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!

Rituals of Midwinter

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In preparing for the season of Yule, I follow the age old traditions of all the women who have gone before me.

BgQ7qv3CEAAL835Preparation is everything.

December 2011 Permaculture Bealtaine 009This begins in the home and involves casting an eye over all that will be of importance during this sacred time of gathering.

cropped-cropped-dsc02856.jpgI am driven with the desire to instil a sense of order upon Bealtaine Cottage as the Midwinter festivities approach.
cropped-cropped-mon-25-oct-10-003.jpgThere is a history to this festival that precedes the usual image we hold as the collective ideal…that of a more recent celebration, Christmas.

Bealtaine Cottage PermacultureThe Winter Solstice  has been celebrated for thousands of years.

It was celebrated by my Great Grandmother who lived in the cottage above.

cropped-bealtaine-cottage-dec-11-011.jpgIndeed, Newgrange  here in Ireland, was constructed five thousand years ago, as a homage to the Midwinter Solstice, so this festival of Yule was immensely important to our ancestors.

cropped-22-dec-10-036.jpgThis was because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months.

permaculture at bealtainecottage.com 005 Food and wine was ready to eat and drink ,as fruit fermented and animals were slaughtered as feed stocks dwindled.

light a candle at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandEven during the morning, parts of the interior of this Irish cottage can be dim during the months of Midwinter.

stained glass wheel of life Bealtaine Cottage 011Light is what our seasons are measured in.
midwinter cottage 013Light was and remains the important aspect of winter and our ancestors realised the connection this had to all life.

cavan burren 2That connection, that sense of knowing the elemental forces that governed their lives, was so important to them, that many monuments were erected to this end.

The standing stone at Bealtaine Cottage February 2013Here in Ireland, Newgrange is the most important, monumental reminder we have of this elemental connection.

Stone Circle at Bealtaine CottageSo today has been a day of tidying and ordering…cleaning the area around the cottage, sorting wool,  and listening to gentle music as I go.

Fox in the garden at Bealtaine CottageFor lovers of Bealtaine Cottage and all aspects of ancient Celtic life and Goddess Permaculture found therein, there is a second website, growing daily and now with over 90 new blogs and several thousands of unseen photographs, as well as podcasts and stories… Visit:

Bealtaine Cottage Good Life Membership~ Subscribe Today!

Cottage Industry

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www.bealtainecottage.com 001The clock ticks towards Samhain, literally meaning: Summer’s end!

Tomorrow is Samhain, a celebration of the last day of Summer and the beginning of Winter in the Celtic calendar. www.bealtainecottage.com 002Despite cold nights creeping into Bealtaine, all remains green on the ground, with just the trees showing signs of transition into Winter.

Nasturtiums have not yet melted in the frost…it seems the ground continues to put forth enough heat to protect them!

www.bealtainecottage.com 003“I ordered my food ages ago!”

Sammy-Bear waits for his breakfast on the veranda…I have to hurry up with this photography business and serve him breakfast!
www.bealtainecottage.com 007The Wisteria, on the veranda of the Lodge, is showing a last magnificent vibrancy before it sets itself into bed.

The plants and trees are making a fantastic show of colour this season!

www.bealtainecottage.com 011The view from the doorway of the Lodge remains green and tranquil.

The micro-climate created here serves the cottage well.

All is sheltered from the North, West and East!
www.bealtainecottage.com 013We really have been blessed, with perfect weather this year, here in the west of Ireland.

Each season has behaved itself extraordinarily well!
www.bealtainecottage.com 020Despite the fact it was my birthday yesterday, I was sufficiently inspired to work and spent the afternoon crocheting this hat.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003It’s an “Annie Hall,” inspired creation…I adore Diane Keaton!

www.bealtainecottage.com 017I love the “cloche” type, 1920’s inspired, hats and adore working with pure wool and natural fabric.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004This one is made using Donegal Tweed Pure Wool and the colour is just wonderful!

I shall be making many more for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop!

Here’s the link to the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop…

https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/167531769/cloche-hat-1920s-style-in-pure-irish

Permaculture Cottage ~ Abundance…

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Harvests continue to develop and flowers bloom at Bealtaine Smallholding. Flowers like these Sedums require little or no attention and soon fill out a space.

White Buddleia in full bloom, though there are few butterflies around at the moment. This tree, well, bush really, serves as an air island for the birds nesting in the box nearby.

Pots of Curly Kale, Chard and Pumpkins, some of which will be moved across to the new beds in the Vegetable Garden. All these have been planted in pots filled with home made compost.

The grapevine, grown from a cutting about four years ago, has produced well this season. This was pruned hard at the end of the winter and then lightly at the end of spring. Well developed bunches of grapes have set and continue to thrive.

Another good year for the apple harvest. This part of Ireland is great for growing fruit, as rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrant, plums, apples et al appear to thrive!