A berry nice month.

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We are almost a week into August and it is time to sum up a very fruitful month in the garden. July brought quite a lot of rain but also some sunshine and our berries thrived. Ripening this past month were blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, worcesterberries and a cross called jostaberries.

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Kokedama moss balls with a twist.

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Last year we were given some lovely Pelargonium cuttings from a friend to add to our pelargonium collection. They all spent the summer outside, but when it got too cold they had to move indoors. They have been stored all winter in some plastic crates and were looking a bit worse for wear due to poor light and cramped conditions.

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The beauty of November passing.


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People often think of November as a dull, grey, wet and cold month. That November is something that has to be endured rather than enjoyed. We beg to differ. As the garden and nature in general slows down and moves towards a more restful time there is beauty everywhere. From the fireworks display of leaves and flowers to the stark forms of the remaining artichokes, if you look you will find it.

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Spring is often seen as a joyful, bright and uplifting time but is it really so different from autumn? We believe all parts of the wheel of time should be celebrated, enjoyed and looked upon in awe. Without the plants dying back, withering and resting there would be no spring spectacle to behold.  No new leaves unfurling or apple blossom to marvel at.When the sun comes out and shines its low rays across all the colours in our garden in November, it feels like a miracle not very different from looking at the first butterfly or bumblebee of spring.

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It has been very wet and windy over the last month in the West of Ireland and we have been busy indoors, finishing work on our extension, so the garden is in a state of some neglect. There is much planting, weeding and some moving of plants to be done. We always plant things as soon as we can and if something turns out not to thrive in its allocated position we move it later. A year of growth in the ground is almost always better than a year waiting around in a pot to be planted out. Our planting of ornamental grasses that we created in the spring is coming on nicely and is starting to fill the space.

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Our paths are in need of attention. We put down a lot of mulched Leylandii and thatch from an old cottage when we established the garden but after two and a half years the paths are getting worn down, starting to break up and have some weeds creeping in. It is now time to move all this old, rotted down material and use it as mulch around plants all around the garden. We will dig out the main paths quite deep, put in some drainage pipes and replace the path with maintenance (quarry dust). This should last a lot longer than the thatch and mulch. On higher ground, where water logging is not a problem,  we are planning to just have cut grass.

The rain over the last month has led to our stream being very full of water.

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Every month we show pictures of the garden taken from our main circle in the four cardinal directions. You can see how the garden changes and evolves over the year in the category elemental circle. The artichokes have mostly died back now and will be cut down shortly, shredded and used at mulch back on the bed again. We are looking forward to what next month brings.

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Roses in December?

What September brought.

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When we look back on the month of September we remember a lot of sunshine and warmth. Maybe it was only an average month, but after the cold and wet summer September felt like a very welcome change.

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We continued to harvest potatoes, courgettes and broad beans. All our onions and shallots that we harvested at the end of August dried out in the shed and are now hanging in inviting bunches from the ceiling.

harvest broadbeans

The garden has taken on a more muted palette; some gold, copper and brown amongst the flowers and shrubs.  Because of the warmth and sunshine many plants have been putting on new growth. All the pollinators made the most of it, filling up their winter reserves. Our ferns have also benefited from both the warmth and the rain.

september garden pony tail grass

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september garden ferns

Our espaliered apple-trees have only been planted less than three years but a couple of them have already provided us with lots of apples for tasty crumbles. We notice a remarkable difference in yields between espaliered and un-espaliered trees. Considering the space you save and the way you eliminate congestion and bad air circulation, we cannot recommend espaliering enough. You get both higher yields and healthier trees.

wildlife september apples

september apples

In our circle the plants are still looking good, unfortunately we do not have a picture of what it looked like last year at this time but as we remember it, there were a lot less plants a year ago and they also finished flowering sooner. A blog like this is not only a tool to share our successes and failures with the world but also an important record for us. By looking back through the posts we can see how things develop and change throughout time. We do not have a lot of readers but we do very much appreciate the ones we have and we hope we are making a few small changes, ignite some sparks and inspire people to plant and create something beautiful things in their lives.







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We are looking forward to the remaining days of October. We hope to finish our extension this month and move into it. We will tidy up the garden and bring our Pelargoniums inside for the Winter months. There is a lot of weeding and tidying up to attend to in the garden. We think we will be quite busy. September brought us a lot of joy. We hope October will too…


acer palmatum

september garden

Flowers in August.

Hollyhock Halo

As August draws to a close we are thankful for all the lovely vegetables we have harvested this month, despite mostly ignoring the kitchen garden this summer. The onions are so tasty grilled or baked and we are enjoying them on a daily basis.


But to sum up August we would like to write about our flowers in the garden. We started most of them off as seeds two and a half year ago and we also bought quite a few of them as small perennial plants. Even if you are on a tight budget it does not take long to get your flowers growing big and strong. The first year, we invested in a few trailer loads of well rotted cow manure and it has really been worth while.  All our flowers and vegetables have really taken off and it is quite amazing how quick the garden has established. Each year we have added more flower beds and even the ones started last year are looking good. In autumn we do an all over weeding and add leaf mould to all the beds and that makes it easy to weed in the spring. Most beds do need another weeding in midsummer as the perennials are still establishing and filling in their allocated spaces.

Lambs ear and geranium


In a couple of years we can start dividing the well established perennials and swap them with friends. We have already received lots of wonderful plants this way, shrubs, vegetables and flowers that had outgrown their spaces in friend’s gardens.

Gifted plants

Flowers are lovely to look at and create a colourful wonderland to stroll about in but are also highly beneficial. We have many edible varieties as well as bee and butterfly favourites. We grow them together with our vegetables for both a practical and beautiful approach. This year we have had a very cold and rainy summer but there are still lots of flowers and vegetables performing well, although a bit later than usual. Some vegetables come with the added benefit of beautiful flowers, like the runnerbean that was first introduced to Europe as an ornamental.



Our main circle has really put on a show this month with all the lovely red crocosmia in the south fiery section. The cardoons in the west have grown very tall and our willow fence we wove in early spring has prevented most of them from blowing over. We are happy with the grass bed we planted in the east section; most grasses have really taken off.











Grass garden

All in all, perennial, biannual and annual flowers give a garden almost instant appeal, and do not be afraid to experiment. If something outgrows its space or if too many weeds pop up in the bed, rearrange your plants to suit the space. Most perennials do not mind being moved, but you should wait until autumn or early spring, when they are dormant. Take some photos in the summer to remind you what the bed looks like as it makes it easier to adjust your plantings. We love all our colourful flowers and cannot imagine the garden without them. Collect and scatter seeds about where you want more flowers or plant them into seed trays to grow on a bit first, before planting out or giving to friends. Some people plan their colour schemes very carefully but we do not fall into that category. In our garden there are a lot of happy accidents and we think it all looks beautiful.

Verbena bonariensis



A rose by any other name.

We believe William Shakespeare’s Juliet when she proclaims; ‘That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.’ Roses are among the most romantic, fragrant and beautiful flowers to be grown in a garden. To most people the smell of roses evoke memories of bygone days, perhaps spent in their grandparents garden.

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But we are not very fond of modern roses. For some reason they seem a bit out of place in our wildlife friendly, slightly overgrown garden. We do not have the time for careful pruning, feeding, watering and dealing with diseases they seem prone to. But who can imagine a garden without roses? There are endless culinary and medicinal uses for them, along with their beauty and the benefits to wildlife. So in the early spring of 2013, a couple of months after moving in, we ordered a lot of bare-root wild roses from Future forests in Cork. The beautiful field rose, Rosa Arvensis is now slowly covering the road bridge across the stream and a stunning pink Rosa Rubrifolia Glauca is slowly increasing in size on the bank of said stream.  Rosa Rubriginosa, the sweet briar is a lovely shade of light pink, and has a slight and delicate scent. Last month we enjoyed the beautiful bloom of the Burnet rose, Rosa pimpernelifolia. We found all these varieties suited our garden perfectly, and being single flowered, very useful for bees and other insects.

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Last spring we thought it would be great for us and all the pollinators we wish to attract to the garden if we planted some ramblers and scramblers to grow up our trees and across the stream so we bought a “New Dawn” to arch across the stream in the two ash trees we have bent down and connected. In another big ash we planted the beautiful, yellow ”Wedding Day” that slowly fades to white as the flowers age. To grow up the larch we choose “Paul’s Himalayan Musk”, a small flowering cluster rose with a fresh, beautiful scent.

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Wedding day

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We also found an old groundcover rose at a local nursery, with a scent like old-fashioned cold cream and a useful spreading habit, along with a pink, strong old-fashioned climber that we do not know the name of, but which are often found covering old Irish cottages, even long after their inhabitants are gone. It is now growing in a few locations around our garden, but it is not yet in flower this year. But if you look closely you will find that even the buds of roses can be worth resting your eyes on.

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This year we had to cut down some old spruce that were becoming unstable in our woodland and that left us with a lot of space to fill with deciduous trees and climbers. We recently got a rambling rector and a sweet smelling beauty by the name of Madame Alfred Carriere, a rose with big cream colured roses tinged with pink. These are both reliable strong climbers that we hope will bring years of pleasure to us, and any visitors to our garden, humans and wildlife alike.So as you can see we are slowly moving from the wild and untamed towards more cultivated forms of roses. We belive this is as far as we will go. But who can know for sure? We might fall for some old moss rose like the beautiful old pink moss from the 1700-hundreds or the Apothecary’s Rose, Rosa gallica officianalis from the 1600-hundreds. And really, what harm could it be? Surely we have room for them all?

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Flowers in June.

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We have come to the end of June and it is time to sum up this glorious month in a few words and pictures. The nice warm weather has brought out some lovely shades of pink, blue, red, purple and yellow all over the garden. Not forgetting to mention green. Growth has been strong in the raised borders around our circle.

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The sweet Williams we sowed last year have overwintered and really show their colours this month. We particularly like this variegated one where the flowers start off pink and fade to white.

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Another favourite in shade and sun are the beautiful hardy Geraniums we put in last year. If we have to pick a favourite it will have to be splish-splash that looks like it has been splashed by blue paint!

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If you take the path down to our pond you are likely to see a few frogs on the way, most of them very, very small. At the pond a whole lot of foxgloves have taken hold, right next to our little fairy house. If you look in the water you can see a lot of dragonfly nymphs as well as many big beetles swimming up to the surface for air. A few newts are also about and a lot of whirly-gig beetles and pond skaters.

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circle june pond

As we have planted out all the vegetable seedlings we kept safe in our gazebo now, we have reclaimed this space as a lovely place to sit down with a cuppa or dinner. It is so peaceful sitting in there, listening to the little waterfall in our stream and smell the sweet Williams and roses. Two years ago we planted a 40 cm cutting from Future forests in Cork, a rosa multiflora  and now it is a billowing mass of fragrant flowers. This is a rose native to Asia and it has a status as an invasive species in some parts of the USA and Canada. It is very prolific so you might want to think twice before introducing it to a small garden. We like it because it has lovely leaves, flowers and hips for salads and teas. We also grow it in a restricted space where we prevent it from tip layering. We have not found any information to suggest it is invasive in Ireland.

circle june rose

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There is a lovely anticipation in the garden this time of year. So many different flowers are still to open their buds, like these hollyhocks, growing close to our smaller pond. We look forward to sharing them next month.

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Small wonders.


Sometimes it is difficult to live in a house at the same time as you are renovating it. There is a lot of building dust, tins of paint, tools, rubble, building materials and nails and screws in the wrong place.  We are two adults and four teenagers sharing a tiny house and when you add all of the above to the mix as well as getting on with everyday things like cooking, homework, cleaning and washing it can get pretty hectic. It is also easy to look at all the mess and all the different areas that need to be finished up and start to despair and wonder when and if it is ever going to get finished. Building an extension and renovating every single room in a house is a big job at any time but when you have six people living in it at the same time it can feel unbearable at times.


That is why it is so important to step into the garden and just look around. There is of course an immense amount of tasks to be done in the garden as well, as we are in the process of turning it into a self sustainable, wildlife friendly, beautiful and productive haven. But nature has a way of calming the troubled and stressed mind. After a while of flower gazing, pond watching and birdsong it is easier to remember what really matters. To live in the here and now.  Not think too much about what it will be like when we have a room big enough to fit a table where we can all sit down to dinner together, or a space and the time to make some art or a nice big room in which to play some music with friends. Those are all things that we hope will become reality some day, but for now there are so many things to be grateful for. We are all together, happy and healthy. We have friendly neighbours, lovely friends and enough food to eat.




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Walking slowly through the garden and taking in all of its beauty really slows the mind down and the worries and anxious thoughts melt away. What really matters becomes clear. And the closer you look the more wonderful it becomes. We hope you can get a little bit of the same feeling from looking at the pictures. There is a lot of stress in many peoples life today. So many screens to look at and pay attention to.  So many have to do and should be doing things…


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But in nature we can all find the antidote. Even if you don’t have your own garden there are always places you can go to still your mind and look for the small, small wonders of life.