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.

THE CROW FAMILY

Yes, the crow family is well represented over and in our garden. They include rooks, jackdaws, and hooded crow. For the past month or so they have been very happy and today I counted two dozen in just ten minutes. We always had some crows but never as many. The reason for this much of a mob congregating in the garden is that I have changed our rubbish collection service a while back. I cancelled it. We never had that much anyway, and it was senseless to pay the standing charges when we can just as well do these things ourselves, recycle as much as is possible, use the compost heap for the rest, and only a tiny fraction has to be brought to the waste management place in Bantry or Schull.

So, coming to the crows, what attracts them in even greater numbers to the garden is that if I have food left over that needs getting rid of, or stale bread or so, I put it out there for them. Our waste does not contain meat, but if it did I believe that crows are omnivores anyway, so no worry. Sometimes I have fish skin and they even eat that, or maybe I am wrong and it is the cat next door that empties that little dish. All in all I love these guys coming around for their lunch, it makes the garden very lively for a little while, their shiny feathers beautiful in the sunlight. It works both ways, the crows get some of their food, and for me I do not have to deal with a smelly bin in the kitchen, however small.

My favourite is the hooded crow, they mostly use the fir tree at the back of the garden, even built a nest in it as far as I can see, high up. These birds, and also the blackbirds, doves, and a variety of smaller birds, bats, and insects find a fine feeding ground here in our garden, I am really happy for that. The cat next door, she comes to have a look everyday but I give her bits of food too so she won’t kill any of the smaller birds.
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Congregating on top of the shed, waiting their turn to eat, maybe.

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And more of them waiting in the birch tree closer to the house.


They sit and wait all over the place, while some of them are eating.

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And this is the hooded crow, I love these birds, they are beautiful, I am very happy that they choose our garden to nest in.

MIDSUMMER IN OUR IRISH GARDEN

Well it is midsummer now, there has been a stillness in the air all day, now as the sun slowly disappears behind Mount Gabriel, the swifts are making merry above the houses here, probably the coolness of the evening has allowed the insects to dans around making easy prey for those happily swooping birds.
It is wind still.

How nice after the emotional and exciting last two days after voting results came out, Brexit is out….. will chaos follow, or not!

I was out in the garden today, looking at what is growing, and was pleasantly surprised with the flowers and the herbs, there is not much else growing as I did not plant any vegetables, but there are quite a few wild edible plants which I am using. I did not sow nor did I plant this year because this coming autumn we are going away again, but more about that another time. There are some berries growing and producing, strawberries, red currants, raspberries, are all doing really well. The herbs too have never grown better, makes me very happy.

Though I am leaving every single flower wild or not, I am disappointed with the lack of bees and other insects, despite there being a beehive just in next door’s garden! I still have to see my first butterfly too this summer, even though I spent days in the midst of nature last week. I hope that will change soon.

DISTRACTED BY LIFE

As it was an overcast but still very nice day, I decided to do some work in our own garden. I cleared one raised bed ready for growing some plants, but I am delighted with what is growing there already, there are plenty of herbs, such as rosemary, lemon balm, lavender, evening primrose, oca, oregano (two types), and of all things some Jerusalem artichokes have come up too. So I just took out some grass and some other stuff that was smothering those plants. Ian decided to come and work with me, so he cleared the path on his knees with a small little knife, no easy task to be sure.  Now and then we took a rest, either for tea or chat, or to admire the creatures flying or crawling around.  Meanwhile I took a few shots of them.

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These are three wild plants that I am keeping my eye on very closely, number one is a huge thistle, it is almost in flower, I know that the seeds are what the gold finch feed on and that is why I want to keep it, to attract these birds and see how it goes.  The second one is our comfrey plant, it’s flourishing and what I am watching is the amount of insects that are using it, most of what I see are the bumblebees and I would love to see some honey bees on the comfrey too, of course.  The third plant is two years old, I grew it as a salad plant but it was so beautiful that I did not want to eat it, so I let it grow, and when we returned from Gozo it was so large and I recognised it as a plant you see a lot around here in the wild, a type of sorrel perhaps.  These three are on my watch list.

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And this is a view of our garden, we have had the pleasure to sit under the hawthorn tree all week for our meals, in the dappled sunlight with the garden scents all around us and the birds singing, what a perfect summer weather, aware that for people in other lands, not as lucky just then because of rains and floods.

Always nice to appreciate what we have in the moment.

LILIES OF THE VALLEY

While doing some gardening today I discovered that the lilies of the valley were flowering, such a heavenly scent. I picked some for the house and got to play around with taking photos, then experimenting with editing, it is after all the weekend, we worked hard all day, and anyhow I have got writer’s block right now. I have one favourite among these pictures, I wonder would anyone guess which one. 🙂  Have a lovely weekend everyone.

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SUCH IS MY GARDEN RIGHT NOW

I had a look at what’s growing right now in my garden, just before I am going away for a while. There are still quite a few vegetables doing well and looking rather lovely and fresh. Mainly leeks, purple flowering broccoli, some Brussels sprouts, kale, round white radishes, some beetroots, and chives, rosemary, lavender, sage, oregano, tansy, comfrey, lady’s mantle, hypericum, and mint. The three corned wild leeks and the goosegrass have come up as they do every year, so though the garden does look very disorganised and a bit dismal, there is still a lot happening.

Included in my plans for this year are a lot more flowers, the borage has already made a little bit of an appearance, and I am happy about that because that plant attracts so many bees and other insects.  This is going to be most important this coming summer.  I have bought some seeds, but mainly for a good deal I will have to rely on buying plants this year as I wont’ be here to do much sowing.  Fine that is no problem around here, there are many plant sellers on the weekly market, their plants are good, grown organically and I’ve used them on and off for years.  I am relying on some other bloggers to find out about advice on which flowers are best for our bees, butterflies and insects in general.  Like what I read tonight about Bee Catnip-Mountain Mint on https://thegardendiaries.wordpress.com

Here some very pretty veggies in the garden right now.  And today  I saw my first bumblebee, a good start.  I was with my grandchildren for the weekend and we all did some sowing and some potato planting, it was a good all round, and delightful to hear their comments on growing vegetables.

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