In nature, sustainable living, vegetable growing on June 11, 2012 at 9:33 am
After a short break when we had lots of much needed rain it seems that Summer is back. Yesterday we had 15 hours of sunshine…unheard of for Ireland. I went out just before 8 this morning to open the polytunnels…already serious heat had built up in there. On the mountain the wind turbines are still. There’s not a breeze of wind to move them. The valley looks so lush at the moment. Grass is plentiful for the animals and they are enjoying the sunshine. I love how the farmers here have left lots of trees. On large intensive farms one often sees all the trees and hedgerows removed to maximise grazing land. Electric fences are used to strip graze the land. This makes for a very boring landscape, no wildlife habitats and of course no shelter for the animals.
The Irises are in full bloom right now…it’s amazing how much these have spread. They were planted only last year. One to watch methinks in case it takes over.
I just love their colour…purple being a fave of mine…and form…the beauty and perfection of Nature. Don’t know the variety of these…the label has long disappeared. On another blog…can’t remember whose…there was a suggestion that rather than sticking the label in the ground by the plant that they were stored in the house or shed. A good idea I think as I can’t remember most of the names…and the labels blow away or disintegrate or the dogs chew them.
The perennial Geraniums have also come into flower. Deadheading regularly will keep these flowering for many weeks.
Foxgloves survived the wind and rain remarkably well. I thought they would be flattened. Plants are a lot more resilient than we give them credit for.
Swiss Chard seems to have become huge overnight. I just noticed this morning that this is ready for harvesting. I really love the leaves with the red ribs. Don’t they look fab…tasty too!
All pics taken this morning around 8am.
In Garden, Gardening on June 2, 2012 at 9:41 am
Everything is fresh and lush after the recent rain. It was much needed as everything was so dry and the water pressure in our well had dropped. The weather is still summery but without the very high temperatures we had at the end of May. We Irish are not genetically adapted to very hot weather.
The Elder tree is just coming into flower here. Soon it will be time for cordial and wine making. Gooseberries and Elderflowers make a delicious jam combination.
The fields are flush with grass for the animals. Does’nt Daphne look cute amongst the Buttercups?
The Broom is giving a great colour show right now…it’s bright yellow so eye catching. In the past Broom was used in the treatment of dropsy…it is not used nowadays as the plant is considered too toxic. It is poisonous to animals but they don’t touch it anyway. It always amazes me how animals know instinctively what plants to avoid. Broom grows in abundance by the river…I lifted this as a small seedling from the river bank 2 years ago and it has grown rapidly to this 5ft high monster. Considered a weed by many…I love it!
The perennial Geraniums are starting to flower…they will give weeks of colour in the borders…especially if they are dead-headed regularly.
Purple is one of my fave colours so I really appreciate these Alliums flowering at the moment. I buy a few more of these bulbs each year.
Foxglove is starting to reveal it’s gorgeous blooms…another weed…to some people… but one again that we allow to self-seed.
Love this Iris…
In the vegetable beds these Cabbages have put on a spurt of growth after the rain and warmth. Not long to wait until we will be harvesting these.
Click on pics to enlarge.
In Gardening, Herbs, sustainable living on July 5, 2011 at 9:26 am
Lychnis coronaria, it’s striking magenta flowers would light up any border. The grey leaves show up the flowers brilliantly. It loves well drained soil and a sunny position. There is also a white version but this is the one for me! I shall save seeds from this one, I want more!
Thistles are just starting to reveal their beautiful purple flowers. Purple is one of my fave colours.
Seed heads of Sweet Cicely, these have a slight aniseed flavour and can be used in Apple or other fruit pies. According to Lesley Bremness in The Complete Book of Herbs they are used to flavour Chartreuse liqueur and when crushed make a furniture polish.
Escallonia at the back of the border provides year round greenery. It is covered in tiny flowers right now, their abundance making up for their size. Now is a good time to take cuttings of Escallonia, they strike easily.
Lots of Calendula at the moment, it self seeds from year to year. An ointment can be made from the flowers which is good for burns, bruises, sores or other skin problems. To make it: 100g Calendula flowers (about 70 heads), 150g emulsifying ointment (from pharmacy), 70ml glycerine(also from pharmacy), 80ml water.
Method: Chop flowers and put with rest of ingredients into a bain-marie for about 1-3 hours depending on desired strength. Take off heat and add a few drops of lavender oil. Strain into sterilised jars.
In Bees, Gardening, Herbs on May 17, 2011 at 10:29 am
There seems to be lots of Bumble Bees about this year. Great to see them as worldwide they are in decline mostly because of disturbance to habitats. There are about 250 species living mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, although they are common in New Zealand and Tasmania. They are ground nesting often in tunnels abandoned by other creatures. Living in small colonies of no more than 50 they produce only enough honey to feed their young. Unlike their cousins the Honey Bees they do not die if they use their sting. However, it is rare for them to sting, usually only if they feel threatened. Bumble Bees are important pollinators of crops and wildflowers.
These Alliums are doing really well considering they were planted late, end of January, bargain bulbs in sale. They are holding up well to all the recent rain. I love purple flowers. Actually I really like the colour purple in clothing too.
Silverweed is plentiful on the lane at the moment, it thrives in the moist soil we have. A member of the Potentilla family, in the past the root was cooked and eaten as a vegetable or ground to use in bread and porridge. Geese are said to be partial to the leaves. The plant was also used medicinally. An infusion is said to be useful for gargles to relieve painful gums and toothache.
Tormentil, also a member of the Potentilla family, is in flower at the moment. It has similar properties to Silverweed being of the same family. The Lapps use the juice from the root to stain leather.