WHEN SEEDS ARE STARTING TO FORM

It is that time of the summer when the garden has about half of its plants in bloom, and the other half is busy forming seeds and dispersing them too. Summer breezes are helping. And despite the cooler weather and the rain, or maybe because of it, the garden is very lush at this time, and seeds are starting to be plentiful. Personally I find many seed-heads very beautiful and usually want to take them into the house for the winter, this far I have only photographed them in the past few days.
Above are the seeds of one of the Willow-herb plants (Epiloblum). I grow these in the garden, that is to say, they come growing by themselves, and this summer I just let them be.

The photo to the right above are the seeds of the Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus), a medicinal plant that I grow in the garden, it is not for use as it is a highly toxic plant and not suitable for self-medication. The flower is pretty though and I get satisfaction from growing any herbal plant. The photo on the left are the seeds of the broad-leaved plantain (plantago major) I have one large one growing in the garden and it is beautiful. I use it mainly for treating insect bites, as a compress.

So this is what happened to all my glorious poppies, I have now a myriad of seed-heads and will be able to share many seeds, and use a few of the beautiful seed-heads as winter decoration inside.

While looking over the garden for seed-heads I found this green shield-bug nymph, and not only one of them, the garden is full of these beautiful little creatures, and that is no wonder either as earlier this summer there was a multitude of the adult type mating all over the garden. This common shield bug is native to Ireland and feeds on tree and plant juices. They are harmless.

The nettles grew very tall this summer, they are now in seed. I used quite a few in cooking, but mainly I grew them for the caterpillars of Red Admiral butterflies.

And this is a most recent photo of part of my garden. It has been and still is a truly wild experience. I would go into the garden and discover more and more wild plants and many insects and creatures. The thistles are easily 3 meters high and not yet at seed stage. I will have to contain them a little when they do seed as otherwise the garden will be impossible to walk in. I firmly believe that nature is very strong, it will never be totally destroyed, it will always survive.
Apart from everything else, the beauty of nature is what we need to survive mentally and spiritually.

SHORT WALKS

Gorse growing in the West Cork landscape along the road leading from the town of Skibbereen towards the coastal villages of Castletownsend or Unionhall. I walked only as far as Russagh Mill Hostel which lies about 2 km from the town. The walk is a pleasant one even though it is along a busy enough road, there is a footpath most of the way which makes it quite safe.
I found that along the road there was quite a bit of wetland, and also a small stream, ducks flew up when I approached. Though my reason for taking the walk was to become fitter, I enjoyed finding so many wild plants and spring flowers by the roadside, among them were two types of wild geraniums.

To my right was Lick Hill, a long hill which is so familiar to me as I can see it from the upstairs window where I live. Its bedrock is made up of purple mudstone and siltstone, behind it and to the South lies the sea, the wild Atlantic Sea. A little more towards the S.West lies the famous Knockomagh Hill, at Lough Hyne. But walking further along this road I passed some lovely green fields, very green, like you only get them in Ireland, typical with Gorse, Hawthorn, and Blackthorn growing in the hedgerows. And today the sky was blue, dotted with woolly white clouds, what a lovely contrast.

Above – Looking back towards our houses, with hawthorn hedging and wetland in front, and then the walk goes on past Liss Ard Estate where I found lots of native trees growing, their buds bursting in the warming spring sun, and birds singing their hearts out for sheer delight.
Also along my walk, and I love to see this, were stone walls, beautifully built from local stone, purple mudstone, shale and I even saw some quartz here and there. These are often grown full of little ferns, mosses, and other wild plants, this one in the photo must have been built fairly recently though.

And in people’s gardens, a magnificent Camelia bush in full bloom!
I also came across this beautiful blue door, the colour of it dazzled me!
Last, but not least, this little ladybird was sunny itself, I’m happy to say that I’ve seen at least a dozen over the last few days.
I have marked out at least seven walks in the vicinity of Skibbereen town, I’m doing this for my health, both body and mind. This particular walk took me 50 minutes and all round it was about 4km in distance. When we used to spend our winters on the island of Gozo I used to walk everywhere, exploring the whole island and all it’s little villages, and it was such a delight. I have missed this very much in the past six months and so I decided to make the best of it by mapping out some do-able walks around here and exploring nature or architecture or whatever I can find to interest me, and reading up on it all. The beautiful sunshine of the past few days has helped greatly to encourage me and inspire me, and off to a good start it has been. I am truly grateful.

NATURE AT MIDWINTER

I went for a little walk today, it was misty but very mild. At about three in the afternoon I stepped out wanting to enjoy the birdsong along the way. There is a little boreen (path) close by, which is flanked by rock and hedge on both sides. I find the nicest little plants there and today was no different even if it is mid-winter. The temperature is 11C which is quite normal for the time of the year here in sub-tropical West Cork (due to the gulf-stream bringing warmth to our region). There was a slight smell of some coal burning chimney’s but only slight as the breeze carried the smell away. It was great to feel the fresh breeze on my face and give my legs some movement after all the sitting down at my study the last few months. I finished my course now and I found it immensely interesting. Thank you Yale University and Coursera. I learned all about the development of Gothic architecture in Cathedral building, and read some medieval literature and history. I feel so enriched by it all and enjoyed every minute of it. It is now back to my blog writing and to my garden! Wishing everyone of my friends and followers a relaxing day and a nice Christmas.

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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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.

YOUNG TENDER SHOOTS AND COLOURS

I took a walk around the garden this mild spring afternoon. I went to see what vegetables are still growing, and what young tender shoots or flowers are hiding here and there, and of course they were. I came across a whole range of fresh young growth that shot up all of a sudden because of the sunshine in the past week.
The comfrey, tansy, lungwort, hypericum, foxglove, wild leeks, are all throwing out young shoots, some are near flowering. My winter garden did not produce as much as I had planned, partly because the slugs ate some of the produce, and partly because the rain and storms destroyed some of the vegetables, in fact the soil became too wet for anything to grow. But the Brussels sprouts are still growing strongly, small as they are, they are looking good enough. My white round radishes are doing well, as are the beetroots and the leeks. And the kale is still lasting, even if we ate from the plants regularly. One of my kale plants has grown over 1.50m and is looking fabulous, I am leaving it as an experiment, it is now growing new small leaves among the large old ones, I want to see what happens next.  The lavender plants are shooting up well, the grey green young leaves adding to the variety of colours now in the garden, as are the primroses and grape hyacinths, they are just about flowering, they too are bringing some very welcome colour to the garden.  And our little Korean fir tree is really doing well, ever since I put it outside again after Christmas it has been showing an abundance of shoots, leaves but also cones, beautiful.

In another week or so we shall be going away for a month, and so my garden will have to take care of itself, which I am sure it is very well capable of, I am already curious what I will find when we return, will there be a lot of wild plants, to be sure there will be, I remember from last year that the goose grass had overtaken the garden fast enough.  I will let it be, I’ll tell my grandchildren to come and take away the produce that is there though.  One job that I will try and fit in is to spread some leaf manure over the raised beds, I think the soil will benefit from it greatly and I have plenty of it.

And now soon for us it will be looking at the flora, the insects, the architecture, the folklore, the rocks, and the people of the island of Malta, a whole new experience awaits.
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THE SUN CAME OUT TODAY

Yes the sun came out today, and it shone over the valley here in Skibbereen, it was glorious and so welcome after all the days of mist, rain, and stormy weather. So I took a walk along the boreen* and found a few wild flowers making colour, their therapeutic effects did not stay behind, I felt so energized after that walk.

To find the red clover in flower was probably early in the year, but then the temperature is warmer than normal, it has been a steady 10C for a while now and today in the sun the temperature went up to 15C even despite a cold northern wind.
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This beautiful little fern grows along rocks even in urban settings all over Ireland.  It’s most delicate and very hardy.

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The gorse usually flowers twice a year, once in February,  and once in the summer.  It’s probably early this year, but I did not get any of its scent, we need stronger sunlight for that.

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I took this photo behind our houses, it is waste land, the sedges are lovely, I like this sort of landscape too.  Soon St.Brigid will be celebrated in Ireland and people will use the sedges to make St.Brigid crosses, I used to teach people in the library to make those, it’s fun to work with the sedges.

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It is getting time that I start planning my garden, I have not done anything about it really because the weather has been so wet.  Today I started to take stock, and some of the raised beds wood surroundings have rotted!  The soil is still very wet.

Roll on warm and dry weather!

*    Boreen is an Irish word for a path in nature, (Irish: bóithrín,  pronounced [bɔːˈriːn]) it is a rural walking path.

LUSH SUMMER GARDEN

Yesterday I nearly had a disaster with my blog, not realising that if you delete photos from your media library, that they also disappear from your actual blog entries, I started to delete very energetically. Luckily I discovered in time that something was not right. I was told to up-grade – my kind partner Ian treated me to the update for the year, I am very happy that I can keep going, and also I only need to replace photos of my first month of blogging which was August 2014, that is easily done. So now I’ve got 13GB instead of 3GB to play around with.

Today it was quite nice out despite the soft rain and heavy clouds. I went and looked at my overgrown garden to check what I needed to do first, so I set to trimming the overgrown hedge along side one of the raised beds that I am also putting in order. This year was my first year in permaculture, not sure if I got it quite right, since I was not able to do much gardening (instructing and keeping an eye on my wild plants that like to grow more vigorously than my vegetables), due to family visits and reunions.
There has been a lot of growth, a lot of the larger herbal plants have been trashed down by rain and wind, so it all looks a bit messy. I am reluctant to cut down the large comfrey as it is full of flowers and bees visit constantly, this is important. The feverfew is beautifully in flower, but the wind has also slashed it down, and the lady’s mantel the same. I cut one hedge and got rid of the branches and leaves on the compost heap. Then I got side tracked into the shed, as anyone can remember I am making a big effort to clean out my two ancient sheds. One was used by my now ex-husband when he still had the roofing business, there is still stuff in there that needs to go. I got quite a bit sorted, and while dealing with an old press riddled with woodworm I came across this spider. I thought that it was a lace web spider but I could be wrong. So took some photos. I then discovered that a lettuce which had gone to seed had black lice on the stem, and found that there were also quite a few ants running over them, maybe they eat them?

Yesterday I also noticed that I am getting flowers on my bitter gourd plants which delights me, one experiment going real well 🙂

This blog entry is a ramble, and that is exactly how I feel about my garden right now, it’s overgrown and so lush and green, it’s amazing, making me feel a little puffed and wondering will I ever get it sorted again, but then it is good the way it is, so much to discover, so full of life. It is all good. It’s a job finding some vegetables among it all though, but slowly things are coming along (those that were not eaten by you know what!)

And that brings me to some new books I got in the library this morning. They both look interesting. The one about the companion planting especially will be useful, the other one is just for inspiration. I find that books always inspire me so much, I let them too, and choose them carefully. We are lucky to have a good library, and of course there is always Amazon, and second hand bookstores around which are lovely to browse through.
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Lush summer growth flattened by wind and rain.

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Black currants, and some of my sweet peas growing among the edible peas.

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Garlic nearly ready to harvest, and the peas which also suffered from the rains but are doing fine.

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Variety of herbs, all fighting for space it seems.

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So blessed with a good library!

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One of my precious bitter gourd flowers, and the hypericum flower.

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The black lice with the ants, and the lace web spider (I think)

LOTS HAPPENING IN THE GARDEN

Today was a real garden day, the first real warm sunshine, and towards the middle of the day it was just lovely to be outside. Work had to be done, twigs had to be shredded, and other winter things cleared away. My grandson, partner and I even sat on the garden seat drinking a cup of tea while taking a rest from the work. I could not resist going around observing and taking photos of what is happening at this time, and there is lots to be seen, shoots of the soft fruit coming up, small flowers opening, and young salad leaves coming up, all exciting and lovely.
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The Borage is already nearly in full bloom, the bees will be happy when they come out!

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Lungwort Pulmonaria Officinalis is a lovely plant, I treasure the one I have in the garden and hope to grow more.

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Last year’s English Marigolds are coming into bloom again brightening up the garden so much.

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Fumitory on the wall, a little herb that is supposed to be a good little liver plant, must double check that though.

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Daisies are to be found flowering in heaps right now, as are Dandelions, a great sign of spring.

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Salad leaves sowed outside last autumn, and doing well.  And Wild Garlic a whole bed full of it!

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These Grape Hyacinths are starting to flower in a window box, love these little things, they add a touch of colour and they have a nice subtle scent.