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:
DSCF7593
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.
DSCF6865
Congregating on top of the shed, waiting their turn to eat, maybe.

DSCF6869
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.

DSCF6868
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.

DSCF6426

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.

DSCF6424

DSCF6441
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.

DSCF6024

 

DSCF6032

DSCF6029

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.

DSCF2801

DSCF2807

DSCF2804

DSCF2799

DSCF2808

 

A LITTLE FROSTY, BUT SUNSHINE

Some of these mornings lately are frosty, and the garden looks a little white, but the nice thing about it is that we get sunshine along with it, so very much needed here in West Cork.  Clear the air too.  The garden is waiting for attention, but my mind is on other things right now, and it’s all good.  All will be in order for a fabulous growing season.

DSCF2613

 

 

FROSTY MORNING

This morning a glorious sun rose over the hills to the East, a bright blue sky welcomed me from my dream-filled sleep. The grass fields across the valley looked like well ironed patches, smooth and very green. And in the garden there I found jewels. Jewels because it had frozen during the night, but already the thaw had set in, some of the vegetables and little plants were still beautifully laced with ice.  Texture and colour, a feast for the eye.
A precious new morning, a beautiful new day.
I feel energized from this sunshine,
something to be very grateful for.

WINTER TREES

With the very wet winter we are having here in West Cork, it is rather showing up some beauty all of it’s own, it is how the trees look fresh, bringing out the colours of the trunk and branches, stark against a sometimes grey sky but now and then against clouds and sunsets. We have five trees in the garden, and these photos I took either from behind the glass if heavy rain, or outside, each brings out different aspects in the photo. Some bring out a rather foggy mood, some are melancholic, but some others bring out a bright clarity, it reflects the way that the mind is affected by the dampness, and according to Chinese traditional medicine, the mind is affected by the spleen, and the spleen is in turn very much affected by dampness, cold dampness, and that is what we get here in winter. It follows then that during these winter months the mind might become a little foggy if not careful, CTM advises us to eat warm stews made from root vegetables, with plenty of ginger to counteract this dampness inside… but that is going away from the trees a bit.
I love trees, I might even be a tree hugger, always want to touch their bark and admire their beauty, and beside that there is nothing as nice as using wood in the kitchen or wherever, the feel of it so smooth after it has been sanded, the lines and colourful markings are very nice too. I have wood on the ceiling and wall in one of our rooms, it often gives me pleasure to take in the many knots and lines visible to the eye. The scent also of wood is so pleasing.
Right now our trees are blowing in the wind, it is quite stormy and has been all winter, but they seem able for it. The silver birch moves most of all, it’s high and thin but the branches are very flexible. The Hawthorn moves very little – that is why the birds like to hide among it’s branches. The oak and the pine sway as if to the sound of their own music, while the chestnut watches over it all, stiff and majestic, even despite it has lost some of it’s branches last summer after we cut some down as they were making the garden far too shady. My trees are very much alive to me, I sense their moods, they are powerful and nothing fazes them, but they do like me to touch them when walking around the garden.
The trees, they give me much pleasure, I feel they are a blessing in our garden, and I am very appreciative.

DSCF1893

DSCF1889

DSCF1890

DSCF1891

DSCF1885

DSCF1894

DSCF1892