DISCOVERIES IN A NEGLECTED GARDEN

A longwinded journey brought us from Gozo back to Ireland, via visits to family in Henham, Hertford, and Cambridge which was, of course, much enjoyed as was the mild spring weather and all the beauty of the English countryside this time of the year, but more about that in another blog.
So we arrived home here in West Cork greeted by my daughter and lovely grandchildren, that was a beautiful moment. Next day and after unpacking all our suitcases I went for a leisurely walk around our garden. Neglected as it was, it has not become totally overgrown yet and I was able to find many treasured wild plants and even vegetables among the grasses and on the beds. So I enjoyed myself with these discoveries, taking note of what I will be cooking in the next few days, and which wild plants I’ll be using, and also taking photos.

I found a little plant that is new to my garden, it grows wild around here in West Cork on walls, but here it came to grow in an old flowerpot, maybe birds dropped its seeds.  It is the little Ivy-leaved Toadflax.

Cymbalaria muralis - Ivy-leaved toadflax
Cymbalaria muralis – ivy-leaved toadflax
Forget-me-nots in flower
Myosotis arvensis – Forget-me-not

And a left over from last year, the lovely blue Forget-me-not I found blooming.

As far as herbs go, West Cork, because of its mild climate is good for growing these.  I found the Melissa doing just fine, the Oregano coming up, the Rosemary and Lavender doing really well.  So maybe it is time to add a few more herbs during this summer.

I was pleasantly surprised by the numerous Borage plants coming up all over the garden, even in the cracks of the concrete path.  The bees will be very happy about this.  The Chives are ready for cutting, and Nettles ready for the soup!  And I nearly forgot all the three corned wild Garlic which are just everywhere, so delicious in salads and mixed in an omelet.

Three cornered wild leeks
Three cornered wild Garlic

Delighted to have found a Mullein plant, this is also a medicinal plant of which I sowed a few last year.  And of all things I found a young silver Birch, well I know it was there as I put it in a pot to share with someone after it came growing in the garden, a baby of our large Birch.  The only damage during the winter was to our small greenhouses, wear and tear you could say.  I also found that the massive seedpods of my Evening Primrose plants had survived all the storms, these plants should be coming up soon by themselves I think.

Salad leaves are ready to eat.  Bay leaf tree is growing well and full of very green leaves which will be uses in soups nice and fresh.  I also found several broad bean plants in flower and all, Ian will be very happy about that, his favourite vegetable.  Leek plants which I planted out toward the end of last summer and just before we left are growing.  And finally, but not really finally as there is no saying what else I might find, the bed with the berries is absolutely full of flower buds, it promises to be a good summer for soft fruits.  The water barrel shows that here has been no shortage of rain!

I am totally happy with what I found, it is lovely to come back to my garden, and looking at the evidence, the garden has benefited from being left to itself for a while, there might be something in Permaculture after all.  It feels like nature is now growing what it likes to grow, and the soil in my garden is showing me what will thrive best.

I am taking note!

AN UPDATE ON MY TERRACE GARDEN

The tomato plants are doing very well, and so are the lettuce though I think that it is a bit too hot for them, we shall see what comes.
The seedlings are starting to really come up, at the moment they are only as far as the cotyledons but they look healthy and it is exciting to see them grow.
The temperature is still reaching near the 30C but it feels much hotter, it is nice though that now and then there is a little breeze which brings relieve.
I have taken to picking up bits of succulent plants on the roads, this is good because I can propagate them and it is a joy to see them do well. It is fun too to discover yet another orphan lying in the dusty street of Victoria, bringing it home and giving it a new lease of life.  I am really enjoying all this.

My little corner in the conservatory, it will expand as plants will grow.

Every conceivable container is used as we cannot spend to much money on buying plant pots, and anyway its good to re-cycle isn’t it.

These are all succulents that I found on the street and brought home.

Some of my seedlings coming up, some more containers that are going to be put to use.

Here are two more succulents and their flowers, pretty and interesting.

 

SAGE GARLAND

Today I decided that it was time to cut down my very large Sage plant so that the young shoots could start to grow and produce more harvest for the coming season. I gathered it all inside and started to divide it in branches that I wanted to dry for use to burn as cleansers around the room after the winter, and lots of the leaves to use as tea and make a tincture or use in various other ways, like cooking. I would use a leaf of Sage to put in the pan if ever I fry something, but I also use it in soups and in other meals. According to a variety of sources, and one of them is my Herbal course; http://www.herbmentor.com there is a wide variety that Sage can be used for. In the medieval times it used to be said, I quote; “why should a man die while sage grows in his garden?”. Yes, Sage has many medicinal qualities, it is an astringent herb and has antiseptic qualities.  Among other things It is believed that as an herbal steam it can help to decongest the sinuses and loosen congestion in the lungs.

Anyway, I was sitting with all this Sage for a long time, plucking the leaves and cleaning it ready for drying, it was a satisfactory job to do today, the scent of the Sage hit my nostrils and that was pleasant, it reminded me of being in Portugal last year and how the herbal scents would be so strong and lovely there, of course the sun would bring the scents out.
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So now the branches are hanging up to dry.

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These are the leaves for tea, use in cooking or gargles and other uses.

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The garland of Sage is making this room feel rather nice, it is all part of living rural, and of using the bit of garden to grown our own produce including herbs.  So satisfying, interesting, and wonderful.