Midwinter has passed, and with it, the counting down of the days towards the light.
Visitors have now left and the cottage seems eerily quiet…somewhere in the stone walls I can hear a mouse scrambling about.
The cats are sleeping off their party food, including creamy custard from the sherry trifle, and are ensconced on top of the straw bales in the barn.
This was my first opportunity to get out into the gardens and observe the flow of the water through the ponds after all the heavy rain of recent days.
The weather has been very warm with heavy rain.
The temperature has stayed around and above 55F day and night.
Despite the midwinter, there remains plenty of colour in the gardens.
Dogwoods of red and lime green, willow and evergreens merge to make a colourful picture, especially in the winter.
The weather experts are fore-casting possible snow and hard frost after Christmas and before New Year.
The worst of the weather is yet to come, as so often is the case in December.
The warm weather has seen the continued growth of Fungi, one of the beautiful aspects of decaying wood.
I have watched the cost of food escalate this year, so am mindful that this is a good time to start preparing food-grow areas, such as raised beds.
The small potager beds here at Bealtaine continue to give food through these darks days of winter.
If you have not yet started a compost heap, then section off a corner of the garden for that too.
There’s masses of leaves still on the ground, so just bagging these up will give you precious leaf mould in the growing season!
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge “Thanks” to all of you who have posted cards, presents and donations over the past week.
I am overwhelmed by your love, kindness and generosity.
Bless you XXX
2013 moved from Spring to summer with ease and Poppies jostled with one another for space in the beds.
Gosh…almost there…part 4 methinks!
Blessings from Bealtaine XXX
This is when the coppicing begins…early winter as soon as the leaves have fallen.
A Little Bealtaine Cottage Christmas Book…
I am into a second print run and am posting from today, Friday 15th of November!
Sad to add that all the lovely cards are now gone! (I can post seeds with the booklets!)
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This is the link to the details of how to purchase your own copy…
Blessings from Bealtaine X
Here are some of the combinations that have worked really well for me this summer here at Bealtaine Cottage. Pumpkins, Kale and Nasturtium…the bees love the flowers on the Nasturtium, bringing them in towards the Pumpkin flowers.
Rudbeckia is late flowering and especially useful in a potager bed, making lots of babies that can be potted on and sold at the market next Spring.
Parsley and Sedum…Sedum is the last meal of the year for the bees and will ensure adequate nutrition for their long hibernation. This is the Sedum, Autumn Spectabalis, which makes lots of babies for potting up!
Tomatoes, Feverfew, Borage and flat leaf Parsley…all very happy and thriving together in this potager bed. This is the way I grow all my fruit and vegetables…to the point where no soil is exposed. It works great every year!
Young Kale with Sedum and Nasturtium. The plants are continually surrounded with shredding. I make shredding from what I cut at Bealtaine Cottage and put it back onto the earth to build up soil. I use an electric garden shredder.
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Red onions and seeds dry in the heat of the afternoon sun at Bealtaine Cottage. The Permaculture harvest is on it’s way.
Potatoes are appearing where none were planted…these have grown from seed dropped last year and have not been earthed up!
Apples are plumping out…
My brother Hugh O’Neill has made some very special Bog Oak pendants for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop.
The wood is carved and polished by Hugh into these amazing pendants, each accompanied by glass or wooden beads…
Sun and rain has enabled wonderful growth.
The Potager beds are filled with plants and new growth, as the seaweed is watered in by the Atlantic rains.
The race is on to use the remaining harvest from last year as the summer promises yet more abundance.
The brilliance of this sunset beckoned me out to capture it in photograph and share it with you!
It is 10pm.
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It’s a perfect day for being in the garden, with just the right amount of sun and shade as the voluminous clouds drift overhead, sun shines full in between and there’s just a promise of rain!
The roses on the veranda are hanging so low that one has to limbo-dance under them to get in and out of the cottage.
My friend, Terri brought lots of cardboard and seaweed from Connemara and I laid the cardboard down in the new orchard yesterday.
The seaweed is being spread on the Potager beds much to the disdain of the slugs…but they will move out, deeper into the gardens, where their voracious appetites will be welcomed!
Cara, who now has Gloria, is delighted to report that the aforementioned hen adores slugs and eats 20-30 daily.
Raspberries are coming into fruit.
Salads are continually harvested from the tunnel…mixed with much herbs and very tasty!
Blackcurrants ripen towards a promise of Cordial, Wine, Jam and Chutney.
Mother Earth knows no austerity!
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7am sees me boiling the kettle on the rocket stove, eager for fresh coffee.
The water is ready in under 10 minutes, from lighting the stove and inserting a handful of twigs.
As I walk back into the cottage a blackbird swoops noisily through the courtyard, followed by it’s assailant, another blackbird.
These birds are very territorial!
These magical flowers were used to treat madness and Smallpox during the middle ages!
These Ox-Eye Daisies were thrown onto this patch of gravel as seed two years ago and are ready to make a fine show this summer.
During the time of the early Christian church, this flower was dedicated to Mary Magdalen and became known as the Maudlin Daisy!
They are lovely, wild flowers to grow in poor soil, but are not good for flower arrangements as they make a stink when cut and put into a vase.
I grow Shasta Daisies for that!
Mushrooms are growing up through the mushroom compost I spread a few weeks back…one of the benefits of collecting and spreading spent mushroom compost at this time of year!
The young peas are now in flower and looking strong and healthy!
So delightful, it fits into the Potager gardens as a flower and a vegetable.
It’s wind tolerant as it only grows about a foot or so!
Red-flowered broad beans were described in seed lists in the late 18th century.
This variety was lost and appeared to have become extinct, until an elderly lady from Kent donated it to the Heritage Seed Library in 1978.
This red-flowered Broad Bean had been grown by her father, who was given the seeds during his childhood years a century earlier.
Monsanto eat your heart out, for this is what we gardeners do well…preserve the seed!
I shall be saving and posting this seed by the end of the summer!
These Poppies have already seeded and are beginning to fall over, so need to be staked this morning.
More seeds to save…I shall be very busy from now through to the autumn, saving and cataloguing seed.
Recent weeks have been so hot, that this potent, little herb thinks itself in the Mediterranean, where it once lived!
Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 1100 blogs, as well as over 15000 photographs.
Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 200 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.