29 November 2011

Harvests and Lichens

Winter harvests are pretty tiny from a small garden. But these chillies, still on the go in the greenhouse, are wonderfully spicy. With the parsley, they went into a turkish salad made for a bunch of women friends who met on a wild and windy Saturday night for good food and a great laugh. Thanks BK!

On Sunday, the wind had blown itself out and the day was sunny and cool. So it was back to the Dargle, on the other side of the valley this time, not as lovely a walk, but we were able to get down to the river, where I spotted these polypody ferns (Polypodium vulgare) growing happily out of what I think are Pre-Cambrian quartzites (Bray Series).  I seem to remember learning that these ferns grew best on walls or on the spreading limbs of oak trees... And the Dargle runs through what look like remnants of native forest, which would have had oak, ash and (at one time) elm. Certainly we passed under a lot of young oak trees on the way. Also, unfortunately, lots of laurel: dark, spreading and weedy. Probably planted quite some time ago by the Powerscourt estate; some sweet chestnut trees in the same wood reinforce the idea of someone doing the planting of non-native species.
There are some gorgeous lichens in the woods there too - the air in Wicklow is clean air - apparently lichens are one of the first things to go as the air gets polluted. Lichen is amazing stuff: a fungi-algae combo, the algal part takes care of nutrition, the fungal part looks after reproduction. Seems like a good division of labour. I love how they look though: these ones on a twig that I found on the forest floor, but they're also so beautiful as they map themselves onto rocks. On granites, be they in Wicklow, Connemara or Donegal, you'll see them grow especially well on the shiny mica-rich bits - years ago we were told that one of the common mica minerals, Biotite, got its name from its ability to support life, but wiki says otherwise: named after M. Biot apparently.

21 November 2011

Ferns and Fungi

wandered through a part of the Dargle valley on Sunday: still some leaves on the trees. in places those that had fallen created their own light... mushrooms did the same: i've no idea what these are, but they do seem to glow. roots wending their way up rocks and masses of ferns (Hart's Tongue and Dryopteris (i think)) completed the tolkeinish feel to the whole place. these pics are simply phone pics, but for a true sense of the beauty of autumn light, try the real thing

17 November 2011

Leaves and Raspberries

It may be a warmer November than we'd expected, but oh it has been November-dull these last couple of days! Pewter skies. Still, these leaves lit up this morning: picked up on my walk with Iz and in the garden. Not bad. And my Autumn Bliss raspberries are still providing a taste of almost-summer in the morning. They were a gift from Da, as were my summer raspberries, so are doubly precious.

14 November 2011

Tomatoes and Bumbling

last of the ripe tomatoes picked in the greenhouse for dinner tonight. not bad though: 14 november! other unseasonal strangeness in the garden includes blooming honeysuckle; a slowly droning bumble bee (which our new pup, Izzy, a mini schnauzer chased, caught, and then released hastily); a flower bud on the water lily...

the photo (taken in october) shows the pup and the new pool that we made this summer. we dug a hole, lined it, filled it, waited, and then added plants. thanks to oliver schurmann of mount venus nursery who sold us the beautiful valentia stone to surround the pool and to steven canavan who laid it. the pool does what i'd hoped: brings some sky into an otherwise dark part of the garden, and provides yet another excuse to sit in the garden.