So right, we live in S.W. Ireland, and that means that we experience a micro climate due to the gulfstream passing by these shores, and normally we do have a mild winter, it seldom snows or freezes here, though we do get some light frost during or after January.
Even though it is quite cold just now, and the mountains in the distance have their tops covered in snow, in the garden the plant growth reminds me more of early spring. The temperature of the soil seems normal enough, it was 6 degrees Celsius the other day, and at night the outside temperature is between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius. And even today the cold wind made it feel very chilly. But yet something seems out of kilter, and I cannot actually put my finger on it clearly. Questions like; Is the planet really warming up? Is the climate changing? beg for answers everyday and all around us now. Here are some of my own observations.
And taking stock of the garden the other day here is what I found.
PS actually Oca is only harvested after the first night frost, they are a reddish sweetish little potato-like vegetable. I have found them relatively easy to grow but hard to peel or clean before eating. They are a nice plant though. Check this website if you are interested in them. https://www.thejournal.ie/readme/how-do-you-grow-oca-3113951-Dec2016/
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.
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.
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.
I love growing feverfew, it is not only a great herb, it also looks beautiful in the garden among the lavender and the marigolds.
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 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.”
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
“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
“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
“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
“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