Archive for April, 2011

This was such a difficult list!  It was topical but nevertheless really hard to find things for an image.  This is my contribution.

A Church.  They build them big in these parts – Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Castletownbere.

A Cross – gravestone in St Michael’s churchyard, Bere Island

A Sculpture – the harbour at Ringaskiddy, Cork

A set of keys – what I’m writing this on!

An interesting shop name – well interesting shop at least!

April showers – there were very few!

Breakfast – every day come rain or shine!

Eggs – hatched or plundered?  Found on the edge of a cliff so I fear the latter.

Something to do with Shakespeare – Ophelia to Laertes, from Hamlet

‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.’

Something to do with St George’s Day – in Catalonia St George’s Day is celebrated with a gift of a rose and a book to a loved one.  ‘A rose for love and a book for ever.’

Something yellow.  This was really difficult – daffodils, houses, dandelions, buttercups, sun, the list is so long.  But I chose laburnum just because my tree is flowering for the first time, perhaps because I mentioned the lack of flowers in a recent blog and it was shamed into flowering!

My camera – does anyone know how to reverse an image?  This is my trusty little camera that keeps suprising me with the wonderful pictures it takes.  Thank you Sony Cybershot. 

If you want to see more April Photo Scavenger Hunt pictures or join in, look here and here

Thanks again Kathy.

 I have no interest in the Royal family or the monarchy but I do love a good wedding.

  So I hope the couple have a magnificently happy day and I wish them both well.

Bere Island is proudly wearing it’s spring colours.  Clouds of white blackthorn blossoms are slowly fading to make way for the hawthorn whose leaves are ready and waiting.

  In the  hedgerows Irish spurge and primroses and violets jockey for position and yesterday I heard the first cuckoo. 

 The bees have awoken and are waiting for the fuchsia flowers to burst open, which won’t be long.

In the garden the smell of spring is in the air thanks to the delicate narcissus Pheasant’s Eye

and the early flowering rugosa rose Roserie de L’Hay

with the promise of more to come


Despite hating the winds we get here a precious Acer capillipes is growing well and looking so pretty with it’s new leaves.

 I bought this as a seedling of the magnificent specimen at Hunts Court Nursery many years ago.  I recently heard a rumour that the nursery is no longer open – I hope this isn’t the case as the gardens and the masses of roses planted and sold there are well worth visiting.  The whitebeam, another shrub-sized tree here, is nearly at it’s best but the laburnum has again not flowered.  I planted it over eight years ago and it has never flowered.  And every year I tell it that it has to go but it’s now grown so big it would leave too big a gap.  So it stays, again!

 The tulips are only just going over and have been magnificent; the daffodils were better than ever this year thanks probably to me coppicing the surrounding willows and dog woods early last spring and so allowing light to feed the foliage.  The long freezing winter has done some damage – a creeping ceanothus that I thought was protected enough is only showing a small amount of life and a newly planted bed of 2 year old asparagus crowns has had it.  I think the roots were literally frozen out of the ground.

But the apple trees are blossoming, the swallow’s mate has just arrived and the tadpoles are getting bigger.  All in all, a wonderful spring and just right for Easter.

Have a peaceful and happy holiday weekend.

The ingenuity of islanders is remarkable.

Livestock have to be fed and kept in and kept out and a trip out to the suppliers is not always possible.

So beds make excellent fences and if the gate is too short

re-inforcing mesh,

a pallett and another bedstead will do the trick.

An old car bonnet fixes an older cattle feeder

and why bother with a gate when fishing net and rope will do?

Baler twine becomes a creative alternative to new sheep wire

such artistry and precision do the job just as well!

And what better use for an old drainpipe?

P.S.  I spotted the first rose this afternoon – I don’t remember them ever blooming this early. 

More Bere Island spring flowers in the next post.

Rather than telling you about shivering seedlings – the weather’s changed – I thought I’d show you what’s come off the needles in the last few weeks.  I’ve had some success at trying out new-to-me stitches as I promised myself in my 2011 List.  The first was not a new stitch but certainly something I’d never been brave enought to attempt before – a triangle.  I found it at the wonderful Brooklyn Tweed and as I had enough double knit in my stash decided to give it a go.  It was a joy to knit and had I had more wool, I would have gone on and on.  And what’s more I learned how to do provisional casting on and aggressive blocking!

Not a colour I would have chosen but just right for St Patrick’s Day last month.

It’s a very useful and easy to wear scarf substitute.

Then I found my stash of cotton and googled chevron stitch and came up with this. 

I love it!  And again, so easy.  Another stitch I found is elongated chevron which I’ve tried and  will make a great scarf in wool  – it’s reversible and has wonderful texture.

But for now, this is my favourite.

As I’m very bad at doing only one thing at a time, I alternated my knitting time with squares for  Kyoyu kyoyu – share.  Kate is doing a brilliant job collecting and making up knitted or crocheted squares to be sent to Japan to help all those who have lost everything.  So if you have a stash of wool to use up and a little time, please make her some 6″ squares.  Find all the details at

 For now it’s back to next winter’s woolly.  An old Rowan favourite which I’m adapting to have a shawl collar rather than round neck.  I think there’s a 50/50 chance of it being a success!

It’ll certainly be warm, knitted in Kerry Wool’s aran.  I have to make an addition to my 2011 list – I must promise not to knit any more GREY for myself!  What is needed in those long winter months is colour!

Absolutely nothing to do with knitting although related via sheep:  anyone with dogs and cats and who walks through the long grass should look at this

Sorry about all the site addresses – there are gremlins in the links this morning!

Hope the sun’s shining where you are.

This morning, Sunday, was a perfect example of a soft Irish day.  Wet, misty, damp, still, murky, warm, horrid!  And just the sort of weather the slugs like.  I promised you a post on the Irish slug and here it is, you lucky things.  I could show you lots of delightful slug pictures but I don’t want to ruin your day so I’ll just tell you a little of the problems we have with the slimy things. 

The ground is stony and the walls are tumbling stone and the surrounding land is rough moorland where cattle and sheep graze.  The varieties and sizes of slugs have to be seen – according to one survey there are 32 kinds.  They come in all the sludgy colours you can imagine and we even have our very own Irish one – the Kerry slug!  The only places that this Kerry native is found outside it’s own county is west Cork and northern Spain and Portugal.  It even has it’s own website – – in case you’re interested and there’s a Kerry Slug Survey of Ireland too!  So there!!  It’s a spotty monster and curls up like a hedgehog when touched.  I’ve seen one and it was big.

So how do we control these voracious plant eaters?  Having learnt the hard way, I hardly ever sow any seeds direct.  This makes for more work with the potting up and planting out but at least seedlings stand more of a chance.  Once in the ground, we have over the years tried every method of prevention.  Needless to say, slug pellets are forbidden, even the so called organic ones.  Beer traps were good when we lived next to a pub;  bran and soot are effective until it rains which is when protection is needed the most;  slugs don’t like salty seaweed but then neither do plants.  I’ve  tried encircling every seedling with crushed glass and grit but to no avail and as for eggshells, well who can eat that many eggs?  We came to the conclusion years ago that there are only two really efficient – and cheap, copper bands are pricey – ways of preventing slugs from destroying an entire crop of susceptible plants.  Plastic bottles and man-power.

I have a rubbish bag in the greenhouse full of sliced up plastic bottle rings which are put over every single lettuce I plant out.  They go around new delphiniums and lupins and the runner beans and courgettes too.  The plastic also offers some weather protection for very small seedlings and can be removed once the plant is strong and big enough to cope with attacks.  I’ve found that the beginning of the season – now – is when there are most slugs and the smaller ones do the most damage. I know the plastic doesn’t look too pretty but it’s worth it.  There’s nothing more soul destroying that finding rows of carefully nurtured seedling disappearing overnight.

Which brings me to man-power.  My dearest T is not an aggressive man, in fact he’s a big softy.  But when it comes to slugs he changes into a killer!  After dark, armed with a torch and extra long plant label, he’s out there dealing death to all slimy creatures he encounters. He examines all vulnerable plants outside and in the greenhouse and picks off and stamps on each and every slug he finds.  And it works, the population is controlled.

So with the aid of plastic bottles, a man, or woman, with a torch and the fast developing tadpoles in the pond, we should manage to have flowers and vegetables this summer even if the days are soft!

These are for Charlotte in Bristol who loves an Amelanchier.  It fairly shines in the gloom!


Not this kind of eye candy?

OK.  How about these?

I have fallen in love again.  Not with Paul Newman or Richard Burton this time!

With tulips.

Thanks again Katarina at Roses and Stuff and have a good summer!

For any of you familiar with this blog you will notice that there is one view from the garden which I photograph over and over.  I make no apologies for this – one of the best things of living by the sea is that the same view is never the same.  This was this morning with the sun struggling hard to push through the soft mistyness we’ve had for days.

Yesterday however the mist cleared just before dusk and I saw something that lifted the gloom that descends with the mist – the first swallow has arrived.   

Not a good picture I know but I had to capture it’s arrival. I wonder if it’s the swallow whose nest is above the bedroom window?

We had sun this weekend, along with strong winds, heavy showers and hailstorms, which of course forced me out with my camera to record what’s flowering in this first weekend of April.

The bed outside the sun room of clipped box and filled with yellow tulips, put in so long ago I can’t remember the variety.

Amelanchier – such a pretty tree.  Here it remains only a shrub as it hates the winds

For the first time since planted six or seven years ago it’s covered in blossom

I’d love great drifts of these scillas

Isn’t that just beautiful?

What would we do without Rosemary

or primroses

Looking for something completely different, I pulled Vita Sackville-West’s Some Flowers from the bookshelves and enjoyed her no-nonsense approach to garden writing.  She so loves her flowers and is honest enough to write:

 ’It is very difficult to write about flowers. I discovered this truth only when I started to do so.  Before I tried my hand at it myself, I had done nothing but rail against those who were trying to do the same thing.  I found myself losing my temper frequently with the nauseating sentimental phraseology which seems to impose itself on all those otherwise sincere and honest gardeners who feel impelled to transmit their knowledge and experience and emotions to other and more ignorant people.  It seemed to me that they all employed the same sickly vocabulary, which deserved a dictionary to itself, so inevitable and recurrent were the terms they used.

It is very difficult indeed to write about flowers.’

So, gardeners beware!  Let’s enjoy growing and looking and leave descriptions alone!


Have a very happy day!