I cannot believe that it has been nearly four months since I shared our aspirations for recreating a courtyard gardens. But then, in those months many things have happened.
The summer this year has not been great here in Donegal (even for Ireland); and we have had a distinct lack of sunshine, until just recently. In fact as I write this today is a glorious day. Despite the predominantly cloudy weather my plants have flourished, and I now have an abundance of sweet peas. I experimented and put them in a basket, but I am not sure now if they look too ‘Triffid- like’. I do know that next year I will plant them again but this time near to our table and chairs as the fragrance they give off is absolutely beautiful.
Since my last post the obvious huge change in the garden has been the removal of the awful wall around the paddock. It has opened up the garden beautifully, while making minimum impact on our courtyard effect.
Living in France changed us so much, where nature was concerned, we now believe that none of us have ‘the right’ to take from other species, that we all have to live and work together to keep this precious planet as beautiful as it is. As a result we have decided to leave patches of the paddock to meadow, allowing homes for the insects, and flowers for the bees and butterflies, of which we now have an abundance. Now we have an idea of how we will manage it – with paths cut between the patches, we will add bee bombs so that the patches will be full of meadow flowers next year.
Elfie loves the patches of grass, ever the farm dog she bounces towards them ‘Tigger’ like with all four paws off the ground, and then launches herself into their centre.
I have added pots to the courtyard over the last few months, and have been thrilled that the Alyssum that survived the cold winter in North West Ireland by the skin of it’s teeth has rejoiced in the chance to live another summer and has flourished and spread along the borders of the paddock. We had randomly thrown meadow flower seeds out during the last year and now some are coming to fruition in the borders around the meadow, including corn flowers and poppies, and even thistles – their beautiful blue loved by the bees.
The pots that I shared with you have grown considerably, I saved the fuchsia from the ‘Left to Die Shelf in Lidl’, they have repaid me handsomely and will come back every year .
After knocking the wall down we decided to free the magnolia and she is now finding her way in the paddock, along with various honeysuckle. We took the prayer plant out of the basket and planted it by the rusty gate that we decided to keep after knocking the wall down. It serves as a history to the fact that it used to be a paddock, and also as a perch for the birds, who all line up on it and look in on me when I work. It is well on it’s way now
We have learned from our mistakes though. We loved our little vignette of bird feeders, mirrors and butterflies but have decided to move the bird feeders onto a stand in the paddock, I never realised just how much grass seed was in bird seed, and have had a nightmare trying to stop it establishing in any plants near the feeders.
We both find watching the birds relaxing, and it is something that we have needed in this summer of sadness. In place of the feeders we now have another two baskets and RD has finally set up our old water feature, with an old mirror placed behind it. It’s strange how we never set it up in France despite moving it there. As I look back I realise that we never fully settled in France, not as much as we thought we had. It never ceases to amaze me how reflection can show you a whole new picture if you are willing to have an open mind.
We have made a small seating area where Wiglet died, and have planted an ornamental plum tree in a beautiful pot, and placed some of her ashes underneath it. As it grows it will be her, in another form, and we both sit there with our tea and talk to her, as the breeze rustles her leaves. We bought a wind chime made of paws, that lights up at night which I will share in another blog.
I like to sit here and watch the meadow grasses blowing in the wind, with the thistles that the bees love so much.
We also have some paws in the ground that glow each night, reminding us of the paws that used to run through this garden.
Over the past two months we have been visited often by a dove and robin, and in the past two weeks a Red Admiral butterfly has skittered about, often coming into the house. There are some cultures that believe that the spirit, or energy of the departed, stays on this mortal earth for a time to comfort those left behind. We strongly believe in energy, we understand that we are all part of a great collective, and I have no doubt that the Red Admiral is our nutty little cat Diddies, letting us know she is okay in her spirit form.
But the biggest change, unplanned when I wrote my last post, is the small orchard that we now have in the paddock. It is an orchard of love, with apple blossom trees under which lie the ashes of Snowy ‘The Dude’, our old Westie, and some of our beautiful Wiglet. Then there is the cherry tree, and the last addition the beautiful weeping cherry under which our pretty Diddies lies.
In amongst the trees we have placed our bench that was one of the items rescued from France. Only the other evening RD and I both admitted to each other that there are times when we sit out there looking across the mountains and shed some tears. It is a place of solace, and as the trees grow the love of our furry family will be felt, as they shelter us from the sun, and give us something to rejoice each year. We often sit there and blow bubbles for Elfie, whilst Harley lays underneath it.
We have also placed the only two summer chairs we managed to rescue from France in the paddock in such a way as we can look across at that beautiful. Despite our trials we still count our blessings, every day.
The paddock is a healing place for me, and when the wind blows in the trees I find myself saying out loud ‘Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow…’
And Yes, I shed a tear….