Seizing the moment this Valentine’s weekend

Hi there! Welcome to my blog. Life is still pretty crazy, and the news isn’t really getting much better, but something wonderful happened this weekend. I just let every worry go and went outside and had some silly fun with my girls! It was freezing, it was wet, it was snowy, but most of all it was just what I needed.

When I mention ‘my girls’, I’m usually referring to my chickens, but this time I actually mean my daughters. They are 16 and 20 and they are really a delight. This lock down can’t be easy for any of us, and they are holding up so well. I’m glad we had the opportunity to get out and have a bit of fun.

Our area is not really known for snow. Admittedly, we’ve had a few dustings this winter, and it has definitely been colder than usual. But for whatever reason, the snow this weekend had all three of us going outside and having a bit of fun. We were out long enough to make a snowman and take some pictures, which was the perfect amount of time! Our snowman was the laying down variety, since the snow was too heavy for us to lift the body (it was really, really wet!). By the time we rolled the three parts, most of the snow had been rolled up!

I’m so glad we did it. I was tempted to stay inside and just watch them from the window (I don’t like the cold!). It was so worth being with them and a part of their silliness. I probably need to do that a little more often!

I hope you’ve had the chance to be silly, too! I think it is good for all of us.

Take care!

In Peace,
Dana

Mom in the garden and her daughters playing in the snow

I’m so glad the girls aren’t ‘too old’ for having fun in the snow! (You can see the grass showing after we rolled the snowman!) Everything was green again the next day – washed away with the rain.

Playhouse in snow February

We’ve had more snowfall this year than usual. We’ve had a long stretch of rainy, cold, or snowy weather!

collage anemone, hellebores, snowdrops

The sun managed to visit us just today! It was lovely to get some pictures of the flowers currently blooming! (clockwise from top left: Hellebore (unknown variety), anemone, snowdrops, Winter Sunshine hellebore)

Hellebore Winter Sunshine February 14 closeup
hellebore Winter Sunshine

The Winter Sunshine hellebore is really starting to come into full bloom. There are so many flowers! It never disappoints.

Hellebore dark pink
Hellebore full plant dark pink

This dark pink hellebore plant is also starting to come along. I have hellebores at different stages, and this one is not as far along as the Winter Sunshine. You can actually see the Winter Sunshine hellebore in the top right hand corner of the above picture.

Snowdrops February 14 full sun and open
snowdrops collage

These snowdrops have never looked as ‘happy’ as they do this year! I especially like the green markings. They are so dainty, and when they are fully open they look like miniature lampshades. These were a gift from a friend’s garden, years ago, and have been divided at least once. But this group here is the showiest.

Anemone purple February 14

Last but not least, we have this anemone, which isn’t a Mr. Fokker, like the rest in my garden. So I’m unsure what it is. I found the color to be quite pretty, though.

blue sky snow fall playhouse

We did have one blue sky day this week, and it was just beautiful. I’m so thankful for days like this, which really lift my spirits!

chocolate heart cookie

I hope you’ve had a wonderful Valentine’s weekend, and have been made to feel special! Thank you for visiting, and do take care! 🙂

A moment to acknowledge that ‘this’ is tough

Hi there! You are very welcome to my blog. I did not intend to skip a few weeks. I thought I was doing well and handling O.K., the news that Covid-19 was still in full control of our lives. But I guess that wasn’t truly the case, and I needed time to re-adjust. I have found ‘this’, the whole situation around Covid-19, to be tough. I have tried to not beat myself up about being a bit down and not getting everything on my ‘to do’ list done. I am actually getting through everything on the list, just at a much, much slower pace. Even with this post, I thought it better to talk about what is really on my mind than force a gardening topic.

So, have you hit a bit of a wall like me? Are you having a hard time with these long term restrictions? Please don’t get me wrong; I understand why we have the restrictions and I have no intention of breaking those restrictions. But it is much harder, mentally, to adjust to continue on this way well into 2021. Mainly, it is the fact that I can’t travel to visit my family in the States. That’s very frustrating. I am still quite thankful that my family here are all together and everyone is doing well. I think everyone is looking forward to real live people contact again, whenever that will take place.

Thankfully, my book club is meeting again, albeit on Zoom, and the timing could not have been better. Our meeting fell just as we were realizing that this latest set of restrictions were going to last much longer than first anticipated. Our get together was just what we needed in these tumultuous times! We are all so different and it is simply wonderful to chat and get everyone’s perspective and of course to enjoy that feeling of community. Despite living within three miles of each other, we haven’t seen each other for ages! (Where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens, which I loved, was the book we read this month.) That Zoom call really helped to lift my spirits.

Another ‘lockdown’ activity that I recently started participating in is an ‘Instagram live’ gardening program with two Irish gardening experts. It is called Garden Conversations with Diarmuid Gavin and Paul T Smyth. Their current ‘course’ started last week and runs Monday through Friday at 7 PM for an hour every week and it really is a bit of ‘craic’ – as the Irish say (it is a bit of fun). They started doing it way back in March, but I’ve only learned of it recently. It is a wonderful distraction! They talk about different gardening topics and answer questions from us. They’ve covered soil composition, trees, pruning, aspect, and they’ve talked about garden design. It is great to pick up bits and pieces of interesting information in a fun atmosphere – there is a lot of banter between them. This is definitely not a classroom setting type of course! It is a great service that they are providing to the gardening community. 🙂

One thing I learned on Diarmuid and Paul’s program is that when the ground is as wet as it is now – and boy have we had lots of rain (if it squishes when you walk on it – and the mud sticks to your boots when you walk in it), it is best to not work in the garden as you’ll do more harm than good. There is always plenty of planning to do for the garden, anyway. This is a great time for me to focus on garden design!

I hope you have been taking care of yourself, too. It’s gonna be a long haul. Good thing we’re in it together!

Stay healthy and safe.

In Peace,
Dana

Sunny Frosty DAY view of playhouse

We’ve had plenty of hard frosts so far this winter (more than usual). It turns the grass white – and produces a substantial ‘crunch’ sound when walked on it!

Snowdrops mid January

Life continues on in the garden! The Snowdrops have pushed through the soil and are blooming!

Frilly Isabelle hellebore January

Not all of my hellebore plants are blooming just yet. But this Frilly Isabelle is. I have to say that this plant had more flowers on it at this stage last year. We have had a very wet time of late, though, which I am going to blame!

ornamental grass frosty morning blue sky

I do like ornamental grass, no matter what the color! Better still when the backdrop is a beautiful blue sky.

Primroses

I have used some floral therapy recently. Small purchases of flowers which always brighten my spirits! Aren’t these primroses lovely?

Primroses in snow

And they don’t mind the snow!

birch trees sunny frosty Jan morning

I am so delighted with my new birch trees! This sunlight is mid morning as it comes around the back of the house.

Afternoon sunlight on playhouse January

Like so many people, I’m working from home. So I make sure to go outside a couple of times a day, even if for just a few minutes. I especially like taking pictures when the sky is blue! This is late afternoon.

fluffy chicken bums in snow

This is what my girls show me when I ask to take their picture… They sure have fluffy bums!

chickens-in-snow-1

The girls are fine in the cold. The snow usually melts before the end of the day. I give them more pellets to eat now, too. The rain is more of a hassle than the cold!

open field with blue sky

I try and go for a short walk in the afternoons. It is terrible how sedentary I’ve become since working from home! I am now much more aware and make an effort to get up and move every day! This picture of one of the fields I pass just reminds me of the ‘pick me up’ I got from my blue sky walk!

Lidl roses on desk

Here is another example of my floral therapy! For just eight euros I bought these two dozen roses from Lidl! They are sitting right in front of me on my desk and without a doubt they make me happy! I possibly could have gotten away with just getting 12 for four euro (but I’m so glad I went for 24!).

Winter scene of playhouse blue sky mid January

My favorite scene to photograph right now is our playhouse! This was still early morning sunshine, as there is still frost on the playhouse roof. I’m so thankful for the days that have the sun and blue sky combination!

It really is the little things that bring us joy.

Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to say hello! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Take care!

Who’s got your heart?

two chickens in front of beech hedge

Rose and Daisy in their run

I always think of February as the month of ‘red hearts’.  🙂 O.K., maybe it has become somewhat commercialized, but I still see it as ‘the month of love’ for giving Valentine’s cards, maybe a small gift, but definitely showing appreciation for those we love.

January was a really busy month in our household. Holy Cow it has been crazy! Honestly, the schedule isn’t really slowing down much this month either. Thankfully, my husband and I are still able to manage a teeny, tiny bit of ‘down time’ to recharge, every once in a while. I’d be lost without that. We all would be! It is so much better for everyone, when we can recharge. I’m especially thankful because my husband makes it a priority that we both get the time we need to keep the work/life/family balance.

My kids are growing up – 21, 19, and 15 years old – so I really appreciate whenever I get to spend time with them. They are so different from each other! It is a joy to watch them grow into the wonderful people that they are. Those everyday moments can be quite special.

It seems we are too frequently reminded of how fleeting life can be. There are, sadly, no guarantees. It really is important to make the most of every day and to be the best version of ourselves. (That’s not always easy, but it is always worth it.)

I hope you are surrounded by the people you love, and who love you right back.

In Peace,
Dana

Winter sunshine hellebore

Winter sunshine hellebore (in January)

My three top performing hellebore plants are shown in this post: Winter Sunshine, Frilly Isabelle, and Double Ellen Red.

Winter Sunshine hellebore

Winter Sunshine hellebore in full bloom

We have just a couple of rose flowers in the garden – at the very end of their lives.

Ancient Mariner David Austin Rose

Ancient Mariner David Austin Rose

James Austin (David Austin)Rose

James Austin rose (from David Austin)

Double Ellen Red Hellebore

Double Ellen Red Hellebore

Hellebore Double Ellen Red up close

Hellebore Double Ellen Red

I enjoy taking pictures in the fog…

Nootka Cypress tree in fog

Nootka Cypress tree on a foggy morning

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Frilly Isabelle Hellebore

Ornamental Grass sunny

The ornamental grass, in the beautiful sunshine, is laden with raindrops

 

 

A lifting of spirit as spring nears

Hi there! It has been a while since I’ve written here. I was still posting pictures on my instagram and Facebook accounts, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for writing here. I recently realized, as the weather improved and the days “lengthened” (being brighter for longer), that my overall mental health hadn’t been great. As the sun was shining more, I could feel the weight being lifted from my shoulders. I’d say that since November, I have had a feeling of being run-down. It is funny to notice that now that the weather is improving, I can feel a “lift” in myself.

Daffodils in an Irish made Belleek vase

early blooming Daffodils in a Belleek vase

There is always something to do in the garden, and as is my way, I do a little at a time, and by golly it eventually adds up to a job well done! Or, at least, it is “good enough”! 🙂

Who needs straight lines when you can have wonky?

This very odd shaped bed is my favorite at the moment. The odd shape is due to the location – it is right in front of our shed. The choice is to either have the odd shape or have a straight line and anything that I plant in that space will be run over by the mower when it is put in/out of the shed. I’ve opted for the odd shape! There is a hellebore plant (frilly Isabelle) in this bed that has just been beautiful all winter. The hyacinth are just popping up now. The lilac shrubs are full of little buds, as is the hydrangea plant. The iris and hosta are still sleeping, but they have plenty of time yet. And last to bloom, at the end of summer, will be the asters. It is still a work in progress, but I love this strip of garden!

lots of pink!

Hellebore Frilly Isabelle

There are two beds of garlic which I’ve also made sure to keep neat and tidy. I really like having something growing over the winter. They should be ready to harvest in July. I’m going to try and grow some flowers down the middle of the beds this year.  We’ll see how that goes!

Our two garlic beds are looking good

garlic up close

garlic up close

The rose bushes were also pruned. I discovered that I am somewhat wimpy at this job, as I probably should have taken off much more than I did from each of the plants. Part of the problem was that I left it rather late, so the plants had loads of buds and growth on them and I just didn’t want to take them off! Note to self: prune earlier next year.

lots of growth on some of the rose plants

There are signs of spring all around the garden. My tree peony has had a rough time in my garden over the past few years. I moved it to a location which I think it prefers to its former home. I’m hopeful that we’ll have more pretty flowers this year!

tree peony showing signs of life

tree peony showing signs of life

open snowdrops

open snowdrops

We must not have had an insect/slug issue this year, as my snowdrops were in top form. They are so tiny and sweet looking!

tree in fog

I took this picture on an early morning walk

I have to admit, the past few months were hard. There were many times when I would have normally gone into the garden, but I just couldn’t (energy, desire, time, …). Even when I did get back into the garden, I’ve had to keep it at a “small job” level. That’s life, I suppose. I’m thankfully feeling better now, although still taking it easy on myself. Things will get done when they get done. 🙂

compost "heap" March 1

Compost “heap” March 1

And some things, like my compost, can work on their own! Although it certainly helps to turn and rotate it, the breakdown of the garden materials takes place even when you “just leave it”. The birds love it for all of the worms. Kitty loves it … to get close to the birds.

Hellebore plant Frilly Isabelle

Hellebore plant Frilly Isabelle

I’m so glad to be feeling better, and getting back into the garden (and writing again!).

Happy first of March!

In peace,
Dana

When things don’t go as planned…

beds of garlic in the garden

Visual status update on our Vallelado Garlic (image from Jan 22nd)

Well hello there! I confess that I had not expected to take this long to write my next blog post. I don’t strictly follow a schedule, but I usually work as much as possible in the garden, in my free time during the week, and then I write about what I did.

gardening beds weeded and covered in compost

“Winterizing” the beds: completely weeding the bed and then working compost into the soil

But for the past number of weeks, I have not worked in the garden … at all. This is very unusual for me, as the garden is my happy place! Thankfully, though, I’ve recently started to get back into the swing of things, and I’ve managed to spend some time in the garden.

Most of the beds have been cleared, weeded, and had compost added (most but not all!)

What’s going on in the garden?  I’ve tidied up some beds (read: massive amounts of weeding done!) and covered them with compost. I’ve also started weeding one of my main flower beds so that the winter flowering plants have some breathing room (poppy plants are covering every square inch of free soil!).  And the biggest project is to clean up one corner of the yard for my new adventure which I will start this spring!

a "before" picture of a messy part of the garden

This is the official “before” picture of the corner which we are re-working!

O.K., so the big adventure is that we are going to get chickens! I’m planning to get them in April, but I want to make sure this area is ready for them. Look at that mess in the picture above! The stone path, as well as the two beds, are all covered in an invasive weed (which I have not been able to identify).  The only way to clean this up was to clear it all out.

garden beds covered in weeds with cleared path

Progress???

First to go were the weeds on the stones, and then the stones.  The stones in the back section of this corner will probably stay – I’m undecided on this point actually.  I’d like to get rid of them, but not sure where to put them! Oh, did I mention that my son and my husband have been helping, too?  Admittedly, this job is anything but fun. So we’ve been doing it in small sections.

garden beds of soil

definite progress!

Those invasive weeds really worried me.  But we are managing to clear them and their massive roots.  It still needs a lot of work, but we’re getting there!

Hellebore Winter Sunshine

Hellebore Winter Sunshine

What else is on the agenda for this week? Pruning my rose plants.  I’m following my father-in-law’s lead, as his roses are simply beautiful every year (and he pruned his plants last week).  He asked me about mine the other day, and when I started to panic that I hadn’t pruned them yet, he reassured me that I’d have at least another week or two to get it done! 🙂

helleborus orientalis double ellen red

Helleborus orientalis double ellen red

I would like to get a better handle on the weeding, too, or my entire yard is going to have about a million poppies.  I’m not even kidding!

Helleborus frilly Isabelle

Helleborus frilly Isabelle

I’m thankful for the pretty flowers that my hellebore plants are showing off now.  They are really looking lovely, and the 3 different varieties are quite different from one another!  I have made a note to get some more!

snow drops covered in rain water

Snowdrop flowers covered in rain water

I’m so very glad to be back in the garden, and back to blogging! I hope that you have managed to keep doing what you like to do, even if time is scarce!

In Peace,
Dana

 

Snowdrops and A Granola Cookie Recipe

Snowdrops from Wexford.

Snowdrops from Wexford.

Hi there! It’s me, Mom in the Garden!  It feels like I’ve been hibernating the past six weeks, or maybe just hiding from all of the rain we’ve had in Ireland!  The sun has graced us this past week, and brought new life along with it.  The difficulty I face with my blog now is figuring out where to start again.  I suppose I could start with saying Happy Birthday to my blog! The beginning of February marked my first year of blogging.  I have loved it!  I really enjoy taking pictures, gardening, and putting it all together.  I do appreciate all of the wonderful comments from you, too!  Thank you for visiting, commenting, or following my blog.  It’s lovely to meet so many gardening enthusiasts from all over the globe!

A love heart ... representing the fun I have with my blog!

A love heart … representing the fun I have with my blog!

(Lavender)

Lavender and a pretty bow. Well, just because!

I’ve been making mental notes the past month of what seems like a million different topics, and sorting through them in my head is proving difficult.   I have a couple of recipes, a garden tour, some boxwood trimming, a few flowers…

Snowdrops.

Snowdrops.

Snowdrops.

Snowdrops.

Snowdrops.

Snowdrops.

Yes, I agree, that’s a lot of snowdrop pictures!  But they were the first signs of life in the yard, so I had to capture them (and capture them, and capture them…).  The snowdrops were given to me by my friend Susan.  They come from her home place in Wexford, which in my book, makes them extra special.

Signs of Spring!

Signs of Spring!

I love seeing the green shoots of flowers to come.  To me, they are signs of hope!  I like to plant even a few bulbs every year to have something new to look forward to.  Last year I had a bunch of daffodils in containers  https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/fragrant-and-pretty-daffodils-to-calm-a-hectic-day/   and planted them here (photo above) in the fall.  I was quite a sight taking this picture. It’s right near the road, and I was crouched quite low photographing the snowdrops and daffodils, trying to get that perfect shot!  I think my neighbors are getting used to my peculiar ways.  🙂

This look says it all.

This look says it all.

Lucy, our cat, is my gardening and photography companion.  She sits near me, and keeps me company without complaint, most of the time anyway.

I’m straying from my original plan! A recipe!  I promised my friend Susan the recipe for Granola Cookies.  It’s the least I could do for my gardening bff!  I used Martha Stewart’s recipe which she calls Breakfast Cookies.  I am quite fond of Martha, and only made one adjustment of just using dates for fruit, and my family loved them.

Granola Cookies (Martha Stewart's Breakfast Cookies).

Granola Cookies (Martha Stewart’s Breakfast Cookies).

A full plate of Granola Cookies.

A full plate of Granola Cookies (Martha Stewart’s Breakfast Cookies).

Perfect with a cuppa!

Perfect with a cuppa. (Our days had been quite dark!!! Imagine a candle for breakfast time?)

My favorite "cream for one" container.

My favorite “cream for one” jug.

It’s good to be back.  I hope you like the recipe!

Dana

Granola Cookies from Martha Stewart (she calls them breakfast cookies)
http://www.marthastewart.com/921948/breakfast-cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 sticks (16 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped (slivered)
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (I used dates only for the fruit)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried mango
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dried papaya
  • 1 cup banana chips (I skipped bananas)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (172 C). Whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Beat butter in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar; beat until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla; beat until just combined.
  3. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until well combined. Add oats, almonds, seeds, coconut, raisins or currants, mango, and papaya, and beat to combine.
  4. 16 cookies (using about 1/2 cup each, they are large!), and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Top with banana chips. Bake until golden and firm, about 13-15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cook’s Note: Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 1 week.