Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Bealtaine.

In Ireland, nature on May 1, 2012 at 6:49 am

Already the constantly turning wheel of the year has brought us to May Day… Bealtaine…the beginning of Summer in the Celtic calendar. The Blackthorn is in blossom now…soon it will be followed by the Maybush as Hawthorn is often known.

The Romans celebrated this time with the Festival of Floraia…in honour of the Goddess Flora…Goddess of fruit and flowers. They would feast for 5 days.

Imagine the scene in the old days in Ireland…fires lighting on every hill on the eve of Bealtaine…must have been a wonderful sight to see the hills glowing in the distance. The main fire was at Uisneach…in what is now county Westmeath. Fires in the home were quenched and then relit with coals from the embers of the bonfire.

In the not so distant past the churning of butter was an important activity on every farm. Indeed as a child I remember my Mother making butter in a round wooden churn. It was believed that anything leaving the farm on May morning could be used to “steal the butter.” People not of the household would not be allowed enter if butter was being churned for fear of malicious intentions. It was suspected that certain people regularly “stole” their neighbours butter and crops. Potatoes, being an important food crop, were often the focus of these “thefts.” The crop would be “stolen” by the “thief” leaving an egg among the potatoes. The “thief” would then have an excellent crop.

Like Samhain,  Bealtaine is considered a time when the veil between the world’s is thin…a time when, at dawn and dusk especially, we can commune with Fairy and Nature spirits more easily.

What does Bealtaine…May Day mean to you? Is it something you mark in any way? For me it is a time of an increased awareness of Nature bursting forth. Everything is so vibrant… green and alive. The fields and hedgerows are once again clothed in green…insects are flitting about doing their pollinating work. So much to observe and revel in. Even though we’ve seen it all before somehow each year we are filled with awe and anticipation at the wonder of it all.

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Gifts from here and there…

In Garden, green living on March 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Gifts come in many ways.  From friends, family, husband or wife or even people you “know” through their blogs. One such gift was the Very Inspiring Blogger Award given recently by Kevin over at www.nittygrittydirtman.wordpress.com . Thanks Kevin, I do appreciate your kind words and the award. Kevin’s blog is often about gardening but not exclusively. Always entertaining though! To accept the award I must nominate other blogs to also receive the award. I always feel weird about doing this as each blog is that person’s effort…I do not wish to name individual blogs on this occasion. If I follow your blog that means I like it… so to every blog I follow do take the award and pass it on. Maybe someone who has a blog needs a lift or a bit of appreciation…nominate them and make their day.

Another condition is to reveal 7 random facts about oneself.

1. I love wool but it irritates my skin so I can’t wear it.

2. I have a strong sense of justice.

3. I don’t like people who lie…it is an insult to anyone’s intelligence.

4. My most recent discovery about myself is that I have ADD (attention deficit disorder).

5. I hated school.

6. I believe in Angels.

7. One of my fave meals is basmati rice topped with a good helping of mung bean dhal. Delicious!

Another unexpected gift came my way yesterday…this lovely little Japenese hoe. Isn’t it lovely?  I spent a few hours helping a friend in the garden and admired this lovely tool. Her reply was “I’m left handed so I can’t use it. Would you like it?” Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth I accepted the gift gratefully.

When visiting another friend last week I was offered a bunch of rooted Willow cuttings. I’m sure I can find homes for them in the hedgerows. Might even make a fedge with them. They will take off instantly at this time of year… decisions…decisions!

I love their bright yellow colour. It only comes on new growth though so they would have to be cut back each year to get this. A fedge is looking more likely!

The garden has started showering us with gifts too, not that it ever stopped! Rhubarb has shot up and is ready for picking. Crumble on the menu soon!

Rhubarb is a great crop in any garden. It requires very little attention apart from a mulch of manure each Winter. It can be used for jams, chutneys, crumbles and even cakes. Even if you don’t like it as a food the leaves contain oxalic acid and make a great natural pest repellant.

Finally a gift from nature…this beautiful Arum Lily…Arum maculatum…spotted in the woodland whilst walking on Sunday. Isn’t it fab!! There are many common names for this plant, cuckoopint, lords and ladies, willy lily and parsons lillycock to name but a few. In the Autumn it has poisonous red/orangey berries.

Even the weather has been generous this week. The weather has been beautiful! Sunny and dry all week. Life is good! I am thankful.

Off Grid Living.

In Gardening, Off the beaten track., permaculture, sustainable living on September 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Our friends Elaine and LJ live on a 7 acre smallholding about 10 miles away from us. Living the good life for about 7 years now their wooden clad house is warm, cosy and welcoming despite having no mains electricity or water, things most people can’t imagine living without.

Electricity for the house comes from solar panels and a wind turbine atop this pole. Sorry, I cut off the wind turbine, crap pic, anyway you get the idea! Water is gravity fed from a well on their own land, some rainwater is also collected.

There are 2 polytunnels for vegetables and also an orchard. Slowly this land which was only ever used as grazing for cows is being converted to a haven for wildlife. No chemicals are used here, nature rules. Elaine and LJ call their philosophy “Permaganics, a combination of organic and permaculture techniques.”

Their 2 donkeys Floyd and Bowie have the run of the land that isn’t being cultivated, about 4 acres. I think the names reveal a little about their owners musical tastes too!

 Willow cuttings planted last year have taken well, they help to divide the land into separate spaces and take up excess moisture from the ground. More will be planted over the coming Winter. Willow grows easily from cuttings planted in frost-free weather in Autumn or Winter. Here they have been formed into overlapping semi-circles to form a “fedge”.

This willow lined pathway leads to a magical woodland area. One can imagine Nymphs, Fairies and maybe even Leprachauns having their abode here. They will not be disturbed.

This pic was taken walking back to the house from the woodland.

In the orchard the Apples are ready for picking.

Ladybirds and Garden pics from Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on May 19, 2011 at 10:01 am

Rhododendron ponticum  is just coming into flower at the moment. Hated by many because it is so invasive one cannot deny the beauty of it’s flowers. Introduced to England and Ireland in the 18th century it has escaped into the wild choking out all in it’s path. Every Summer grows of volunteers work at cutting it back, especially in Kerry where it has become a huge problem. Each plant sets thousands of viable seeds so it’s progress is speedy. It is also poisonous to animals.

Was delighted to see this Ladybird yesterday, first one this year. They are in serious decline because of pesticide use and habitat disturbance. One way to help Ladybirds is to leave a patch of Nettles in your garden. The Nettle Aphid is a fave food of Ladybirds emerging from hibernation, it is’nt a garden pest. Ladybirds are of course a great friend to the gardener, they will consume aphids, scale insects and mealy bugs. Many people consider them lucky and love to see them. My Mother’s name for them is God’s Cows, that’s what they were always called when she was a child.

The old cottage garden favourite Aquilega is in flower at the moment. Also known as Columbine or Granny’s Bonnet it’s flowers are short-lived but so pretty. It is easily grown from seed and self seeds readily.

The Victoria Plum has set lots of fruits again this year. It likes the heavy ground here. We also have a young Opal Plum tree which has set fruit for the first time. Once again it seems that working with Nature will provide abundance here in the Arigna valley.