Choosing some of my favourite photographs of the year is not that easy. Where to start?
This image is from January 2019, from the west coast of Ireland. The light on the west coast is pretty special.
Then daffodils – what is there not to like as they herald the start of spring. I was particularly pleased with this image, which I darkened a little from the original.
Spring also brings blossom – against the blue sky, it just says happiness to me.
And springs brings with it one of my favourite animals, our beautiful bumblebees. I take lots of photos of bees and it is hard to choose one. Here the common carder bee on a vetch flower.
We were lucky to visit two wonderful places this year. First The Burren in County Clare in late August. I just loved all the wildflowers and limestone landscape and walls.
The second place was Inishbiggle, a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland.
And at the end of the summer my favourite butterfly image.
With the return of autumn and winter we again get that wonderful light along the coast.
And two photos to finish – an abstract.
And a black and white
A huge thank you to the four lens artists (Ann-Christine, Amy, Tina and Patti) who give us the lens artist challenge each week.
We have had a minor disaster this week in that strong winds (not even a storm, but a gust of strong wind during some heavy rain) felled one of my favourite apple trees. Both in 2017 and in 2018 it was also our most productive tree so a big loss.
Here in the west of Ireland we have had a very wet spell with what feels like constant rain. So while there are good blackberries and autumn raspberries, many are going rotten because of the rain.
We have a reasonable crop of cob nuts, but each year we loose a lot to nut weevil grubs. We wait to see what this year brings.
It’s all a bit negative isn’t it – so here is some positive news. The chicks are growing. They have been moved out to the polytunnel during the day, and are enjoying consuming chickweed which tends to seed itself in the poly and greenhouse!!
While in County Clare I really saw the value of scabious as a pollinator plant. We do have a small patch of wild devils-bit scabious but it is one thing I will try and grow more of next year. I also hope to try out some of the cultivated forms too.
Finally for this weeks six, Osteospermum. In one of my previous gardens, this plant did really well, but it has failed to thrive here in the west. This time I bought a potted plant and just re-potted it in a larger pot. And this is its second flowering. I will over winter in the greenhouse or polytunnel and maybe keep it as a pot plant for next year.
Thank you to The Propagator for hosting Six on Saturday.
This week Ireland celebrates Heritage Week. It is a week to celebrate all the wonderful things in Ireland’s natural, cultural and built heritage. There are over 2000 events happening throughout the county. As part of the week I will be hosing two events this coming Wednesday, 21st August. See below for details.
To find out what events are happening on your area follow this link.
Our hands, like our finger prints, are unique. Big, small, long, wide, chubby, thin. Each beautiful they’re own way.
An old house on Achill Island, Co Mayo. The plant in front is Gunnera, or Giant Rhubarb, an invasive species which is spreading through the island.
A collection of small creatures for this week’s Lens Artist photo challenge #11. Firstly some bumblebees, as regular readers will know I have a soft spot for them.
Next, some tiny, but equally beautiful creatures.
Last January I made a list of what I would like to do in 2017 and below I list what I have achieved, or failed to achieve in some cases!
17. Help seventeen people learn more about their environment.
Completed with numerous pollinators course, work with community group and schools.
16. Send sixteen mammal records to the National Biodiversity Data Centre
Fell short here. Six sent plus two (a hare and a fox) seen last week of December, but still to send in.
15. Give away fifteen homegrown flower or vegetable plants to worthy homes
I may have fallen short here, but I did also give away some wild flower seeds I had collected, to some worthy community groups I worked with over the year.
14. Fourteen fun days out with the family
Union wood, Enniscoe House, Longford Demesne, Ross beach x 3 times, four days out in Wales, Beltra beach in October, ice skating in Christmas rink just before new year, Belmullet bee day, Foxford Riverfest and Belleek woods, which make 15.
13. Learn thirteen new words
I think I can claim 11 new words. I will publish as separate post.
12. Write twelve blog posts (ideally one a month) on an environmental topic
So having looked back at my posts for the year I think I can claim 10 to be environmental.
11. Read eleven new authors
10. Complete ten butterfly and or bee monitoring transects this year
I completed nine in the end.
9. Find 9 ways of encouraging more wildlife into our garden
One new small area of flower meadow, and two new flower beds. Have also tried to enhance area around pond with more flowers and less rushes. A new brash pile for insects. The wet weather this autumn and winter though have stopped me doing anything else.
8. Discover 8 new things
Again falling short. Two from before. We got a great new game for the children – it’s called Discover Europe and the aim is to make your way around the board which is a map of Europe in the shortest possible time. It’s good fun and educational, though you can find yourselves heading for Reykjavík when you want to be in Athens!
We also found two new walks, both in County Sligo, but not too far to drive.
I am sure there were other new things, one is always learning after all, but I haven’t recorded anything else, and despite racking my brain can’t think of any others!
7. Send seven letters to friends
Completed for Christmas.
6. Try six new recipes
Right failed on this one last year and only did a little better in 2017. But have adapted a recipe for thai fish cakes which is going down well. Have also adapted my gluten free mince pie pastry recipe and it was the best yet. Have also been experimenting with almond flour pancakes which just use a small amount of wheat flour. We had a productive bean season, so I tried pickling some beans which was quite successful. I think if we have good bean season in 2018 I will play a little bit with the recipe.
5. Have five swims
I think there was only 3 at most 4 – very poor show!
4. Find four positive ways of helping those in need
Together with my brownies we did a food collection for Saint Vincent de Paul for their Christmas appeal. And I also made some donations of clothes and children’s toys that my two had outgrown. But would like to do something a bit more meaningful.
3. Plant three new vegetables or fruit that I did not grow in the garden last year
I stuck with the old reliables this year!
2. Record two new species for the garden
Completed. In fact there was three as the Irish hare was also a new “garden” record too!
1. Attend one cultural event
We accidentally came across a street festival when we were in Wales and went to a play. While it was for children, like all good productions, it was entertaining for the adults too! It was called Two can the Toucan and was based on a children’s book by David McKee.
So that is it. There are some of the above that I would like to do again this year but I am planning a different type of list. Watch this space!