Saturday, October 31, 2015

Beannachtaí Na Oíche Shamhna Oraibh!

However you observe or celebrate this time of year, may it be spent with your loved ones, filled with warmth and fond memories of those who have passed. 

Below is a song, one of my favourites and I think suitable for when thinking of our ancestors. The song is Chi Mi Na Morbheanna, this version sung by The Rankin Family. For the lyrics in both Gàidhlig and English, you can go here.

Beannachtaí na Oíche Shamhna oraibh/Samhain Eve blessings to you all!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

An Autumn Planter Idea

Just because the cooler weather is closing in on us doesn't mean that we can't still have some fun with our botanical friends! 

Yesterday I put together this planter that I have hanging on the railing of my front porch. It took me all of five, maybe ten minutes to stick in the seed heads and fall flowers and berries in it. I am sure any competent floral arranger would shudder at the chaos of it, but to be honest I don't have the patience or attention span to fuss over projects like this too much. But, I wanted to make one anyways, so here it is. ;)

I started off by planting one of those fancy fall cabbages {or is it a kale?} in the container and lined it with some dried moss I had lying around. Then I added some gourds and pumpkins to the front. In the back and on the sides I poked in stems of wormwood, mugwort, tansy, sedum, and added seed heads from dill, echinacea, bergamot, motherwort, teasel, and some others that I am currently forgetting. Then I filled in any empty spaces poppy pods and bittersweet nightshade berries. 

If you don't have an abundance of seed heads and such in your own garden or don't have a garden at all, you could probably find some nifty specimens around your area to use in your own project. Things like goldenrod, rowan berries, mullein, and milkweed pods would be nice or you could use ears of grain and corn, and plant them with mums if you don't like the fall cabbage/kale.



Friday, August 21, 2015

Welcoming Hummingbirds to Your Garden

photo by Denis Fournier
I was hoping to do this post earlier in the gardening season, but here it is nearing the end of August. Better late than never. ;) There might be enough time to implement some of these ideas in your garden this year, or there is always next year.

In my area we get ruby-throated hummingbirds, so this info is really specific to them, although it may be helpful for folks who get other hummingbird species. 

Hummingbird Feeders

one of our feeders in our pollinator garden
Probably the most obvious way to attract hummingbirds to your garden is to use feeders. These come in all sorts of shapes and sizes as well as price ranges. We have a few different ones, and I really recommend using non-plastic feeders. 

Ruby-throated hummers can be quite territorial, so try hanging a few in different spots in your garden, that way everyone has a shot at one of the feeders. It is also good to place them at least 5 feet from the ground to try and avoid predatory cats. 

We put out our feeders in early May and will leave them up until the later part of Autumn, that way any early comers and those who leave later will have a food source. 

While there are nectar solutions available on the market, I recommend making your own. Nectar is made with a simple ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part white sugar {please do not use maple syrup, honey or food colouring!}, bringing both to a boil just enough to dissolve the sugar, and of course let it cool off fully before putting it into your feeders. Sometimes I will have some nectar left over which I will store in the fridge for no more than 2 days. 

If you notice your nectar looking cloudy after being out, it is definitely time to change it. When it is cooler out I will change mine every 2 or 3 days, and once a day when it is hot out. 

Keeping feeders clean and free of fungus is so important, or else hummers can get very sick or die from a fungal infection. I clean ours every time I refill our feeders with nectar, using very hot water and scrubbing with a bottle brush. If I see black mold I will use some hydrogen peroxide on it and rinse very well. This video below has some good tips on how to clean your feeders:

Plants to Attract Hummingbirds

Another great way to attract hummers is by growing plants rich in nectar. There are so many great varieties out there and many of them are low maintenance. Below is a list of praise-worthy plants that  I have noticed hummers flocking to:

Bleeding Heart
Butterfly Weed
Cardinal Flower
Coral Bells
Pincushion Flower
Scarlet Runner Bean
Smart Weed
Sweet William

Other Little Things

photo by dw_ross
There are a few other things that you could do to make your gardening a welcoming place to hummingbirds, such as providing water and shelter. 

We have birdbaths scattered throughout our yard, and I have even seen hummers making use of the bee watering stations we have set up too. There are hummingbird houses available out there, which I have never personally used before, but having trees and large bushes around create some safety from predators and perhaps even nesting spots is another option.

Something else that can be done to make your garden a sanctuary for hummers and other critters is by using no synthetic pesticides, herbicides and insecticides and leaving at least one spot "wild". To find out more about this whole idea, check out some of my previous posts No Man's Land: Keep a Piece Wild and A Critter Hotel.



Friday, August 7, 2015

To Our Lady's Mantle

"Our Lady's Mantle ! When I musing stray
In leafy June along the mossy sward,
No flower that blooms more fixes my regard
Than thy green leaf, though simple its array;
For thou to me art as some minstrel's lay,
Depicting manners of the olden time,
When on Inch Cailliach's isle the convent chime
Summoned to Vespers at the close of day.
Tis pleasant 'mid the never-ending strife
Of this too busy, mammon-loving age,
When Nature's gentler charms so few engage,
To muse at leisure on the quiet life
Of earlier days, when every humble flower
Was known to all, and cherished as a dower."

~To Our Lady's Mantle from Sonnets and Miscellaneous Poems By James Inglis, 1853

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lá Lúnasa Shona Daoibh!

Here is a lovely harvest song, Buain A’ Choirce. Perfect for this time of year!  As a side note my apologies for not posting on here since Bealtaine; it has been a busy summer but I do hope to have some new content up soon. So stay tuned and Lá Lúnasa Shona Daoibh/Happy Lughnasadh everyone!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beannachtaí Na Bealtaine Oraibh Go Léir!

Slowly but surely Summer is sneaking up on us in my neck of the woods. So, Samhradh Samhradh sung by The Gloaming seems like a suitable theme song for Bealtaine this year. Beannachtaí na Bealtaine oraibh go léir/Bealtaine blessings to you all!