Posted in celebrations, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Gardens, Ireland, Permaculture, Seeds, Sligo, Sustainable Living

Lughnasa Gardens and Weddings

cow parsley at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensAs early Lughnasa transforms the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage into a colourful abundance and the harvest continues, the early days of an Irish autumn unfold.

Berries on the HawthornThe berries on the Hawthorn are turning colour and the magic of a warm autumn fills the air!

Mushrooms at Bealtaine gardensThese mushrooms are growing today near a clump of Birch trees in the woodland gardens further down from the front of the cottage.

willow archway in the permaculture gardensThe willow archway here has closed in on either side as the summer growth has cast even more shade in the new woodland. early autumn in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageBamboo and Dogwood have almost merged to close this path. As you can see, the leaves are beginning to drop.

entrance to the Fairy WoodThe entrance to the Fairy Wood is closing too…there is a lot of work ahead this Autumn as the cutback begins!

New beds by the front door of the cottageHere are the new beds by the front door of the cottage. They are filled with home-made compost and planted with Birch and Cotoneaster, both grown from seed.

New bed by the entrance to Bealtaine CottageI love the simplicity of creating gardens around an old cottage…fuss-free and free!

Bench by entrance porchOne of the evergreen trees originally by the front door has been planted in the corner. It had grown far too big for the terracotta pot.

sitting room at Bealtaine CottageI love the way the silvery autumn light changes the way the sitting room of the cottage looks. This is my best-loved season!

With my beautiful grandsonsI have just returned from the wedding of my son, held over three days at Markree Castle in Sligo. My beautiful grandsons are here with me in the picture. weddingThe flowers were grown here at Bealtaine Cottage and all the guests were gifted with bags of seeds.

It was a lovely, lovely wedding!

Dylan and Michellw wedding 031Here I am with my eldest daughter, Cara.

wedding cakeAnd yes…the bride wore yellow wellies!

Posted in Cats, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Cottage, Fairies, Folklore, Inspiration, Ireland, Woodland

In Search of Fairies on a Summer Eve…

In search of fairiesIt could be the way the light hangs in the sky this evening…

Lysimachia Punctata and stone stepsOr the stillness of the air as a mist starts its’ way up the valley…

Entrance to the Fairy WoodOr may even be the predominance of moths fluttering in the still air down in the Fairy Wood, in the gardens below the cottage…

entrance to the fairy wood at bealtaine cottageI’m walking the gardens in search of the Fairies.

entrance to fairy wood at bealtaine cottageAlthough most people here in the West of Ireland will tell you they’ve left the fairy faith in the past, there is a lingering moment, between asking whether or not they believe in the Fairies, and the reply in the negative.

That moment of hesitation is all one needs to be aware of!

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine CottageFairy faith is the belief in fairies, of course.

fairy wood at bealtaine cottageWhen the Milesians, the mythical race described by an 11th century scholar in Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of Invasions), came to Ireland they banished the natives to the underground and they became the Sidhe, the fairy folk.

Fairy cats in the fairy woodThey reside in old ring-forts, stone circles and inside and under magical trees like the Hawthorn, or Fairy Thorn as it is known here in Ireland…particularly one growing alone in a field.

A path from the Fairy WoodNo farmer disturbs the Fairy Thorn, for to do so brings almighty bad luck!

In the Fairy Wood below Bealtaine CottageThere is a Fairy Thorn in the wood below the cottage, hence the name, Fairy Wood or Dell, as it lies in a hollow, well below the cottage.

Willow Fedge leading away from the Fairy WoodAnd so I ramble the gardens, quietly, patiently looking here and there for movement or unexpected light.

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I would really appreciate if you’d take the time to vote for me in this Irish award…

Colette O’Neill

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

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Posted in Abundance, biodiversity, Birds, Cottage, Country Living, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Trees, Uncategorized

Roses on the Veranda and the Apples have set!

The roses have come out on the veranda.

I made a short video to show you some of the beauty… you can click on that below.

The apples have all set and are developing well.

There promises to be a magnificent crop this year, so all the recipes for apple wine, chutney,butter, cider and more will be perused and debated…will I make this or that or…

The Willow is now in leaf, as are most of the trees, with the Ash being the last to leaf.

The scent as I walk around the gardens from the blossom on the Hawthorn trees is heavenly!

Work in the kitchen is almost finished and the task of stencilling will start later in the week.

I thought that an Ivy stencil would be lovely, so will cut one out when I get the chance to sit down!

Anyway, here is today’s video, with love from Bealtaine Cottage…click and enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqX4Q4G8NPE&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in biodiversity, Birds, Cats, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Woodland

Permaculture Planting…The Importance of Trees

Following on from the short video on Willow and using willow in the garden as living willow fedges and structures, here’s a short video on trees… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBu_fP82VDY&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Spirituality, Spring, Uncategorized

Look Who Visited Bealtaine Cottage on Friday!

Country Views
United States FlagUnited States 344
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 67
Ireland FlagIreland 42
Canada FlagCanada 26
Sweden FlagSweden 18
Denmark FlagDenmark 9
Australia FlagAustralia 4
Italy FlagItaly 3
India FlagIndia 3
Slovenia FlagSlovenia 2
Belgium FlagBelgium 2

This is the new feature on WordPress and it is just fascinating…a breakdown of visitors to Bealtaine Cottage on Friday.

I love to look at statistics, as these represent real people in real time…and from all over the world!

Seedlings are springing up all over the tunnel, some in pots like these and others in the long beds where they have germinated in the compost.

A little pic from April last year, showing the Kanzan Cherry Tree in blossom…I am hoping for an even better dislaly this year!

Feverfew coming up in the gravel driveway…I must admit to being rather naughty and deliberately shaking seed from plants all over the gravel…I shall NEVER get my driveway tarmaced! That would be the end of such fun!

The delightful little buds on the Hawthorn hedgerow are fast becoming leaves as they unfurl in the bright warmth of an Irish Spring…

Posted in Beltane, Birds, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, History, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Winter

Permaculture Cottage ~ Compost, Potatoes, The Fairy Tree and a Cold Winter to Come!

Potatoes growing by the east side of the shed. Did you know that there are about five thousand potato varieties worldwide?                            Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten.  However, I left potatoes in the ground over the course of last winter, when all was frozen solid for six long weeks…and they were dug out after the defrost and were perfect! I think it may have been the layer of straw that was atop the ground!

Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which, of course fast became a monoculture among poorer people… I strive hard to avoid planting all the tubers in one area, preferring to plant here and there in a positive way to avoid disease…and it appears to have worked thus far!

Now in its seventh year, Bealtaine smallholding has achieved new heights of growth, meaning that compost is plentiful. This is because there is so much to cut back and use to build compost heaps…I have made two so far and am still using the compost made last year, with loads to go!

At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more. This is the method I use and it has benefitted Bealtaine well! The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. Any parts of the heap that have not degraded sufficiently can be added to the next heap…a process I indulge in!

Permaculture planting lends itself really well to bountiful compost production, so even if you do not keep animals for manure, it is still quite possible to maintain a high degree of healthy and fertile soil, using plant compost alone…however, a few hens are easy and happy and productive little workers to have on any smallholding!

Upcycling baked bean tins…making a few holes in the bottom and planting with sedums…these are two years old now and quite attractive when grouped together like this, don’t you think?

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn. last year was the same and I predicted a very cold and long winter…I forecast more of the same for the coming winter based on much evidence around me…

Crataegus,or Hawthorn is one of my favourite trees here at Bealtaine and I have grown all I have planted from seed. Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, and the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects.

In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn  ‘marks the entrance to the otherworld’ and is strongly associated with the fairies.   Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom, however during this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush or Bealtaine…Irish meaning May.    This warning persists to modern times; it has been questioned by folklorist Bob Curran whether the ill luck of the De Lorean Motor Company was associated with the destruction of a fairy thorn to make way for a production facility.

Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as ‘rag trees’, for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals. ‘

When all fruit fails, welcome haws’ was once a common expression in Ireland.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Ecology, Fairies, Gaia, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Dog Daisy Afternoon @ Bealtaine Smallholding and Cottage, Ireland

Lots of lovely rain has coloured the water in the Lower Pond a shade of peaty brown. The rain has been so heavy recently that even the spring water which flows into the cottage has been churned up!

Gunnera by the side of the pond is sprouting and growing by the hour. It is surprising that this of all plants survived the bitter cold of last winter. Many of the plants like Escallonia and Eucalyptus died.

The Gunnera is a huge and stunning plant, especially grown beside water.

Copper Beech is planted throughout the gardens on the smallholding and they add a tremendous amount of colour for most of the year. Many are planted along the laneway up to the cottage and each year add another dimension to the look and shelter as they increase in size.

The flowers of the Pine trees are out and each one has this lovely white cobweb under each one. These unusual looking flowers turn into cones…pine cones, and have a delicate yellow pollen that when the tree is shaken the yellowy dust blows off in a cloud…it’s beautiful to watch!

Ivy in the Fairy Dell woodland is growing and hanging in great swirls as the light seeps through before the full shadiness of summer begins.Ivy grows in abundance here in the west of Ireland…it is almost unstoppable!

Wild Violets continue to make a show of themselves all along the shady banks and woodland here at Bealtaine. These tiny flowers are scented…delicately!

Posted in Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding

Saturday in the Permaculture Garden.

Valerian coming into flower today at Bealtaine. The rain continues, almost unabated, raising the water table and pushing the water in my spring well down towards the cottage. Spent quite some time bringing water across to the tunnel to give the plants a good drenching!

Valerian growing along the west gable wall from seed scattered into the gravel…one of many reasons why permaculture and tarmac are not good mates!

Sprays of Hawthorn blossom hang in swathes around the hedgerows at the cottage. The flowers of this tree release a certain chemical which is good for the heart and it is recommended to breath deeply around these gorgeous blossoms!

I’m hoping that the roses will go on for longer this year, as they have a tendency to flower early in the summer. This has certainly been the best year yet for the blooms.

Posted in Abundance, Baking, Bealtaine Cottage, Eco-Living, Ecology, Food, Frugal Living, Gaia, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Wild Flowers, Woodland

Fruity Sourdough Bread and Real Bluebells at Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding.

Made a fruit sourdough bread yesterday.  Sourdough skills are developing slowly and the real savings are tangible. Making the traditional soda bread was easy, but more costly. Buttermilk was needed, whereas sourdough requires nothing other than the flour and what one chooses over and above that! Added to that is the bonus of the bread not using commercial yeast, which is detrimental to health for more and more people.

Sultanas and spice were added to the basic dough, along with 2 teaspoons of brown sugar and it’s yummy!

Lots of wild Bluebells have appeared this year at Bealtaine. This single flower is indicative of the natural spread taking place after 7 chemical-free years on this smallholding. Open the door a little, (figuratively speaking), and Nature sweeps in…a much welcomed guest!

Beautiful, elegant Ferns have also spread, especially throughout the Fairy Dell Woodland…

The heavenly, sweet-scented flowers on the Hawthorn trees is in full bloom now. This is the edge of the Fairy Dell, where many of the apple trees thrive. Cherry and Plum are also planted on this south facing edge of the woodland.