Well, here we are in May and my April newsletter is only going out today! It was a busy month, and my lovely and talented husband has been working on a new website for me, so we’ll say that’s what delayed me. Please check out bigskyflowers.ie and tell me what you think! If you have visited the site before you may need to refresh to see the new one. (Bug reports also welcome)
So, April was a busy and very enjoyable month for me. The polytunnel was full of ranunculus, and that was one of the many flowers that I brought to the Refill Mill for a delightful Jam Jar flower workshop. (more on that later). The hell-strip is bursting into bloom. I have loads of squash seedlings getting ready for a new hugelkultur bed. And the tomato plants are out in the tunnel, with blossoms starting to show on the bush plants in the hanging baskets.
So back to the wonderful workshop at the Refill Mill - it was just before Easter, and we had a full house of participants. I did a little demo first, then it was time to get stuck in to creativity. Participants first decorated jars and cans with some fabric and ribbons that I brought. Then they made the most amazing arrangements - each one completely different and beautiful. We finished up with some of the lovely loose teas that Eibhlin sells and some cake. All in all a very enjoyable evening - we’ll do it again at the same location on May 26th.
Here’s some of the amazing creations from the night.
My family and I had a little holiday in the Algarve in Portugal after Easter. We rented a lovely house out in the hills, out in the country. There were orange and lemon trees with fruit that we could pick, so lots of orange juice for us! And plenty of rosemary and thyme to use in our cooking. Interesting for me were the apple trees - they already had fruit on them, though they seemed like they had a bit more growing to do. Here in Ireland, we only have apple blossoms. So the season is well advanced there.
One of the things that always jars for me on holidays is the lack of composting. I can understand why this might be a difficult thing to provide, for ever-changing guests, but for all my family, as committed composters, putting organic materials into the bin goes against the grain. There were hens at our holiday house, and we had permission to feed them, so at least some of the left over food didn’t go to waste. And our hostess has supplied us with lots of eggs from those hens which were delicious! But I look forward to a future where composting is provided as standard in any self catering rental, and all the guests know what to do.
A lot of growth happened the week we were away, so there’s lots of weeding to do now - not to mention seeds that need to be planted - and seedlings needing to be planted out. So it’s all go. We could still have frost here in the midlands till mid-May. So erring on the side of caution for all the tender plants.
I’ve been doing an organic horticulture course for the past year and a half in Limerick - at The Organic College. Next weekend I have exams - a little studying done, but plenty more to do before Saturday! I have learned a lot from the assignments, and I’m really enjoying the practical days with the other students. We had a grafting workshop just before Easter that was amazing - I’m really looking forward to making new apple and pear trees next March and April!
Some upcoming courses in May:
Growing and cooking with herbs - May 10th. Click here to book.
I’ll be covering annual, perennial and biennial herbs - what individual conditions they need to produce loads of tasty leaves. I’ll demonstrate a few cooking techniques, and send you home with lots of recipes and ideas for using your herbs.
May 22nd, I’ll be running a soapmaking course in Dublin, in Cabra - click here to book a place.
More courses planned for June - using Edible Flowers (June 9th) , and Making Natural Cosmetics (June 23rd). Let me know if you are interested!
As usual, I’m going to leave you with a song - you can substitute May For Monday!