Posted in agriculture, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, care for the earth, climate change, Collapse, Earth, EU, Trees, Wildlife, Woodland

Developing a Woodland from Zero


From monoculture rushy land to woodland in under twelve years.

Not just any woodland, but a food forest woodland, as you can see from one of the thousand plus trees planted above…a Greengage!

This is the only lawn here, enjoyed by Jack!

DSC01549There follows a series of forty plus photographs taken here at Bealtaine Cottage in July 2016.

DSC01548DSC01494DSC01547 The Bealtaine Cottage Land Restoration Project was started in late 2004.

DSC01495It was a challenge for one woman with zero resources to restore what was deemed by the EU as “Poor Land”…a term I vehemently challenge!

DSC01496DSC01497There is no such thing as “Poor Land”  just ABUSED EARTH!

DSC01498DSC01499DSC01500As with all EU projects that entail putting Mother Earth first, there was zero funding for this!

DSC01501DSC01503DSC01504Not to be deterred…(I never am!) at the age of forty eight, I took on a mortgage to help buy this bereft, sad-looking little place, with the dream of returning it to Eden.

DSC01506DSC01507DSC01508I believe the Earth is sacred.

DSC01510DSC01509DSC01511The rest of the story is told here in these photographs…


The fact that I have planted this entirely on my own, growing much of what you see from seeds and cuttings, makes this a workable model for anyone to follow…




Posted in best camera, food forests, forest gardens, gardens in winter, Ireland, new camera, Permaculture, sustainability, Trees

Forest Garden in Winter


A new camera…thanks to you, who so kindly donated to this little site…and here’s to all the much improved pics to come!


This is what’s termed a “bridge camera,” that is one between what I had before and a professional camera.


It is of course a pre-loved model…very loved from the excellent condition and not costing the earth!


It’s so great to be able to finally capture on film what it is I see in life around Bealtaine Cottage.


This has given me such a great lift in the depths of Midwinter, that I could sing!


I hope that as more and more people see these pictures, they will feel inspired to plant trees and maybe even turn lawns into forest gardens!


The gardens continue to produce food even in the cold, short days of December. Here the Purple Sprouting Broccoli grows amid the freshly added seaweed.

The seaweed was left in the rain to flush out the salt for a few months first.


These are the colours as you can see, in a garden of trees and shrubs, brightening up the dullest day!


A forest garden like this only needs work in the form of harvesting, once the planting is complete.


Though, to be honest, I love to plant and so continue growing from seed and finding room to pursue my passion.


Much of what I grow from seed I have given away to the hundreds of garden visitors each year.

The colours of the cottage are better illuminated with this camera, as you can see…


…and all these pics were snapped this morning, on what is a very dull and grey day in terms of the light. 


Isn’t she lovely?

I am continually followed around the gardens by little Robins, all of whom live here.

There are several breeding pairs in various parts of the smallholding and are all very territorial!


Looking north this morning…


The beautiful Elder tree is covered with equally beautiful moss.


This camera allows for a much wider view of the garden, picking out fine detail too.


I have often looked at this fern underneath the young Sycamore tree and wished I could show you as I see it…and here it is!


And the little brass dish that is being enveloped by the tree.


The eerily empty seed-heads of Lunaria…seeds dispersed, work complete and just the beauty to admire.


And the plump seed-heads of the May roses continuing to delight!


And again, thank you so very much, from the bottom of my heart…it is your kind donations that keep the website from this little cottage flowing out to the world, a small reminder of the great living beauty that is Mother Earth …bless you X

If you would like to see more, visit Bealtaine Cottage Magical Gardens, where new images are uploaded each day…

Thank you for supporting, sustaining and developing this site.



Posted in Abundance, Bees, biodiversity, Birds, Cottage, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Create a Permaculture Garden of Eden

Productive abundance can be achieved over time…

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThe secret lies in planting…planting for your life, for speed is important in the precarious world we now inhabit!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureA good place to begin, apart from food, of course, is with hedges…and remember that any shrub, tree or perennial can make a hedge.

Bealtaine Cottage permacultureIn my book, hedges are essential highways…for insects, birds, small animals and bees…all cultivators of the land.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureHedges can also provide an immense amount of food for you and timber for the stove as well!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureHedges can also include lots of early flowering bushes such as Ribes, very popular with Bees!

We all know, or should know by now that a world without bees does not sustain human life…no food, simple as that!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureWhat about trees…did you know that small animals do essential work in planting trees?

They carry seed along hedgerows, spreading it far and wide.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThis smallholding is now generating a large amount of seedling trees, allowed to grow, now that the dreaded monoculture of cows and grass has been banished!

Many of these seeds have been carried onto the land by animals and birds.

If left to their own devices, they and they alone, will create a ‘Garden of Eden.’

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureFor small animals, insects and birds, hedges represent highways to travel along without fear of being preyed upon.

In most farms these highways simply do not exist and so the real cultivators are diminished and, in some cases, wiped out!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureStraw stored in open barns presents a fine opportunity for winter hibernation.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThe decline of open barns and hedgerows has led to a sharp decline in the Owl population.

This once common night bird in the British Isles is a joy to behold…if you ever get the rare opportunity…alas!

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureGrowing food for ourselves is important, but doing it the permaculture way is essential…for all life on this beautiful and bountiful planet…

That’s the real change, isn’t it? …taking all life into consideration!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Current Affairs, Ecology, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Woodland

National Tree Day Ireland and the Kindness of the Twitter Community!

The package from the USA could not have arrived at a better time…for Thursday the 11th of October is National Tree Day here in Ireland!

There are so many fabulous, caring people on Twitter, that it has become, for me, more than just a social media.

David, one of a fantastic group of people, answered my call for seeds to plant here at Bealtaine Cottage, with a box full of tree seeds…acorns, all different varieties!

The excitement here at the cottage was tangible as the post arrived and the package from America was opened.

Tara, from new York City, also sent me some wonderful Black Tomato seeds.

Lá na gCrann 2012
TREE DAY 2012 is a day for reminding everyone about the importance of trees. Ireland was once a much forested land, leading up to the 16th century.

At the end of the 16th century, Ireland was still a relatively wooded country, with one-eight of its surface area covered in forests, but this was soon to change and the continued decimation of the Irish forests continued unabated until the present day.

Ireland currently has about 11% tree cover, but if one takes into account the fact that about half of that, at least, is the horrid, tightly planted, plantations of Sitkha Spruce, then the actual coverage figure is considerably lower…possibly as little as 5%! We need to plant trees!

In Elizabethan times, the extent of the forests in the southwest of Ireland was almost legendary.

 The Irish forests were a considered to be an impediment to troop movements and a place of concealment for Irish rebels…not unlike the merry men of Sherwood Forest and their  use of the trees as protectors of their freedom, so much so that Sir John Perrot, Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Ireland, suggested that the woods be cut to ”deprive the rebels of their place of succour”.

English settlers started the clearance of the forests for their own security and prosperity.

Wood was a much traded commodity, as boats and houses were built using the precious resource.

Today has been a good tree planting day here at Bealtaine Smallholding, with two fine Sweet Chestnuts being planted…both gifts from well-wishers…Thank you Helen and Blair from Sligo!

As the Autumn moves through towards midwinter and into Spring, any fine day is good for planting trees, so there is much opportunity ahead of us.

This Thursday will be a day for planting trees and thinking about the importance of trees in our lives…for, without them, we have no life!

Posted in Abundance, Birds, Country Living, Ecology, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized

A Permaculture Life in the Country

Today is Sunday. It is unseasonally warm and mild for November. A good time to be out on the land. Flowers continue to bloom and there are primroses down by the gate on the lane.

The soil will benefit from a layer of protective foliage, which will prevent winter rains from leaching minerals.

Mulching before the ground gets too cold, where soil is exposed, and also use mulch to protect the crowns of tender plants, such as Gunnera.

In milder areas a winter mulch of straw and compost will prevent the penetration of  frost so much so that last winter, after 6 weeks of hard frost, potatoes I dug up were in perfect condition!

 Resist the urge to overtidy, as gardens are also a sanctuary for wildlife.

Beneficial plants like this Pyracantha will provide much needed food for the birds and insects will overwinter in the decaying stems of perennials and tall stems of weeds and herbs like Cow Parsley.

Decaying foliage is very necessary to slug eating beetles and this is a way of enriching their habitat.

Keep planting trees…this is the time to buy bare-rooted stock and as long as the ground is not frozen, then planting can continue throughout the winter.

This is a great bit of reading…and here’s a slice of it…

“It is time for all of us to make changes about how we live our lives and to follow a path of the heart. By following our intuition and inpiration we encourage our own acts of heartfelt genius and boldness. This makes us feel alive and vital, gives us a great purpose and harnesses parts of ourselves we may have neglected or didn’t even know we had. We no longer feel overwhelmed by the way the Earth’s resources are managed, but recognise that change is in our hands, yours and mine, the hands of extraordinary people who have made a leap of understanding and are determined to make a difference. We become part of the change by becoming part of the solution.”

Glennie Kindred ‘Earth Wisdom’

 Watched this incredible video of A Murmuration of Starlings, filmed above the River Shannon at Lough Derg…here it is…

Posted in Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Ireland, Permaculture, Spirituality, Thoughts, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

A Life in the Country ~ Tree Spirits

If …
a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of
being regarded as a loafer. 

But …

if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing
off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an
industrious and enterprising citizen.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Life’s funny like that!

Have we got it all mixed up then?

You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so
venerable a neighbour, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes
you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night.  ~Denise Levertov

I believe that each tree has a spirit…one that is unique to that tree. Planting trees is one of the most joyful ways of connecting to the great divine spirit. In a country that is one of the most deforested in Europe, planting a tree is an act of environmental conservation equal to none!

We have a future…possibly…and only with the help of trees…

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and
a thousand tempests and floods.  But he cannot save them from fools.  ~John

Unfortunately, it is a fact that most people will cut down trees if it is to their own advantage. it is also a fact that most people are frightened of  because trees are beyond their control. How do I know this? Look around you!

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving,
swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.  But
though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. 
Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like
harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. 
No wonder the hills and groves were God’s first temples, and the more they are
cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems
the Lord himself.  ~John Muir

Even as a dead tree, lying on it’s side as it decays back into the beautiful Earth, this tree holds pools of water and life…could anything so exquisite be made by the hand of man?

No town can fail of beauty, though its walks were gutters and its houses hovels,
if venerable trees make magnificent colonnades along its streets.  ~Henry Ward
Beecher, Proverbs, 1887