ALONG THE WEST CORK ROADSIDES

Along the road between the little seaside villages of Schull and Ballydehob in West Cork, the growth of wild flowers is at this moment so luxurious and beautiful that it is just like driving through a beautiful park. Bravo for not cutting or using herbicides on these roadsides. This, at the moment is very much discussed in Ireland. We want our roadsides to be beautiful, but most of all we want to take care of the disappearing bees and other insects, we realise how urgent this is today. The beauty of flowers along the roads lifts the heart of even the most unobservant driver, because you cannot but notice the wealth of it all. Today I was able to take a few shots of these roadside wild plants and flowers. Here are just some of them.

A beautiful sky, a little breeze, and a meadow full of damp loving wild plants (as this meadow is wettish) Besides thistles there was quite a bit of water figwort, ragged robin, and lots of sorrel.
Schull is a little, but very popular seaside village. This is a view out to sea. The water is usually full of yachts and boats and in summer there is lots of activity going on here.

FROM TRAGUMNA BEACH TO TOEHEAD

Tragumna beach is small but very much used and liked by the local Skibbereen folks. Every year on Christmas day there is a swim held here by some brave women and men, usually in aid of some charity. The beach lies about 5 km from the town via the Castletownsend road.
The coastline along here is very rugged with many inlays and rocky outcrops, which makes the landscape interesting and beautiful. Many wild plants and flowers grow along these shores.
Our drive took us along this Wild Atlantic coastline towards Toehead
(Ceann Tuaithe in Irish, Ceann meaning head, and Tuaithe meaning
a clan or community gathered under one chief, the name Toe Head is a bit of a bad translation ). Looking out West towards the Atlantic ocean, we know that’s where most of our rains come from.
Along the rugged coastline where lots of fresh sea air was to be enjoyed.
Toe head is a most beautiful headland. Birds were singing but I did not identify any on this trip.
At Toe Head we found this signal tower, these type of towers were found along the southern and Eastern coast in Ireland, they were used to give advanced warning of any invasion. The interesting thing is that every signal tower could see two other signal towers to either side of them, they would use visual means (semaphore) to signal. These towers date to 1806.
Looking out towards what looks like a little island some distance from the shore. I went checking it out on Google Earth and it seems that it is just rocks – nothing else.

FLINT STONE AND CLAY BRICKS

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I guess it is because I had become so used to the lovely honey coloured limestone on Gozo that I am taking so much notice of the red brick that is used so much in England and especially in Norfolk, it has its own beauty and is as natural as limestone seeing that the bricks are baked clay (earth).

And in Norfolk much use is made of flint stone in combination with red brick, the flint is found naturally in chalk, with layers in various shapes and sizes, flint is almost pure silica.  There is black flint and grey flint, the colours are due to impurities.  There is also rounded beach flint.  The flint has been used as a building material in Norfolk since ancient times and many archaeological material has been found in the surrounding areas made out of flint, it was a very useful material because of its hardness and sharpness.  Norfolk is also rich in clay and from the 13th century onward clay became an important building material in combination with the flint, giving the beautiful finish you see all over the area now.

And still in Norfolk, just a few days ago an abundance of wild flowers were already in bloom, like I showed in my last blog entry – GREETING SPRING – these are wild flowers and found while walking along the road-side. I was happy to see the first wild chestnut tree in bud and already showing the beginnings of a flower.

And so it goes on, ever discovering new things and rediscovering old ones, life is so interesting and fulfilling.

Meanwhile I am back home and working on my latest house improvement project (a little one), lining a walk-in wardrobe with wall paper to stop dust falling down.  And discovering that mice had eaten away some of the wiring covers….my little project has just become a very big one.

This is a very old house indeed.

 

AN ALMOST TOTALLY WILD FLOWER GARDEN

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These days as we find ourselves getting towards the end of the beautiful month of May, I am delighted with the many birds, bumblebees and other insects that I am finding in our half wild garden.  Every morning I listen to the dawn chorus of blackbirds, robins, and other little birds who are nesting in our overgrown hedge.  It is a wonder to see the wealth of these creatures enjoying our smallish garden and we in turn enjoying their company and song.  The butterflies and bees have still to come, maybe the temperature is not warm enough.  Yesterday, a day of heavy rain freshened up all the plants and today the bumblebees are out in full force, the sun is out and it is warmer, a glorious day!  We are expecting friends for lunch and it seems like a day we might be able to sit outside.

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I have found a beautiful fern growing around the old pump and the red stone wall, both of which are in this garden from the time we first created it decades ago, my then husband Ron was a great garden creator, though I owe the present raised beds to my partner Ian who has put in a lot of work creating these also.  But the creation of the present lush wild flowers and plants has come about totally as a gift from nature, and happy I am about that.  It seems all I have to do this spring is walk around in this luxurious growth and admire the colours and shapes that nature throws out there, what a palette, what a beauty.

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20170518_181812And so spring is slowly turning into summer, at least its got that feel about it.  Weather- wise it seems to be warming little by little, in fact we were able to sit outside sharing a lovely meal and glass of wine with friends, chatting into the late evening surrounded by the sounds and scents of our garden, wind still.  I would not wish to be anywhere else at moments like this and feel very grateful to be able to enjoy this wealth.  The moisture and warmth after a day of rain in West Cork is something you have to taste before you can believe it.

 

Our friends brought us some young asparagus seedlings which they planted out with me, in two years time I should be able to harvest some of them and make a lovely soup, Ian’s favourite.  This bed was full of ranunculi and it took me a whole morning to get all the roots out, much as I love buttercups, they had to make space for the asparagus.  There is great satisfaction in creating something in the garden apart from enjoying all the wild plants.

NATURAL DIVERSITY ON GOZO

I walked up a rocky path along the deep blue water today.
Lizards were scuttling about all over the place. Their green skin beautiful. It was sunny and hot, very hot, water dripped from my cap and down my forehead. I saw so many wild flowers and plants around me and I wanted to record them all, like I usually do. It is then I saw the black bees, lovely, a type I do not know.
People are swimming in the creek this afternoon, and snorkelling and diving. The walk takes me up along the hot rocks, and then down to a small cave and to the water. The views are magnificent. The rocky outcrop consist of limestone in white, grey, black, and brown. I take photos, lots of them. The rocks are quite eroded in some places, making for interesting shapes and hollows.

LOUGH HYNE IN WEST CORK

Lough Hyne is a salt water lake some 10 minutes away from Skibbereen town in West Cork. The lake is surrounded by a wooded hill on the one side, and is connected to the Atlantic by a narrow gorge (tidal channel) called ‘the rapids’ on the other side. The lake is a marine reserve, very interesting wildlife is found there. I’ve seen seals there too, head bobbing up and down in the water. People swim and do other water sports there. A good link to more information is here:
http://www.skibbheritage.com/hyne.htm
The flowers around the lake are beautiful and some species I have not found elsewhere around Skibbereen. It’s a lovely picnic area too for families.

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THE BEAUTY OF AN EARLY MORNING WALK

This morning I was up early and seeing that the sun was shining I decided to take a walk around the garden. I love these early morning walks, it gets light now just after four o’clock, and the birds start their singing. The sun rising throws a rich yellow light, diffused through the hedges into the garden. When I say that I take a ‘walk’ it might make you laugh as the garden is only thirty three feet long and not that wide either, but it is amazing what goes on in there, it’s buzzing with insects, birds, and new plants coming up or changing every day. This morning I discovered that the Jerusalem artichokes I planted way back in March have finally come up and are doing well, what a lovely surprise.  Lately in a talk on organic gardening I was told that if one cannot grow Jerusalem artichokes one should give up gardening, I was starting to wonder!

Flowers are everywhere at the moment, I find them growing among the vegetables, herb Robert, dandelions, buttercups (I know the latter ones I should pull up), wild onions, and many more. I picked a nice bunch which is now making my kitchen look cheerful.

Looking at the very back of the garden there is a wild patch where the compost bin is kept, this patch is full of the wild onions, flowering so white, and also with goosegrass which grows all over everything else. I picked quite a bit of it to put into the mashed potatoes for dinner tonight, it was delicious. So great to not only have vegetables growing which require a little work, but also to have and abundance of wild greens coming to grow in the garden without any effort, doing superby well, and providing us with valuable vitamins and minerals.

It’s after nine now and the sun is still shining! It was a warm and humid day, so very welcome after all the cold. I finished decorating a room upstairs and have now got time in the next week to do more work in the garden, lots needs to be done, apart from clearing out the sheds, there are lots of leeks to plant out, and lettuces. The bean and peas plants are absolutely packed with flowers. The berry bushes have little unripe fruits on them already, red currants and goose berries.

It’s also time that I start to gather flowers and leaves for my tea, the hawthorn tree is just about to start flowering, the best time to harvest some of these young buds to make a nice tea. Last week I was able to dry some red clover, also for my tea chest.

There is so much free food to be found all around us, and so much scope for making teas, and herbal remedies, salves, soaps, all very nice to be occupied with, but I am only a learner and I am still only trying to source beeswax which I need to make a salve out of the calendula oil I made last year. Slowly but surely!

It is a very nice way to start the day, to take some fresh air and see the beauty and abundance in nature. It is good to be appreciate for our life on this beautiful earth, despite all the sad things that happen and all the suffering of so many people.

I am humbled.
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A lovely little corner in the garden

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Early morning is so nice and peaceful, a meditative walk.

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Oeps a spider among the vegetables, better put him outside.  And the Jerusalem artichokes starting to grow!

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A lovely bunch of flowers – a beauty to enjoy.

THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL AND OTHERS

Today’s finds in a field on the Beara peninsula was the much sought after Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), with it’s small but very attractive scarlet flowers, easily found among the now lush green grass.  The day was beautifully sunny but with a strong wind  from the Atlantic.  Among the other plants I found was the Chickweed (Stellaria media), one of the Stitchworts (Stellaria) with it’s delicate small white flower, and a type of Speedwell, I think it’s Wall Speedwell (Veronica arvensis).  All of these wild flowers and well worth looking out for at this time of the year.

There was a lot of Plantain out too and in flower, also saw Buttercups, Lesser Celandine, March Violets, Daisies, Dandelions and many others.  I love to see a fully growing and flowering meadow but you don’t see that so often anymore as the grass is cut for silage around here, the last time I saw a beautiful meadow was on the island of Naxos, the meadows there are amazing and beautifully scented.
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Above: the Scarlet Pimpernel.

Below: The Stitchwort and its leaves.

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Above: One of the Speedwells.

Below: The Chickweed.

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