Magical Wild Herbs and Other Things

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Hawthorn is one of the sacred Ogham trees of Ireland. It goes by the name Huath in Irish,  being the tree that symbolises Bealtaine, the merry month of May! This is also a wonderful, magical herb of abundant medicine. Hawthorn, or whitethorn, is easily identifiable during this time as her creamy blossoms brighten hedgerows, stone walls, fields and sacred sites.

IMG_0087Hawthorn is also known as the fairy tree for it is believed, especially a solo tree in a field, that it is a place that fairies would stop to rest (or party!) as they traversed across the land.

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There was a frost this morning, as you can see from the roof of the cottage. Insulation in the loft keeps the frost on the roof. You can always tell a poorly insulated home from the state of the roof on frosty mornings!

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An icy cover on the rain barrel by the lodge!

IMG_0165Myself and Jack set off for a morning stroll in the woodland gardens.

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I was reminded of the many herbs growing freely at Bealtaine Cottage and all along the roadsides here in the west of Ireland, as I walked along the woodland paths.

IMG_0169Dandelion, another exceptional wild herb growing abundantly here, with Its young leaves that can be used to make a tea with potassium-saving diuretic properties, so very useful for treating people suffering from high blood pressure.

IMG_0170Consumption of the bitter leaves will also aid digestion and act as a general laxative, while eating the ground root helps detoxify the liver.

IMG_0172It’s good to remember that the sticky, milky- white latex contained within its stalks can be used externally to kill warts and veruccas.

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The fire pit near the cottage has lots of precious wood ash to be spread out into the gardens. I continue to burn some of the dried blackcurrant stems from last year.

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The tidy up continues as I move the rusted bin over to the back of the old compost heap near the tunnel.

IMG_0175There are many wild and naturalised herbs growing in this semi-wild area, such as Comfrey, Nettle and Wild Garlic. Sweet Bay is planted to the right of the path in this picture. The Potager Bed is filled with many other cultivated herbs, growing happily alongside their wild cousins!

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Growing here at Bealtaine Cottage, in damp, grassy places, from July to September, this majestic, sweet- scented perennial, Wild Angelica, is known as Gallfheabhrán in Irish. Here it is, covered in frost this morning…

IMG_0178Wild Angelica was eaten in past times as a vegetable and used for dyeing cloth.

IMG_0182Traditionally it was used to treat rheumatism, gout and indigestion or to flavour liqueurs.

IMG_0184It really is amazing the vast quantities of wild herbs that are growing all around us. We have forgotten many of them and know very little of the edibility and uses of many of the recognisable plants. You can see some of the Chives spilling out from one of the Potager beds here by the Sedum.

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The colour wash across the woodland gardens continues this morning, the second day of Samhain as the progression of winter moves across the land. Flat Parsley is visible to the front of the bed! I moved all the Nasturtiums this morning from near the old Hen House, as the great tidy-up continues.

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Burdock, Nettle and Meadowsweet all grow with wild abandon here at Bealtaine Cottage. Meadowsweet contains essential oils, flavonoids and tannins. It is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, astringent, diuretic, analgesic, and relaxant qualities. Just walking among it during the heady days of summer induces all of the above!

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Wild Oregano, or Marjoram, Yarrow, Coltsfoot and, Mullein…still in flower in the Lughnasadh Garden by the way!

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I shall post a photo of this over on the Twitter account for Bealtaine Cottage later on…

Bealtaine Cottage Goddess Permaculture Gardens

@PermaGoddess

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Plantain, Herb Robert and Feverfew can be added to the extensive list…I am now imagining a Bealtaine Book of Herbs and their uses, as I realise what a Herb Sanctuary this little acreage has blossomed into!

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Books, map and calendar can be accessed through the link at the top of the website.

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The calendar is packed with 46 photographs! The months of the year are all in Irish and there is room enough to write notes and appointments daily.

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The map is printed back and front on thick card with beautiful detailed artwork just waiting to be coloured in!

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Moon phases for 2019 and 2020 are all included!

Another Trip Around The Sun!

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IMG_9956My birthday has passed.

IMG_9961 It was a wonderful day and here I am in a new year of my life, another journey around the sun!

IMG_9951It’s been an extraordinary journey so far and, as usual, it’s been a wonderful time for casting the occasional, cursory glance over my shoulder to the past.

IMG_9960To this end, I have recalled many aspects of my relationship with my parents, especially in my younger years, realising more and more just how wonderful they both were!

IMG_9962When one is in the thick of it all it’s sometimes very hard to see the people behind the parent mask.

IMG_9959As a parent it became obvious to me how much of a mask one had to don, at times…from the tough to the understanding and sometimes with little in-between!

IMG_9963However, I recall much of my memories of my parents with enduring humour, for I now am fully cognisant of what I put them through!

IMG_9965And so my birthday was a time to celebrate with both my parents in mind, especially my Mother! IMG_9969Her permanent optimism must have been difficult to carry at times, especially when faced with loss, grief, unhappiness and the all-permeating poverty.

IMG_9970I admire her more than ever with each passing year of wisdom and reflection.

IMG_9968Love endures.

IMG_9971I am fortunate to have reached a point in my journey where it is possible for me to understand the woman who was my Mother and the man behind the mask of fatherhood…one he rarely let slip, but I was lucky enough to see the interesting and caring man behind that mask.

IMG_9974The celebrations continue into Samhain, the 31st of October.

IMG_9972Tomorrow the fire will be lit and the ancestors invited into the midst of the family and friends who will gather.

IMG_9975The following day will herald in the first day of the Celtic New Year…a great time of renewal, wishes and hopes for the journey ahead.

IMG_9973On another note, I am aware that Thursday will be the first day of November and I have several boxes of calendars here in the study, waiting to be re-homed!

IMG_9978So if you want to think about possible Yuletide gifts, then look no further!

IMG_9979I am happy to post on your behalf to anywhere in the world!

IMG_9980There is also a wonderful selection of Bealtaine Cottage books and a magical, mythical map…here are the links:

 

Bealtaine Cottage Calendar for 2019

Price includes postage and packing worldwide! The calendar hosts a page of colour photographs from Bealtaine Cottage for each month of the year. The months of the year are written in Celtic script…ie: May is Bealtaine, August is Lughnasadh and so on…many of you are already familiar with the Celtic Calendar. The pictures on each month also feature some added wisdom from Bealtaine Cottage and information on the ancient festivals of Celtic Ireland.

€17.00

 

Magical Mythical Map of Bealtaine Cottage and Gardens

Beautiful map created by the artist David Gascoigne, especially for Bealtaine Cottage. The picture shows one side of the map…it is printed on both sides, see the photos on this page. The price includes all Postage and Packing to wherever you live in the world! Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€10.00

 

Bealtaine Cottage Guide to the Deep Midwinter

A little Yuletide book filled with colour photographs, recipes, reflections, lore, poetry and mirth to guide you through the wonderful days ahead. Fifty pages of sheer delight from Bealtaine Cottage to you. The book is fully bound and can be posted direct as a gift. Price includes P&P worldwide. Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€13.00

 

In Search of The Goddess Rising

This is the second book in the Goddess Permaculture series from Colette O’Neill at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland. In this book I explore the ancient landscape, mythology, literature and life around Bealtaine Cottage… in search of the Great Goddess. The price of the book includes all postage and packing to wherever you live in the world! Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€19.00

 

“A Cottage and Three Acres,” by Colette O’Neill

Please email Colette if you would like a particular inscription in your book. From a desolate cottage set in 3 acres of monoculture sadness, to a vibrant, thriving food forest of life…the journey back to Eden over 13 years… Bealtaine Books and Maps are printed in Ireland and posted from Ireland to support the people of Ireland.

€25.00

An Open Portal in Time…

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dsc04452SAMHAIN…The Celts believed that Oidhche Shamhna, Samhain, was an open portal in time.

dsc04451This weekend marks the prelude to Samhain.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QE3V4W5FYDFA8

dsc04450Monday is the day of 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2013/09/29/the-night-of-the-thin-veil/

and is marked as a holiday here in Ireland.

dsc04449It is a time of in-between…between worlds as the Celts believed it to be… 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2015/10/05/between-world-we-celebrate/

dsc04447 The Celts understood the year to be divided into two halves associated with the dark and the light. dsc04446The dark half begins at sunset on October 31st with Samhain.

https://bealtainecottage.com/2012/10/15/the-celtic-new-year-festival-of-samhain/

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Samhain ends at Bealtaine, when the light half begins at sunset on May 1st.

dsc04444Both festivals are closely linked, but Samhain is considered to be the most important.

dsc04443 In Ireland, years ago, great preparations were made for the sharing of a  feast that included the departed as guests of honour.

dsc04442To enable them to come and go freely, all doors and windows were left unlatched; a special cake was made exclusively for their consumption, and a certain amount of other food was set aside just for them.

(http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Samhain.html)

dsc04441This had to be left untouched by any mortal hand for the duration of the ritual period. Eating the food of the dead was considered to be a major sacrilege and it condemned the perpetrator to becoming a hungry spirit after death, forever banned from sharing in the Samhain feast.

(http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/ACalend/Samhain.html)

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As I walked out this morning, taking these photographs, it was apparent that Samhain was close, both in the colours of the trees and the Dragon’s breath along the valley.

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So how did Samhain become All Saints Day?

dsc04434As Bridget Haggerty writes in “Irish Culture and Customs,” “…As with many of the old festivals, Christianity stepped in to do whatever it could to eliminate pagan rituals.

dsc04437In this case, it was Pope Boniface who took the festival of the dead and made it the festival of all saints and martyrs.

dsc04436 Originally it took place on May 13th, but a century later, Pope Gregory III shifted it to November.

dsc04435In Ireland, All Saints Day was instituted in 998 AD by Abbot Odilo of Cluny and by the 13th century, although many of the old Samhain rituals persisted as folk customs, November 1st had become firmly established as a Christian festival.”

dsc04433All Saints Eve is now 31st of October…Samhain!

dsc04432So what was always and only a great Celtic celebration has been claimed by a relatively contemporary religion as its own!

dsc04431However, Ireland being an island and its people being thinly removed from its cultural heritage, as John B. Keane once wrote in the play “The Field,” we have not forgotten our roots!

dsc04427In the play, “The Field,” the parish priest proclaims Christianity to be a “thin veneer” over Irish people, in a derogatory reference both to the people  and pre-Christian Paganism alike.  

dsc04426Regarding the compassion displayed for those who grieved and mourned the loss of family and loved ones, we were far removed from how the Romans described us as “Barbarians!”

dsc04425As for the souls of the dead, all were honoured, unlike the Christian church here in Ireland which regarded the souls of un-baptised babies as being condemned to “Purgatory”.

dsc04424Such was the the belief as I grew up and for the countless generations of those in my family before me.

Imagine the suffering of mothers who birthed at home and lost their babies, only to be sent to a place of darkness and nothingness.

Too cruel!

dsc04423This Samhain I will try to remember and honour all my family and friends no longer in this mortal sphere.

And celebrate with them in joy!

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Please feel free to share this blog on any of the social media sites you are on.

Blessings X Colette at Bealtaine Cottage

Old Year’s Night…Celtic Samhain

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Between two worlds, that of Summer and of Winter, rests Samhain. 

dsc03482Samhain, (pronounced “Sow-when”) is the most important time in the Ancient Irish (and Celtic) Calendar.

dsc03483The time of Samhain starts at dusk, when the light and dark are in balance.

dsc03484This was never regarded as a time of death, but a time of incubation for Mother Earth.

dsc03485It was the onset of Winter that allowed the Great Mother to get ready the seed for Spring.

dsc03486Samhain is the Celtic New Year’s Eve.

dsc03487It is at this time, between worlds, that the veil is thin.

dsc03488A time of possibilities.

dsc03489A time to pay honour to those who are no longer with us in human form.

dsc03490This was a time of endings and the promise of beginnings, a time for stillness and reflection.

dsc03491It was understood that in the dark silence of Mother Earth, when all appears dead, comes the promise of new beginnings, the stirring of the seed beneath the ground.

dsc03492 It is on this night, some believe, that time stands still, allowing access to other worlds and into new consciousness.  

dsc03495As I walked the gardens today, taking these photographs, there was a real sense of endings and beginnings, of approaching a marker in time.

dsc03496 A sense of anticipation and readiness for the sabbatical that is Winter…for Samhain means “Summer’s End” and as the Celts believed, this was Winter’s Beginning.

dsc03497As an integral part of their culture and interpretation of life, the Celts held strong the tradition of The Transmigration of Souls, a philosophy I believe in.
dsc03498The Celts believed in two lands after death, the Underworld and the Otherworld.

 dsc03499The Otherworld was the abode of the dead.

dsc03500This is interesting, as it strongly suggests a “life alongside the dead”…and in that an understanding of the “Night of the Thin Veil,” 

https://bealtainecottage.com/2013/09/29/the-night-of-the-thin-veil/

dsc03501Archaeological evidence has drawn attention to the richness of Iron Age tombs and the abundance of grave goods within them.

dsc03505 There is literary evidence from Caesar that seems to confirm at least part of the Celtic Beliefs system.

dsc03513In his description of the Druids, he alluded to some of their lore that related directly to the movement of souls between one world and another or between one individual and another. He states:

‘…the druids attach particular importance to the belief that the soul (or spirit) does not perish but passes after death from one body to another’
(Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars VI)

dsc03514Lucan (Pharsalia: I) stated that the Celts considered death as merely an interruption in a continuous life, as the spirit passed from one form into another, or from one world to another. dsc03515Other writers, such as Diodorus Siculus drew attention to similar beliefs – that the soul was immortal and, as its body deteriorated with age, it simply moved to another, usually located in another world.  

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It is little wonder then that the Celts believed in the sacredness of times and places “in between”. dsc03517And so we celebrate Samhain…

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Please consider making a small donation to the Fundraiser for

LEITRIM ANIMAL WELFARE CENTRE (once the home of Jack)

https://bealtainecottage.com/leitrim-animal-welfare-fundraiser/

“Animal companions come into your life for an infinite number of reasons, each one being in service to you, your current life experience, and moreover, your soul’s growth and evolution.”
Amy Miller, Beyond Companionship: Connecting with Kindred Souls of Animal Companions.

Wild Atlantic Way

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A visit to the wild Atlantic Ocean marks the day that’s in it!

The turning of another year for me, so close to the Celtic New Year, I can almost taste the wood-smoke in the air from Samhain bonfires.

The ocean is strong and volatile today, churning and heaving life, as it crashes on the stony shore of Strandhill in Sligo.

This is my birthday, the beginning of my sixth decade experience with Mother Earth.

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Visiting the Ocean is as close as I can get to her heart beat, rhythmic and strong…pounding out the pulse of life upon the shores of this most westerly habitation.

White horses ride the water as it breaks further out.

Children are on mid-term holiday from schools and line the promenade, with parents keeping watchful eye on the wild foam.

I look for a small stone upon the shore, one I can put into my pocket and hold easily in my hand as we venture home.

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I feel renewed, invigorated, and ready to leave the last decade behind me, as I embrace the first day of my future.

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Thanks to all you wonderful friends…it’s been a beautiful first day!

XXXX Colette at Bealtaine Cottage XXXX

Between Worlds We celebrate

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Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

As with all things Celtic, the merging of time and place meant boundaries became thin and blurred…

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Known as “The Night of the Thin Veil…a time of “between worlds”…the fertile edge when all is possible!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture

Today’s Podcast…

https://soundcloud.com/bealtaine-cottage/between-worlds-we-celebrate

Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 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.

                                                          Click on button below to join the website…

You can also support Bealtaine Cottage by purchasing seeds, harvest from flowers, vegetables and trees grown here…

There are seeds for sale, as well as hand carved Bog Oak Pendants…see the links at the top of the Home Page.

Thanks for your support!

From Lughnasadh to Samhain

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We have entered the final month of Lughnasadh and the wonderful Indian Summer continues here in the west of Ireland!

Permaculture Cottage

As we journeyed through the Equinox and welcomed a spectacular moon, the nights seemed to draw in dramatically.

The Seed Site on Bealtaine Cottage has been updated today and now includes Willow.

I will be adding to the site as more and more seed becomes ready to be packaged.

Shabby chic at Bealtaine Cottage

Today I have collected Flat Leaf Parsley and will be adding Celery seed this weekend.

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As we begin to make plans for the final Harvest Feast…From Lughnasadh to Samhain…enjoy today’s Podcast…

Seeds and Willow   https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

Podcast :

https://soundcloud.com/bealtaine-cottage/from-lughnasadh-to-samhain

_____________

Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 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.

                                                          Click on button below to join the website…

Thanks for your support!

Bealtaine Cottage YouTube is free from adverts, with over 100 videos to date.

Bealtaine Cottage Podcast is a free service.

Decorating an Old Cottage

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Those of you familiar with Bealtaine Cottage online and the many hundreds who have visited will be interested to see the results of what a little paint can do in terms of brightening up a home.

Yes, I’ve been busy over recent days, stood on a step-ladder, paintbrush in one hand and paint tin in the other, alongside dusters to remove the heaps of cobwebs…eek!

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There’s a certain old world loveliness to “Duck Egg Blue,” as the paint is referred to, more often than not!

The colour is reminiscent of the eighteenth century and the novels of Jane Austen…a favourite author of mine. sitting room at Bealtaine Cottage bealtainecottage.com 005

There’s a simplicity about the soft pastel shades which bring out the best in an old cottage.

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Decorating a cottage is fairly simple too, as the walls and general layout are quite forgiving…in other words, anything goes as long as it’s a good mix of styles and time periods, for a cottage is a harbourer of both!

The wooden chest of drawers in the corner is relatively new-style, but provides a practical function of storing clothes not in seasonal use…and what better position, than by the chimney wall, where dampness is never an issue!

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It’s a fuss-free environment indeed! Decorating an old cottage works well when one projects personality and quirkiness into the general style…in my case it’s always a case of what frugality allows for, so an eclectic style is as much practical as it is creative.

A reflection of what the great William Morris once said…”Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”...that allows me free reign really!

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Cosy. Practical. Colourful. That’s what works for me.

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The colours will also be a good backdrop to Samhain and Yule decorations…as many of the pumpkins are seasoned indoors and the window ledges are needed for storage too.

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And as for the paint…well, it does go a long way…

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Bealtaine Cottage is free and has over 850 blogs, as well as over 3,500 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.

                                                          Click on button below to join the website…

***************************************

Bealtaine cottage crafts 010Bog Oak Pendants are available from the Bealtaine Cottage Craft Shop.

Each pendant is hand-crafted from locally sourced Irish Bog Oak, an ancient and profoundly mysterious wood that’s been buried in the Irish peat bogs for thousands of years.

These pendants are hand carved from wood dated as 5,600 years old.

Visit:

https://bealtainecottage.com/craft-shop/

The Passing of Samhain

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www.bealtainecottage.com 009Autumn remains, despite the passing of Samhain.

Nasturtiums hold their blooms and the occasional bee busies himself with work, inside the generous flowers of orange and yellow.

Sammy-Bear and Che-Mousey have drunk all their milk and turned their noses up at the biscuits…they may be spoiled!

www.bealtainecottage.com 010The leaves of the Nasturtium appear to grow huge, as the season of growth comes to an end…capturing and reflecting the dew of the morning.
www.bealtainecottage.com 016Giant Willow, (Biomass), drops its leaves and the winter duvet, that will cover the earth, spreads.

This Willow grows at the top of the gardens and is pollarded, to allow for ground space.

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Few gardeners here in Ireland pollard Willow, so these trees always attract attention from visitors to Bealtaine!

www.bealtainecottage.com 021Che-Mousey has taken to following me around the gardens, as I take pictures.

He has even managed to develop a feint miaow!
www.bealtainecottage.com 024The reflective quality of the rainwater improves, as the air cools into early winter.
www.bealtainecottage.com 025Vivid colours are manifested on the Copper Beech trees…
www.bealtainecottage.com 028Cats are all around on this first day of winter!
www.bealtainecottage.com 031Can you believe these colours?

Grapevine on the veranda against blue sky…it actually appears photo-shopped, but is not!
www.bealtainecottage.com 032The raw beginnings of a basket, hung into the eaves of the veranda, now appearing, as the leaves fall away from around it!
www.bealtainecottage.com 033The Pumpkins are ready to store away in the pantry…I must remember to do this today!
www.bealtainecottage.com 036I’m just enjoying all this green, before Jack Frost steals it!
www.bealtainecottage.com 041Have a wonderful weekend everyone XXX