LATE SUMMER IS MAGICAL

Today the temperature went up to 28C which is very warm for West Cork. Beautiful sunshine and blue sky added to our pleasures, and a little breeze made it so that I could work in the garden. Our very overgrown and wild garden, our Ark, has attracted an enormous number of insects and butterflies during the summer months, and still there is a great number of hoverflies, a fair number of bumblebees, and many smaller flies, as well as butterflies visiting and making life very pleasant especially knowing that we are helping with the upkeep of biodiversity in Ireland. Very necessary.

A delicate thistle seed landed among some of the late flowers.
Nasturtiums have overgrown the Lavender and the Mellissa, flowering beautifully, giving bright colours.
This is my favourite photo of this summer, so lovely to see the insects feeding on the dandelion flower.
The Oregano is almost finished flowering, from my observations these flowers have attracted the most insects, they have flowered all summer and have been buzzing unbelievable.
I guess that it will take me a great deal of time during the winter to identify all my insects, I have so many photos of them and such a variety. Fun for rainy days.

Wishing each and everyone a very nice September, my month, this month I will have my 70th birthday! Again unbelievable 🙂

WHEN SEEDS ARE STARTING TO FORM

It is that time of the summer when the garden has about half of its plants in bloom, and the other half is busy forming seeds and dispersing them too. Summer breezes are helping. And despite the cooler weather and the rain, or maybe because of it, the garden is very lush at this time, and seeds are starting to be plentiful. Personally I find many seed-heads very beautiful and usually want to take them into the house for the winter, this far I have only photographed them in the past few days.
Above are the seeds of one of the Willow-herb plants (Epiloblum). I grow these in the garden, that is to say, they come growing by themselves, and this summer I just let them be.

The photo to the right above are the seeds of the Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus), a medicinal plant that I grow in the garden, it is not for use as it is a highly toxic plant and not suitable for self-medication. The flower is pretty though and I get satisfaction from growing any herbal plant. The photo on the left are the seeds of the broad-leaved plantain (plantago major) I have one large one growing in the garden and it is beautiful. I use it mainly for treating insect bites, as a compress.

So this is what happened to all my glorious poppies, I have now a myriad of seed-heads and will be able to share many seeds, and use a few of the beautiful seed-heads as winter decoration inside.

While looking over the garden for seed-heads I found this green shield-bug nymph, and not only one of them, the garden is full of these beautiful little creatures, and that is no wonder either as earlier this summer there was a multitude of the adult type mating all over the garden. This common shield bug is native to Ireland and feeds on tree and plant juices. They are harmless.

The nettles grew very tall this summer, they are now in seed. I used quite a few in cooking, but mainly I grew them for the caterpillars of Red Admiral butterflies.

And this is a most recent photo of part of my garden. It has been and still is a truly wild experience. I would go into the garden and discover more and more wild plants and many insects and creatures. The thistles are easily 3 meters high and not yet at seed stage. I will have to contain them a little when they do seed as otherwise the garden will be impossible to walk in. I firmly believe that nature is very strong, it will never be totally destroyed, it will always survive.
Apart from everything else, the beauty of nature is what we need to survive mentally and spiritually.

SUMMER GARDEN ~ COMING INTO ITS OWN

The lavender is really at its best right now, after the bit of heat the last few days, and one solid day of refreshing rain last Sunday.

I love growing feverfew, it is not only a great herb, it also looks beautiful in the garden among the lavender and the marigolds.

And still the comfrey flowers, and it is visited constantly by the bumblebees. I noticed three different types of bumble bee today, this one a beauty, very light colouring, very fluffy, and large. As far as I know it is a carder bee, Bombus muscorum. The other two, a tiny type, and a regular one with two yellow bands, probably Bombus lucorum.

Among all the wild and garden flowers this summer I am still also growing some vegetables, and many herbs too of course. The large garlic was a succes this time, and the garden peas are doing real well.

This is the tall mullein plant of which I am growing a few this summer. The leaves are medicinal, but I have not used them so far.

This is just a little update at the end of this month of June, midsummer has just passed and I love the very early bright mornings, awaking at 4 o’clock very often while the first light appears in the Eastern sky, and the birds are singing, wonderful! And while the countries of continental Europe are scorching hot, we had a mellow feel to the day this afternoon with summer scents wafting up from the damp but warm earth, such a delight.

Henry James knew about these happy feelings when he said ““Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

Are you enjoying a wonderful summer in nature?

WILD SUMMER GARDEN ~ INSECT PARADISE

A look at our garden through the conservatory window on a rather dark day this summer, but it’s all good. This spring and summer I let all the wild plants grow wherever they wanted as first and foremost on my list was to give as much food as possible to the insects. It has worked too, we never had so many insects before. Some of the thistles at the back of the garden are now taller than myself, as are the poppies and some of the foxgloves.
It has worked, yes. At first we had a huge quantity of borage, then the kafir lilies started to flower and the marigolds, then in the beginning of May so many more flowers followed. Soon bumblebees, bees and hoverflies started to arrive. Honey bees seem to favour the kafir lilies, the bumblebees are partial to the foxgloves, the comfrey, and the borage. By now the lavender is also visited by all the insects.
As you can see, the garden is rather wild. My patch of garlic is totally overgrown with foxgloves and thistles. Unused leeks are growing and coming into flower soon, they are allowed and I am looking forward to see what they will add to the garden.
Apart from the kafir lilies we are having a super crop of red poppies which we are enjoying very much, as are the insects.
Foxgloves grow wild in Ireland, and so they just come to grow in the garden too. I love them and they are never without some insects visiting them.
Mostly herbs here, sage, oregano, lavender, Melissa, thyme, and some celery too.

TENDER SEEDLINGS AND ROBUST SHOOTS

After a full two weeks of sunshine and mild weather, we are now experiencing some crazy April showers! Heavy rain is drenching our valley and wind is tearing at the blossoms of our trees.  For now the frosty nights we had lately are definitely over.  Inside, however, there is plenty of activity and the conservatory cum dining room, half of the kitchen, and part of my bedroom are all taken up by tender young seedlings or robust shoots.  Pots are everywhere but it is a delight to see.  Ian too is sleeping between all this young growth.

I have learnt an important lesson this spring, to date I have always bought my plants at the market stalls and put them straight into the garden, except last spring when I sowed French beans, spinach, and radish as part of an experiment and course with GROWTH.

This January, however, every time I went shopping I came home with at least one packet of seeds or bulbs and doing this cheered me up no end.  Come the beginning of March I could contain myself no longer and started sowing, indoors obviously.  And this was a mistake….some seeds came up after a week or more but did not thrive, most came to nothing.  A few days ago I did another larger sowing and the seed came up almost overnight and so far they are thriving!  Lesson learnt!  Do not sow before April in West Cork!

So far the slugs seem to be still asleep, I find them underneath pots and planks in the garden, unmovable.  Inside is quite another matter….they are travelling leaving silvery trails in their wake over pots, carpet and table, but so far very little damage has been done to plants.

I did plant some old English marigolds outside and I put empty water bottles over them as protection and they are doing fine.   The irises will have to be planted out soon as the shoots are coming on strong, as are the dahlias and begonias.  I’m so looking forward to my first time growing agapanthus.  Furthermore I’ve lots of different rudbekias coming on, I used to grow these and love them, also the time of year when they flower.  Seedlings growing at this moment are petunias, red poppies, ixia, cosmos, zinnia, freesias, eliopsis scabra, and phlox, they are all new plants to me.  Irises I used to grow when I was a teenager, they were blue.

I’ve also sowed marrows, cucumber, basilica, African marigolds, spring onions, chives, lots of heirloom fragrant sweet peas, and the wild bee flower seeds which I bought because they were recommended to help the declining bee population, the sunflowers and the cornflowers.

The local (Brown Envelope) seeds of the garden peas are also coming up beautifully.  There is a lot to be said for sowing locally sourced seeds – plants resulting from them will be more tolerant of local climate.  There remains to be sown my own seeds which I saved from last year’s harvest and these are;   Thistle, catnip, evening primrose, oregano, basil mint, and purple loosestrife, some of these seeds have already self-sown outside. 

The wealth and abundance of nature is a wonderful thing to behold, something to be very grateful for, day by beautiful day.

If, my dear friends, you have continued to read to the end of my notes this time, I congratulate and thank you.  Have a nice day.

Every bit of space where there is sufficient light is taken up by seedlings
Dinner is served on a tray for today!

THE GARDEN IS AWAKENING

I guess it is – or rather – the gardener is awakening! Because a good crop of herbs and vegetables was growing all winter long in our little garden. But today I started getting organized because there is lots to do, and I cannot wait to get going!

Vegetables in abundance – overwintering colourful Chard, Rosemary, Kale and Celery.
The Lavender is in good condition after the winter, and the Rosemary bush is getting larger by the day.

Much of my space is still taken up by winter vegetables but some of the beds are ready, one for potatoes, and another one for flowers, this season the emphasis is going to be on food for the insects, that is so important today.

This book I took out of the library, lots of information on what to grow to help butterflies survive, great for ideas.

So yes there is lots going on even as early in spring as right now. We have enough food coming from the garden, and that helped me make the decision to grow a lot more flowers seeing that insect population is under such threat. But personally I am also very happy with this decision because I am very fond of flowers.

Dear friends, followers, and readers of my blog, I would like to thank you for all your encouragement. I’m coming up to 800 followers now and I treasure everyone of you.

MINDFULNESS

Below follow some quotes from people I admire. I have put them among photos of our garden showing how lush it is at this moment, a moment to relish and savour, a moment to be thankful for and to enjoy to the full. Yes another summer is in full swing ~~~~~~~~

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh
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“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
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“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh


“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, everyone of them sufficient” Marilynne Robinson
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“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” Amit Ray


“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” Meister Eckhart


“Happiness is your nature. It is not wrong to desire it. What is wrong is seeking it outside when it is inside.” – Ramana Maharshi
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“You have a treasure within you that is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.” – Eckhart Tolle


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Victor Frankl
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“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing.” Jon Kabat-Zinn

GIFTS FROM MY LATE SUMMER GARDEN

Half way through August in Ireland is already considered to be ‘late’ summer. Some years the month of August would bring autumn-like storms and lots of rain with chilly evenings, but this year, however, it has been warm, yes even warmer than usual, and the past few days the temperature has reached into the twenties (C). It’s just a lovely time of the year I think.
I’ve been away for a while and now that I am back the first thing I did was to go and have a good look around my garden. I have a lot to consider because in another few weeks we will be away for several months and though the house will be lived in, the garden will not be looked after. So there is planning to be done, so that when we arrive home again I can start planting and sowing straight away.

Here is what I found in the garden at present:
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Still beautiful flowers, I love hydrangeas, especially the blue coloured types.  These won’t need any attention as they are perennials, so they grow from year to year, all they might need is a little pruning.


Though the start of the summer brought very few insects, lately the garden has been full of them, bees, bumblebees, beetles, all sorts of flies, and so on, also the ants are ever present. The insect hotel has been quite occupied it seems and that is encouraging.

Seeds are starting to ripen.  Here in the garden it is the evening primrose plant and the thistle especially that are ripening fast, both of which I want to save for sharing later with my local GIY group.  The seeds of the thistle of course I grew especially for the gold finch, so far I have not seen any but the they will come, they do every year.

I used the last of my comfrey tea and the barrel is ready for another brew, fortunately the comfrey grows enormously fast and another large plant is ready to use to this end.  The straw I have put in the two cold frames on top of cardboard, this will help to prepare the soil for next year, and keep stuff growing there.  Montbretia flowers still brighten up corners here and there in the wild areas.

The garden is still gifting us with raspberries which are sweet and tasty, I also love the tansy flowers and of course the white hydrangeas at the back of the garden which this year are giving an amazing display.

This is an update of sorts, I needed to have this on record above all, and it has done me good, if anything, writing about my garden, and taking the photos is a really relaxing activity for me, I enjoy it very much and that has got to be good.