LUSH SUMMER GARDEN

Yesterday I nearly had a disaster with my blog, not realising that if you delete photos from your media library, that they also disappear from your actual blog entries, I started to delete very energetically. Luckily I discovered in time that something was not right. I was told to up-grade – my kind partner Ian treated me to the update for the year, I am very happy that I can keep going, and also I only need to replace photos of my first month of blogging which was August 2014, that is easily done. So now I’ve got 13GB instead of 3GB to play around with.

Today it was quite nice out despite the soft rain and heavy clouds. I went and looked at my overgrown garden to check what I needed to do first, so I set to trimming the overgrown hedge along side one of the raised beds that I am also putting in order. This year was my first year in permaculture, not sure if I got it quite right, since I was not able to do much gardening (instructing and keeping an eye on my wild plants that like to grow more vigorously than my vegetables), due to family visits and reunions.
There has been a lot of growth, a lot of the larger herbal plants have been trashed down by rain and wind, so it all looks a bit messy. I am reluctant to cut down the large comfrey as it is full of flowers and bees visit constantly, this is important. The feverfew is beautifully in flower, but the wind has also slashed it down, and the lady’s mantel the same. I cut one hedge and got rid of the branches and leaves on the compost heap. Then I got side tracked into the shed, as anyone can remember I am making a big effort to clean out my two ancient sheds. One was used by my now ex-husband when he still had the roofing business, there is still stuff in there that needs to go. I got quite a bit sorted, and while dealing with an old press riddled with woodworm I came across this spider. I thought that it was a lace web spider but I could be wrong. So took some photos. I then discovered that a lettuce which had gone to seed had black lice on the stem, and found that there were also quite a few ants running over them, maybe they eat them?

Yesterday I also noticed that I am getting flowers on my bitter gourd plants which delights me, one experiment going real well ūüôā

This blog entry is a ramble, and that is exactly how I feel about my garden right now, it’s overgrown and so lush and green, it’s amazing, making me feel a little puffed and wondering will I ever get it sorted again, but then it is good the way it is, so much to discover, so full of life. It is all good. It’s a job finding some vegetables among it all though, but slowly things are coming along (those that were not eaten by you know what!)

And that brings me to some new books I got in the library this morning. They both look interesting. The one about the companion planting especially will be useful, the other one is just for inspiration. I find that books always inspire me so much, I let them too, and choose them carefully. We are lucky to have a good library, and of course there is always Amazon, and second hand bookstores around which are lovely to browse through.
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Lush summer growth flattened by wind and rain.

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Black currants, and some of my sweet peas growing among the edible peas.

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Garlic nearly ready to harvest, and the peas which also suffered from the rains but are doing fine.

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Variety of herbs, all fighting for space it seems.

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So blessed with a good library!

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One of my precious bitter gourd flowers, and the hypericum flower.

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The black lice with the ants, and the lace web spider (I think)

A WALK THROUGH MY SISTER’S GARDEN

My sister Meave has a beautiful garden, it is situated on the coast of the beautiful Bantry Bay in the South West of Ireland. The area there is sub tropical and though near the sea everything grows real well. I went visiting the other day and with her permission took many photos to illustrate my writing in this blog. Meave has worked wonders with this garden over the last ten years or so, and by now plants have matured and a nice vegetable plot, in the raised bed that her husband Jay made, is giving her plenty of produce. A walk through this garden is truly wonderful, the more so as Meave has a love of the wild birds with plenty of feeding and bathing areas, it is a delight to see all the different birds, and listen to them too.  The climate is mild due to the gulf stream coming from Mexico Bay, this means that many of the plants cultivated here are sub tropical.  One of the trees growing here, for example, is the Arbutus, also called the strawberry tree.  Palm trees are quite common, also the tree fern which is rather beautiful and special.  Meave has let a lot of native shrubs such as the fuchsia and hawthorn grow and they make her garden really natural looking, she also cultivated many otherwise wild growing roses which do extremely well in her garden.  She pointed out several plants and shrub which were given to her by various sisters and friends and which have special meaning for her, it is lovely to see these grow so well.  Altogether a beautiful garden where butterflies, bees, and other wildlife find a welcome and good home.

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A view towards the sea, the garden slopes down towards the coastline.  Looking towards Sheepshead peninsula.

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Palm trees are quite common around here.  And a dark type of Marsh Mallow flower is growing profusely.

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A flowering shrub¬†that I don’t know the name of, and the Rose of Sharon, a shrub which is seen a lot here too.

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Sheep in the surrounding fields giving a very pastoral feel.

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An old Irish kettle filled with geraniums and one of Meave’s cats, this one is called Trooper!

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The raised bed full of delicious looking vegetables and herbs.

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Another little corner with loving attention to detail, and the bird table surrounded with protection from cats.

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A wild thistle almost in flower, it’s seeds will be great for the goldfinches.¬† This shrub I think is Berberis vulgaris.

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Rose bushes everywhere with lots of different varieties, lovely scents.

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Fuchsias and foxgloves growing wild in hedgerows, also in the garden.

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Another beautifully scented rose, and I do not know the name of this yellow flower.

MIDSUMMER DAYS

After a month of enjoyable family activities, a gathering, wedding, and many visits, and a short journey to my native country with my older sister, I am getting back into a routine of writing my blog, the inspiration is slow in coming but I don’t worry about that, I took so many photos over the past few weeks that I can fall back on those. Photos about a visit to Lier, Belgium, a walk in the forest with some of my mum’s great grandchildren, the large family gathering, my sister Meave’s and my sister Josefine’s gardens, a visit to the garden of my brother Brian and Mia, all very lush and beautiful, and many more. Meanwhile the solstice has come and gone, and my garden is totally overgrown because of neglect, but the beans and peas are doing very well. The next few weeks it will be hard work getting everything under control and planting out more peas and leeks, all stuff to look forward to. I hope that of all my friends and followers everyone is well and enjoying this summer, I for one am glad to be back to blogging and to reading everyone’s blog entries. Blessings to all.
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SECRET GARDEN

Sunday morning and a walk around the garden was definitely called for. What I like so much about this garden is that even though it is very small, it has got quite a few little corners that are very special. Take this large fern for example, it came to grow there all by itself, all I do is give it water when it’s quite dry, and it is a glorious plant, it grows under the Mediterranean oak tree in a wild part of the garden. Then there is the lemon balm that grows under a stump of the chestnut tree, the foxgloves that came to grow in one of the bottom beds, and closer to the house there is the borage and sage which again when together look so charming. I love all these little corners, they give a special feel to the garden. We started to develop this garden some 35 years ago when we bought the house, it was nothing more than a field full of nettles and other wild plants. My daughter and I grew the large chestnut tree from a conker, the birch and pine tree we picked up along the hedgerow, and the Mediterranean oak came as a seedling from a friend. Some of the stone structures are old now, some overgrown and the water tap is almost impossible to reach, but it all has character and the feeling is good. It definitely is a mature garden by now, though the raised bed are very recent. And so things get added and changed according to what is needed, a garden is a living thing, so good to have, such a blessing to work in.
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STALE PIZZA FOR DINNER

A lone rook comes to check out what is on offer this evening in the garden.

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He thinks there might be a good meal to be had, and he takes a taste.

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Soon he is devouring and making a big hole in the pizza which was left on the table (unsuitable for human consumption.)

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A few more come checking it out, and soon, in less than ten minutes the whole meal was finished, polished off.

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The crow family, and in this case the rooks, are scavengers, anything I cannot compost gets eaten by them in the wink of an eye.  Thank you crows, rooks, and jackdaws for your excellent service to us humankind.

LOUGH HYNE IN WEST CORK

Lough Hyne is a salt water lake some 10 minutes away from Skibbereen town in West Cork. The lake is surrounded by a wooded hill on the one side, and is connected to the Atlantic by a narrow gorge (tidal channel) called ‘the rapids’ on the other side. The lake is a marine reserve, very interesting wildlife is found there. I’ve seen seals there too, head bobbing up and down in the water. People swim and do other water sports there. A good link to more information is here:
http://www.skibbheritage.com/hyne.htm
The flowers around the lake are beautiful and some species I have not found elsewhere around Skibbereen. It’s a lovely picnic area too for families.

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ODE TO BORAGE FLOWERS

Cleared away the destroyed Borage plant today, but before I took it all away to the compost I had to get a nice bouquet to be enjoyed still by the bees and us too. I had left it on the patio table, and the bumblebees did come and feasted on the pollen of the still fresh enough flowers. It broke my heart almost to have to cut it all down, but then I remembered that the comfrey plant is also fully in flower now and has plenty of pollen for the insects, bees and all. Took some pics of the lovely bumblebees, and some other creatures that came across my path today.

Somewhere else in the garden, another borage plant is already getting big and is flowering.

To date I have not used the borage flowers for producing anything really, and I am not even sure what I would make, but it is supposed to be used in a skin cream. It’s ok because I cannot try everything at the same time, there is so very much that one can use and make with plants, and there is so much information about it all these days,¬†interesting books, like for example, Sof McVeigh’s ‘Treat Yourself Natural’ which gives many ideas and recipes for making and using things out of the garden. A book beautifully produced and well recommended.
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These creatures, a wood lice, and a little red mite were hidden under a stone that I disturbed today.

HOW BEAUTIFUL IS NATURE

Spent some time in the garden today, the sun was out and there was some heat even during the afternoon. Some of the plant are doing well and flowering beautifully. I only noticed three insects, two bumblebees and on sort of a fly, very beautiful and I took a shot of it. Some other plants, especially the green beans and the sweet peas are not growing at all, they have been transplanted a month or so ago and still no growth, perhaps not enough heat or sun. But the lady’s mantel, the chives and the nasturtiums are flowering fully now, a lovely lush display. The other vegetable that is thriving is the flowering broccoli, which is telling me something, if the brassicas are going to do well, then brassicas I will grow. Today I also read in a newsletter of the GIY (Grow it yourself) organisation that this season best to grow things in the poly tunnels. So today I cleared one of the mini tunnels so that I can put them to better use. Gardening is a constant improving and learning isn’t it, challenging but rewarding too.

“Beauty is the purest feeling of the soul. Beauty arises when soul is satisfied.‚ÄĚ
Amit Ray
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Unidentified fly

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Chives and strawberry flowers

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My comfrey flowers

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Red currants and raspberries

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The flowering broccoli and the struggling sweet peas

ENGLISH MARIGOLDS

Just picked some Marigold flowers which I will put on oil for a few weeks and then make into an ointment which is so beneficial to the skin. But the fun is mostly in growing, harvesting, and the making of the ointment.¬† Up to now I have not made very much¬†in this line, yet the hedgerow and garden is full of potential teas, potions, ointments waiting for someone to experiment.¬† It’s great to have this as a goal, something to¬†get better at.¬†¬†All along I have harvested my own teas, especially hawthorn, red clover, nettle, and many more,¬†and I have made oils (as in soaking flowers in oil for some weeks), so now the next step is ointments, and I have found the beeswax that I need for it.

A nice thing to think about while recovering from a norovirus and not having energy for much else.
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