Sometimes beauty can be found in the little things.
June saw a lot of wet and windy weather and there was a great risk of blight forming on any crops in the potato family. We decided to try out a natural all in one tonic and remedy. You start by picking a bucket full of horsetail plant and let them steep for a week in water. We used a large flat stone to keep all of the horsetails submerged and ended up with a very smelly mixture. We strained out the horsetail and boiled the liquid for about ten minutes to prevent any spores from growing. Horsetail is an ancient and fascinating plant.
May has seen an explosion of colour on the land and plants and wildlife woo equally for our attention. An inquisitive young Coal-tit found his way into the conservatory and had to be rescued. He spent a few moments relaxing outside the door and was a great target for the camera before he flew off on new adventures.
In the early nineteen nineties one of us was helping a friend clear out an attic in Utrecht, Holland and came across the stuffed head of a Polar Bear dating from about the eighteen twenties. The Bear’s head had probably spent over a hundred years hidden away in the dark and now it was crumbling to the touch and sadly ended up in a skip. We found it incredibly sad, that a majestic, splendid and very intelligent being was destined for this fate. We managed to rescue the two canine teeth from ending up in landfill and have kept them ever since.
A note to our regular readers; This post is rather off topic with what we usually write about so consider yourselves warned! Although there are quite a few images relating to gardening and plants so you might enjoy it anyway.
Painting in acrylics of bumblebee on oregano plant.
Like many of you we have moved through April at a slower pace than usual. There are so many treasures to marvel at in the natural world and we hope that at the end of the current situation more people will be able to connect with nature at a deeper level. It is time to stop abusing the planet and to understand that we are only a small part of the web of life.
It has been a beautiful month in the garden and now more than ever we realize the importance of supporting the local eco system by encouraging nature to run wild in most parts and use part of the land for growing food and medicinal plants. With the increasingly grim reports of the virus ripping through communities and countries, we have found solace in the simple acts of engaging with wildlife and plants. We believe that life cannot go back to the way it was before this pandemic as capitalism has stretched the natural resources well beyond limits. This is the time for starting a more harmonious relationship with nature and we are great admirers of Mary Reynolds and her ARK project that is gaining strength throughout the word. You can read about it here.
We think humanity has a real opportunity to steer away from mindless overconsumption and build strong communities by producing food locally, eat what is in season, have holidays close to home, work from home when possible and share ideas and skills in new and creative ways. Many small local businesses are struggling at the moment all across the world but when the lock down is lifted we need to support all of the wonderful people who work hard to create a sustainable and vibrant local community. We must put Mother Nature first. We believe it is time to shift our aims and values away from “what can I get?” and concentrate on “what can I give?” We think Jane Goodall sums it all up pretty well in this video.
In February over one hundred frogs came back to visit our small pond where they were born and now the water is absolutely teeming with tadpoles.
In the annual vegetable garden we have been harvesting kale and sprouting broccoli every day for the past three weeks and started to clear the beds for the spring planting season. For many years we lived in places without a garden and back then we “grew” most of our vegetables inside. Sprouting is a great way to add nutrients and colour to our diet and we wrote about it in a post a few years back. For information about sprouting and tasty recipes please visit the wonderful Sproutpeople website. If you are at home this might be an ideal time to explore this easy and cheap way of producing food.
The lockdown in Ireland has given us time to study from home but also all work together on putting up a small poly tunnel for tender crops and seedlings. It has been lovely working together for a common goal.
Around our main circle spring is well on its way and we have been busy weaving a low fence around our cardoon and artichoke beds. We cut back a lot of our bamboos and coppiced some ash trees for materials. This should stay in place for at least five years. We still have one fence to complete.
We hope you will all stay safe and well in the challenging weeks and months ahead. Our hearts are with all the frontline workers in hospitals and in food production and distribution. We are staying at home and living as self-sustainable as possible to try and stay out of their way. It is not a sacrifice but a privilege to spend time close to nature and with each other as a family. We are very lucky to have running water, a home to call our own and a piece of the earth to be the guardians of. Many many people in poorer countries are not so lucky and for them the crisis of this virus will be much more devastating. We need to give them as much solidarity and help as possible.
We believe February was the wettest month we have experienced so far on the land in the seven years we have been here. Most days saw a mix of sleet, snow, rain and lots of windy gusts. Our stream is at an all time high.
We are a week into February and more than a few flowers are starting to push their heads up, turning towards the sun. It is time to do our usual monthly summary and January was a month with quite a few days of sunshine when we managed to tidy up some of our spaces, mulch, plant wildflower seeds and harvest some lovely vegetables.
The garden is starting to wake up to another year of immense activity. At this time of year, when most plants are in a stage of rest it is easy to see the underlying design. We would like to talk about a special aspect of the land that has given us and many visitors a sense of joy and belonging throughout all the seasons over the last few years.