.

I think it’s a vixen as I hear her calling at night from the hill of Ballyfermoyle behind the cottage.

sam playing in bealtaine cottageMeanwhile, indoors, Sam continues to eat, drink, play and sleep.

I make sure that little Flo stays in the lodge with Sam and Che, as being white furred and young, could fall prey to a very beautiful but hungry fox.

I lost a beautiful marmalade mouser called Ossian to the fox some years ago and it was a dreadful experience.

Bealtaine Cottage 001Flo is very territorial and chases all comers!

Jack, as you can see, is very hen-pecked by Flo…he always gives in!

Bealtaine Cottage and Permaculture Gardens Photo Album 2012…February!

Looking back at the year…February photographsBealtaine Cottage Feb 12 005

February was mild and the Daffodils in the gardens of Bealtaine came up without damage

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 12 004

Ribes bushes throughout the gardens filled the air with a heady scent, enticing the Bees out from hibernation.

permaculture cottage, feb 12 015

Mizuna flourished in the tunnel, providing a green salad for the table throughout the winter months.

Bealtaine Permaculture Feb 12 002

Missy showed her first signs of being unwell and began a course of steroid treatment.

We thought we would loose her, but her spirit stayed strong.

Feb 2012 Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 018

Weaving baskets from willow began in earnest at Bealtaine Cottage, putting newly acquired skills into practice.

Feb 2012 Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage 022

The water barrels kept filling and filling as the rain poured from the skies…

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We had sunny days too…all the more appreciated for the previous rain!

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2012 Thornhill

We went out walking and found old ruins from past lives, now stark and dramatic against the bright, February sky of 2012.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2012 Permaculture Bog Garden

The greening of the Bog Garden started in mist and frost.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2012

The heavily misted mornings were a beauty all of their own.

Bealtaine Cottage Feb Morning 2012

And the early sun of 2012 crept into the cottage…

Primroses and Badgers and Irish Country Living

Primroses are open on the lane to the cottage.

Birds sing and the morning is clear and very still.

As I was driving up the lane last night I came across a badger, just a young one, but looking beautiful and wise as only a badger can…they have this really ancient look about them…

Here are just a few of the 650+ trees planted here at Bealtaine over the past seven and a half years.

These Pine Trees are near the eastern edge of the smallholding and afford great shelter form the east winds that blow during the winter months.

When the sun shines at this time of year, the silvery light is magical!

I googled Bealtaine Cottage images last night and was met with an assorted array of photos from this blog…this is page one…

Hmm…Che is up a field maple tree in the front garden…

He regularly gets himself entangled in branches and begins calling for someone to come to his rescue!

Fairies, ancient stones and spring daffodils…

I rescued this fairy from a junk sale! I paid one euro for the priviledge!

I thought she looked particularly happy this morning!

Ribes, (flowering currant) are coming into bloom this morning at Bealtaine Cottage…and they are beautiful!

Tea, Toasted Bagels and Good Spirits!

Cutting back branches today.

This is a good way of creating more fuel for the fire and is easy to do even if there is no barn or shed to stack them in. Simply clean them back and make a wig-wam to stand them up so they can air dry. These little wig-wams can stand over the Spring and Summer and be ready to burn over the winter.

Daffodils placed in the warmth of the kitchen today.

I picked them yesterday whilst out on a walk in the forest. They were growing around the ruins of an old castle near the lough. The daffodils had multiplied over the years and were simply everywhere!

Spring daffodils have become a marker of displaced and emigrated families as they come into bloom around ancient, deserted ruins…

Jack is a happy dog these days…for Flo has come to stay!
Flo is yet another stray dog, re-homed through Bealtaine Cottage and a regular returnee…in fact she loves being here and Jack’s eyes have become heart shaped!

Flo and Jack make a strange looking couple, as Flo is tiny and Jack is, well, you can see what I mean!

Tea is my favourite tipple and I have recently discovered Redbush Tea…which is delicious! I have made a toasted cinnamon and sultana bagel…oh, the simple things in life are always the best!

I was chatting with Mum on the phone recently and she is already looking forward to the late Spring and the Bluebell blooming in the forest nearby Bealtaine.

It is amazing that Mum has happily been in good heath since her Breast Cancer Operation nearly two years ago. Mum resolutely refused any drug treatment or radiotherapy , saying that she simply wanted to live without any interference, appointments etc. Well, so far, so good! Mum is a great tea drinker…and I think that helps both her health and her spirit!

Many of my regular readers have said how they read this diary during morning or afternoon break, with a cup of tea or coffee…Cheers!

PS: Missy continues to be rather poorly and is visiting the Vet this afternoon.  We make sure she is kept in good spirits and with plenty of love and warmth.  Fingers crossed!

Windy, Warm, with Daffodils on Boxing Day!

Christmas Presents…

Trees as pressies! I love these presents as they keep on giving and giving and will be here long after I have passed!

Daffodils

The weather is very mild and has been so for much of the winter so far. As testament to this the daffodils have decided to make an unseasonally early appearance and will be opening their blooms very soon.

Under Trees

Trees lend a huge amount of shelter to all kinds of plants, but especially early flowering bulbs…a good reason to plant under trees!

To the Water and the Wild…

The lower pond this morning, the day after Christmas. Water weed remains green and lush. The spring well gushes life into this huge pond from further up the hill…

The Wren Boys

Today is St. Stephen’s day in Ireland…one where people dress to hide their identities and go door to door singing and making fool in aid of charity…an ancient tradition!

The sedge remains green and lush.

Spring is not far away!

A Life in the Country ~ The Land of Heart’s Desire

Faeries,
come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the
wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And Faeries
like a flame.

~William Butler Yeats, “The Land of Heart’s Desire,” 1894

Living in Ireland, at Bealtaine Cottage, it is easy to believe in Fairies.

Fairies are invisible and inaudible like angels.  But their magic sparkles in
nature.  ~Lynn Holland

The elemental spirits of Nature are all around…

As a child I was enraptured by the possibility of Fairies and often spent time constructing little altars to Nature wherever I went…arranging stones, plants and sacred things like I have done in the picture above and all over the smallholding that is Bealtaine…

Spread your wings and let the fairy in you fly!  ~

 ~Author Unknown

Princess Edane… heard a voice singing
on a May Eve like this, and followed half awake and half asleep, until she came
into the Land of Faery, where nobody gets old and godly and grave, where nobody
gets old and crafty and wise, where nobody gets old and bitter of tongue.

~William Butler Yeats, “The Land of Heart’s Desire,” 1894

And the land at Bealtaine has been softly planted to embrace the possibility of Fairies…always keeping the inner child in mind and mindful of the great force that is Nature!

When the winds of March are wakening the crocuses and crickets,
Did you ever find a fairy near some budding little thickets,…
And when she sees you
creeping up to get a closer peek
She tumbles through the daffodils, a playing
hide and seek.

~Marjorie Barrows

We call them faerie.  We don’t believe in them.  Our loss.

~Charles de Lint

 The Celts…Enya…enchanting http://youtu.be/rGwUpsyDJTk

Fairies…  http://youtu.be/Vu_GyfW_AhI