LIFE THIS AUTUMN

At this time of the year, in this part of the earth, nature is full of vibrant colours, this is just one example of our colourful garden at the moment, .
Around the end of October here in Ireland people celebrate the ancient Halloween, and lots of different pumpkins are for sale, this delights me as I love the soup that one can make using them, and also they are very decorative so when used in that capacity for weeks in our kitchen they paint a lovely picture.
I love our hydrangeas, and have now built up a variety of colours, from lapis lazuli blue to baby pink they flower well into winter here.
Morning dew on the spider webs creating a fairy-land picture, however it also shows us how many active spiders are around us playing an important role in the ecology of things.
Shorter days, longer nights, and lovely sunsets are all part of autumn.

We have been experiencing very wet weather with strong winds during the past two weeks, the front garden is now full of leaves which I do not want to gather yet, they will be used as mulching on the vegetable beds, but I have also recently learned that they can be the homes of many different little creatures and so I want to give them a chance at survival and only carefully lift them at a later stage. I’m also happy to see that our winter birds have returned to the bird feeder, the finches, sparrows, robins, jackdaws, collared doves, all the various tits and the dunnocks are back, and to my delight I’ve spotted a very active wren, one of my favourite birds. Yes for sure this is a great time of the year! Happy autumn to everyone, I hope that you enjoyed the little peek into my life at present.

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.

AUTUMN AT GLEBE GARDENS

A visit to Glebe Gardens in Baltimore, West Cork, was on the agenda for a while and finally some days ago we took the opportunity to celebrate my daughter’s birthday with a delicious cup of coffee and cake, and a lovely walk through the flower gardens, the woodland, herbaceous borders, and the vegetable plots. This 5 acre garden is bordering on the sea where the Ilen river enters Roaring water Bay. Vegetables for use in the restaurant are grown organically in the gardens. Because of the vicinity being so close to the sea there is a mild micro climate which makes everything grow very lush. There are again to be found a number of sub-tropical plants, with palm trees and exotic rhododendrons among them. When you walk through the woodland and over the little bridge you come to an open grassland where there is an amphitheatre where music and other entertainment is put on regularly.  I’ve not been to anything yet but again it is on the agenda. There is an orchard and we saw several varieties of apples ready to eat and fallen from the trees too. Grapes were a plenty in the tunnel, different varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers too.

I only took a few photos as I was wearing my grandmother hat, but still got quite a collection which made it hard to pick some for my blog! (Much as I would like I never put photos of my grandchildren on internet, it is an agreement between my daughter and I).  What the children really enjoyed was the goats and chickens, finding apples in the orchard, and the open space of grassland where they spontaneously started dancing.

It is a garden offering not only beauty but also peace and tranquillity.

 

20170826_162351There are benches where one can have some time to relax in beautiful surroundings!  My partner and I enjoying very much.

20170826_165409This old but lovely doorway – to goodness knows where, I could not resist taking a photo of, thought it looked so lovely what with the fern growing around it too.

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If you enjoyed my photos then you might like to look up more information on the Glebe itself.  When on holidays in this area it is a wonderful place to visit and have lunch or coffee, a walk in the gardens, and maybe go and enjoy some open air night time entertainment.  Here is a website:

http://www.glebegardens.com/the-garden/

 

THE BEAUTY OF ESSEX – HENHAM VILLAGE

The village of Henham lies in rural England, in Essex.  We visited there a few weeks ago to see Ian’s delightful grandchild, daughter, and son-in-law.  For me it was also another first visit of the village and area and I loved it.  Like I have seen in many English villages they are picturesque and peaceful, with many original houses intact or restored, and this village has a great deal of that to show.  Above are; left: The old Village school building, right: a sign for the Cock restaurant, and underneath: the village church.  This village church has six bells, I heard them (love the sound of church bells).  There is a lovely write up with photos and a sample of the bells ringing on this website:  http://www.henhamhistory.org/StMarysBells.html

Listed buildings, some with thatched roofs, timber framed cottages some with casement windows, some of the cottages I recognised from the Henham website, these are Friar’s Cottage (above right), Cedar Cottage (above).

It was also early spring, and we made a long walk along the fields and roads, there was plenty new growth to be discovered.  The Blackthorn was in full bloom, the wild Chestnut tree just about to start opening its flowers, but I was sorry to hear that some of them were due to be copped down because of a disease.  The Hazel already had its catkins, and the weeping willow already its leaves.

Some of the wild spring flowers which were a joy to behold and plentiful.

Henham as a village dates back to pre Roman times, there is mention of it in the Anglo-Saxon period, saying that at that time the village was described as the little clearing on top of the hill.  Apparently Henham is one of the highest lying villages in Essex.  For more about the history of the place and the parish please visit their website at: http://henhamhistory.org

Certainly England has a lot to offer in well preserved historical buildings, it’s delightful to discover this.  It was of course a delight to be taken for this long walk around part of the village and surrounding fields by Susie and Jared, and a very energetic little Phoebe.  Thanks again for showing us such a nice welcome, lovely to share time with you.

 

 

A GOZITAN MID WINTER

Under a bright sun on this midwinter day we took a walk among the limestone rocks and wild plants in Xlendi, a seaside fishing village on Gozo.
It feels so good to be among these beautiful honey coloured rocks, and to see the fresh young green after the days of rain we have experienced.
How beautiful this earth really is and how everything regenerates even when the drought of last year threatened to destroy so many trees and plants. It is a joy to behold all this freshness.
My partner said earlier “today is the shortest day, from now on the days are lengthening again”. Yes ‘light’ is coming, that is what we celebrate on Christmas day after all isn’t it, the ‘light’ coming into the darkness.
There is hope yet for mankind and for the earth, I will never give up hope. Every new little plant that comes up out of the earth even through the rock gives me that hope. People are much more beautiful than we think they are. Love to all my friends at this Christmas time.

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THE UNIVERSE

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
Rachel Carson

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“Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.”
Alan W.Watts

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REFLECTIONS ON THE SEASONS

Either I do not yet understand or know the seasons in this part of Ireland, something that one needs to know well in order to get a productive vegetable garden, or the climate is changing a lot these days. But then maybe I have not been observant enough about the weather all the years while I was working in the library and interacting with books and people in a large concrete building with underground heating. Growing vegetables does require one to be observant of temperature, rainfall and a whole lot more, in other words understanding the local climate. The fact that my French beans just would not do well and died off is probably because the night temperatures were still too low when I planted them out. So as the months go by I am having to rethink a lot about what I grow and about the timing of my sowing and planting out. Some of my raised beds retain moisture more than others, another fact to take into account.

And so my garden develops and I become wiser through experience, but also through picking up information from others and from books.  I am reading Monty Don’s ‘My Roots’ at the moment, I would say if one never read another gardening book, then it must be this one. A philosophical work interwoven with a lot of great tips, very valuable stuff, more a memoir, a journal through a decade of gardening than a practical guide. I am loving it.

I’m not sure what to think of the climate here lately, last year we had a warm summer that started late but lasted many months. This year, after a mild but wet winter, April was unusually dry and warm, and May was cold and wet with an icy wind coming straight from the Artic. Growth has slowed right down. And now a heat wave is forecasted.

My garden needs a considerable amount of attention at the moment, just when my older sister is here with us for some weeks, and we two are enjoying non-stop chatting, and I am suffering from a cold, and we are nipping over to Belgium for a week later in the month.

But all is good, and all is abundant, and life is rich with experience and fascination.
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The mess my pea plants became after the storm and rains, but I sorted that out yesterday and they are now secured properly.

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A very wet garden, and a book that I am really enjoying very much indeed.

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At night the stove is great to have.  And making nettle tincture to use as a hair rinse later on in the year.

CONVERSATIONS WITH A PEACOCK BUTTERFLY

Today, while waiting for Ian to finish some stuff he was doing in his boat, I noticed a butterfly caught behind the glass of the cabin, fluttering fiercely was one of our most beautiful butterflies, the Peacock.  It caught my attention. Gosh it was beautiful to get such a close up of this wonderful creature, I watched it for a long while but became worried that it could damage it’s wings even further than it had already done. After some time it settled down, I was able to gently pick it up and decided to free it into the lush fields beyond the boat yard. But how to get down the ladder with a butterfly in your hand? I decided to put it on my jumper and to my amazement it stayed there, even climbing a bit higher to just under my chin. I climbed down carefully, and it then flew off and onto some gravel which is where I made some photos with my phone (good old phone!) It then flew off further afield, I hope happy to be discovering the wider world.
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These butterflies hibernate during the autumn/winter months, usually in woods, sheds or hollow trees.  You often see these Peacock butterflies on the Buddleia shrub, I once counted many, over twenty on our bush.  Their larvae are black and often found on Nettles.  I am guessing that the specimen found on the boat was just out of hibernation, and I wonder if it will last another summer.

I got some of my information about the Peacock from the book ‘Discovering Irish Butterflies and their habitats’ by J.M.Harding.