A MELLOW EARLY AUTUMN WALK

I strolled around the block this evening. Around the block in this urban area does not mean that I walk totally among houses, no, for a start I walk through the Boreen which is a narrow path where a lot of wild plants and shrubs grow. This 15 minute walk also takes me along a fairly new road which is mostly surrounded by fields. Here I also see a lot of wild flowers, plants and wildlife in general. So it can be quite an interesting walk and all I need is the discipline to do it more often. Today I set off in a mild Irish mist that was softly falling and was hydrating my face, it was gentle and refreshing.

We have been experiencing lovely mild and sunny weather lately, making us think that it is an Indian summer. However, autumn signs can be seen and the lovely bright colours of the berries and the leaves are a pleasure to behold. A mellow early autumn walk was just what I needed after a hard day’s work in the garden.

I was glad to discover that there is plenty of Ivy this year, I always use this to make flower pieces at Christmas time. Apart from that there are moths and butterflies that lay their eggs in Ivy. An important plant. The blackberries are plentiful too and ripening fast now, they are plump and delicious.

Talking about the Boreen, this is the Irish word bóthrín, which is a diminutive of bóthar, meaning ‘road’. It is used to denote a narrow country path often surrounded by hedges, or sometimes by stone walls. Here in Ireland you might often see these paths very overgrown, because nature does take over and if the paths are not used regularly they just close more or less with overgrowth of brambles and other wild plants. However, what is very important about these Boreens is that they are ancient, and in this way they often still contain many native plants. This is important for biodiversity. In this particular Boreen I have found the creeping Hypericum plant, and this evening I checked and found that it is thriving. There are also a few different Ferns, and common Violets. Lots of Ivy, Hawthorn and also some Gorse. All of these are native plants or shrubs. I know that some well-meaning people use the strimmer on this particular Boreen several times every summer and it saddens me, I wish that at least they would let flowers come into seed before strimming.

Meanwhile in the garden lots of work is waiting for me, I did three days of it in the past week, it has only scratched the surface of it. I love autumn though, lots of tidying up, taking notes, and making plans for the next season. All good fun and a great work-out too, especially with nettles that I allowed to grow to 3 meters high!

Sending many thanks this way to all the blessed wishes from everyone on our wedding day.

THE SUN CAME OUT TODAY

Yes the sun came out today, and it shone over the valley here in Skibbereen, it was glorious and so welcome after all the days of mist, rain, and stormy weather. So I took a walk along the boreen* and found a few wild flowers making colour, their therapeutic effects did not stay behind, I felt so energized after that walk.

To find the red clover in flower was probably early in the year, but then the temperature is warmer than normal, it has been a steady 10C for a while now and today in the sun the temperature went up to 15C even despite a cold northern wind.
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This beautiful little fern grows along rocks even in urban settings all over Ireland.  It’s most delicate and very hardy.

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The gorse usually flowers twice a year, once in February,  and once in the summer.  It’s probably early this year, but I did not get any of its scent, we need stronger sunlight for that.

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I took this photo behind our houses, it is waste land, the sedges are lovely, I like this sort of landscape too.  Soon St.Brigid will be celebrated in Ireland and people will use the sedges to make St.Brigid crosses, I used to teach people in the library to make those, it’s fun to work with the sedges.

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It is getting time that I start planning my garden, I have not done anything about it really because the weather has been so wet.  Today I started to take stock, and some of the raised beds wood surroundings have rotted!  The soil is still very wet.

Roll on warm and dry weather!

*    Boreen is an Irish word for a path in nature, (Irish: bóithrín,  pronounced [bɔːˈriːn]) it is a rural walking path.

SORREL AND A MALE STONECHAT

In this wintery weather today, due to getting a doze of cabin fever, I took a walk along the boreen (little path) and around the block, and past the heathland where there are some Gorse shrubs also. The boreen, which is an unpaved narrow path in rural Ireland, is bordered by lots of lovely vegetation, all sorts of wild plants and Hawthorn trees, lots of Ivy growing all over the hedges, and some Gorse along the way too. Today I found young leaves of the Sorrel plant, this is good as it is an edible plant, though I would not eat it too often as it is so sour. I am taking a lot more notice of these plants right now because of the Herbal course that I am doing, and it is nice to find and identify all sorts of plants so close to home.  As it happens I checked out Wikipedia and found some interesting information on how Sorrel is used in different countries, as in soups and stews and others, very interesting.  For example;  I never realised that Toor Dal contained Sorrel as well as yellow Lentils.  In my search I came across an excellent recipe for Toor Dal by the way, with a video to follow, it looks so delicious.  It I found here:  http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/toor-dal-tadka
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A little further along the walk I spotted a bird which I normally do not see in our gardens, and which does not frequent our bird tables. It was the little male Stonechat, a beautiful little bird about the size of a sparrow. Total black head and light brown chest. It was fluttering from shrub to shrub. I tried to take a photo for the record but my mobile phone did not catch it right.  But I looked it up in one of our bird books, an excellent guide this one; it is called: ‘Ireland’s Garden Birds’ by Oran O’Sullivan & Jim Wilson.  I found the bird in there, and then went and checked Wikipedia which gave me good information too.

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COUNTRY LANES

This is the country lane, a little Boreen as it is known here, the word comes from the Irish bóithrín, meaning “a little road”, where I take my walk every day. It does not look like much but along its sides it is brilliantly covered with so many wild plants, even now that it is only 21 days to the winter solstice, wild plants are growing profusely. And there are flowers too, the Gorse is starting to show it’s golden yellow blossoms, they flower twice a year, but their best bloom is between now and February when whole hedgerows may be so coloured by the yellow flowers that it looks quite spectacular. Their scent is so sweet also.
I see a lot of Wall Pennywort at the moment too and it is looking so healthy. And Ivy which is in bloom at the moment, it is said that the Peacock and Tortoiseshell butterflies hibernate in the Ivy plant, that’s great to know as I was always wondering what they do during the winter months, I thought that they died at the end of summer though you sometimes see them inside the house at this time of the year.

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And over this all sings the Robin, he’s singing his heart out, sheer joy at all the beauty around it, what a delightful sound.