Sunday, December 27, 2015

My 2015 Garden

I have been terrible this year in maintaining this blog, including sharing what was happening in my little garden. So now that it is buried under about six inches of snow, I figured I would get around to it now. Better late than never I suppose. 

Most of the projects that I wanted to tackle this season, were either started and never finished or completely deferred to next year altogether. I did however add some more toad houses, bee watering stations, and bird baths.

Jarrahdale pumpkin growing and Jack-o'-Lantern
This year I grew Jarrahdale and Black Futzu pumpkins for the first time, which both did quite well and will definitely be growing them next year! Both were great looking additions to the display I had on my porch for Hallowe'en and tasty additions to baking and soup recipes.

I tried Watermelon radish in the late spring/early summer and might be the yummiest radish I have ever grown. Another radish variety that was a first for me was Black Spanish, which is supposed to grow as large as a turnip, mine however was not quite as big. The original plan was to grow some to carve into Jack-o'-Lanterns, but being as puny as they were that did not happen. I will try again next year.

Indigo Rose tomatoes
For tomatoes I gave Indigo Rose and Old German a try, which both will be joining my herd of "old faithfuls" next year. Where I will have the room for about a dozen tomato varieties is something I will hopefully figure out over the winter. Heh.

Angel Wing poppies
Other new pretties include Tiger's Eye bush bean {fantastic for bean dip and soup!}, Multi-Coloured Broom corn {great for autumn decorations and the birds love it!}, Jasmine Scented nicotiana {wooooo, smells pretty!} and perhaps my favourite find, Angel Wings poppy. All will be grown again next year.

A new addition this year, anise hyssop.
Throughout the season I added more perennials to the "wild" garden bed that pollinators and other critters love. I am happy with how that garden has turned out and how much wildlife we have been getting there and in the rest of the garden.

Liatris {aka 'gayfeather' and 'blazing star'}

The stinging nettle plants were filled with cocooning Red Admiral caterpillars and one of our milkweed plants had a cocooning Monarch. In general I saw a lot more Monarchs this year, which is great news!

There was also solitary bees of various sorts making themselves at home in the critter hotel and there were so many ladybugs this year. In the trees surrounding our place and our neighbours' yards we had nesting crows, robins, waxwings, squirrels, warblers, finches and sparrows. And of course the chippies and skunks were camping out not too far away either. Heh.

Lily-of the valley and lungwort

Goat's beard
To my relief the perennials beds at the front of my house seemed to recover nicely after having to be dug up last year when we had to get our foundation repaired. I have thought about creating another bed in the front to add some heather and holly and maybe a contained yew and rowan next year.

Ghost fern

Towards the end of the gardening season I got a few more perennials to go throughout the garden, and I also inherited a rose bush from my Auntie's place, which I think is an old fashioned tea with white blooms. I guess I will have to wait until next year to know for sure.

Fall seemed to come late this year, making the overall growing season longer this year than the last few. Up until the last couple of days I could have probably gotten away with growing hardy greens, since we had a green Yuletide. 

But now Winter seems to be here and I will have to wait to garden. Until then I will be daydreaming of digging in the dirt while I am shoveling snow.



Saturday, December 26, 2015

Solstice Wood

"That doire bheag air an druim
is that mi cinnteach,
gu robh i an còmhnaidh ann.
Nuair thig grianstad a’ geamhraidh
is cruinne ruadh a’ tuiteam air cul chraobh
is caomh leam creidsinn
nach eil mi gu tur nam aonar
ach tha sùilean eile thar tìm
maille rium, is an aon tlachd aca
on is e sin an là as giorra
is roth draoidheil na grèine
na rolladh gu luath dhan Earrach."


"There is a spinney on the ridge
and I am certain
that it was always there.
When the winter solstice comes
and a red sphere falls behind trees,
I like to think
I am not entirely alone
but that other eyes across time
are with me, and show the same pleasure
that this is the shortest day,
as the druid wheel of the sun
rolls swiftly towards Springtime."

~ Doire A’ Ghrianstad/Solstice Wood by William Neill from Caldenoian Cramboclink

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays!

It's hard to believe that the Yuletide season is already here! 

For interested readers, here are some previous posts on this blog that are relevant to the season:

Grianstad an Gheimhridh/The Winter Solstice {featuring a prayer to the rising sun}
Yuletide {featuring seasonal folklore, recipes and resource links}
Hogmanay {featuring a prayer and resource links}

As well, be sure to try and catch a glimpse of the otherworldly illuminations over at Newgrange and Maeshow. And finally, here is a lovely version of a traditional Sheltand Yuletide song Da Day Dawn played by Samantha Gillogly:

All the best to my readers this season and may you all be blessed with revelry, comfort and being surrounded by those you love!

Warm hearts and hearths,


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!


Thursday, April 23, 2015


“I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting." 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

And the Winner of the Gardener Giveaway is...


Thanks again to everyone who entered and for sharing your wonderful gardening tips and tricks. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Giveaway Now Closed

The Spring Gardening Giveaway is now closed. I will be drawing within the next couple of days.

Thanks to all who participated, there were many great gardening tips shared. :)



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Gardening Giveaway!

It's time for a Spring gardening giveaway! In this giveaway there is a mix of items that would be handy for someone who is just starting out in gardening or for someone who is already an established gardener who could use a few extra pretties in their kit.


Gardener's Organizer

About The Gardener's Organizer by David Squire from Google Books: 
"In a practical ringbinder format, The Gardener's Organizer, is packed with useful gardening hints and tips. Information is provided on all aspects of gardening, from taking cuttings and propagating new plants, to caring for the fruit and vegetable garden and pruning roses. The binder can be added to at any time, and is divided into six sections, with useful pockets for storing seed packets, newspaper cuttings, and other gardening paraphernalia."
Definitely a nifty way to keep your notes, plans and inspirations organized!

Gardener's Journal

"This handsome garden journal guides beginners and experts alike through five years of planning and organizing a garden. Informative tips, quotations, personal anecdotes, and a special section for children make this easy-to-use workbook an essential companion for any gardener. The extensive records section is the perfect way to track all your planning, planting, and plant care so that past efforts in the garden will never be in vain. Using and reviewing this functional journal will ensure that you will soon be enjoying the full fruits of your labor. Sections include Planning the Garden, Planting, Plant Care, Plant Inventory, and a "Potpourri" of other items."
This is really a lovely book!


I am including 23 packets of different seeds, all which are from my garden. There is an assortment of veggies, herbs, flowers and other beneficial plants:

Beeswax Bunny Mug Candle

A hand poured beeswax candle in a cute vintage mug made in Japan featuring a naughty bunny in the garden. The beeswax was locally sourced, it has a cotton wick and has a sprinkling of lavender flowers, rose petals and chamomile flowers from my garden. 


Two corked jars of incense, on of my Herbwife blend and one of my Fertile Fields blend.

Garden Tools & Gloves

A hand fork and trowel decorated with pretty purple and yellow flowers and a pair of green waterproof gripping gloves.


For those who are interested in entering, all you need to do is share one piece of gardening advice, tool or trick that you can't garden without. All entries must be submitted to the comment section of this post; you can either just type it out there or link to a video or blog entry that is posted elsewhere. Previously some folks were having issues posting in my comment section, so I will accept entries that are emailed to me {unfetteredwood at yahoo dot ca} and I will post them in the comment section, along with listing who the name of the person it is for. The winner will be drawn at random right after the closing date. Below you will see the vitals:
  1. Only one entry per person.
  2. Entrants must be 18 years or older.
  3. The giveaway is open for Canada, US & Europe only {due to the nature of the contents, I don't want to risk the kit being destroyed by customs. Sorry to everyone else!}
  4. Should the winner reside in an area where any of the seeds are illegal, I will replace those seeds with others that are legal for them in their area.
  5. To enter you are not obligated to purchase anything from me or to subscribe to any of my social media haunts.
  6. All entries must be submitted by Wednesday April 1st, 2015 at 3pm EST.
  7. he winner will need to provide a mailing address to receive their pretties. The information provided will not be used for any other purpose than to receive their winnings. The information will not be given to anyone else, or sold to a third party.

Good luck to all of you who enter! 



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

To The Cowslip

"Of all spring joys, the dearest is
To drink thy breath again,
Freshest of flowers; 
The bluebell lights the copse,
The primrose paves the glen,
But thy frank beauty overtops
In open fields
The new-born grass, to meet the kiss
Of sun and wind and showers,
And yields
Spring's essence from five red drops
That dyed the breast of Imogen.
Sun-freckled art thou, as the child
Who kneeleth down to snap
Thy sturdy stem,
And fill thy pure gold
Her snowy-aproned lap,
White treasury of wealth untold;
Deftly she makes, 
In bountiful profusion piled,
A regal ball of them,
And takes
For sceptre one that high doth hold
His head in pride of April sap.

My earliest love of flowers, how good
To lay my sunburnt face
In grass so lush
It shames the name of green,
And fold in one embrace
The clustered heads of all I glean,
And kiss the pure
Warm lips of that fair sisterhood, 
Or'mid their golden flush
The splendour of some clowslip queen
Who reigned apart a loftier grace.

Then home to sleep by Avon stream,
Cheered by the honest wine,
Of cowslip flowers;
So pure a draught alone
Gives slumber so divine;
All night I breathe the sweet air blown
O'er fields thick starred
With cowslip constellations, dream
Of golden-embrasured towers
That guard
Some fay for whom bees make moan,
While cowslips by my cheek recline."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gardening Giveaway Coming Soon!

Right now I am in the process of getting everything together for a gardening giveaway, which I hope will be ready to go in the next week or so. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recipe for Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse

Lady Lilith  by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
This is a herbal vinegar hair rinse that I like to use a few times a week after shampooing my hair. After shampooing I apply the rinse on my scalp and throughout my hair and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing and applying conditioner to the bottom half of my hair. I find it makes it soft and shiny.

Herbal Vinegar Hair Rinse

To start, make a herbal tea with a handful of the following:

Garden Sage
Lavender buds
Chamomile flowers
Birch bark
Lemon Balm
Comfrey root
Raspberry leaf

Steep in boiled water for about an hour. Once cooled, strain herbal debris and add 9 drops {or to person preference} of each:

Patchouli essential oil
Bergamot essential oil
Lavender essential oil

The combine 4 parts tea to 1 part white or cider vinegar. Store in a clean glass bottle or jar {I use a mason jar with a plastic lid} and store in the fridge for up to 3 months. 




Saturday, January 31, 2015

Beannachtaí Na Féile Bríde Oraibh!

Beannachtaí na Féile Bríde agus Imbolc oraibh/ Brigid's Day & Imbolc blessings to you all! Here is a beautiful version of Gabhaim Molta Bríghde sung by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh for you all to enjoy. May Brigid bless you, your families and your homes!