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How I spent my summer 'holidays'
A fantastic start to July with my 15 mins of fame as a Climate Hero! Click here to watch the beautiful film that RTE made in my garden. And then it was onto Dublin for #IrishFlowerWeek2022 where we had some fun with flower crowns, garlands, statues and tourists.
I also ran a competition during #IrishFlowerWeek2022 - Both of the winners and their guests came to visit my garden last week, and we had a delightful afternoon with lots of flowery chat, seed saving, and of course tea and cake. The sky looks ominous in the photo, but in fact it was the perfect weather for a garden hang out - no rain, not too hot, and only a gentle breeze.
So for July I took a break from giving workshops, and attended some myself.
First off was Field Exchange at Brookfield farm in Tipperary. The topic was forestry, and we got to see some land art, some old managed woodland, and some other innovative uses of timber. The highlight for me was the chatting at lunch, where I got to meet some new interesting people, and reconnect with old friends. And lots of ideas for future projects! There are more events on over the summer - I’ll be going to crafts and creativity in September. Looking forward to some amazing food and more inspiring ideas. And for the bargain price of only €10 as it’s sponsored by NOTS.
More recently I visited Spring Cottage Organic farm in Kinnegad, where Rosie and Martin O’Sullivan grow mouthwatering vegetables, which are sold in Glasnevin, and by box scheme delivery to Celbridge/Enfield area. This walk was organised as part of Teagasc farm walks scheme, open to all, which is a great way to get to know farmers and what they do. These are finished for this year, I think, but well worth checking out next year.
I was thrilled to be invited by the National Biodiversity Data Center to get trained up as part of a Citizen Science team tasked with identifying and counting 2 rare flowers that grow on the banks of Lough Ree. It was a dream day with lots of clambering over fences, walking through meadows, and botanising - the water germander in particular is tiny and initially difficult to spot, but once your eyes are trained, it’s very exciting to spot them! One of the meadows we visited had a huge crop of ripe yellow rattle, so I was able to collect some seeds which will be put to good use in Coole later this year.
Speaking of which - the field in Coole is doing well - loads of butterflies and dragonflies at the moment, and we were delighted to see a wild orchid growing in the grass - a clear indication that we are doing the right things to encourage biodiversity.
I have been studying Horticulture at the Organic College, and we had our final practical day in early July. I decided to stay overnight nearby, but couldn’t find accommodation in nearby Newcastle West. Instead I managed to book a B&B in Glin. The weather was glorious, and I woke very early (5:30am), so I made my way through the mist to Ballybunion Beach in nearby Kerry, where I had a solo dip in the sea. The tide was out, there were only a few other souls on the beach. A fantastic way to start the day. And lovely to spend time with fellow students in the sunshine, eating lunch and propagating plants - I’ll miss them!
I’m doing flowers for a wedding later this week, I’m very excited about it, and I hope that I’ll be able to share photos of the final creations next month. The bride came to visit my garden and likes my style of growing, so within the confines of an agreed colour palette, I get to be creative.
Next week the Fleadh is on in Mullingar, I’m sponsoring some bouquets for a presentation, it’s great to see my flowers going further afield. And this is very much in keeping with their declared sustainable ethos for the Fleadh.
Every business in Mullingar is hoping for interest from the visitors and some purchases to go with this - I’m no different. Cut flowers are probably not an ideal purchase, so I have stocked the Refill Mill with dried flower creations that will hopefully be a lovely locally grown souvenir for people to bring home.
Once the Fleadh is over, we’ll be back to workshops - here’s the schedule for the events at various Westmeath Libraries - put it in your diary now if something looks interesting!
11th August – Kilbeggan Library – Jam Jar flower arranging at 6.20pm
18th August – Moate Library – Growing sprouts & microgreens at 6.20pm
25th August – Castlepollard Library – Gardening for Biodiversity at 6.20pm
8th September – Athlone Library – Seed Saving at 6.20pm
22nd Sept - Mullingar Library – No dig gardening at 6pm
Also, no doubt we will be back doing more workshops in the Refill Mill - keep an eye on Instagram for details.
I’m developing a new product - DIY Dried flower strings (aka Flower wall garlands). I’m working on written instructions and a video - I’m looking for a tester. If you are interested send me an email - email@example.com. I’ll send you the product for free, and all I ask is that you give me feedback on the instructions, so you’ll need to allocate a few hours to following the instructions and giving me feedback. If there is lots of interest, I’ll choose someone at random.
I’ll leave you with a song as usual - I had almost forgotten this one, but this newsletter (highly recommended) had a link to a cool playlist of spoken word songs. And this one seemed appropriate for this month. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!
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