WINTER GARDEN

taking stock of garden winter 2018

Beginning of January, and even though the days are still quite dark, there is a change to be noticed and it does the soul good.  The mist and heavy clouded days have left us for the last few days, and though we have still not seen any sunshine, there seems to be more light in the sky.  It is good, I think that one could learn to live without any sunshine, though it is hard to get used to it – it seems to be here to stay!

This morning I went into the garden and took stock of what is happening, and there is lots!  There are the strong rigid and juicy looking leeks, the bright red and colourful chard, the celery and the cropping cabbages.  There are also the many different herbs which are flourishing right now, oregano, thyme, lavender, sage, feverfew, dandelion, mullein, broad leaved parsley, three-cornered wild leeks, young cleavers, and even some young and tender nettles.  It’s a very mild winter here, though we had very much rain during October, November and part of December.  The temperature has not gone much below 10 or 11C and the soil temperature has only just now reached 10C whereas it kept to a steady 12 to 15C before Christmas.

The days for planning my garden for the next season are now, that is always very enjoyable.  This year my plan it to grow many more flowers, wild and cultivated, so that as many as possible insects will have food.   For ourselves I plan to grow some flowering shrubs that will cheer us during winter.  Bright yellow Forsythia comes to mind, but more research is wanted.

What I take away from this winter is that there are certain vegetables that will grow easily and that we eat every day, these would be leeks, kale, chard, and herbs, these I will grow again and more plentiful next winter.

I wish those of us who garden a great season and much fun and happiness in their garden! 🙂

 

HENHAM REVISITED

2018-10-15 16.49.05

Autumn can conjure up a variety of different colours and heart warming scenes, and this past October has been more mellow and beautiful than most. And a lovely golden sunshine has illuminated everything that it has touched.

2018-10-16 12.38.37

We have been staying in the ancient stables of the parsonage in the village of Henham in Essex. The cottage is lying next to a fine church built with use of flint stone. A fine square tower rises against the blue sky, and surrounding, the magnificent trees shed their leaves over ancient graves. Ugly gargoyles feature here and there, some almost completely erased.

The trees are most lovely this time of year, colours varying from deep dark red to pale yellow , gold, ochre, or sepia, a beautiful pallet. But it’s not only the colours that are like velvet to the eye, it is the shape and size of the ancient trees that attract the attention.

The architecture found in this village has always fascinated me, the thatched roofs, the variety of cottage styles, the village green, all make for a picture card scene. But that is only me romanticising because this village is also a vibrant and dynamic community and that has perhaps got to be of more importance for the people living here.

 

READING THE LANDSCAPE

DSCF2781

The landscape that I am thinking about if not some wild stretch along the coast or hill side here in West Cork.  It is, rather, my immediate surroundings – our garden, where I have access any time of day or night and can make observations in any season of the year.  Let it be during my early morning stroll past the vegetable plots to the back where everything is disorderly and where wild things grow, or let it be during the height of day when the sun is streaming through the tree canopies, or at times when Irish mist engulfs us and brings the clouds real close to the earth.  Night time too is good to find and learn to understand the many creatures that are about.

Our garden is small, it slopes down slightly and it has four mature trees giving shade, a chestnut, silver birch, hawthorn, and a Mediterranean oak.  These all provide shelter for the many birds that frequent on a daily basis, from the little wren to the hooded crows – all are very welcome.

I find it a source of immense pleasure and joy to observe not only all the plants that grow, but to see and know all the wildlife – every little creature, to find out their species, their lifecycle, their name.  To take photos of them helps me sometimes to study one or other aspect of them in more detail.  There is always more to learn and discover, and I find a lot of information on Google as well as in books.

Why my garden, and not the larger landscape around me.  Well it is down to logistics really, my garden I can go into at any moment, it is a daily ritual, a meditation that I have got so used to that it would be hard to live without it.  The wider landscape does get observed too, but not that frequently.

In the garden next door the people keep a pony, this attracts a certain amount of flies to the neighbourhood and that is good.  The other neighbour keeps a small hive of bees, and it is nice to have those come into the garden at times.  Behind our dilapidated sheds at the very back, where some rotting wood also gives shelter to a variety of insects, the ground, covered in wild plants and grasses, slopes down towards the town, well below us.

And so this small bit of nature, filled with wild plants and herbs has an eco-system all of its own, rich in variety and brimming with creatures, a goldmine for anyone with an interest.  Great joy can be found in reading this landscape and finding new discoveries every day.  The changing seasons, even the high temperatures and drought recently brought about unique or forgotten surprises, like the very large wasps that we had not seen for many years.

I watch, and listen, and observe, and I find that the natural world is a great source of joy!

DSCF2780

Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta,

Aglais urticae - small tortoiseshell

HERON GALLERY AND GARDENS

Despite the rainy weather, my daughter Tjorven and my five grandchildren got into our wellingtons and raincoats and decided to head to the Sheep’s Head Peninsula where we visited a place very beautiful!  Gardens and a gallery showing the beautiful art of Annabel Langrish.  What an amazing place we found this to be, both nature wise and because of the cosy café were we found ourselves surrounded by very tasteful design and beautiful art.  Great coffee and scones too!  But first we took a walk in the gardens.  In between the rain showers, which are quite usual for this area in West Cork, it feels more like a mist, no wonder people often call it Irish mist rather than rain.  It does make the landscape more mysterious and compelling I think.

20180731_110204

The gardens were laden with summer flowers, and as the paths wound their way up the hill wild plants like heathers, blackberries, and bracken took over.

20180731_124618

20180731_104645

We saw interesting sculptures which the children also loved, all blended into the landscape and garden with ‘nature’ as motive.  In fact I found that everything from the paintings to the crafts blended in with the nature surrounding the place, very nice.  We all loved the barefoot path, it generously added to the  meditative quality of the walk and soon all our feet were touching the cool stones.  My three year old granddaughter remarked on the soothing feeling on her little feet.

20180731_111931

Flowers were explored as were spider webs, and some of the statutes had to be touched and sat on.  Blackberries were eaten along the way.

These three photos were taken by my eight year old grandson, we are very proud of him.  I think that he has an eye for composition and colour.

The wealth of lush growth is found everywhere now that the rains have started.

20180731_104630

“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”
― Amit Ray, Meditation: Insights and Inspirations

SPRING IN THE AIR

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
Pablo Neruda
2018-02-04 15.34.462018-02-04 15.18.272018-02-04 15.25.48
“I love the smell of rain and growing things.”
― Serina Hernandez
2018-02-04 15.29.402018-02-04 15.10.272018-02-04 15.58.132018-02-04 15.38.02
“And the birds sang their songs of love. And the flowers serenaded with their sublime fragrances. And the whole world fell in love in spring!”
― Avijeet Das

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne

“The world is exploding in emerald, sage, and lusty chartreuse – neon green with so much yellow in it. It is an explosive green that, if one could watch it moment by moment throughout the day, would grow in every dimension.”
Amy Seidl

2018-02-04 15.06.12“Spring is not a season; it is a mysterious illusionist who sets off fireworks in the depths of our soul!”
Mehmet Murat ildan

“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
Charlotte Brontë

FLINT STONE AND PILGRIMAGE

To say that England has a lot to offer in terms of history, interest, and beauty surely is an understatement. We have been here in Norfolk now for several days, while it is mainly as a family visit, the family has generously shown us around the area, and we took a great, long walk along the salt marshes at Burnham Overy Staithe. How nice to get to see this and get acquainted with a variety of the birds and plants found in this habitat.  I did hear a curlew, nice to hear as in Ireland they are heard less and less.

One of the main noticeable find here though are the what the houses are all built with lots of flint stones on their facades, no even all over the walls of the houses, I had never seen anything like it before and am fascinated. Flint is a very hard stone and those walls much be so strong and well able to endure the winds and weather in those areas. It is great to see locally sourced rock used as a building material. More information about the use of flint in Norfolk can be found here: http://belongathoughton.com/introduction-norfolks-natural-heritage/gallery ids=”13797,13790,13784,13792″ type=”rectangular”]

We took Ian’s grandchild and daughters on a steam train ride from Wells to Walsingham, the ride took us along many different wild shrubs and the berries were plentiful, among them hawthorn and rosehips. The birds will have plenty of food this winter!  The train ride was quaint, lots of time to take in all we saw along the track.

The flowing fields along the railway track were beautiful to watch.  Skies were also very  interesting.

We had cream tea in a teashop at a place which is dedicated to the virgin Mary in memory of her visitation by the angel Gabriel.  A pilgrimage from London to this village goes back a very long way.  There is a well there with waters that are said to cure people.  Mostly the place is very peaceful and beautifully laid out with lovely trees and flower beds.  In mediaval time pilgrimage was very popular but people had to go a long way and the road was often not very safe.  Today many people will visit places like these to get in touch with themselves and meditate on the meaning of their life.

DSCF3084

https://www.walsinghamvillage.org/about/history-of-pilgrimage/

 

DEW DROPS AND SPIDER WEBS

This beautiful, calm and wind still Sunday morning, the garden has been transformed into what reminds me of fairy land, the reflexion of light in the dew drops makes the spider webs shimmer and reminds me of fairy lights or even the Christmas tree and brings me back to early childhood days, innocence and happiness. I wander around the garden with my camera to capture this beauty and these feelings. Autumn leaves have been brushed up yesterday, but it is the spider webs that really herald the beginning of autumn here in West Cork. There is not a sound to be heard, all the neighbours are still sleeping, then a robin takes the floor and cheerfully sings its heart out.
Wind still and glorious, another day has begun.
My heart fills with gratitude.
DSCF2882

DSCF2871

DSCF2878

 

 

DSCF2863

DSCF2854

DSCF2873

 

DSCF2888

DSCF2857