Nature is at its very best right now. The month of May is usually the most beautiful in Ireland I think. Insects abound, flowers are lush and beautiful and still so full of energy, deep colour and vibrancy. And the trees are mighty in their greenery, strong and filling up with juice taken from infrequent spring showers. I feel it, their strenght, when I sit on the bench under our enormous hawthorn tree. I take time there, every single day. It’s one of the best restoring pills nature has to offer.
This Sunday afternoon I had a look through my recent photos of some of the lichens that I find growing in the area here, some of them in our own garden, others are found in the local forests of West Cork, growing on trees but also on rocks, on stone buildings, on roofs. Our own roof has some orange lichen (I read that this is a sign that we live in a clean environment… no pollution). I love lichen and find them fascinating but so far I have not had much luck with identifying them, for proper identification you need more than the naked eye, a microscope or at least a hand lens. So I’m not going to attempt to put identification with my photos as yet. Lichens are a combination of a fungus and one or more algae in a mutually symbiotic relationship. I read that the algae do the photosynthesis, providing the fungi with energy for reproduction, the fungi in turn provide structural form and protect the lichen from bright light . I find lichen beautiful and in fact would love a workshop on their identification, it would be very interesting especially as there are so many types of them growing here.
This misty Sunday afternoon was a good time for a walk in Myross wood. I’d been to the plant sale there and after picking some new plants for the garden, and a cup of tea that is just what I did. The birds were singing and there was a wealth of new life, flowers and plants, young leaves on the trees as well. I found plenty of beautiful mosses and lichens, also some fungi. As it has been rather wet the last week the woods were full of moisture and many of the plants had rain or mist drops dripping off them. An ideal way to see the forest, beautiful and calm, no wind. There were few other walkers. I could hear the brook from afar adding to an overall feel of dampness which in fact did not disturb me, rather it gave me a refreshing feeling. April in West Cork can be a nice month, still chilly at times but when the sun comes through it gives all of its warmth at once, a very nice feeling that is. Often the month of May is already our summer with temperature going over 20degrees Celsius. But seeing that it is still April the days can be unpredictable, today was misty and windstill, very quiet. The detail that is to be found on the forest floor among some of last autumn’s leaves is amazing, all the new life, so fresh and delicate, beautiful and interesting too. I found plenty of that today. The many photos that I took of the lichen I’ll be showing in another blog post, I simply love lichen and mosses too. Meanwhile enjoy what follows today and thank you for visiting.
It is nearing the end of March and though the weather is still quite wet, it is time to put some of the plans that I have made for the garden into action. The frost is gone and the temperature is now around 18 degrees. The soil temperature was 11 degrees Celsius today. However, the soil is still very wet. I’ve been working at the back of the garden taking roots out of the soil, roots from ivy, black currant, and nettles from a patch where I want to grow our potatoes this season. It’s hard but rewarding work and I just love working with the soil, feeling it and finding little creatures in it, even the colours of different soil is interesting. The plot that I’m currently working in has always been used to dispose of organic matter, and it has benefited this soil very much, its colour is more brown than the surrounding black. Originally our soil was mostly clay but over the years I’ve been changing it to loam by using lots of composted garden and kitchen refuse. So anyway, my plans for this year include introducing some of my favourite perennials and annuals, some of these I will be sowing and some I am buying. We do have two excellent garden centres here in the town, I can get anything I want. Talking about anything I want… one of my dearest wishes for many years is to get a small green house, think of what I could grow off season…
During the winter I covered the patch that I planned to use for the potatoes with canvas, it did make a difference when I uncovered it yesterday, a lot of the grass had wilted. Two robins where looking for grubs in the newly disturbed soil, they are so lovely and not a bit afraid of us humans.
Some of the vegetables that are currently growing still and ready for eating.
And some of the flowers that are heralding spring, they seem to brave the wind and rain so easily!
And these above are some of my more wild plants which I treasure too, some for cooking, and some for the enjoyment of the flowers when they show later in the summer. They all grow so easy and start to grow very early in the year, such a joy, so green and healthy looking. In fact most of these plants overwinter here as the climate is mild, we did get some frost, even a little snow, but mostly temperatures are a few degrees above zero during the night and in the day they vary between 8 and 10 Celcius.
During the past three years I’ve added several shrubs to my collection, and this year I’m thinking of buying a Mahony shrub, I see them growing in tubs around the town and love them. Their honey scented yellow flowers are beautiful and also flowering early in the year. The leaves turn a lovely colour in autumn. Inside I’m starting a Ribes plant from a cutting, and I’ve got a Skimmia sapling still sitting on the kitchen window-sill ready to plant out soon, it is a male plant so I will be looking for a female to join it, it is the female plant that develops the deep red berries. I have sweet pea seedlings on my bedroom window-sill, a bit too soon those plant out. It’s time to sow a selection of summer flowering annuals inside, but the marigolds I’ll be sowing outside during the next week, they thrive very well in our garden. I’m also setting a myriad of gladiola bulbs.
I am not your regular gardener, though I love the physical work that gardening involves, mostly I like to experiment and I like to see what comes growing into my garden without me planting it, I like the element of surprise and discovery. I like taking note of what my soil needs and so testing the soil, taking its temperature, making note of how much light a certain plot receives, how acid the soil is, and much more. I also like to propagate plants, grow from cuttings etc… It’s something I’ve done all my life. And I like to provide fresh vegetables for my family… well, my husband and myself that is, I love cooking with fresh produce that I’ve just plucked from the garden whether it’s wild or cultivated, a combination is great. Right now the wild plants that are plentiful are three cornered leeks, succulent tops of cleavers, young dandelion leaves and tender nettle leaves. The earth gives abundantly!
Yesterday was a lovely spring day, full sunshine and only a little breeze, dry. My grandson Ruben was visiting and after cooking lunch together we decided to go and see which flowers and plants we would find in the hedgerow along our favourite walk. We took off in a gallop as Ruben is a very fit twelve and a half year old, he leads an active outdoor life and loves his gymnastics. During this walk he wanted to take photos and so, as you do, I handed him over my phone. Following are some of the pictures he took. I think he did very well and he concentrated on what was to be found hidden away, and finding he did; some water plants and fresh grasses. He also took a couple of photos while half climbing a tree. And in his pocket he carried a bag in case he came across other people’s rubbish! He is a good citizen in the making who cares about his environment. We both had an interesting time and we also had a good laugh and fun as he pushed me or pulled me and called me an old granny if I lagged behind because I was looking at some specimen of plants I wanted to have a closer look at, but all in good spirit of give and take. I felt very refreshed after our walk.
Above are five of Rubens photos, taken on our walk. He came across a ladybird, and was fascinated by a little brook and of what was growing in there.
Searching, observing and finding that spring has started and that lots of signs are to be seen all over the place.
It is lovely to see buds enlarging on the trees. This walk is safe as not many cars drive here, it eventually connects to the Castletown road at Rusha Mill. With the town of Skibbereen becoming more built up, this is a very valuable piece of rural beauty and long may it be that way.
While I am recovering from covid infection my thoughts were turned to things that normally do not catch my attention so much. Of course I’ve had much more time to think, although during the first week it seemed my head was empty of any real musings and the fever probably was the cause of that. At the end of the second week now and finally starting to become human again. It was my first time having covid and it truly felt like a monster virus.
And so while sitting at my kitchen table, seeing some of the last of my Christmas decorations lying there waiting to be put away for another year, I was thinking… what gives me intense pleasure from the bling that I’m seeing? I’m not normally a typical bling person and in our tree my favourite bauble is no bauble at all but a little handmade piece of lace in the shape of a candle. And yet when my eyes chance to glance over these sparkling baubles it sets off a sort of childlike pleasure… is it the childhood memory of sparkling sweet wrappers which we only seldom were able to feast upon, or is it something more basic, is the reminder of a frosty morning when a winter’s sun makes branches and leaves sparkle like diamonds… I think it might be the latter, the beauty of nature when the sun illuminates the frost covered plants is definitely one of my great winter’s joys.
During this past Christmas I was given three books as presents, three wonderful books which I’ve already started to enjoy. All are about nature, one about the heartbeat of trees, one about the land and soil, and one about a journey into silence. In this last book the author talks about the search for the perfect moment, when there is a confluence of time and place and serendipity, all conspiring together to render a perfect moment (his words), He’s talking about his times he spent in nature and his meeting with the wild, with animals, birds and anything else he finds unexpectedly in wild places. I’m very much enjoying this book.
A lovely selection of reads for the foreseeable future that’s for sure.
On this first day of 2023 I took the opportunity to have a slow walk around the garden. A winter’s sun, now and then hidden behind some clouds illuminated the darker areas, where nevertheless I found colour and texture that pleased my eyes and delighted my soul.
Let me herewith wish all my friends and followers a peaceful and blessed year, filled with beauty and whatever your hearts desire. Enjoy!
Midwinter can be a most beautiful time of year, both because of the celebrations but also because nature can be especially magical, every season shows us something new and interesting of course. I love the Helleborus, some of their colours are subtle but beautiful. Last week we had the ice flowers here, this week it is very mild with plenty of rain. The buds are showing on some of the trees but are still small. I’m taking part in the garden bird survey and so far the usual winter birds are showing up in good enough numbers, I even saw a song thrush the other day to my delight. So far the chaffinches have only shown up in small numbers, hopefully that will change.
I actually started this post to wish all my good friends and followers a joyful and beautiful Christmas time. And a prosperous new year filled with many Blessings and Peace and Love.