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Summer days.

16 Jun

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Summer’s here and how lovely it is. Lots of Strawberries from the polytunnel…eaten with sourdough pancakes and chocolate sauce for breakfast.

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Lots of Broad Beans from Autumn sown seeds in the polytunnel. This was from only a few plants. Next crop of these will be outdoors as they take up valuable space under cover for far too long.

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A very sociable time podding them round the kitchen table…with a nice cup of tea of course. The mug with the B is mine and the hands are my Mothers. She is visiting with us at the moment to celebrate her birthday. She was 78 on Saturday.

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Everything in the garden and indeed the whole countryside is looking very lush right now. Perfection in Nature as we head towards Solstice and the longest day.

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Speaking of perfection…isn’t the blue of this Iris just perfection itself. Love this colour! So vibrant!

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Clematis Annabel flowers near the back door.

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This Tree Lupin is much loved by the bees. I’m chuffed with this as it’s one I grew from a seed. They do grow fast once they get going.

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Myself and the Bees are also fond of this tall Valerian which self seeds everywhere. It has a lovely subtle sweet scent. Don’t know if it has the same herbal properties as the lower growing Valerian…anyone out there know?

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As we bask in the warm embrace of Summer there’s much to do. Long days working outdoors…growing,  preserving and of course eating Nature’s bounty. Time too to enjoy the wonder and beauty of it all…

A tour round the production garden.

8 Jun

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The tunnel is chocabloc right now and the good weather is ensuring rampant growth.

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Lettuces I like to have lots of as we eat salad most days. There’s red ones…

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and green ones. Full Moon is coming up next Friday so it’s a good time to plant new seeds. I don’t follow the Moon calendar religiously but plants do seem to germinate more quickly and be somewhat stronger. If nothing else it’s a good way to divide up the work. Thursday is a leaf day so the new Lettuces and other leaf crops will go in then.

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These oriental salad leaves have gone crazy. Interplanted between the garlic I think I planted them a little too thickly. Still lots of pickings though to spice up our salads. I think I’ll plant some fresh supplies of this too.

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Strawberries have started to ripen.

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There’s great joy in heading to the house with that first precious handful. Slugs are a big problem this year. I’ve already used as much of the organic slug pellets as I used in the whole of last year’s growing season. Whole trays of seedlings have been devoured overnight. I was particularly peeved at the Icelandic Poppies which I’d overwintered in the conservatory. I potted them on, quite big plants at this point, only to discover the whole lot devoured next morning.

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Courgettes will be fruiting soon too. When we went out for my birthday meal Andy had raw courgette pasta with a pesto sauce. It was delicious. The pasta is made with a tool called a spiraliser and I am going to get one. The place we went to was in Westport, County Mayo. Called the Purple Root Cafe it is a raw, vegan cafe and the food is yummy. Highly recommend it if you’re going that way.

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Broad Beans are cropping now. Don’t think I’ll plant them in the tunnel again though. They are in the ground such a long time and become so gangly that they need staking. Outdoors for these next year.

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Outside the potatoes which were planted in pots in April are doing very well. These are Ratte, a French variety that has a lovely nutty flavour.

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The main crop of Setanta are now above ground. These are said to be a floury potato and are also blight resistant.

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Red Cabbage is starting to heart up nicely

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and the Tuscan Kale is doing well.

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It’s looking like a good fruit year. Apples and Plums have set lots of fruit. Home grown Plums are so different to what one buys in the shops, juicy and delicious. Actually I never buy shop Plums anymore as they are mostly inedible. I freeze a lot of Plums when we have them. Just split them, take out the stones, bag them up and into the freezer. Lovely for preserves and baking.

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There’s even a chance of Cherries this year. The big challenge here is to get them before the birds. Netting will be required I think.

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In the conservatory the Grapes are doing really well this year. This grape was here when we bought the place. It was much overgrown and produced little fruit. It has responded well to being severely pruned last year.

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So it’s looking like a good productive year here at Flynn’s Cottage. Hope your garden is doing well too.

Early morning in an Irish country garden.

31 May

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It is early morning…6.3o to be precise…a bit earlier than usual for me to be up and about but I didn’t sleep very well. Probably due to being on antibiotics and steroids for an upper respiratory tract infection. Hopefully the drugs will do the trick and in a few days I shall be tickety boo again.

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The only sound to be heard is the early morning birdsong. All the different voices merge together beautifully like a well rehearsed choir. So uplifting…

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A wheelbarrow full of grass clippings sits as testament to yesterdays unfinished jobs. The first chore today will be to mulch amongst the Blackcurrants with cardboard and these grass clippings.  But thats for later…

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By the pond Flag Irises are just showing their yellow flowers…

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and the Newts are up and about.  Must be hundreds of Newts in the pond. I wonder if Newts ever sleep?

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I can see little flower buds on the Water Lily.

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Everything feels so alive and vibrant. The growth is so strong that the scene changes from one day to the next. A  privilege to be able to observe it…I am thankful.

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As the Sun starts to emerge it is time to go indoors and get the kettle on for coffee.

A new day has begun…

The May garden.

18 May

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The Spring flowers have retreated  and the early Summer flowers have taken centre stage. These Aquilegias or Granny’s Bonnets as the are commonly known are short lived but so pretty right now.  Dead heading will keep them flowering a little longer but by high Summer their time is over. They are easily raised from seed or from division of the clumps.

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Rosa Rugosa is about to show it’s first fragrant blooms. It will continue to produce them right up to Autumn followed by large bright red hips. These are very high in Vitamin c and can be used in jellies and syrup.

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There’s been a lot of rain this past week so everything is looking beautifully fresh and green. Purple Alliums add a lovely dash of colour. Must do a bit of weeding here…pretend you don’t see those Dandelion heads.

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Valerian is waiting in the wings. I love it’s tall gangly habit that allows one to see through it to the plants behind . Nice pink flower too. I do tend to have a lot of pinks and purples in the garden. Purple is my alltime fave colour.

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It’s looking good for some Blueberries later on in the season. One of my fave fruits…nothing to do with them being purple!

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In the conservatory Geraniums (or  are they Pelargoniums) are producing lots of flowers.

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In the polytunnel all the new season crops are in. The Swiss Chard had to come out to make room for Courgettes and Beans. I’m always reluctant to take out crops that are still producing but this would have gone to seed soon anyway. Salads and Spring Onions are cropping now. There’s nothing like those first salad pickings. Broad Beans will be ready soon.

Outside the Setanta potatoes have been planted. These are supposed to be blight resistant and very floury. Kale, Red Cabbage and Onions are also in the ground.

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Round the pond Andy has built a dry stone wall. Doesn’t it look good?

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On the lane all is fresh and bright and green once again.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny Easter days.

21 Apr

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The weather here has been great for weeks now. However the last week has seen temperatures rise to 18c. Perfect weather for being outdoors. The Daffodils are just finished blooming  but the Primroses are playing a blinder this year.

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Freddie loves the hot weather…his new fave place to sit is on this leatherette chair in the conservatory. It gets really hot when it’s sunny but he just loves it.

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The heat has ensured plants have put on a great growth spurt. Lots of things in flower a bit earlier than usual. Delighted that our Lemon is about to flower. Apparently the scent is lovely.

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Geraniums are also in flower… this one is  lemon scented.

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The Fig is also showing the promise of fruit…

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and the Grapevine has put on a lot of fresh growth.

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This Kiwi was planted in the conservatory by the previous owners. It was far too rampant so we dug it up and put it in a pot to see if it would resprout in the Spring.  As you can see it has sprung into life. It is now planted on the south facing wall of the shed where hopefully it will do well.

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Andy put up a trellis for it to climb onto and the overhang of the roof should give some extra protection. I’ll be well pleased if we get some Kiwis. All for me as Andy doesn’t like them.

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We had friends from Finland staying with us for a couple of days over the weekend and on Good Friday we went on a bog walk from Knockvicar Organic Garden to Cloonakilty Castle on the shore of Lough Key.

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Andy and Katri managed to get inside the castle…

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while Don and I relaxed in the sunshine. Restoration work was started on this castle a few years ago…there was even talk of a recording studio…but alas it has lain unfinished for several years now. A lovely place to explore though.

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On Easter Saturday we went to visit my friend Charlie in Manorhamilton. What could be better on a hot sunny day than sitting on the verandah with a friend gazing at beautiful Magnolias in bloom.

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Such beautiful flowers. I shall have to think about getting a Magnolia for our garden. Is it possible to be in love with a flower? I think I am!

Hope you too had a wonderful weekend.

The joys of Spring.

22 Feb

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Snowdrops in bloom…a sign that Spring is really here. An exciting time when the possibilities of the year ahead open up in front of us. A time for sowing seeds and watching the new growth enliven our gardens and the wider landscape once again. The longer days fill our hearts and souls with joy and enthusiasm.

The botanical name for the common Snowdrop is Galanthus nivalis. Galanthus is of Greek origin and means milk white flower. Nivalis is a Latin word meaning resembling snow.

Superstition says it is unlucky to bring those pretty flowers indoors.

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Rhubarb has also poked it’s head above ground. Hard to believe those little buds will turn into those gigantic stalks and leaves. In gardening books it is always classified as a vegetable but for me a plant that can be used to make delicious tarts, crumbles and jams is definitely a fruit.

Apparently Rhubarb grows all year round in warm climates. It’s only the cold Winters of our temperate climate which make it retreat underground.

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In the polytunnel the Swiss Chard is still producing lots of leaves…

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and Winter Purslane sends forth it’s little leaves full of Vitamin C. At this time of year I really crave salads and dream of Summer days when they will be plentiful again. I look forward to the joy of watching those first heads of Summer Lettuce grow.

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Periwinkle didn’t die back at all this year and is already producing its pretty little blue flowers.

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By the front door multi coloured Primulas are bright and cheerful. These will be planted out in the garden after flowering and will hopefully form clumps and continue to flower for many more years.

First frost.

4 Nov

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So calm and white and bright.

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The death knell tolls…

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until the reemergence next Spring.

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So still and calm this morning.

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Tinselled Rubus.

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Frosted baubles on the Guelder Rose.

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Frozen pond.

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Temporary exhibition…soon to be melted away by the rising Sun.

A sunny November morning.

1 Nov

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The Sun is getting lower in the sky now casting shadows deeper into the cottage. So nice to be greeted by early morning sunshine on the table.

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Strange shadow play on the conservatory wall. Seeds for next year drying on the table. Gardeners are always thinking ahead to the next season.

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Still a bit misty outside.

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Out into the garden. The Sun is at the south east but shortly the whole garden will light up as the Sun comes round to the south. Still lots of leaves to be collected.

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Such a stunningly beautiful morning!  More like Summer than November 1st. Been a while since I walked the garden in my dressing gown at this time of year. That’s the good thing about living in the sticks…no one peering over the hedge…ever!

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Back to the conservatory for more shadow play.

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By December 21st the Sun should be just skimming the top of the trees in the forest behind us and casting shadow and light even deeper into the cottage.  As this is our first Winter here we are seeing all this for the first time.

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Seeds to be potted on are highlighted too. Canterbury Bells and Dianthus planted in the Autumn to give a head start next year.

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Lettie catching a few early morning rays…

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while Freddie is needing some TLC. He had his little op a few days ago and has to wear this silly lampshade so he doesn’t go near his stitches.

The Autumn colour show.

23 Oct

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I love the colours of this time of year…Summer’s pastels are gone to be replaced by vibrant reds, yellows and oranges.  While we admire the colour show there’s a lot going on within the trees, shrubs and flowers at this time of year. Before they go into hibernation plants reabsorb the valuable nutrients from the leaves. Chlorophyll… the pigment that that gives leaves their colour is one of the first nutrients to be reabsorbed…which is how we get this wonderful colour show.

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On the lane the Ash and Hawthorn have already lost their leaves. These will be collected and left to break down over the Winter for use in the garden next year.  Free soil nourishment from Nature.

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These Gooseberries which are being brought on in the polytunnel have turned a beautiful shade of pink. They are cuttings I took in the walled garden at Lissadell 2 years ago. Delicious black Gooseberries on a hot Summer day prompted me to sneak a few cuttings.  They will be planted out in their final position next Spring.

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Cocks Comb Amaranth has been brought indoors to dry…still vibrant pink after the long Summer.

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It’s seeds have been saved to start the cycle all over again next year.

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Sycamore looks so lovely in it’s temporary Autumn dress of yellow.

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Guelder Rose has lost most of it’s leaves but the fabulous bright berries are shining bright like premature Christmas baubles.

The name Guelder comes from Gueldersland…a Dutch province…where the tree was first cultivated. Apparently the berries are edible when cooked. Lots of sugar or honey is needed to mask the peculiar taste.  They were used to make cough medicines in the past. Don’t think I’ll bother with those!

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The circular leaf of the Darmera is just spectacular…so many colours in there. Soon it will die down completely…ready to reemerge fresh and new next Spring. The cycle of life to begin anew.

Pics from the Botanic Gardens in Dublin.

20 Oct

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Wednesday was my friend Charlie’s birthday. We headed up to Dublin on the train to visit the Botanic Gardens.  A wet morning greeted us but as the day went on it cleared up to quite a nice day.

Great pumpkin display as one heads out to the gardens.

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Aren’t these great? Metal flowers on a wall. Part of the Sculpture in Context exhibition.  The exhibition made the gardens even more interesting as the art pieces were placed throughout the grounds.

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Bronze ladies amongst the trees.

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Not sure about this one. It’s called “They’ll be back.”

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Air plant in one of the glass houses. Can’t remember the name but by it’s shape it’s got to be call Stag’s Horn…

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Another air plant.

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Beautiful Bouganvillae.

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Wonderful Palm.

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Couldn’t find a name tag on this wonderfully sculptural specimen.

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The Cactus house.

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Such variety…there’s an amazing amount of Cacti.

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I thought this was a sculpture as it looks like bronze. It is however a real live plant.

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These Tree Snails were amazing…made from fused plastic.

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Did someone polish the bark on this Yew? Beautiful!

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Waterfall.

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The DNA sculpture. This is a permanent fixture here.

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Chicken wire Snowdrops.

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Redbor Kale in the kitchen garden.

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Loved this piece…blown glass bubbles attached to this gnarled old tree.  Very clever!

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Another fave…a wonderful oversized cedar chair. It even smelt nice.

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Part of a wonderful bronze sculpture.

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There is so much more but I will finish with these beautiful vibrant flowers.

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