The Water Garden at Bealtaine Cottage

Just pictures today…of the Water Garden here at the permaculture smallholding.

This is the Lower Pond in the Bog Garden.

It is a haven for wildlife…sitting by the Lower Pond on a summer evening surrounded by dragonflies is one of the pleasures to be enjoyed after work.

The ponds, for there are two, are filled with Wild Mint and Watercress, among other delights.

Buttercups, Celandines and Meadowsweet abound.

This is one of the grass pathways leading down to the Bog Garden and the ponds.

It is planted out with Willow, Yellow Loosestrife, Monbretia and the weeds are all really flowers as you can see!

One of the wild Orchids growing in the damp ground of the Bog Garden last summer.

Gunnera Manicata growing beside one of the ponds…

Midsummer Day 004There are many wildflowers that can be included when planting an informal pond to attract wildlife.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine 020It is important to include Native plants as these  provide a vital food source for many insects, which then encourages more birds to your pond and garden.

Many Butterflies will visit your water garden if native plants and wild flowers are allowed their domain!

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine 002Butterflies that are first to hatch here at Bealtaine Cottage is the Orange Tip, and though it will feed from a range of plants it only lays its eggs on Ladys Smock.

Ladys Smock is one of the wild flowers that grace the wet conditions in the Bog Garden.

Midsummer Magic at Bealtaine CottageIt is really vital that we do all we can to protect  native habitats, for as these are threatened it becomes more important to provide alternative safe havens for birds, insects, Bees and native plants within gardens. 

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 120 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Walk on the Wild Side

Ivy loops and twirls around the trees in the Fairy Dell woodland. Ivy that feeds the birds in the depths of midwinter. Ivy that shelters the pheasant in the heat of midsummer. Strong, natural and wild…

Ivy and Lichens, so perfect in the gardens at Bealtaine that it can only be the hand of Nature…no gardener can create this perfection…

Another sacred part of the land at this permaculture smallholding…a small field of Devil’s-bit Scabious, the natural habitat of the rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Nature working her pure magic and being encouraged at every turn!

Now is the time to plant Willow. This is something which is easy to do and will serve the eco-system around you well. So many insects, birds and bees depend on this plant. Simply cut a wand of Willow and push it into the ground as far as you can…about 1-2feet will do! Manure it well and it will grow fast and strong! Some people surround it with plastic to stop weeds and grass, but, personally I do not approve of this as the earth under plastic is not beneficial to wildlife and anyway, the Willow will soon shade out any unwanted weeds!

Cotoneaster…planted, but soon takes on the mantle of wildness and becomes a feeding station for birds and insects alike!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Dividing Rhubarb, Growing Trees and Composting!

Lots of the rhubarb has been lifted and divided recently and planted into the new beds, all loaded with fresh compost from the heaps stacked last year.

Rhubarb is an easy and early fruiting plant to grow. Although the leaves are toxic, various parts of the plants have medicinal and culinary uses.  In culinary use, fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong tart taste; most commonly the plant’s stalks are cooked and used in pies and other foods for their tart flavour. Personally, there is nothing equal to a Rhubarb Crumble, or, one of my absolute favourites…Rhubarb Jam!

Did you know that in England, the first rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in dark sheds dotted around the noted “Rhubarb Triangle” of Wakefield, Leeds, and Morley,a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk?

The New Vegetable Beds

The new beds are coming along well…planted out with Chard, Cucumber, Parsley, Tomato and Chives…for starters! I have spread wood ash recently on the beds and continue to build up with compost.

Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity, when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Raw chard is perishes quite fast, so it’s best to pick only when about to be used!

Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked  or sautéed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked Spinach. I use Chard a lot in my home made soups and curries and as a replacement for Spinach.

Flowering Oregano and Chives

Both grow like weeds here at Bealtaine Cottage, with lots of Oregano now coming up in the gravel driveway. Great for drying and using in sauces and soups and breads!

More Trees Please!

Trees are planted all the year around here at the smallholding. Many are grown from seed and potted on several times before eventual planting out. Many are rescued from the roadside verges and gravel paths. Lots of these trees are given away to those who show an interest in planting. There is one thing for sure though, the Earth needs more trees. Trees protect her.

Compost this morning at Bealtaine

Now working through the second heap and already filled up the first again, so am busy as you can see!

Composting as a recognized practice dates to at least the early Roman Empire since Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79).

Traditionally, composting was to pile organic materials until the next planting season, at which time the materials would have decayed enough to be ready for use in the soil. This is the method I follow and it works every time as you can see!  The advantage of this method is that little working time or effort is required from the composter and it fits in naturally with agricultural practices in temperate climates. Personally I see no disadvantages in this technique. There is no real exposure to excessive rainfall, as the heaps are thatched with lots of straw to overwinter in peace and harmony with all the hibernating insects and frogs!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 85 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

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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.

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!

Misty Morning, Hot Coffee…just Permaculture in Ireland

Just a walk around Bealtaine on a still, warm and misty morning…

And the soundtrack of Bealtaine…birds and bees and insects…

Scents of Spring and early summer pervade the air…

The promise of Sloes with Blackthorn Blossom…

Growing in the Fairy Dell…

And deep within the Fairy Dell the Rowan Tree comes to life…