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

Developing a Woodland from Zero

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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…

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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…

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Posted in Abundance, agriculture, Uncategorized

Permaculture Potagers, Polytunnel and Gardens

Walk with me around the production gardens at Bealtaine Cottage on this May evening in the West of Ireland.

Potager beds and Peach trees, Polytunnel and Bees…all looking lush on this early Summer evening.

The soundtrack of birds is all around us!

Posted in Earth, Earth Day, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Spring, Uncategorized, Woodland

Earth Day at Bealtaine Cottage

DSC09083Photographs (18 exclusive photos taken today) from the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage on EarthDay 2016.

Words from the Earth Day network…on Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.

We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.

In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channelling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with ground-breaking ideas and by the power of our example.

And so it begins. Today. Right here and right now. Earth Day is more than just a single day — April 22, 2016.

This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable. 

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April 2011 Ballyfermoyle 013The paid subscription website, Bealtaine Cottage Good Life allows you to support my work in return for some extra special blogs and photographs…and allows me a small, but much needed, income.

Here’s where you can sign up…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

Yes, I have a mortgage and some bills to meet each month and this is my only source of income. The free website, Bealtaine Cottage, has almost reached maximum capacity at 97.8% of 13 GB allowance at a cost of 199 Euros per year. Bealtaine Cottage Good Life has the same 13 GB allowance, but with only 18% used, so you can see why I now publish new blogs on Bealtaine Cottage Good Life! My total expenditure on both sites and internet maintenance now exceeds 700 Euros.

I will continue to write about, and photograph, Mother Earth whether you subscribe/donate or not…but I so appreciate those who do!
…blessings to all XXX Colette

Posted in Abundance, agriculture, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Birds, compost, Ecology, Eden, Edible Gardens, food forest, Lifestyle, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Permaculture Food Forest in Ireland

The leaves are just beginning to bud and appear.

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Bees are busy at work here in the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…without them this would be a place of hunger.

Poster after permacultureBut, it’s not…instead it boasts food for all and more to come.

This is what a food forest looks like as the sap rises and life returns.

poster permaculture viewThese are the gardens of the goddess, Mother Earth in all her splendour and abundance!

And here is today’s video…

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, E.U., Garden, Ireland, Uncategorized

What If…?

poster tree

A reasonable question…why, some would even say, a good question!

Isn’t it about time we asked it?

Isn’t it about time we stepped out of the ridiculous matrix we have trapped ourselves in?  

Question more…

Poster Bealtaine Cottage trees

Today’s video from Bealtaine Cottage…

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Please consider supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Posted in ancient, Fairies, Garden, Permaculture, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland, woodland walk, woods

Magic in the Fairy Wood

On such a morning as this, there can only be one place to gently go…come with me as I venture down into the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage. Nature spirits are in evidence in the lush new growth. Magic abounds…

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Posted in biodiversity, Cottage, Gardens, Ireland, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Woodland

The Cottage in the Woods

Winter edges away slowly, with lighter mornings and longer days.

The Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage have emerged this year into the Permaculture Woods.

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However, I’ve got to admit that I’ve been flagging recently!

A combination of the time of year, family commitments and basically just trying too hard to do too much!

The saying goes, “spreading yourself too thin on the ground”, or something like that…well, that’s me!

I’m done for!

I would love to take a few days off and lounge about in my Jim-Jams, but…well, you know me by now…!

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So, in keeping with the time of year I’ve been painting, cutting, tidying the land and planting.

As you can see here, the back wall of the cottage has been (almost) finished…though I’ve run out of paint and will have to colour match, as I mixed the paint from leftovers.

Still, an old cottage can get away with mismatches…shabby chic!

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The weather has been fairly mild and despite some snow earlier in the month, it’s not been too cold.

I spent some time cleaning up the steps, removing the willow fedge, as it became too shaded by overhanging trees to grow as it should and was dying off.

Clearing other parts of the land I came across yet more stone, so have tidied the edges of the steps with some dry stone walling.

This is a lovely habitat for beetles, snails and small mammals…adding to the immense biodiversity build up here over ten years.

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Some shrubs and bushes near the cottage are looking a bit unruly…these I shall neaten up before the spring is over.

Bealtaine now sits among trees and each year becomes more like the cottage in the woods.

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To be too tidy a gardener is to deny entry to your garden to many beneficial creatures, as well as food for the birds!

Here I have thrown some rotting logs in under the hedge, where all life in the vicinity will benefit. There may well be some mushrooms in the near future as well.

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The leaves of the Hypericum have kept green all winter.

I shall prune this a little to keep a shape in it, as some order near to the cottage looks pleasant.

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“…I hear the sounds of melting snow outside my window every night and with the first faint scent of spring, I remember life exists…”
John Geddes, A Familiar Rain

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“A tree can be tempted out of its winter dormancy by a few hours of southerly sun—the readiness to believe in spring is stronger than sleep or sanity.”
Amy Leach, Things That Are 

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Aquilegia has begun to grow…this is one of the first flowers of Spring and great for early rising bees.

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The all too tidy gardener will also miss these wonderful flowerings of Moss on small standing stones.

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And leaves that are busy creating woodland paths in a garden evolving fast into much welcome woodland.

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I keep the stove in the sitting room burning as I work outside, for it’s a welcoming and warm place to retreat to now and again.

Just to sit by the fire is relaxing.

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And one learns over the years to pace oneself…knowing when it’s time to down tools and go indoors…this I need to remember to do a little more!

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There’s a heap of work to get through before settling down for the evening.

And, as a gorgeous girl in a big dress once said, “Tomorrow is another day!”

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I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 870 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!

If you wish to put a tip in the hat, just click below…it’s greatly appreciated, believe me!

Blessings
Posted in Autumn, gifts, Mabon, Permaculture, walks, Woodland

Presents and Good Wishes

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Lucky me!

I received this beautiful pair of hand-knitted socks from Ally (a subscriber to Bealtaine Cottage), in time for the Equinox, a special Mabon gift!

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Ally writes, “Your lovely words and posts have given me much pleasure over the past few months…”

Ally, the socks are simply beautiful and I shall treasure them, wearing only on special occasions…they are so finely knitted, I am in awe…Bless you!

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Walking in the woodland gardens of Bealtaine this morning, I noticed that the Spindle is in fruit.

The berries are a delightful shade of pink, I love to see them!

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Trees have grown better this year than ever before.

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The flowers of the Fuchsia are colouring the gardens…all grown from cuttings stuck straight into the ground!

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As the leaves of the Gunnera Manicata die down, there are some lovely colours and shapes developing, like here by the lower pond.

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Here’s a leave with a hole…the stems are quite spikey as you can see.

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Walks are growing more leafy…

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A floral riot down by the gate!

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Michaelmas daisies this morning on the driveway.

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Woodland paths where once there was only rushy monoculture despair!

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For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

Edwin Way Teale

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Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

George Eliot

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After a short rain this morning, the forecast is more dry and sunny days ahead…enjoy them!

Blessings X 

Posted in Autumn, environment, healing, magic, mother, woods

The Magical and The Sacred

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It is a rare thing…to be lost for words.

A day in Autumn that changes one perspective on life and the meaning of it all.

Where shall I begin?

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Perhaps where I started, this morning, camera in my dressing gown pocket and mug of hot coffee in my hand, traipsing out in rubber clogs onto grass saturated with morning dew.

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Or maybe, a little earlier, as this year began, immersed in deep sadness, as my mother made her own journey back to the Divine.

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But the Wheel, as they say, turns and the beauty of the Sacred overcomes the grief of the mortal…I stepped out…

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What magic lies in Nature that transforms barren into life again and again?

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The gardens have emerged this year as Woodland…and my mother loved walking in the woods.

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Come walk with me…

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Blessings X

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Earth, Gaia, Garden, Inspiration, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Woodland

Co-Creating With Nature

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Being brought up, as a child in a terraced house without a garden, I have often wondered where my passion for Mother Earth, growing, gardening and the environment emerged from.

I’m still thinking about that!

What I wanted to share with you today encompasses an afternoon’s work here at Bealtaine Cottage.

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Well, this afternoon I opened up a completely new path through the trees and shrubs planted over the years, into a beautiful world created by Mother Earth and nurtured by me through many seasons.

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Today, the inner voice I share with her drew me down into the Fairy Wood, slowly cutting a path into a very special part of this land.

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She has been left alone, protected by brambles and branches to create something very beautiful and exquisite.

The tree is an old ash which had been coppiced.

When a tree is coppiced, not only does one get a massive amount of wood for the stove, but the tree sends up multiple shoots, which in turn become trees, like this.

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The stones around the base are now deep in moss.

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Primroses and Ferns have naturalized in the woodland earth.

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Lords and Ladies adorn the base of the tree in red jewels.

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I just had to share this amazing little path with you.

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Mother nature is just amazing and re-generative!

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Ten years from rushy, monoculture field to magical, permaculture woodland! 

Posted in biodiversity, Birds, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Gardens, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Nature, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Trees, Woodland

Permaculture Woodland

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Isn’t he lovely?

www.bealtainecottage.com 015This little Robin followed me around the gardens today as I walked Jack.

www.bealtainecottage.com 029I say the gardens, but after spending time walking all the paths, I am now of the opinion that I have 3 acres of woodland…and am delighted at the ongoing transformation from bare, barren, rushy fields, to magical, thronging-with-life, woodland!

www.bealtainecottage.com 032The trees have dropped a huge lot of leaves this year and the paths have taken on a woodland feel,  as I walk, kicking up the colourful debris.

www.bealtainecottage.com 045Such an amazing amount of wood to be cut this winter…and that’s only in tidying up, as the real harvest is ongoing and spans the year.

www.bealtainecottage.com 046In years to come this little cottage will be merged into the Fairy Wood.

www.bealtainecottage.com 048I think that was Nature’s plan from the beginning, when I first opened the door for her!

www.bealtainecottage.com 035Here and there, as I walk through the woods, I look skywards into canopies of blue and white.

www.bealtainecottage.com 050Bealtaine Cottage has given me great hope for the future of our lovely Earth.

www.bealtainecottage.com 054This place has revealed to me the health and vitality in Nature, despite our stupidity in ignoring her needs.

www.bealtainecottage.com 053With just a little bit of help, she is creating what she wants most…woodland!

www.bealtainecottage.com 005And in the middle of all this beauty, a little sanctuary.

The Bealtaine Cottage Little Christmas Book will be posted out to you all in the morning!

There are a few remaining, (16), if any kind visitor to this blog would like to support the work of Bealtaine Cottage, by purchasing this little booklet.

This is the link to the details of how to purchase  your own copy… http://bealtainecottage.com/christmas-book/

Blessings X

Posted in Abundance, Angels, Animals, Autumn, Cats, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Tea, Trees, Woodland

Small Things…

www.bealtainecottage.com 022Keeping time.

Morning merges into early afternoon.

There is a seamlessness about the work on this last day of September.

www.bealtainecottage.com 049Cutting wood, cleaning windows, stringing  chillies, all merging as the day progresses.

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Somewhere, in the distance, a crow calls its lonely caw…it’s repetitive and makes me think an animal has caught it…perhaps a fox.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038I have watched the fox make it’s way across the rushy fields, darting here and there among the clumps of withering green.

www.bealtainecottage.com 026Deep in the Fairy Wood, cutting and stacking with my little handsaw, all I experience from the outside world are noises of life without.

www.bealtainecottage.com 024Che-Mousy-Bear stays with me as I work.

Once so very timid, he is finding his own place in this world, where he initially found only rejection.

www.bealtainecottage.com 032I love him for having the tenacity to stay with it all…one of the small things that weave the tapestry of life here at Bealtaine.

www.bealtainecottage.com 016Time to brew a pot of tea and stoke the stove…working on the land is fluid, as the day progresses.

www.bealtainecottage.com 015I am obsessed with hearts.

I have no idea why, but the shape draws me in.

I see hearts everywhere.

They fascinate me.

www.bealtainecottage.com 045The work of the day continues with juicing apples for saving in the freezer.

www.bealtainecottage.com 008Autumn changes the colours of the trees surrounding the cottage.

It seems that the view from this window changes every time I pass it…

www.bealtainecottage.com 009Tiny webs configure across and around the Celtic Knot, too beautiful to clear away.

www.bealtainecottage.com 030The woodland beckons…

 

I write and post about Bealtaine Cottage, on this website, as well as making and posting Youtube (ad-free) videos, about permaculture and life at Bealtaine Cottage, to provide inspiration and empowerment for all seeking a better way of living on this precious Earth.

Donations help me do that :)

Posted in celebrations, Cottage, Country Living, Family, Gardens, Ireland, Permaculture, Seeds, Sligo, Sustainable Living

Lughnasa Gardens and Weddings

cow parsley at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensAs early Lughnasa transforms the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage into a colourful abundance and the harvest continues, the early days of an Irish autumn unfold.

Berries on the HawthornThe berries on the Hawthorn are turning colour and the magic of a warm autumn fills the air!

Mushrooms at Bealtaine gardensThese mushrooms are growing today near a clump of Birch trees in the woodland gardens further down from the front of the cottage.

willow archway in the permaculture gardensThe willow archway here has closed in on either side as the summer growth has cast even more shade in the new woodland. early autumn in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageBamboo and Dogwood have almost merged to close this path. As you can see, the leaves are beginning to drop.

entrance to the Fairy WoodThe entrance to the Fairy Wood is closing too…there is a lot of work ahead this Autumn as the cutback begins!

New beds by the front door of the cottageHere are the new beds by the front door of the cottage. They are filled with home-made compost and planted with Birch and Cotoneaster, both grown from seed.

New bed by the entrance to Bealtaine CottageI love the simplicity of creating gardens around an old cottage…fuss-free and free!

Bench by entrance porchOne of the evergreen trees originally by the front door has been planted in the corner. It had grown far too big for the terracotta pot.

sitting room at Bealtaine CottageI love the way the silvery autumn light changes the way the sitting room of the cottage looks. This is my best-loved season!

With my beautiful grandsonsI have just returned from the wedding of my son, held over three days at Markree Castle in Sligo. My beautiful grandsons are here with me in the picture. weddingThe flowers were grown here at Bealtaine Cottage and all the guests were gifted with bags of seeds.

It was a lovely, lovely wedding!

Dylan and Michellw wedding 031Here I am with my eldest daughter, Cara.

wedding cakeAnd yes…the bride wore yellow wellies!

Posted in Bees, Cats, Gardening, Inspiration, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Sustainable Living, Trees, Wildlife

Coppicing Trees for Future Forests

Dwarf sunflower at Bealtaine Cottage

The day is warm and still.

flower arrangementThere’s a hint of early autumn in the air.

coppicing birch trees in the permaculture gardensI have been working in the gardens, coppicing trees.

This morning I coppiced this lovely Birch tree.

The trunk remains growing about a metre or so from the earth and will rapidly produce several new stems, that will thicken up to give even more wood for the cottage in a few short years.

Che Mousey Bear relaxes on the benchCoppicing was carried out on all medieval woodlands and is the reason why there are so many old trees in counties of England.

coppicing at Bealtaine CottageCoppicing regularly will enable a tree to live for several thousand years!

The main stem will be sawn into small logs and stored in the barn.

Shredding tree branches to use as mulchThe remaining small branches are shredded and used as a mulch on the Potager Beds! So everything is returned to the Earth.

Trees are a direct way of enabling the harvest of solar energy.cats at Bealtaine CottageMeanwhile,

Missy Cat lounges on the gravelas I worked, the cats relaxed, as only they can do…

bees on NasturtiumsAnd the bees kept working…

Bealtaine Cottage verandaAnd the morning drifted effortlessly…

fennelinto a beautiful afternoon…

Garden steps

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Butterflies, Culture, E.U., Ecology, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Thoughts, Trees, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

In Search of Sanctuary

Barn at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens

“Sanctuary” refers to a place set aside or designated as a protected spot.

Under EU Agricultural Policy there is a “Set Aside” plan for farmers to fence off small, protected areas for biodiversity.

However, this does not apply to Bealtaine Cottage, as the holding is too small to be significant!

Plant diversity at Bealtaine CottageI plant and protect for the love of Nature, not for the money from the EU!

Maybe that is why there is such diversity packed into these three acres!

Protected plants at Bealtaine CottageThe more well-known forms of sanctuary are areas set aside by humans for the protection of land wildlife, sea life, or ocean life.

Plant sanctuary at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandHere at Bealtaine there are areas of woodland, fresh water ponds and wetland, as well as other significant areas.

Plant Sanctuary, Bealtaine Cottage, IrelandBealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens is, in essence, a wildlife and unique sanctuary.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageWithin these three acres exist a flourishing ecosystem, as well as  areas set aside to maintain functioning natural habitats.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageThese ecosystems act as refuges for species, whilst maintaining ecological processes that cannot survive beyond Bealtaines’ boundaries in most intensely managed landscapes.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensProtected areas act as benchmarks against which we understand human interactions with the natural world.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageToday they are often the only hope we have of stopping many threatened or endemic species from becoming extinct.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage

In the midst of EU sponsored monoculture, Bealtaine Cottage is an Ark for Nature.

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Current Affairs, Fairies, Garden, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Thoughts, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Willow Fedges, Arches and Fairy Woods

It’s evening here at Bealtaine Cottage.

The sun is setting in the west and there’s a mild chill in the air.

I have been cutting back some of the wild summer growth and the sunlight can now reach areas where there was only heavy shade.

The dappled light covers the standing stone on the bank under the cottage.

One of the big tasks is tying in the willow growth from this year into the fedges that cover the smallholding.

It’s a lovely task really, I can’t complain, as I work and listen to the sounds of Nature all around me.

It also allows me time to look at the way plants are developing and plan the next task, so there is an organic flow to my work.

This willow arch has many stems of Dogwood worked into it.

The fedge on the right was the first one constructed here and had developed well over seven or so years.

It looked odd at the beginning as it stood all alone on a rushy field.

An upside down vase covers the top of a stem from a Sitka spruce that I recently cut down.

There is a disease which is killing these trees off all over Ireland and Scotland and no wonder!

The plantations of these trees spread far and wide and are monoculture nightmares that blot the landscape in huge square planting schemes that allow no light or biodiversity into their space…it is purely for greed!

The bog garden has seen lots of work over recent days as I clear the edges of the pond and cut back willow and shrubs.

This is a lovely time of the year to work outdoors.

Autumn is my favourite season.

It is a time when the gardens start to look their best as the summer party ends and the tidy up begins…

I have realised the great value of Willow this year as a fuel for the stove.

Much of what I cut last Autumn made great kindling and small logs, giving a strong heat.

It also works well in the Rocket Stove.

When I had finished my work, I walked back up through the Fairy Dell Wood as the evening sun was illuminating the entrance, making it look magical.

I have always believed in Fairies…

Posted in Country Living, Fairies, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Trees, Woodland

A Walk in the Fairy Dell Woodland

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2vbMamRD2s&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

This is the link to today’s video, taken this morning in the Fairy Dell. Trees have grown tall and ferns abound. The heavy rains of recent days have not disturbed this ancient place…

Posted in biodiversity, Birds, Cats, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Woodland

Permaculture Planting…The Importance of Trees

Following on from the short video on Willow and using willow in the garden as living willow fedges and structures, here’s a short video on trees… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBu_fP82VDY&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in Animals, Cats, Climate, Ecology, Fairies, Lough Allen Basin, Trees, Uncategorized

Thanks!

                           Just to let everyone know the good news…the results have come back on Missy’s tumour and it is treatable!

Needless to add, everyone here at Bealtaine is delighted and Missy is especially so!

It’s always worrying and upsetting when a much loved pet is ill and worst of all it would seem that the animal often picks up on this…but all is well and we breath a collective sigh of relief!

Thanks to everyone for all your good wishes…really, thank you all so much!

Salix Tortuosa…or simply, Twisted Willow, growing here at Bealtaine Cottage. It grows readily and will take easily from cuttings. A beautiful addition to a bouquet or flower arrangement.

I Ivy hangs in long trails in the Fairy Dell woodland. There are times when this place resembles a rain forest. The combination of micro climate and damp creates a strange little world down here in the Dell!

 Today there has been all four seasons in one, with sun, rain, wind, snow, sleet, then warm evening sun…

This is the beautiful Fin lough, near Bealtaine Cottage. There are literally hundreds of loughs, rivers, streams, ponds and waterways within a twenty mile radius of Bealtaine…one thing is for certain; Ireland will never run dry!

Last word must go to the Missy Cat…Meow…purrrrrr

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Birds, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Walk on the Wild Side

Ivy loops and twirls around the trees in the Fairy Dell woodland. Ivy that feeds the birds in the depths of midwinter. Ivy that shelters the pheasant in the heat of midsummer. Strong, natural and wild…

Ivy and Lichens, so perfect in the gardens at Bealtaine that it can only be the hand of Nature…no gardener can create this perfection…

Another sacred part of the land at this permaculture smallholding…a small field of Devil’s-bit Scabious, the natural habitat of the rare Marsh Fritillary Butterfly. Nature working her pure magic and being encouraged at every turn!

Now is the time to plant Willow. This is something which is easy to do and will serve the eco-system around you well. So many insects, birds and bees depend on this plant. Simply cut a wand of Willow and push it into the ground as far as you can…about 1-2feet will do! Manure it well and it will grow fast and strong! Some people surround it with plastic to stop weeds and grass, but, personally I do not approve of this as the earth under plastic is not beneficial to wildlife and anyway, the Willow will soon shade out any unwanted weeds!

Cotoneaster…planted, but soon takes on the mantle of wildness and becomes a feeding station for birds and insects alike!

Posted in Abundance, Animals, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Cottage, Eco-Living, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding

Hens…Raising Happy Girls!

The Bealtaine Girls…a bit like the Bluebell Girls, except they don’t dance!

I love hens.

They are social creatures.

Bealtaine Permaculture

They are inquisitive by nature and become very tame when treated well.

I have kept hens for years, even when I lived in London, I kept hens in my garden in Muswell Hill.

So, hens are familiar to me and have taught me a lot about what makes them happy!

Hens love to scratch and peck…fresh straw is great for this as they peck all the seeds left on the stalks.

Food is easy…lots of greens.

You can pick a few weeds every day and give to the hens, fresh is best.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture hens

Lots of starchy food leftovers is good for them as it provides a balanced diet.

I supplement with rolled barley, which they love!

If the girls can roam freely then this is good for all.

Bealtaine Cottage

Mine get out for a good long roam-about when I’m working in the upper gardens.

This is because the handsome old fox lives on the hill above the cottage!

Say no more!

Hens love the berries of the Ribes, which stay on the bushes over the winter.

I have watched the girls jump up high to eat these from the bush on winter days.

Blackcurrant Cordial Bealtaine Cottage 015

Here they are scoffing the remains of blackcurrants from wine-making.

Hens are great foragers and will happily troop off on a good old forage through the bushes and woodland, emerging hours later at some unexpected point!

The henhouse is very spacious, with two floors and a long perch…and, you’ve probably noticed, very light too.

This is because it has a perspex roof, so all the sunshine and moonlight can brighten the inside.

In this way, the hens continue to lay eggs all year round as the light induces this process.

I built this on site and positioned the roof on a slope towards the south to catch as much sun and warmth as possible.

Trees are planted around it for maximum shelter, especially from the wind.

It works!

The hens even laid eggs on Christmas day.

Bealtaine in June 2011 046

Hens will lay for years and live for over 7 years and more.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Climate, Earth, Eco-Living, Fairies, Gardening, Herbs, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Tea, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Permaculture Cottage ~ 70,000 Visitors…(now almost 300,000) seek a better way forward.

Potting, planting, protecting and nurturing the future of Earth…the babies of Gaia are secure in the Nursery beds as the storm approaches from the west, with an early winter not far behind…in late October to be expected!

Visitors to this permaculture blog topped 70,000 this week.

Interest in permaculture is booming as the forces that rule and dominate this sacred earth go into a tailspin, driven by their hatred, greed and compelling and overwhelming desire to destroy all that is good and sustainable on Gaia.

More and more people are becoming desirous of finding a way forward which can only be based on sustainability.

Permaculture is the way that has proven itself to be foolproof here at Bealtaine Cottage. Marian, Colin and Marisa, visitors this week, will testify to that!

Sedums this morning, near the tunnel.  It’s hard to believe that these are growing where once only rushes grew…with nothing sprayed, turned, dug, imported, raped or plundered.

The thing is, when you start to trust Nature and treat her as a friend, wonderful things start to happen…that is permaculture for me, in a nutshell!

Oregano growing around the water bins near the tunnel this morning.

The flower heads can be dried and used to make tea which has wonderful anti-bacterial properties.

Good for sore throats!

Ash trees stand tall and heroic all around the borders of Bealtaine…I have more faith and trust in these guardians of Gaia than any standing army!

The pathway into the Fairy Dell, lined on either side by a Willow Fedge…now is the time to create fedges like this, easy to make and cost ZERO…my favourite word as you all know!

PS…since posting this in September 2011, over 295,000 visitors have made their way to Bealtaine Cottage…permaculture is blooming!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Culture, Earth, Ecology, Fairies, Gaia, Inspiration, Permaculture, Spirituality, Sustainable Living, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Spring Wells, Wisdom and the Hopi Indians…

First of all a BIG TA VERY MUCH for all who have visited my blog over the past year. I began in the middle of August 2010 and in little over a year, 70,000 of you have made the journey to Bealtaine Cottage at Ballyfermoyle, here in the beautiful West of Ireland…well, actually, a very great many of you have visited many times over and subscribed to the blog.  Hopefully in the next year the blog will expand even more in some exciting ways…ssshhh, it’s still a secret!

Fuschia and Fedges grow side by side. Both are grown from slips or cuttings. It will soon be time to harvest the willow and plant more cuttings, which is really the story of these gardens. Planting has been ongoing now for seven years, since day one of Bealtaine…

So much rain and so much water gushing along the stream beds in the Bog Garden…the rain brings music!

Walking up towards the woodland that is the Fairy Dell, through new plantings of Willow and Ash…

Spring water gushes up from the well in the woodland.

Deep within the Fairy Dell…has midsummer really passed that quickly?

Perfect apples…never ever sprayed, no chemicals and a bountiful harvest every year!

The Wisdom of the Hopi Indians…something to share with you, just click on the link…http://youtu.be/zNlNUJcEcoY

Have a great weekend! Plant a tree for the Mother…Gaia… x

Posted in Fairies, Inspiration, Permaculture, PermaGoddess, Summer, Uncategorized, Woodland

And After the Weekend…Bealtaine Cottage in the West of Ireland

Monday morning, balmy, warm and bright. Midsummer has passed and the work outdoors continues unabated. Sheds to be cleared and painted, as well as fences to be fixed and preserved. Lots of blackcurrants still to be harvested…

The beautiful eerie light that falls across the land after the solstice, almost autumnal, bright and silvery and very romantic.

The heavenly scent of honeysuckle, or woodbine, is captured on the gentlest of breezes. The Fairy dell woodland is permeated with the sweet aroma.

The trees and ivy have merged into an elegant repose. Ferns have grown high and luxurious.

Light and shadows begin to play tricks on the eyes.

Posted in Abundance, Baking, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Fairies, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, polytunnel gardening, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

A Sunday Ramble around Bealtaine Cottage Smallholding, Ireland

My visitors have left. Home made wine and pocheen, lots of home made vegan food and cakes and talk into the wee small hours…what better way to share a weekend!

Sunday afternoon. The first in July. Bealtaine basks in the sunshine.

Willow has been trimmed. Grass cut. Pumpkins are in flower.

The pears are making good progress on the youngest of the Pear Trees planted here at Bealtaine Cottage. I continue to feed the earth around them with a liquid tea made from nettles and comfrey.

The heady scent of Meadowsweet fills the air on this calm and balmy Sunday afternoon. It grows all over the Bog garden…here is some in the woodland, Fairy dell.

On an afternoon such as this I feel almost intoxicated as I walk around the gardens, with sweets scents filling the air and bees flying to and fro along their pathways of pollen.

Turning to look back at the tunnel as I approach the Fairy Dell, I am taken with the sounds coming from the blackcurrant bushes, only to see a Blackbird swooping out from a gorgefest of fruit…

Geraniums and Oregano spill across mown grass paths. All is peace.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Woodland

Friday Morning Coffee at Bealtaine…Permaculture Life

Another weekend looms large and the weather is fab! Just wandering around the land here, snapping pics as I go. Paying homage to Gaia and all her splendour…it never ceases to bowl me over! This is the Fairy Dell and all is well!

Reflections in the Spring Well. The water continues to bubble up from below the Earth. Can never understand why the earth is called ‘dirt?’

It’s cool down here in the woodland of the Dell…so very hot and still in the open today.

Forget-Me-Nots in the long grass as I walk towards the ponds in the Bog Garden.

And Valerian near the cottage door in the early morning sun.

Have a good weekend everyone!