A Good Home, Cold weather dreams of gardening, Garden

Ciaran’s Irish Garden

It’s February and a gardener’s thoughts turn to spring.

Not because we expect it any time soon – this is Ontario, Canada, after all — but because it’s at least another two months before flowers start popping up from the soil.

So – courtesy of Twitter — I head to Ciaran de Buitlear’s garden in the south of Ireland where flowers are already blooming.

Blog Photo - Ciaran garden - Hellebores spotted

In fact, Ciaran’s first crocus bloomed weeks ago, while we in the frozen north were enjoying snowdrifts, and I got a serious case of garden envy. 

Blog Story - Ciaran first Crocus - Spring has officially sprung

Then came the daffodils and hellebores.

Blog Story - Ciaran Daffodils blooming

Ciaran says he loves gardening in part because it’s “very different to the day job of working with databases in the cloud for large insurance companies.  I think gardening is very Zen.   It is like a meditation but without the stillness, and also gets you fit (and there are flowers).”

Blog Story - Ciaran Early Spring flowers

His love of gardening began in childhood.

“I gardened as a small child with my mother.  I only recalled this recently when I saw episodes of BBC ‘Gardeners World’ nearly 50 years old.  I remembered watching them with my parents as a small child.”  

Ciaran is passing on his garden love to his own children. While his partner Fiona “does not have green fingers”, sons Zack and Sam love to help out in the garden. 

Blog Story - Ciaran's son Zack will grow sunflowers, carrots etc

“They do weeding, grow plants from seed, like to make things out of wood for the garden.  Zack can spend hours in the garden helping me. Sam is 11 now and can get more stuck into computer games than the garden sometimes but he still does help from time to time.”

Blog Story - Ciaran and Fiona sons reading 

The family’s garden is not huge, but it’s prolific. Last fall alone, Ciaran planted 500 bulbs around this tree.

Blog Story - Ciaran garden - just planted 500 bulbs

He grows many favourite plants.

Blog Story - Ciaran ferns

“I love ferns — freshness, greenness, kind of other worldliness, they are so magnificent in spring.

Blog Story - Ciaran Japanese maples

“Japanese maples – they look great from up close and far away.  The leaf detail, different colours and textures of foliage, the way they act as foils for other plants.”

Pots are also filled with spring flowers:

Blog Story - Ciaran Spring flowers in 3 pots

And there’s a greenhouse to help protect tender plants till it’s time to put them out in the garden.

Blog Story - Ciaran Greenhouse 2

As gardeners know, it all takes work, but a garden is a gift that keeps on giving.

Blog Story - Ciaran and garden supplies

The hellebores are blooming in different colours.

Blog Photo - Ciaran garden - Hellebores deep red

But in the weeks ahead,  hosta will unfurl, hardy geranium will bloom, flowering vines will put on a  show, as will the roses in the de Buitlears’ garden.

“You can never have enough roses, all kinds (but not the ones you have to spray).  I treat them well, feed the soil with well-rotted manure every year. If they do not thrive, I yank them out (this rarely happens).  Long flowering season, lovely blooms, use as cut flowers, colours!

“Then there are coneflowers, rudbeckia, agapanthus, allium… I could go on and on and on…   I guess I am a plantaholic.”

Aren’t we all? Thanks for sharing your garden, Ciaran. It brightens up a northern gardener’s soul. 

 

 

A Good Home, Aggie and Lou, Environment-friendly, Farming, Farms, Flowers, Gardens, Living sustainably, Organic Farming, Organic Food, Peonies, Spring garden, Stewards of the land, Texas, The environment, Vegetables

Blooms for Aggie (and Lou)

Aggie asked me to publish blooms of peonies from my garden.

Blog Photo - Peonies almost open Light pink

I promised I would.

Blog Photo - Peony and bee

Who is Aggie, you may ask?

Blog Photo - Peony Rust

Aggie and husband Lou run Isis Farms near Avery, Texas. They call what they do “beyond organic”.

“We want to grow and supply ‘real’ food, for ourselves, and as many people as possible. We think that good, whole food is a key to health.”

They describe themselves as stewards of their 30-acre land.

“As stewards of this land, we want to nurture a healthy ecosystem, maintaining the forest, reintroducing native grasses, and keeping the chemicals out.”

Blog Photo - Peonies in Bloom

Aggie and Lou believe the planet cannot possibly sustain the average American’s lifestyle. So they are doing their part to reduce their impact on the earth.

“For example, we are planning for solar power, and rainwater collection and drip irrigation to minimize water usage. Our home is small, and we heat with wood, which creates no additional greenhouse gases, and is freely available in our forest. We purchase used items when practical.”

Aggie and Lou have been working very hard to realize their ideals. And they continue to do so, through what seems to be every single day. This kind of work and vision take commitment, but they seem to have it in spades.

Blog Photo - Peony and weigela

So these blooms are a tribute to Aggie and Lou and Isis Farms.

And because Aggie asked to see them.

Blog Photo - Peony deep pink single

This post is dedicated to Aggie, Lou, and all who are doing something to “reduce their impact” on the earth.

*The second and third images above are by my wonderful photographer Hamlin Grange. (The rest are by that awful photo-taker who shall not be named.)