Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Gardens, Inspiration, Permaculture, Poetry

Goddess Rising

www.bealtainecottage.comSummer swells; the Earth heaves a mantle of green over all the land.

www.bealtainecottage.comSwallows dip and turn above tall grass.

www.bealtainecottage.com (2)I see the Goddess rising…

www.bealtainecottage.com (3)Light dances at midnight across the northern horizon.

www.bealtainecottage.com (4)Long swathes of ivy swing from tall branches of goat willow.

www.bealtainecottage.com (5)The Fairy Wood is almost impassable.

www.bealtainecottage.com (6)I see the Goddess rising…

www.bealtainecottage.com (7)Blackcurrants plump to ripening, as apples emerge.

www.bealtainecottage.com (8)The summer is here in all her glory; a feast for the eyes.

www.bealtainecottage.com (9)The Earth, Mother Earth, the Goddess… rises.

Posted in Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Cats, Country Living, Dogs, Edible Gardens, Fairies, Garden, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Autumn Seeds, Berries and Lichens

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Harvesting Willow today in the Permaculture gardens of Bealtaine.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004This Willow is pollarded rather than coppiced.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006The day is fine…good for washing to dry out on the clothes line.

Fresh air and sunshine have an excellent cleansing effect on the materials.

www.bealtainecottage.com 012Working so close to the trees, and seeing the lichens and mosses in the sunlight is magical.

Little cobwebs, insects and textures becomes a world all of its’ own.

www.bealtainecottage.com 014An opportunity to admire the berries on the Hawthorn, set against the silver of the bark.

www.bealtainecottage.com 015Clusters of berries on the Ivy continue to develop.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016Not to be out-done…the cerise pink berries on the native Irish Spindle make a show of themselves!

www.bealtainecottage.com 020Seeds on the Alder trees hang low in the bog garden.

www.bealtainecottage.com 021The green of Autumn has a fairytale quality about it…it becomes a woodland green, reflected by silvery, autumnal sun light.

www.bealtainecottage.com 031Where summer sun on trees casts darkness underneath, autumn sun creates shadows…

www.bealtainecottage.com 034The Fairy Wood is timeless with trailing ivy and sunlight.

www.bealtainecottage.com 036Ivy and moss…

www.bealtainecottage.com 038******

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www.bealtainecottage.com 056Jack and Che-Mousey-Bear play in the sunshine.

www.bealtainecottage.com 059***************

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, biodiversity, Birds, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Country Living, Edible Gardens, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Seeds, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Country Living and Magic

www.bealtainecottage.com 002Red berries and silver light, weather changing frame by frame and night skies opening up to endless stars…country living, or maybe just observing.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003For as I type, a fierce storm moves across the tree tops, sweeping leaves before it like a Samhain broom!

Yet in the stillness of the sheltered gardens of Bealtaine, Perscaria blooms stand tall and erect, like soldiers guarding Summer…but not for long!

(Persicaria amplexicaulis is a species of flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, native to the Himalayas.)

www.bealtainecottage.com 008Che-Mousey-Bear chases around the gardens, delighting in Autumn and curiously keeping watch as I take photographs this morning.

www.bealtainecottage.com 006Willow arches have thickened this year…something I will plant many more of, as the Autumn progresses and leaves fall away, to reveal the best stems to cut and plant.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017  The fallen Rowan tree continues to grow strong and multiply it’s stems, year after year.

This beautiful tree had fallen in a storm over nine years ago, but now grows in the more sheltered gardens.

www.bealtainecottage.com 020The Rowan tree has long been regarded to possess magical and protective qualities and often was planted near Irish cottages.

www.bealtainecottage.com 028This may have something to do with the fact that there is a small five-pointed star, or pentagram, opposite the stalk of each berry.

www.bealtainecottage.com 023Pentagrams have long been considered symbols of protection.

www.bealtainecottage.com 035The berries’ red colour is also regarded to be the best protective colour against enchantment.

www.bealtainecottage.com 013The covering on the tunnel is in need of washing, for the algae has settled on the outside…a task to add to my weekly list!

www.bealtainecottage.com 031 The berries on the Ivy are ripening fast.

These are a welcome source of food for blackbirds and if not eaten, remain on the plant until spring, providing an important food-source for young birds.

Ivy makes a magical decoration for the home towards midwinter… I always look forward to gathering and decorating the mantelpiece with this wonderful greenery, leaving plenty for the birds!

Posted in Celtic Mythology, Celts, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Discovery in the Fairy Wood…

fairies 021Yesterday afternoon and evening was spent down in the Fairy Wood, cutting back the paths and lifting the canopies on some of the bigger trees.

fairies 022My work was intensive and totally absorbing, as you can imagine.

fairies 023It wasn’t until several hours of hard labour had passed that I began to look around me…

fairies 026… for I had moved about ten metres through the wood, without taking much note, other than look at what I was sawing.

fairies 027Taking 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!

fairies 028This 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.

fairies 029I 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…

fairies 031The 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.

fairies 037Almost 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.

fairies 035The Ash was a sacred tree to the Druids and it’s wood was highly prized in making wands.

This a a very special tree and quite magical as you can see…

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Hi Colette,

I just received this petition. Perhaps you can mention it in your blog and get other people to sign it.

Love and best wishes

Terri

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!

Sign the Petition

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Living the Good Life

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscape

Some friends of mine called the other day.

They were off to Sligo to do their Christmas shopping.

The list of what they had to buy was long and detailed…three children and lots of family living close by!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture landscapeWhilst here, they collected Holly, Ivy, lots of other greenery, as well as a small Christmas tree, which they left down by the gate to collect later on.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture gardenBack inside the cottage, warming ourselves by the stove in the kitchen and drinking mugs of hot tea, they remarked on the similarity between my lifestyle and that of the television series, “The Good Life.”

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture kitchenI won’t expand too much on the series as you can always look it up on YouTube and have a laugh at my expense…

So, what exactly can be called a “good life?”

And here, we’re talking in terms of lifestyle choices, rather than anything too holy!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture kitchenI could draw up a list of all the things that make my life feel good, but, instead, I shall condense it all into one little word.

Simplicity.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture gardenFor the past few months I have been endeavouring to make my life as simple as possible, by giving away as much as I do not want…clothes, books, household items…and painting furniture to bring it all together.

The result is very satisfying…less stuff to move around, fall over, gather dust and fret about and, more simple elegance.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture designDid you know that Coco Chanel built an empire on that very theme, Simple Elegance.

Her little black dress, well cut suit and No.5 perfume are still as popular as ever they were!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Cat...MissyLiving the “Good Life,” is not all about muck and wellies, no…it’s about lots of simple elegance too!

Ask Missy, she knows where to sit to look her best!

Part one of The Good Life, Christmas special 1977…

                                                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-v7Vy9lHv6I

Posted in Art, celebrations, Christmas, Cottage, Crafts, Inspiration, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Trees, Winter

How to Make a Biodegradable Willow Wreath…easy and free!

Cut a range of willow stems, including Dogwood and any other bendy shrubs or woods you can easily access and lay them on the floor to grade them in length.

Take a long length of green willow and made a circle, twisting the spare of the length around the circle.

Following this,  insert another long length as you can see, and twist this around the circle.

Twisting long lengths to start the circle, strengthens the hoop and makes it easier to follow on with shorter pieces.

You can keep adjusting the circle to make it as round as possible.

The willow will bend and shape quite readily.

Keep adding in lengths, inserting the thick end in between the woven lengths.

Excess pieces of willow can be snipped off as you go or at the end of the work.

Try to keep the shape balanced by rotating the wreath, not inserting the thick ends all into the same part of the circle.

I use garden cutters to trim the thick ends of the willow.

Start to add the colourful willow slips.

You can also use any bendy plant strips and even fresh Bamboo.

Take time to experiment with as many garden materials as you can find!

If it grows and is fresh cut, then it’s fine to use as it will be pliable.

Now add the red Dogwood…

Keep winding.

Keep twisting.

Make the wreath thick and chunky, as it will make a good decoration base all the year round and last for years to come.

The wreath continues to be pushed into shape, making it rounder.

The wreath is now ready for decorating.

This willow wreath is 100% biodegradable and will last for years to come.

You can redecorate it as many times as you please!

Adding Larch

Larch is associated with integrity and vision.

It is also for protection, so lends itself well to a front door wreath.

Adding Birch

Birch is for healing and cleansing and Willow is magical and powerful, so already, we have a triad of good energies balanced within this Christmas, midwinter wreath.

Adding Ivy…symbol of the spiral path of the Self

I cut several long trails of Ivy to wrap around the wreath…symbolizing aspects of the journey of the self and new experiences.

You can probably begin to see and feel the powerful energy from this Circle of Willow and Nature!

The wreath is now complete.

All that remains is to add some more seasonal decorations of your choice.

This is how I finished mine…

What a beautiful welcome!

dsc04154dsc04151dsc04156Here’s another I made recently as a gift for a friend…

Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 1100 blogs, as well as over 7,o00 photographs.

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life is a mere 12 euros per year and allows me a small income, to keep doing what I love doing most…writing about Mother Earth and photographing her.

To subscribe, a small donation of 12 euros per year, will add your name to the subscriber list.

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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 celebrations, Celts, Christmas, Cottage, Country Living, Uncategorized

Midwinter Cottage and Solstice Celebrations

The Plants of Christmas

The plants traditionally associated with Christmas were  Holly,Mistletoe, Ivy  and Common Yew. These trees and plants have had special roles in earlier religions and past cultures.

The Celts in Ireland  had midwinter festivals to celebrate the return of the sun from the shortest day.

In the 4th and 5th centuries, 25 December was gradually adopted as the date for Christmas in Europe in order to superimpose on the existing mid-winter festivals.

Evergreens

 The Roman festival of Saturnalia was a week of public feasting, dancing, singing and gambling. Houses were decorated with evergreens and bunches of holly were given as tokens of friendship. When this festival was absorbed into the Christian calendar, Holly and the other evergreens were absorbed as well.

Fire and Celebration

Midwinter Solstice marks the rebirth of the suns power.
The midwinter fire is the  symbol of death and rebirth – going from the darkness into the light.
I celebrate the Midwinter Solstice with a traditional fire, food and drink with family and friends.

In The Bleak Midwinter

 In the bleak mid-winter 
  Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, 
  Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, 
  Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
  Long ago.        
 ~ Christina Rossetti

Ascent To Spring

The fire will burn into the night and as is the custom, I will use an ember to light the stove here at Bealtaine Cottage in the morning.
So the ritual of the Midwinter and the longest night will be over.

Tomorrow will begin the ascent to Spring and the light.

Posted in celebrations, Christmas, Country Living, Inspiration, Music, Uncategorized

Midwinter Light and Country Comfort

A simple tea-light in a paper bag.

Comforting and warming.

A table decoration made using greenery from the garden, with a candle in the middle of the oasis.

Judy Collins sings a beautiful rendition of “In the Bleak Midwinter,” …I scoured the web for the best version and I do believe that this is it!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THRaaR0Z_oo

So many traditions and cultures across the globe celebrate this special time…a time of rebirth and renewal.

As we prepare for the shortest day, let’s celebrate in light…

Posted in Baking, Christmas, Garden, Growing Food, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Country Living in the West of Ireland ~ Sunday Notes

Apples out from the store and in the kitchen ready for a little magic that lies in the art of an Apple Crumble!

So what is the special ingredient?

Oats!

Ivy…one of the essential parts of midwinter decoration.

This beautiful plant was traditionally brought into the home around midwinter to remind all that life continued and the green abundance would, once again, in Spring, return…

    Home baked cake…

Shop bought/factory food, is mediocre compared to even the simplest home-baked cake…

Well worth a good pot of tea, don’t you think?


  Home-grown vegetables, fresh from the garden hardly need washing…

  Sunday…it hardly feels like winter really! It’s so warm and pleasant outside…

Posted in Autumn, Baking, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Cats, Climate, Cottage, Country Living, Eco-Living, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage in the Midst of a Storm, Hugh’s Pews and Shabby Chic!

Missy sits it out…the best a cat can do in the midst of a storm that has raged around the cottage for hours now!

 There is somethinginfinitely healing in the repeated refrains
of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night,and
spring after the winter.
                                                                                – Rachel Carson
The Sense of Wonder

Yesterday, on my way back from the North, I stopped at a Charity Shop and bought this lovely throw for a few euros.

It now covers a multitude of sins on the old sofa and Missy certainly approves of the recycling effort here!

Making use of the wind and all that drying energy means getting a wash or two out on the line!

Try to keep to sheltered areas in a strong wind though!

The wind is pulling the fire in the stove up the chimney really fast and providing a very hot oven for bread baking. It’s handy to have the fuel at the back door.

My brother Hugh made the lovely bench from old Georgian doors, 150 years old! Hugh makes a lot of these and calls them, “Hugh’s Pews!”

This one is ‘Shabby Chic.’

Bealtaine Cottage Jan 2011 011

Haws and Ivy.Some of nature’s mostexquisite handiwork is on a miniature
scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifyingglass
to  a snowflake.
                                                                                   – Rachel Carson
..food for the birds!

No need for peanuts if you ‘plant ahead!’

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Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Birds, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

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!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Garden, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Tuesday 18 May @ Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding

It’s raining this morning and the plants that self-seed in the gravel are continuing to drink. This is Valerian, which loves the limestone gravel and grows from seed scattered into the stones. It’s beginning to flower and will continue to flower all the way through the summer.

Columbine is coming through the gravel around the Valerian. Seedlings like this usually do very well when potted on.

The Phototinia on the driveway suffered badly during the severe weather last winter, but it’s making a good recovery, with lots of new growth making a show.

Lots of berries are coming through on the Ivy…and there’s lots of Ivy all through the gardens. Possibly the sign of a cold winter ahead?

Gunnera Manicata grows easily under the Cherry tree, with no loss on the Cherry production. Dense planting is an essential part of permaculture…with definitely NO chemicals to control ANYTHING!

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 Angels, Ecology, Fairies, Folklore, Gaia, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Orchids, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Woodland

Ivy, Euphorbia, Angelica and more Orchids at Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding, Ireland.

The Ivy hangs in 3-4 metre tendrils on a tree in the Fairy Dell…Quite Magical!Euphorbia…this wonderful perennial comes up more lush every year and transplants easily…I started with a stolen cutting and now it dominates the April/May/June garden and beyond!Angelica, now at least 7 feet tall and with a massive spread. Medieval herbalists called it ‘Herba Angelica,’ meaning  ‘Angelic Plant.’ Traditionally it is supposed to flower on the 8th of May, which is the feast of Michael the Archangel. needless to add, Angelica possesses protective qualities. The seeds add flavour to Chartreuse Liqueur!The way up out from the Fairy Dell…Orchids continue to emerge all over Bealtaine Smallholding. I was asked by the Census Enumerator the other day if I used any chemicals here…where that came from is interesting! However, I simply told him to look around…there is far too much growing evidence of NO CHEMICALS HERE!Sunlight dapples the grass under the Blackthorn trees near the tunnel. The light dances on the ground as the Fairy trees gently sway in the breeze.