ALWAYS SOMETHING INTERESTING IN THE GARDEN

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The Speckled Wood (Pararge Aegeria) Butterfly was once again flying around in the garden and was not on it’s own, I saw another two of the same species, they were interested in the half rotted Blackberries that were lying on the table outside.

Late summer blooms are making a lovely blue show.  You have always seen Hydrangeas in the gardens here in West Cork, but of late they are also being planted along the roads, especially outside towns.  It is so easy to grow these plants from just a little slip, and I’ve grown them before, but only white ones, the blue one I bought.  They don’t do so well in a container, they much prefer the garden.  Their colours can vary from deep reds to deep blues and purples.

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The berries are on the Hawthorn tree, it’s mainly going to be food for the birds, but I firmly believe in the medicinal qualities of the Hawthorn tree.  I collect leaves and young buds in spring time to use as a tea. It is good for the heart, one cup a day.

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This Hawthorn tree came to grow here in the garden some years ago, I discovered it as a young sapling growing near my very old Lilac tree that had grown too old to be kept in this small garden, so I decided to get it cut down and to let the Hawthorn tree grow there instead.  I gave the wood of the Lilac tree to my brother who used it for wood carving, he made me a lovely delicate feather from the wood, which I treasure.

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Today I harvested some Celery seeds, just before the rain started at midday, I picked all I could find with seed heads in the Celery plot.  I had to hand release all the little seeds by flicking the branches one by one, a bit of a meditative job.  Finally I got a plateful of the tiny little seeds, they can be used during the winter months for cooking..  I thought that the left over branches also made a very decorative sight.

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THE BEARA PENINSULA HAS SO MUCH BEAUTY – RUGGED AND YET LUSH

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Today we went for a drive in the Beara Peninsula, it was a perfect day for it.  We left Skibbereen this early without even going to our usual farmers market for bread, vegetables and such like.  The sun was shining and it was a beautiful late summer day.  I was happy to see still so much Fuchsia which is still flowering profusely in the hedgerows adding lovely blotches of red to the landscape.

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A rugged landscape warmed by late summer colours.  The mountains here are part of the Slieve Miskish mountain range.

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During the winter this landscape changes colour and becomes a beautiful variety of browns.

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Some more of the local flora.

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The sky was quite interesting on the way home, this is part of Hungry Hill which is another great mountain of the Beara Peninsula.

SOME BIRDS FREQUENTING THE GARDEN

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We get quite a lot of Rooks here, these are from the Crow family, they come and clean any left overs we leave behind for them on the grass.  At least a dozen of them at the same time, but in summer we don’t see them so often, though if you put some bread out they come quickly enough.  I see the adults still feeding their young when they are quite big.  We have one that we call Charlie, he makes an awful lot of noise and always sits on the same fence.  They are very intelligent creatures and interact with each other a lot.  They are useful birds to have around as they always clean up any bread or seeds left behind by the smaller birds.  After not using the chimney for several years, we had to get a chimney sweep who had a big job as the whole chimney was full of branches from their nests.

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The blackbird singing high up in the tree.

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Jackdaws also frequent the garden everyday, they manage to get nuts from the feeder even when they are not meant to get them, they use their feet to hold on to the feeder and then peck away on the nuts.

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Another bird in the garden here is the Collared Dove, they are beautiful, especially when they are starting to fly or they land and their tail is fanned out.  One Christmas a few years ago two of them arrived in the garden, and last winter there were three couples, in spring they put on quite a romantic display.

LATE SUMMER PRODUCE, COMPOSTING, AND MAKING JAM

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Some of the late summer produce from the garden.  My first time growing tomatoes and aubergine.  I am making Ratatouille later on.

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But my main job today was to get some well rotted compost out of the composter and spreading it on one of the beds that is ready for putting in Garlic and autumn greens.  It did not take long to finish the job but it took all the energy I had today, so I am real glad that I got it done.  The compost is well rotted as it is in there for several years, the colour is good and dark, the scent is slightly sour, and there are a lot of egg shells in it which have not totally decomposed.  I will know better now that I am reading this book on composting, and will dispose of my egg shells in a different way.  One thing that I also noticed is that the compost is too wet, that is not good and I will need to find the solution for that.  I also found worms, big fat slugs, woodlice, some spiders, and some millipedes in this compost, so plenty of diners.  I have also added leafs of the Comfrey plants to the composter, but separate from that I make Comfrey tea also to use on the soil.  Improving the soil and crop rotation are of foremost importance for my garden here.

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A lovely fat slug, one of many that are eating in the composter.

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The compost is spread on, I am expecting the soil to be improved a good bit after this, will wait a while before putting in the garlic, and the salad leafs.

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Other than that I made jam from wild Blackberries which my grandchildren picked, the smell of fresh blackberry and apple jam is delicious and still hanging in my kitchen this evening.  I know who is going to love this when collected!

THE EWE EXPERIENCE IN GLENGARRIFF – WEST CORK

Today I did not even go into my garden, it has been raining cats and dogs all day, but it did not deter my daughter, my two oldest grandchildren, their au-pair and myself to go and enjoy the Ewe Experience in Glengarriff. We left here in the morning, an hours driving got us there, it was still raining when we arrived but after a while it eased off. This Ewe Experience is a garden created by some very talented and imaginative people who have created a space where every bend or every few steps along the trail will fascinate the visitor with sculptures, and beautiful nature.  Use it made of natural wood, stone and recycled materials among others. The whole experience is also an education in sustainability and responsible living on out earth. It is an interactive sculpture garden.  My grandchildren loved it, we as adults also did, I found it very meditatively. For this reason I thought that today I would like to share some photos of this garden rather than my own.

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Ferns in this magical and beautiful garden.

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A spider-like creatures made of branches.

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Toadstool in the damp forest.

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A dinosaur which really grabbed the attention of Alice, my 5 year old grand daughter.

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Some of the plants growing in this garden, and in Glengarriff are sub-tropical, magnificent, and they even looked better today because by the time I took most of the pictures the rain had stopped and everything looked so fresh and green.

The website of this garden is:  http://www.theewe.com

LATE SUMMER FLOWERING AND HARVESTING

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Late summer flowers, Calendula of which I am now collecting the seeds for next growing season.

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Calendula seed head                                                                   And Borage still flowering profusely.

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The runner bean harvest continues and many more beans are coming on so these vegetables will be served here at home for a while to come.

WHILE IT IS RAINING – NO, POURING, THERE ARE PLANS TO BE MADE.

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Raindrops on the leaves of the herb Ladys Mantel. Lots of rain for the last two days, but I received two books on composting so there is a lot of reading up to do, because if there is one thing that I want to get right before next growing season, it is to really improve the soil, and composting is the way to go!

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This is how overfull my composter is right now,  I don’t think that I have emptied it for the past 5 years, now is the time to use the contents which should be well rotted.

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The sort of stuff I put into the composter, but I guess that after reading my books on composting it will become more pure and the compost might improve.

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There is also a heap of shredded twigs and hedge cuttings which are ready to be used to improve the soil.

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These are the two books that I ordered on Amazon to inform myself more about composting, should be an expert after that, though I think that it is more to do with experience than with reading about it, still I do need to give it serious attention, how can you grow vegetables organically if your soil is not fertile enough!…………..and this is a little Ladybird that decided to come inside from all the rain, and was sitting on my foot earlier.

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ANOTHER FINE MORNING IN A WEST CORK GARDEN

Temperatures are down to around 17degrees Celsius now, but the sun has risen and it looks like it will be another glorious day here in West Cork.  Though it is only August, there is a definite feel of autumn in the air.

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This caterpillar was seen in my garden yesterday, I wonder what sort of butterfly or moth it will turn into, I am not familiar with this specimen.

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My first year growing tomatoes ever, we have had quite a few already but not sure if I want to use the same seeds next year, though easy to grow and organic, their skins are very tough.

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An almost finished project, using a ‘green’ wood stain this fence has been given new life by my partner, it is starting to look so much better now.  Lots of projects in the garden apart from actually growing the vegetables, especially here in West Cork where the winters are very wet, there is much to do to protect and preserve.  One of the biggest jobs in my garden is keeping on top of the wildly growing hedges, some of them are Privet, they grow several meters per summer, they cause the garden to become shaded and damp, so it is of great importance to keep them trimmed, a job that is impossible to do at the moment as these hedges are by now 3meters high!  There are also several trees that need thinning, there is the Chestnut, the Birch, the Pine and the Oak tree, all of them need to have branches cut out of them – lucky me in that my son-in-law is a tree surgeon!

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Yesterday the first of the little guides that I ordered at Amazon arrived by post.  It is full of information on pruning etc… well illustrated and seems info is basic enough, so that will keep me reading over the weekend.  So much to learn.