GREETING SPRING

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“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.”
Ruth Stout

A recent visit to the walled garden at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, UK gave us a fine variety of flowers already in full bloom.  How lovely a day it was, many birds were singing, and the scent of some of the flowery shrubs wafted towards us while we were watching the bees and other insects fly from one flower to another.

No better introduction to an English garden than in the early spring.

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A large variety of beautifully coloured and fresh spring flowers

The Witch-hazel catkins, Quince blossom,  Hellebores, and Rhododendron

Edgeworthia chrysantha flower and shrub, beautifully scented and new to me.

Ceanothus arboreus is a lovely shrub which blue flowers are loved by the insects.

 

Holkham Hall dates back to the 18th century, its extensive grounds consist of some 25,000 acres.  The walled garden was originally developed by Samuel Wyatt during the late 1700s and is now still under restoration.  It comprises 6 acres and is surrounded by a high red brick wall.  This was our second visit to Holkham hall estate and I have enjoyed both visits very much, last time we saw the deer grazing among the most beautiful ancient trees that are on the land.

A beautiful  Italian iron-work gate brought from Venice in 1908 makes for a great entrance into the walled gardens.

The few days we spent in Norfolk with Ian’s family, and this visit to Holkham gardens allowed us a nice transition from Gozo back to West Cork, it was a nice introduction to spring in the more northern islands of Europe.

 

 

MEADOWS FULL OF FLOWERS

A very peaceful afternoon, the sun blazing down and smiling over mother nature and humankind, the birds singing, but otherwise stillness over the land. This was my walk yesterday. I decided that I would go see the meadows that surround the town of Victoria and see close up what is growing and flowering there. The views that greeted me were glorious to say the least, the colours a balm to the eyes, and not alone the dark and different shades of the green grass, but the way this brought out the bright yellow of the various flowers. My eyes had a feast. The warmth of the sun relaxed me and brought more than one smile to my face, oh the good that this does to the mind and the body! A few lizards were of the same thought as they were basking on the warm stones, but scuttled away before I came close.  It was lovely to see bees buzzing around, and little snails out in full strength.  The sun had encouraged nature to become alive again!

The air was pure, even so close to a major town. I could get the scent of the greenery, with a subtle whiff of flower perfume carried on the light breeze. I stood and enjoyed this for a long time. Spring is always nice, and meadows have always been my favourite, I used to watch a painting while still at school, it were a few children playing in a meadow filled with flowers. It gives a certain feeling of total peace. That peace is still with me and is heightened when I find myself among wild flowers and meadows. Our mum used to take us to a meadow when we were very small, I remember it though was only a toddler, she would sit with us among the flowers and we were allowed to pick some. Glorious days of the past, but yet with us always, renewed in the present day every springtime again and again.
Nature has so much to gift us, feelings of bliss and renewed strength at the end of winter.
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A Maltese bee getting nectar from the Cape Sorrel.

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Some of the wild flowers found in the meadow and along the road side too.

Below are some of the wild herbs I found yesterday, there is the Goose grass which in Ireland grows plentiful and which I use in soups, there is the Fumitory which is supposed to be a ‘liver’ herb, the Fennel of which there grows a lot around here, Borage which can be used in all sorts of ways, and the Nettle which is a real health giving herb and I use a lot of it in soups etc.  It is nice to see all the wild herbs growing very healthy.

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.

SUMMER GARDEN IN WEST CORK

In the last few weeks we have been visiting some of my sisters and brothers, those that live close enough by, and of course it being summer, we naturally gravitate towards the gardens. This garden that I illustrate in my blog today is well established, it is one of the older ones in the family, my sister Brenda and her husband Shaun have created it over many years, it is a space full of the most beautiful shrubs and trees, flowers and ferns. From an almost forested area, where there used to be an ancient orchard, to a manicured lawn surrounded by interesting shrubs and beautiful mature trees. Her Japanese Dogwoods, Abutilons, and Azaleas’ and some more shrubs of which I do not recall the botanical name, are all fully in flower. The Hydrangeas are almost open, and the Laburnum is almost finished. This all creates a magnificent array of colours and textures, rich and summerly scented. A real summer feeling abounds. There is more, there is a rockery which is also a place for wild flowers to grow to feed the bees, and an area where my sister feeds her many wild birds, attracting a lovely variety including bull finches, jays, siskins, and even a sparrow hawk who sometimes comes to see if he can catch something for his lunch! I loved our garden visit at the height of summer, and I hope that you too will enjoy the photos of so much beauty.
Thanks to Brenda and Shaun for permission to use their garden in my blog.
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INISH BEG GARDENS SKIBBEREEN

On the road between Skibbereen and Baltimore, West Cork, there is a most beautiful garden, it is the Inish Beg Estate and recently Ian and I visited it together with my daughter and my five grandchildren, it was a lovely afternoon and being the month of May so many flowers were in bloom, the gardens were looking so very beautiful, the many trees with fresh green foliage, the Rhododendrons, all varieties, were flowering. From a herb and kitchen walled garden, to a fairy house among the trees, everything is thought of.  The children enjoyed it very much too, running along the paths and discovering all sorts of things including sticks which they then ended up comparing with Ian’s walking stick.  And of course they loved the fairy houses.  These gardens comprise 97 acres of woodland, organic pasture and farmland, formal gardens including a the before mentioned walled  garden.  There is an orchard, a bamboo grove and a sunken garden.  And something I did not know about but is mentioned in the brochure of the ‘West Cork Garden Trail’ is that there are 4km of carriage drives.  There is a lot more to this garden and it would be worthwhile to look it up on-line if you are coming to visit West Cork I think.  We just enjoy it as it is so close to where we live.  The birds were singing their hearts out, everything was so very peaceful and beautiful.  We were lucky with the weather, I think that this is Ireland at its best.

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WONDERFUL EARTH

And that was the story today, more wonderful creations to admire. While visiting the Ggantija Temples, of which I will write at some later stage, we experienced a wonderful outing, very interesting, the ancient works of mankind. And yet the eye did wander off to where the flowers, and the insects were. And here are some to share.