THOUGHTS OF AUTUMN

Summer has been long, warm and dry, how lovely it has been this year and still it continues though it is almost the end of September. The beautiful warm sunshine illuminates the now autumn colours. Day by day the leaves are turning red, yellow and all shades of brown. Pungent scents fill our lungs, it is a delight to our minds and souls.

My sister and I were discussing food for the soul the other day and while giving it deep thought I know what it is that often feeds my soul; it is what I find and observe in nature, meditation on it and thankfulness for it.

Last weekend my daughter took me to Killarney in Co. Kerry and one of our plans was to walk in the national forest which is one of the remaining ancient forests in Ireland with many native trees. The two days we spent there were very restorative. The beauty of the trees laden with their seeds at this time was what inspired us, we talked about it, it made us cheerful and light-hearted. We rested for coffee and cake at a thatched roof cottage and sat out in the sunshine with leaves lightly twirling around us, our conversation deep and yet full of excitement at being in a place where we felt not a care in the world.

This delightful cottage where lovely coffee and cakes are served

Though this was the first time I had a break since before covid time, I have gathered quite a collection of photos over the summer that are now waiting to be used and written about in my blog. So watch this space! (I will as well 🙂 )

the summer of the grasses

Ireland has around 100 different types of grasses, including native and non-native grasses, a fact of which I was not aware, but recently I bought a guide on grasses from Ireland’s National Biodiversity Data Centre and now I am learning about them. I have always found that many grasses are beautiful and decorative and there are always plenty of them around. Especially this summer the back of our garden is full of them, full of different types and they are growing nice and tall with lots of seeds to show. I don’t know all the different names yet but am looking them up one by one.

Our garden has been left to grow all the wild plants that were willing to come up this year. There were plenty of foxgloves, thistles, sow thistles, dandelions, nettles, buttercups, borage, evening primrose, herb Robert, plantain, and many more wild plants, and of course grasses and I’ve let them all grow. This means that things were a bit overgrown the last few weeks and now I have a helper, Dave, who is moving some plants and shrubs around for me so that I can plant our winter vegetables soon.

So here follow some photos of our grasses, I find them all very beautiful and am eager to learn more about them.

And so the summer is moving along and plenty of plants are already in seed including the grasses. The wind is dispersing the seeds and it follows that next year we will probably have even more grasses, these grow at the very back of the garden on a piece of uncultivated land which I want to keep wild. Leaving the wild plants and flowers to grow has been successful and we are seeing butterflies and bees of all sorts. There is always lots to discover even in a smallish garden and that is great for the nature lover who is house bound for part of the time. It is also great for anyone.

Dear friends I hope that you are enjoying this lovely summer, or your winter and especially that you are enjoying whatever blessings that nature gives you in your own surroundings.

MIDSUMMER

A windless morning in the garden. A lone robin is singing in the birch tree. Some sounds are travelling up from the town in the valley. I’m having my morning coffee outside on the patio and enjoying this beautiful and peaceful scene. Our foxgloves are almost totally in seed now, only the tops of their long stems are still a beautiful pink, they have been very good for the pollinators. This morning only a few bumblebees have visited. Seagulls and crows are flying over our airspace shouting confident cries. Sparrows are chirping in the hawthorn tree, many of them. How I love all those sounds.

Of the usual two dozen that years ago were, there are now only four swifts visiting in our area, I so miss their summery sounds above our houses and gardens.

How I enjoy all this activity in nature, and this morning is a rare break in my own daily activities, a solace to the soul, a much desired rest for the body. And yet it is there for the taking – whenever and free. A true blessing.

OBSERVATIONS

Some weeks ago my sister Josephine stayed with us, it had been three years since she travelled to Ireland and we were overjoyed to see her. With her she brought me this beautiful gift. A little special notebook that she bought at an exhibition of works by Gustaf Klimt in Brussels. It is so beautiful that I decided it can only contain words about beauty, and so the thought came into my mind to use it to note down some of the observations of my quieter moments. Observations in nature and in daily life. I like to share them with you.

17 May 2022

Today, in the garden I enjoyed the wild freshness after rain. I saw that our elderberry tree is about to come into flower, and that will be the first time since I planted it. The foxgloves are opening pink and beautiful. There are buttercups among other wild flowers, everywhere the growth is abundant and the trees, we have four, are looking very lush, their leaves still somewhat laden down with drops of rain. The hawthorn also has started to flower and there is a faint, delicate scent in the air. Birds started singing. I felt a breeze and now and then rain fell from fast moving clouds. These were perfect moments, I love the scent that rises from the earth after rain, it is so refreshing.

19 May 2022

The intense colour from the cineraria flowers in the Ilen street in town, the deep sky blue was a sight to behold. The scent was faint, it just caressed my nostrils and soothed my brain. Early morning in Skibbereen, the sun has just started to warm the cement of the colourful town houses. I feel good in expectation of the day ahead.

20 May 2022

It was while on my course on biodiversity with Wild Work. We were having a conversation about native woodlands and native wild plants. What took my special interest was a little wild plant that I had not seen growing here in West Cork before, it is called Sanicle (sanicula marilandica). It’s native and a woodland plant, it belongs to the carrot family, we found it on the grounds of a large woodland area.

21 May 2022

Today we cooked with aromatic spices and lentils, an Indian recipe. Alice and I enjoyed seeing all the spices come together and release their aroma, the dish we cooked was dahl. So delicious and an good dish for vegetarian Alice to learn to cook, she loved it. Earlier I was very pleased to see how well our oak-leaved lettuce were doing in the garden, the brightness of their various shades of red was invigorating.

22 May 2022

From my kitchen window I noticed the unripe fruits of the krentenboom (Amelanchier lamarckii), and it reminded me of the cycle of life; Just recently the flowers appeared, then the leaves turned the tree quite green, and now the fruits are already ripening, slowly they will become red later on in the year. I could see the parallel with our own lives and the thought that our times are fleeting moments in the greater cycle of things, of times. It is a very natural happening.

23 May 2022

While opening our front door, I looked down to the yearly new growth of the lady’s mantle and it inspired me, very beautiful and delicate, its veins like capillaries in our own bodies, green instead of red, dark green actually on the light green leaf… spreading out from its twig. Perfection!

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse in my little book of observations, it has been a pleasure to share them with you.

a garden AWAKENING

Forsythia in bloom

SPRING UPDATE FROM OUR GARDEN

It’s that time of year when work starts seriously in our gardens. But the first outdoor job for me is to walk among my plants, see what is growing, analyse and decide what to leave and what to move or remove. And that’s what I have been doing during the week. Lots of delightful discoveries came my way.  Many self-seeding plants had already come up during last autumn and survived our mild winter, others are still only appearing, delicately but vigorously.  Foxgloves for example have self-seeded last autumn and have shown strong leaves even after the frosty nights. The garden is full of them, I’ve moved some of the young plants to other areas as they packed out the vegetable beds, but many I left where they came growing because of the beautiful natural arrangement they made.  The base leaves of the foxgloves are very nice, very symmetrical, so satisfying for the eye.  At this time of the year the leaves look fresh and vibrant.

Three-cornered Leek is another wild plant that is flourishing right now, loads of it, and even while I use it in cooking, it has overgrown some of the vegetable beds so a decision has been made to eradicate a lot of it by pulling the little bulbs from the soil.  Many Dandelions are now in flower and feeding the pollinators. Most of these bright yellow flowers will stay, some to be used in salads later.  Young nettles are starting to make an appearance too, I picked some for tea, some I removed but others I will let grow as they are an amazing food filled with minerals both for humans and plants.  Borage and Feverfew are growing nicely, and the comfrey (for compost) are all appearing healthy and robust, in fact the Borage is coming into flower already.

Most of my herbs are starting to look healthy but apart from Sage, Rosemary, Bay leaf and Mallow they are still to tender and young to use in the kitchen. My Lemon Verbena died during the winter, I should have grown this plant in a pot and taken it inside as it is not frost-proof, I now realise.  It makes a wonderful tea so I will buy a new plant and pot it up.

All the flowering shrubs are starting to look more vibrant now, some, like the white Azalea, the Daphne, and the Californian Lilac are already in bud and the Viburnum is fully in flower and spreading its scent over the patio, wonderful!  I was looking for signs of the Houttuynia but could not see any yet. The Hypericum on the other hand is showing strong signs of life and even the Spiraea is carefully starting to show some leaves. Our Forsythia is finally giving us some lovely flowers but our Camellia has not flowered for several years, it needs attention. Then there are the perennials some of which I bought, some I sowed last year. Here Erysimum is a wonderful plant, it has been flowering from early spring last year until well in the winter and already it has started to flower again. I think we used to call this plant a wallflower.  The small blue flowers of the Lithodora have flowered most of the winter, this is a wonderful border perennial.  Marigolds are self-seeded in our garden and are always around, I use the petals and I love their bright and cheerful colours.  I also found quite a few young Herb Robin and Willow herb plants, some of those I leave as they are rather nice and very good for the pollinators. One of the plants in our garden that attracts most pollinators, bees, bumblebees, hoverflies and others is the white little flower of the oregano plant.  Different spring bulbs are flowering too giving plenty of cheer in the awakening garden.

Our white flowering Azalea

And among all these there are still last autumn’s Leeks, Kale, Broccoli and Spinach to be found, we are eating from those.

Now it is a case of finding space for our potatoes which are presently chitting inside. Other vegetables have been sown and are sprouting well. The abundance of plants, wild and cultured is welcome and amazing, and lording it over it all our Hawthorn, Birch, Chestnut and Oak trees are filled with the sound of finches, sparrows, black birds, a wren, a robin and a dunnock singing, chattering and mate calling… our wild garden… it is a wonderful place to work in or sit with a cup of tea taking a rest, admiring all this growth. 

No matter how small, our gardens can be an oasis of rest and replenishment of our energy, and giving us solace for our souls.

I feel very grateful towards nature.

EARLY MORNING MUZINGS

The colours of the pre-dawn are magnificent, it is also the expectation of what is to come, the light! The light that will colour the world once again for another day.

Pre-dawn light

Last week saw me travel up to the city several times for appointments and one of those was early in the morning, so it was that I was able to enjoy the dawn albeit from a bus window. To see the first light appearing and the mist rising has always had me spellbound and needless to say I enjoyed it very much.

I had nothing else to do but sit and observe how the light scattered the darkness.
Being driven through the rural Irish landscape at this time of day is magical, the land still covered here and there with garlands of mist.
If I wanted to paint I could not do any better than what the eye of my mobile phone offered me in colour and form.

I was in a reality all my own

It was as beautiful as any of my other realities

Another day started and I was thankful to make it a good one

~~~~~~~~~~~

A PEEK INTO MY HOUSEPLANT COLLECTION

Even as a young girl I have always loved keeping houseplants and our mother allowed me to take care of those we had at home. Our collection consisted mainly of clivia’s and sansevierias, also busy lizzies and geraniums. Later after my husband and I moved to Ireland and lived in a lodge house, there I started a new collection. Houseplants were not so much on the agenda here and so in the beginning I grew mostly geraniums and primulas which I grew of my own seeds or cuttings. I always had houseplants except during the years when I was travelling a lot, then it was not practical. At some period I had a whole collection of cacti and they flowered beautifully. Now I like to vary my collection, my most recent addition are some bromeliads, small ones which I bought in Lidl. Some of the plants were gifted to me, or came as cuttings from friends and one of them even came from a long way away. Having them around me in my kitchen never ceases to give me good feelings, every time I pass they fill me with joy because of their beauty. They grow by artificial light because our house is fairly dark and this light needs to be on anyway all day. I need plenty of light myself to function! I also cultivate some orchids, peace lilies, a money plant and an Easter cactus. So here I am sharing some of my plants with you all and hope that you enjoy.

These small bromeliad are so beautiful

My dear readers, friends and family do you have plant collections too? I would love to hear what collections you have. I’ve enjoyed sharing mine with you.

I DID NOT LOOK FOR SIGNS

It is the 26th of December today and we are only moving towards the end of the year – so no I was not looking for signs of spring, it’s a little too early and as well as that I am trying to rein my energy in. Every year about the beginning of January my energy peeks and, like a run-a-way train, it is hard to hold it! So no I was not looking for signs of new growth but nevertheless I found fresh young plants growing all over the place. It was a mild and sunny day, beautiful weather for a walk. I woke up feeling full of the joys of life and found that the birds outside had similar thoughts, the sounds of the sparrows, the starlings and the crows was overpowering for some time during the hours of brightness. So here I was trying to experience the darkness of midwinter in order to get into the fullness of my energy once the new year would start and get going, but similar to what nature seems to be doing lately my internal clock seems to be a little mixed up. Hence I forced myself not to look for signs, signs of new growth, signs of an early spring.

This is such a typical view of West Cork, old trees and meadows ~ beautiful!
Looking towards the hills and part of the town of Skibbereen, so nice to walk here.

I have not written or produced many blog posts during the past year, something that I have missed doing. I know that it is partly due to a changing pattern, first with the lockdowns, and then with being out of the habit. With practically staying inside the home, garden, our little town and just the very immediate surroundings. I have to use a lot of imagination to be inspired to keep writing. During the year I started researching more of the local history and joined the historical society. We explored one village recently which I found very interesting. I hope to continue with my research of local history and of reading the old maps of the area. And writing about what I find or learn.

Wishing all my friends, my family, all my dear followers here on WordPress a really wonderful 2022, filled with good health and happiness.

And thank you all for your great support for my blog.

WISHING PEACE AND JOY TO HUMANKIND

To all my friends and followers all over the world at this time of the year, whether you celebrate Christmas or not I would like to wish you a peaceful, and joyful time, a time filled with love and the warmth of human company. As we move to brighter days, may all your wishes come true and may you be blessed.