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...well, I tried.
So, as you might expect, there’s not a lot of outdoor gardening work that can be done in November. That said, I still did a fair bit of planting, into pots and crates rather than into the ground. And took a bit of a forced rest.
I harvested compost from a bin that had mostly grass and ‘silver-skin’ from coffee in it, and it’s wonderful! I had some help from my older son to fill crates with that brown gold, and I’m using in to plant ranunculus and anemones. I’m also using it to plant lots of bulbs, and they are going into recycled plastic containers.
I harvested some moss from my tree farm, and made a little diorama to cover the pots until bulbs peep through, inspired by Malin Björkholm. (I don’t understand what she says or writes, but I love her reels!) I also picked some larch branches with cones attached. I really like the larch cones for arrangements and wreaths, they are a very manageable size.
But now I’m curious as to how moss is grown commercially, there’s not much info available. Are we importing moss from abroad when we are really good at growing moss here in Ireland? There are different kinds of mosses - the ones that grow on bogs, and the ones that grow in forests. I was able to find out that it takes 10 years for moss to regenerate in harvested areas, so maybe that’s why? But moss is commercially harvested Scotland and Wales, so it seems like we should be able to also. If you know anything about this please leave a comment!
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While this time of the year is not great for outdoor working, it’s time for some indoor creativity and fun! At the start of the month, I had a big birthday, so I didn’t schedule too much else. I threw myself a big party after decades of party neglect. Back when I was a single, childless girl-about-town, I threw a party for myself annually, so it was good to get back into the swing of that. Much fun was had by all, and I amazed myself by being able to dance till 4am. Definitely won’t be waiting so long for the next one.
I was asked by Westmeath PPN to give a talk about biodiversity at one of their meetings - time was tight, and it was late in the day, but I was able to give a high energy, participative presentation that went down well. Based on the engagement and responses, there’s a lot of knowledge in the community already. I asked the participants to write what they would do differently next year on a post it, and I am very encouraged by the responses! Lots heard the messages about not mowing, and leaving the leaves, so I’m delighted. And grateful for the opportunity to spread the message to a wider audience.
Inspired by Grace Alexander, Eibhlin and I had some fun with a new concept to us - an advent branch. You are all familiar with advent calendars, and you know how there’s a treat behind a door, or in a package. These take the (Christian) advent idea of the anticipation of the birth of Christ (Christmas Day) and turn it into something more commercial.
So, as you can imagine, that’s not what we did. We started with a beautiful branch, (like the larch branches from my tree farm) which would be hung in our houses once decorated. We then wrote messages of self care on little scrolls. And we did that with others as part of a workshop. That was the best part in my opinion, sharing ideas for activities or thoughts of self care that we would later unwrap and use in December. 12 seemed to be a good number - 24 was just too many - both to create and to use later.
Once the scrolls were done, we combined them with some dried botanicals, and hung them from the branch. I’m looking forward to opening my first one later this week, and to being reminded of the discussion and community at the workshop where we made it.
Westmeath library has been generous in hosting sustainable workshops throughout the year, and we have put together a seasonal one which will run through December in various libraries across the county. We kicked off in Castlepollard, where the ladies of the ICA came and make beautiful and unique creations, using Irish grown and foraged foliage. We used recycled jars covered in hessian donated by Bell Lane, and used sand to weigh down the jar and help with positioning. The entire contents can be added to the compost pile, but as long as they keep adding water, the arrangement should last well into the New Year. I’m looking forward to sold out sessions in Mullingar, Athlone and Moate in December.
In the middle of all this activity, I tested positive for Covid. I didn’t have a bad dose, but definitely low energy, and not able for much. So a bit of hibernation happened, lots of time spent in bed, watching movies. And now I’m bursting with energy, but taking it handy in case of a relapse.
Some Christmas gift ideas for yourself or your friends - I think that giving the gift of an experience is a wonderful way be generous without adding ‘stuff’, and I love the idea of structured fun - where you have a task that’s not too difficult, but absorbing, and in a social setting.
Eibhlin of The Refill Mill and I have lots of workshops planned for January and February.
Here are a few that are listed online now, more to come in the next 2 weeks or so!
And a book that I’ll be adding to my wish list:
And as always I’ll leave you with a song - I’m loving this cover, its bit of an ear worm. But a good one…