Archive | June, 2013

Off to the Forest.

30 Jun

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With all the madness going on in the world…corrupt Irish bankers scandalous tapes being released, America bugging the EU offices and worst of all Monsanto being the recipient of the World Food Prize…I need a day away from it all. Peace…quiet…beauty…nature. Yes! We’re off to the forest today. Ireland’s oldest forest actually…St. John’s Wood, near Lecarrow in the beautiful county of Roscommon. If anyone cares to join us we will be at the forest entrance at 3 o clock. Otherwise I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Have a happy Sunday!

Bridget.

A perfect Summer morning.

26 Jun

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I was up early this morning…woken by the birds and the bright sunshine. Even though it was perfectly still there were no midges about. The smell of new mown grass still perfumed the air.

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I love how the freshly cut grass makes everything look nice and fresh. The cut grass is a valuable resource for the garden…we use it for mulching around plants and also add some to the compost.

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The dew was still on the plants when I was rambling round the garden. With only light canvas shoes on I soon had wet feet from the dewy grass.

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Masses of perennial Geraniums in flower now. These were here when we moved. I do like them but they need breaking up with some other plants…contrasting colours. Any ideas anyone?  Lots of work to be done here next Winter methinks…of course shopping for plants to be done first. Lovely!

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I love the tiny little flowers on this Geranium.

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The bed I planted up last month has come on very well. Nothing grew for a while but then we had heavy rain and everything took off. That’s what makes Ireland so lush and green…the life giving rain. Ireland wouldn’t be Ireland with a hot sunny climate.

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In the new bed I notice the Tree Lupin is coming into flower. Nothing special about it…a fairly common plant. However…this one is special to me because I grew it from seed. I never tire of that feeling of watching something you’ve sown as a tiny seed grow into a mature plant. Magic!

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Lovely shadows created as the sun filters through the trees on the eastern boundary…

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and the pond is so still…even the little creatures that live here are still resting. If you look carefully you can see a Newt in the pic. Lots of them here.

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As I head indoors this freshly emerged Poppy catches my eye. Couldn’t miss this striking colour I suppose!

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Back indoors I have a cuppa whilst admiring this lovely bouquet I received yesterday from another cottage garden.

A perfect Summer morning at Flynn’s Cottage.

Just a pic for Sunday.

23 Jun

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He he!

The Longest Day.

21 Jun

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Happy Solstice to all who stop here. To celebrate the day that’s in it I would like to share a poem sent by my friend June.

It’s written by Jehanne Mehta.

SUNFIRE

To visit the sunfire in this land

We carry a torch, we carry a brand.

To kindle the sunfire in all hearts

We offer our song, we offer our dance.

When swirling flames with red tongues fly

And grey smoke billows to the sky.

What hold us back shall burn away

In the singing sunfire of misdsummer’s day.

This poems reminds me of  the bonfires that are lit here in north-west Ireland on June 23rd. Called St. John’s night here it has been adapted of course from the Solstice festivities of Pagan times. This year it will be magic as it is also the night of the supermoon. The closest the Moon will be to the Earth this year. Astronomers say the Moon will look 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual. Tides will also be higher.

Saving our Forests.

20 Jun

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A bit of good news for Ireland yesterday. It was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, that the sale of the harvesting rights of our state owned forests was not to be sold. In the Minister’s own words “now is not the time to proceed with the sale.”

It was also announced that Coillte is to be merged with Bord na Mona. Set up in 1946 for the purpose of peat harvesting… Bord na Mona has now diversified into garden products… waste recovery and renewable energy.  While BNM continues to destroy… actually most of them are destroyed… our bogs… ordinary folks who wish to save enough turf to heat their homes are being prevented from doing so. I digress…what worries me about this proposed merger is the direction that BNM is now taking. With most of the bogs in their ownership almost depleted they are now looking to other ways of making money.

Their recently appointed CEO recently launched the  new direction for the company which is entitled “A New Contract with Nature.”  Well the old contract destroyed the boglands in their care so I wonder what the new one will do.

I come from a small village in north Tipperary called Templetuohy. Bord na Mona was always a big employer here. Now that the bogs have been turned into deserts they have turned to renewable energy here. To be prescise..wind turbines. Lots of wind turbines…I don’t know exactly how many. These…as always…were built despite local opposition…at the beginning. Now more and more are going up and people don’t protest any more. “They will go ahead anyway so why waste our energy fighting a losing battle” is what people say.

So back to the forests. They have been saved…for now. Minister Coveney’s word were “not the appropriate time to sell”, does that mean the appropriate time may come. With Coillte merging with Bord na Mona are they seeing the potential for expansion of their renewable energy operations into the forests? A worrying thought indeed. There have been murmurings already of Coillte’s interest in having wind turbines in their forests. Two thousand wind turbines are to be erected in the Bog of Allen…covering 5 counties…this is going to be a huge blight on the landscape of the midlands.

As you may have guessed by now I don’t like wind turbines. In a small country like Ireland with a spread out population it’s very hard to erect wind turbines without being near someone’s home. People’s health and value of their properties have been ruined by these turbines. In the view of many…including myself…wind turbines should be in the sea.

Keep Ireland’s landscape beautiful…these turbines do not enhance it. Our forests are safe…for now. We must continue to use them…they are our resource…we need to show we care for them…want to continue to protect them. So go to your local forest whenever you can. You will feel refreshed, renewed and relaxed. You will also be helping to protect one of the people’s greatest assets.

As Solstice approaches…

17 Jun

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As the longest day approaches everything in Nature is full of vitality and bursting with energy. The weather is good… not as hot as our recent heatwave which suits me…and probably most Irish people better. I don’t think we are genetically disposed to very hot weather…most of us wilt when it gets above 23 or 24c.

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Cherries are starting to swell on the trees. It’s looking good for Apple and Plum harvests too…and of course the Blackcurrants never let us down. Even in the recent bad Summers the Blackcurrants came up trumps. The seem to like the conditions here in the north-west. Lots of freezing, jamming and chutney making to be done later it seems.

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In the polytunnel the first bed is made.

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The first thing to be planted was a Mexican Midget tomato. It already has flowers so shouldn’t be too long before we get lovely little sweet Tomatoes here. Several varieties of Lettuce, Basil, Rocket, Chervil and Dill were planted plus 3 more Tomato plants. That’s that bed full…time to get another one constructed.

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In the front garden Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)  is in flower beside the pond. Not one of my favourite shrubs but I can’t see us taking it out either…but then again maybe we will. Andy isn’t a big fan of it either.

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Within the pond the Water Lily has been teasing us for days with it’s semi-open blooms.

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Under the shelter of the verandah  the Clematis has burst into flower.  Not the dark purple I’d like but still quite pretty. It’s one of the plants the previous owners planted here. Maybe I will replace it in the Winter with Clematis jackmanii my absolute favourite Clematis.

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On the lane the Hawthorn flowers are just going over. Soon they will make little Haws which will light up the hedgerows with their vibrant red come Autumn.  The cycle of the year continues…as it always does.

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Just a pic for Sunday.

16 Jun

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Garden work on hot Summer days.

8 Jun

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Hi folks! The big news is that we have a polytunnel. Yippee! We bought it from the Galway based Polytunnels Ireland. They arrived yesterday morning at 10.15. Started work at 10.30 and had the whole job done by 1.30. Yeah…that’s right…all done from scratch in 3 hours. Hardest working guys in seen in ages. They only stopped to drink water and an occasional few minutes in the shade. It was a really hot day… 27 celsius…so the plastic is really tight.

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Today was also very hot but I couldn’t resist starting to mulch in there. We will use the no-dig method to make the beds. First a good thick mulch of cardboard and newspapers…then the manure will go on…and lastly compost on top and it’s ready for planting.

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We now have 3 hugelkultur beds made. One with Onions…one with Black Tuscan Kale and the last one planted today with Peas. There’s nothing to beat home-grown Peas. These are Daniel O’Rourke… an old Irish variety. I shall also save seeds from these at the end of the season.

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Andy was feeling the effects of the sun today so he chose a job under shade. He sorted out all the wood from the Poplar tree we had felled some weeks ago. The big logs were put in a big pile to season and all the small branches he sawed up and put in the fuel shed. In the country one always has to think ahead to Winter fuel supplies. This lot should be ready to use by September.

Temperatures are set to return to 19 celsius by Monday.A  better temperature for tunnel work.

Summer days at Flynn’s Cottage.

6 Jun

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The weather has been fab for over  a week now. Temperatures of 22 c every day. Housework is neglected and all the time is spent in the garden.

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All the trees on the lane are now in full leaf…everything looks lush and healthy. The dappled shade gives shelter at the hottest time of the day.

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Yesterday was World Environment Day and to mark it we planted more trees on the laneway. You wouldn’t think any more would fit but we managed to squeeze in about 10 more trees.  Some were bought as bareroot while others…

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like this little Oak were grown from seed or in this case an acorn which is of course the seed of the Oak. Hopefully it will stand here proud and strong many years after we have left our present incarnations.

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In the pond Bogbean is in flower. This little water loving native flowers from April to July and is the food plant of the Elephant Hawkmoth Caterpillars.

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The Bumble Bees love it too. There seems to be lots of Bumbles this year…haven’t seen any Honey Bees though. According to the Irish Beekeepers Association 76% of Irish Honey Bees died over the long Winter. It really is a serious worldwide problem…every third morsel of food we eat is dependent on the Bees for pollination. If we don’t stop the environmental damage we are causing, the Bees and many other insects will be extinct. We do our best to provide a little natural oasis here but when you see the neighbours spraying poison on a few weeds in the yard despair begins to set in.  I am however an optimist by nature so that doesn’t  last for long.

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Andy has been busy cutting away Snowberry and Ivy from around the trees. It’s amazing how much space the spreading Snowberry takes up. When he was finished we planted a Damson and Buddliea here…also some Comfrey which can be just chopped and dropped in situ to feed the growing plants. Comfrey has a deep taproot so it brings up nutrition from deep in the earth. This permaculture technique is one I have used for many years…it works really well.

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It was a revelation when the Ivy was cleared from these Hawthorns. Lovely evening sunlight flooded in and we had a clear view through to the Ash plantation beyond.

Here’s hoping these wonderful Summer days continue for a few more weeks.

In Raheens Wood.

3 Jun

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Yesterday found myself and a couple of friends in Raheens Wood near Castlebar in Co. Mayo. Officially opened by the Taoiseasch on March 3rd of this year it is a collaboration between Coillte and Mayo County Council under the Neighbourwood project.

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Lovely to catch the Bluebells in their fading splendour.

This area has been woodland since the 1840s. Lots of coppiced Hazel here which are very accessible for nut collecting if theres a crop this year.

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Lots of lovely old Oaks here too.  Ash, Alder, Willow and Birch all contribute to make this a very pleasant woodland walk. It’s very civilised with proper paths and strategically placed seats and picnic tables.

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Beautiful countryside views  from the highest point in the woodland. That’s Lough Lannagh in the distance.

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It’s at this spot where the Taoiseach planted a commerative Oak tree on the opening day. There’s also a picnic table and seats here. In retrospect it would have been a better picnic spot than the one we chose lower in the woods. We had to make a quick retreat from there as the midges were crazy.

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In the distance one can see the now ruined Palladian mansion that would once have been the focal point of this area. As is often  the case the trees are the more lasting living legacy from this era.

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I love how this tree has been moulded by the wind and the lie of the land…

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so much more fitting into the landscape than this monstrocity to some long dead person of importance.

Remember folks next Sunday, June 9th, is National Walk in the Woods Day.  It is the Irish people’s chance to let the Government know that “OUR FORESTS ARE NOT FOR SALE.” To find out more about the day and a walk near you go to http://www.bardsinthewoods.com.

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