Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Sustainable Living

Cottage and Gardens

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Morning at Bealtaine Cottage is a lazy affair as far as the cats are concerned.

No sooner do I get out of bed than the cats find a warm spot to snooze away the morning!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe morning was dry and with no threat of rain, it was important to get into the garden and get some more work done.

Most of the work is coppicing and logging, to make a new wood pile, ready for next winter.

www.bealtainecottage.comI am yet to get down to the Bog Garden and clear around the ponds and besides which, my waders have sprung a leak!

I shall wait until the weather warms up and then do a summer clear.

Moss has grown everywhere over the course of a wet Autumn and Winter.

It’s possible to collect bags of it just on the gravel on the lane-way!

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Masses of buds everywhere, especially here on the Red Robin (Photinia).

I cut it back quite hard last Autumn!

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Cleaning the steps and pruning back the Beech trees and roses.

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Another eight weeks or so and the London Pride on either side of the steps will be in bloom.

The Willow fedge will be growing and greening!

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Euphorbia is greening and growing…and spreading a lot!

Time to pot some up for gifting later in the year.

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Magical reflections in the magical gardens… even the smallest amount of water in a container, pulls the sky down into the garden!

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And the silver Moon Pennies of the Lunaria have endured the ravages of the winter in this little sheltered spot under the Laurel arch.

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The stillness and warmth of the cottage is comforting after working in the cold air outside.

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In the pantry…the lovely happy faced terracotta jar was bought for £4 in a Charity shop and holds all the garlic grown last summer in the potager beds.

It has little air holes and keeps a cool temperature inside…just perfect!

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This is another bargain picked up at a Boot Fair and costing £8…it holds a candle inside and is a storm-proof garden light.

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The shower room window faces south and catches lots of light…a good place to over-winter plants.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Cats, Christmas, Climate, Country Living, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Wild Flowers, Winter

Midwinter in an Irish Cottage

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Rain is falling, softly, silently, onto a warm land.

The air is still.

Birds sing out loud.

A touch of Spring is in the air as Midwinter approaches.

It often happens this way, birds singing in the still air near Solstice.

The cold is saved for January…the biting winds that bring the snow.

I have spent much time indoors, making cards and packaging seeds.

www.bealtainecottage.com 001This is a quiet, yet productive time, a chance to reflect as work proceeds.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Yesterday was the last day for posting abroad in time for Christmas.

I am already thinking of the New Year, as I make these cards and planning out a few lovely walks to enjoy over Midwinter.

Walking at this time of year really clears the head and clarifies life in general.

There is a silence around Solstice that creates harmony in all things.

www.bealtainecottage.com 015The chimney in the kitchen remains blocked.

Armed with a borrowed crowbar, I shall attempt excavation of resin like tar this morning…something I’m not looking forward to!

Still, once cleared, the stove will heat the cool air and a sense of Yuletide be conjured up in a less smoky kitchen!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006The air is so still that even the Rocket Stove smokes and billows!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005After harvesting the seed from the Lunaria, translucent seed heads decorate the window ledge in the Lodge, and…

www.bealtainecottage.com 010Outdoors, in sheltered spots, the empty seed heads create interest and beauty…

www.bealtainecottage.com 008Despite the delicate beauty, the little flowers that produced these seed-heads are strong and enduring!

www.bealtainecottage.com 009Sheltered in the Laurel Archway…

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Cats, Country Living, Garden, Herbs, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Winter

Early December in a Permaculture Garden

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The shelled seed-heads of Lunaria… beautiful, ethereal, delicate additions to winter foliage arrangements.

The seeds are now packed and ready to post out all over the world.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Lunaria, commonly known as Honesty, is an early flowering annual flower, but, once seeded into your garden, spreads and re-seeds itself with wild abandon!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005This simple arrangement stands in a recycled, lace covered, jam jar!

www.bealtainecottage.com 011I went shopping yesterday, to the second-hand market and bought this fruit bowl for 4 euros.

I love the simple sponged design, beautiful in its simplicity.

www.bealtainecottage.com 014The veranda has been swept this morning…but don’t look too closely, as I didn’t move the clothes drier!

www.bealtainecottage.com 028The wheelbarrow holds ashes from the stoves and waste from the barn floor, ready to be spread over compost heaps, flower beds and around fruit trees.

Winter is a time of spreading and stacking, as tidy-ups take place and waste accumulates.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016The weather has been so very mild, that some flowers in the gardens continue to bloom, like this Fuchsia, with the Lemon Balm looking ready for harvest just behind it!

www.bealtainecottage.com 021And this Borage, growing, this morning, in the north garden of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.com 017It’s amazing to be able to venture into the gardens in early December and pick Lemon Balm for tea!

www.bealtainecottage.com 019Even the boys are enjoying the balmy winter weather, as Che-Mousey rolls on the gravel by my feet!

www.bealtainecottage.com 023Blackbirds have been feasting on Pyracantha berries…

www.bealtainecottage.com 027New growth breaks through on the old Buddleia…

www.bealtainecottage.com 022And Slieve Aneirin sits washed in the cool blue of a winter’s morning.

Blessings X

Seeds for growing Lunaria are available on this website…just click on the link…

http://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-from-bealtaine-cottage/

If you wish me to post seeds, from you, to a friend or loved one, cards are available on this link…

http://bealtainecottage.com/gifts-send-a-card/

Posted in Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, Buddha, Cats, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Country Living, Culture, Edible Gardens, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Monsanto, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Seed-Saving, Seeds, Uncategorized

Images on the First Morning of Lughnasa

bealtaine Cottage windowThe first day of Celtic Autumn has arrived.

It’s cool.

Last night seen the hot water bottle come out of storage and be filled.

Rudbeckia at Bealtaine CottageRudbeckia has opened its beautiful deep orange petals…a marker of the time of year. This has been grown from seed, this year.

I started it off in the tunnel in February, from seeds I collected last Autumn.

Sammy-BearAs I walked the gardens, Sammy-Bear walked in front of me, finally stopping in the tunnel and rolling in the dirt!

Sammy-BearFor a white cat, he can be a dirty little rascal at the best of times!

Sammy-Bear passing BuddhaOn the plus side, he doesn’t seem to mind the rain, so cleans up well!

bee on Lavender at Bealtaine CottageSeed-saving continues apace and the bees keep up the good work, even on a wet morning like today…

Bee on lavender at Bealtaine Cottage…this is where the tunnel works really well!

purple-Sprouting Broccoli seed headsThese are seeds from the three year old Purple Sprouting Broccoli, still in the pods, drying.

These seeds are big and plump and represent the very strongest, biggest, most productive and oldest of the Purple Broccoli.

Monsanto eat your heart out!

Pom-Pom Dahlias at Bealtaine CottagePom-Pom Dahlias are making a show of themselves.

This is the first year I have grown these.

Buddleia growing in two tyres at Bealtaine CottageThis Buddleia was grown from Bealtaine Cottage seed and planted in the tyres two years ago.

Lunaria seeds drying on the veranda of the Lodge Many followers of Bealtaine cottage ask me for Lunaria (Honesty) seeds…and here are some drying on the veranda of the Lodge, hung up last evening.

This is a nice airy place to start off the drying process, though I may need to bring them indoors, if the wet weather prevails for much longer.

Apple havest at Bealtaine CottageThe Apple harvest continues to delight as the fruit appears so healthy and untarnished for another year.

Apple harvest at Bealtaine Cottage, IrelandI NEVER spray my Apple trees, or, for that matter, ANY of the fruit trees, and am rewarded with a bountiful, healthy crop year after year!

Truly Organic!

Leaves of the Crocosmia MontbretiaThe rain settles onto the leaves of the Crocosmia Montbretia, a beautiful harbinger of Autumn!

Bealtaine CottageA pot of tea beckons…

Sammy-Bear CatSammy-Bear is sad to see me go indoors…

 

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Posted in Bees, Cats, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Trees, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

Planting for the Bees in a Permaculture Garden

London pride on the steps at Bealtaine Cottage

London Pride ready to open flower on the steps at Bealtaine Cottage.

Years of pushing and shoving by these delicate looking little plants have finally eradicated the creeping buttercup in the heavy clay soil.

Bees at Bealtaine Cottage

It’s at this time of year that bees are working hard and sometimes gardens are bereft of food for the bees.

Not here!

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I have a policy that is enshrined in Bealtaine cottage gardens…plant for the bees, the birds and then myself, always in that order!

Cordyline at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandOne of the plants that was so severely damaged by frost several years ago has made a comeback!

This is the tropical Cordyline, growing here thanks to the Gulf Stream.

That means an early start to the growing year and bees follow the same pattern, sometimes emerging as early as late February!

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So food at the ready is vital for them!

Ribes, or flowering currant, is a wonderful source of nectar for the hungry bees!

Missy and the wind spiral

The smallest bit of sunshine and the garden starts to look like paradise!

Missy passes a lush looking Comfrey.

Bee on Nasturtium flower at Bealtaine Cottage

The flowers of the Comfrey plant are truly Bee-Loved, as are the flowers of the humble and easy to grow Nasturtium!

The leaves of the Comfrey will be cut and scattered around the apple trees, creating a source of liquid feed as the rain falls…as it does frequently here in the West of Ireland!

Apple trees in blossom at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture orchard

These trees never disappoint, year after year, with heavy blossom and heavy crops of perfect apples that have never been sprayed…never!

The bees are busy into the night around the orchards.

So plant fruit trees for the bees too!

Apple tree underplanted with Blackcurrants in permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageThere are over 40 fruit trees planted throughout the permaculture gardens.

And here you can see the apple under-planted with blackcurrants…much Bee-Loved!

Honesty underplanted in the orchards of Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensVarious flowers are planted beneath these.

Here you can see Honesty in flower under the Blackcurrants…a delight for the bees and sweet-smelling too!

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I plant for bees and this is why there are consistently abundant crops here at Bealtaine Cottage.

In the case of the Cotoneaster above, food for the bees and the birds!

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The trick is to ensure there is succession planting for the bees.

Bee on Lunaria flower at Bealtaine Cottage

Hungry bees won’t hang around hungry gardens!

Do have a lovely weekend!

Posted in Badgers, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Ecology, Garden, hens, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Woodland

An Irish Ark

Lunaria, Honesty in the permaculture tunnel

Lunaria and Fennel in the tunnel today.

The Latin name Lunaria means “moon-like” and refers to the decorative seed-pods.

It’s warm and dry and great for working outdoors.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThe clothes line is heavy with clothes moving gently in the breeze…a perfect Spring day!

I do not own an electric dryer, or a washing machine.

Washing clothes by hand in Spring water leaves them soft and smelling beautifully.

Buds on the Damson tree in the permaculture gardens

The Damson tree is now in blossom, with a strong prospect of plentiful fruit.

Cherry and Apple trees are almost ready to break blossom!

Euphorbia in a barrel

Euphorbia in a barrel outside the veranda today.

The lime green of the flowers are so joyful at this time of year!

That’s Valerian coming up at the front of the barrel.

Primroses at Bealtaine Cottage

Primroses on the driveway this morning.

I have never seen this many Primroses in bloom across the permaculture gardens.

There has been a huge amount of self-seeding over recent years and, with the absence of livestock, plants have grown and flourished in abundance!

I believe that there are more species of plants in the 3 acres of Bealtaine Cottage than anywhere else in Ireland.

Many of these are indigenous and some even rare!

It will be an interesting study to complete, when cataloguing all the plant life here.

Bealtaine Cottage  badger settBealtaine Cottage is evolving into an Ark of sorts, where many species are protected from livestock, chemicals, pesticides and the urge to dominate Nature!

Looking at the picture above of the Badger sett here in the gardens, Mr and Mrs badger will testify to that!

Hens in the permaculture gardens

The hens are out in the sunshine, just basking on the grass.

They have begun to lay eggs and appear to be quite content.

Bealtaine Cottage entrance to the fairy dell woodland

The Fairy Wood in summer…just about 8 weeks away from Midsummer!

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

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Posted in Garden, hens, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Spring, Thoughts, Wild Flowers

The Drama Unfolds…

Lower pond in flood at Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

The rain has fallen for 48 hours.

Heavy, relentless rain, that has washed down the hill behind the cottage and into the ditches, I constructed for such a deluge.

The water is carried around the ditches and into the stream bed that flows down through the Fairy Wood and on, into the ponds.

This is how it looked, as water rushed into the lower pond, about 10 minutes ago!

The Barn at Bealtaine Cottage, midwinter 2012Visitors are coming this afternoon and more tomorrow…I hope they bring their wellies!

The Bog garden is not navigable in this weather otherwise!

Tulips in April at bealtaine CottageAll is not wet though…there’s a nice warm stove in the kitchen and the air temperature outside isn’t too cold.

In between the downpours, the sun shines, reflected by the watery scene that makes up the gardens today.

April at bealtaine Cottage Permaculture gardensThe birds are singing and the wind-chimes are melodic rather than frenetic! April Bealtaine Cottage Lunaria in the tunnelThe hens have settled in well and have even laid a few eggs!

They don’t mind being indoors, as the roof on the hen-house is transparent and tilted to the south, admitting the sun as it shines on.

April Celandines at  Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensThe lovely aspect to April is the sheer drama of it all…and total unpredictability!

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Posted in Food, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Perennial Vegetables in a Permaculture Garden

Bealtaine Cottage summer in the permaculture tunnelOne of the interesting aspects of growing food is the continual study of plants and what grows where, how and why. 

Bealtaine Cottage potager beds in permaculture gardenI keep records of all I grow as the seasons progress and notice how the environment changes as trees and shrubs grow taller and more dense each year, creating micro-climates, where it is possible to grow all manner of fruit and vegetables that before seemed almost impossible!

Bealtaine Cottage wheelbarrow to compost heapAlso, the manner in which things grow.

I made a short video today on Purple Sprouting Broccoli, originally planted as an annual vegetable but since has developed into a perennial vegetable…fascinating to record!

Missy and the potager garden Bealtaine Cottage Over recent days I have been cutting back and shredding, spreading the chips on the soil around trees, fruit and vegetables.

I noticed how warm the soil was in certain areas of the garden compared to others.

Missy and the potager garden Bealtaine Cottage I then looked at what was growing, as well as other factors affecting the conditions, including aspect.

Some of the conclusions I reached include facts like, stones create heat.

Dry soil heats faster than wet soil.

Hedgerows are such efficient windbreaks that the air on the shelter side is always a few degrees higher than on the wind side.

The area around a wood pile is always warmer and more fertile.

The list goes on…

Bealtaine Cottage veranda and courtyardAnd as for the perennial vegetables, most have the ability to become perennial, if given the right growing conditions.

Bealtaine Cottage plants and logsSo, the more micro climates you create in your garden, the more possible perennials you will have.

Bealtaine cottage Permaculture GardensAlso, many annuals take on an aspect of perennial if allowed to self-seed, so stop being so tidy!

Bealtaine Cottage verandas and plantsI scattered the seed of Aquilegia once only, some nine years ago, and now have Aquilegia all over the upper gardens.

The same goes for Lunaria, Feverfew and Nasturtium.

bealtaine Cottage Permaculture gardens IrelandIf you want a garden of abundance and perennial growth, lay off the Roundup and watch how Nature does it!

Mother always knows best!

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

The archives at Bealtaine Cottage blog contain over 500 entries.

Donations are always welcome.

Thank you!

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Posted in Climate, Current Affairs, Earth, Ecology, Gaia, Gardening, Ireland, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Smallholding, Uncategorized

The Ascent Towards Midsummer…Bealtaine Permaculture Ireland

This could almost be a wedding arch…

There is a real problem here today with water, that is, lack of it!

Imagine saying that in April in Ireland…it would have seemed improbable only a few years ago, but this is the real state of affairs here at Bealtaine this morning!

The water in the spring well has dropped to a low that lowers the pressure on the gravity fed supply.

If you look at the ground around the arch, it appears quite dry.

 

Lunaria, Honesty, or Moon Pennies growing around the pathway.

This is a biennial plant that grows easily from seed and produces the most beautiful disc-shaped seed heads in the autumn, hence the name.

Bees love them as they are some of the earliest flowers in the garden.

If you look closely you can see some of the seedheads forming…

I have planted some of the pot growns from the tunnel out into the garden in an attempt to save them from drying out and dying…hopefully this will work as I prepared the beds some time ago and the moisture content in them should be high.

The tunnel is too hot to work in…so one just has to sit it out!

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Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Culture, Earth, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, photography, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Wild Orchids and Abundance Growing @ Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage, Ireland

Found this morning on a bank at Bealtaine…the first Orchid of the year and I think this is the Green Winged Orchid that can be found only in occasional habitats here in Ireland. The flowers should open up today…when I shall take another pic and post later…it’s exciting!

The flower head of Lunaria, (Honesty) is about to open…one of my favourite flowers.

Cherry Blossom this morning.

All these photos show a richness, an abundance…which is strange considering the fact I am a pauper, a word I laugh heartily at! Abundance is what happens when you start to give. It’s a form of energy. Perhaps the energy that was alluded to in all the Creation Myths. The Garden of Eden story for example. Anyone who has visited Bealtaine will have experienced Abundance. Everything has to be shared simply because there is so much of it. The more I give away, the more grows…and with less and less effort!

Apple blossom today at Bealtaine…just when I thought that last year was a bumper crop of all time, the same trees are heavy with blossom promising even more…Abundance!

One of the Plum Trees in blossom today…

One of the many Blackthorn Trees in blossom this morning…plentiful Sloes this Autumn!