As 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.
The berries on the Hawthorn are turning colour and the magic of a warm autumn fills the air!
These mushrooms are growing today near a clump of Birch trees in the woodland gardens further down from the front of the cottage.
The willow archway here has closed in on either side as the summer growth has cast even more shade in the new woodland. Bamboo and Dogwood have almost merged to close this path. As you can see, the leaves are beginning to drop.
The entrance to the Fairy Wood is closing too…there is a lot of work ahead this Autumn as the cutback begins!
Here 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.
I love the simplicity of creating gardens around an old cottage…fuss-free and free!
One 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.
I love the way the silvery autumn light changes the way the sitting room of the cottage looks. This is my best-loved season!
I 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. The flowers were grown here at Bealtaine Cottage and all the guests were gifted with bags of seeds.
The land approaches Lughnasa, (Lughnasadh), August and the beginning of Autumn.
Looking at the apples today on the trees at Bealtaine Cottage, it is easy to see how this is.
Harvests continue to be gathered and develop, ripening to plumpness and fullness.
Tomatoes, like the ones above, grown outdoors in areas of micro-climate warmth and shelter, continue to flower and produce.
The weather is promised good for the week ahead, as grass moves in the gentle breeze of a July afternoon…the only missing part of this picture is the beautiful Butterflies, so decimated by rain last year and almost finished off with rain and cold this summer.
There is little I can do to help this situation, other than continue to grow and plant out Buddleias and other shrubs and flowers much beloved of these fairy creatures with coloured wings.
Herbs are harvested, tied into small bunches and hung to dry in the warmth of the tunnel, with lots of air circulating, as both doors remain open day and night during summer.
Lughnasa is a harvest festival, marking the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.
This is the time to save seed…as you can see, seed-heads have formed beautifully on the Leeks in the tunnel today.
I will save the seed of the strongest plant, for sowing next year.
Jostaberries are almost ready to harvest.
They come into season just after the Blackcurrant.
Many people think that Lughnasa was a fire festival, but it was not.
Lughnasa was associated with water and earth, as seen in decoration of wells, making of corn-dollies, decorating and adorning with flowers, and climbing mountains.
Many of the most beautiful flowers come into flower at this time…the Crocosmia by the door of the tunnel will flower over the next week or so, as will the gorgeous Shasta Daisy!
The plant just peeping into the tunnel is Lemon Balm.
Wonderful scents arise as one brushes past it!
Wood cut last winter will be ready for the barn by Lughnasa.
It dries well when stacked like this!
Lughnasa is a Celtic cross-quarter festival, meaning it is not a Solstice or an Equinox, but falls between.
Perhaps this Lughnasa you will climb a mountain, visit a Holy Well, collect Bilberries, bring in the first potatoes…all celebrations of this special, magical, Celtic Festival!
The feast of Lugh, Lughnasa, or Lughnasadh happenssoon…on the eve, which is the 31st of July. A time for a bonfire and celebrations of the harvest…celebrations here at Bealtaine Cottage will be focused around a rather small outdoor fire but with the equivalent gusto of the eve that’s in it!
The Festival of Lughnasadh
This was said to have been begun by the god Lugh as a funeral feast commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Little changed there then, as most of the agricultural work in many African countries is carried out by women!
In days of old, Lughnasadh was a favoured time for trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage.
Lughnasa is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals. The Autumn Equinox and Samhain, or Halloween, being the other two.
Already there is a feel of Autumn in the air and can be seen in the plant life as harvests begin and fruits ripen on the trees. The days have shortened, now over a month past the longest day.
Here, plums ripen on one of the trees at Bealtaine Cottage and nettles produce their seeds…
Flowers like this Perscaria Bistorta, a late flowering perennial, begin to show a magnificence beyond their humble beginnings!
is a pre-Christian, Celtic system of keeping the year and still in popular use today to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals.
The meteorological seasons begin on March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1.
The Irish Calendar observes the equinoxes and solstices and has a more realistic seasonal observance…
Spring – February, March, April.
Summer – May, June, July.
Autumn – August, September, October.
Winter – November, December, January.
These seasons are much more in keeping with the observations I make here at Bealtaine Cottage and I would abide by these dates rather than any other.