Monday, July 9, 2012

June 2012

 I'd say our most exciting news in June was Bill shaving off the beard he's had since soon after we met 23 years ago. I encouraged him to grow it because I was into beards then (less scratchy) but for the past year I've been asking him to shave it off because it was turning so grey. When I started threatening to dye it and came home with a packet of henna to dye it red he finally decided to shave it off.

No-one here recognised Bill with his new look and at first they thought maybe I had a new man! A few people have said that he looks like Neil Young, who just happens to be one of my first musical crushes.

Here are a couple of pictures of Neil - see if you think there's a resemblance:

Here's Oscar in front of the veg garden. We're eating lots of peas, broad beans, salad greens, chard, kale, beets,  broccoli, strawberries and currants.

And Woody in the carnations. Yes, we'll be bringing both dogs with us when we move back to America this autumn. They both bark with Irish accents - 'woof' rhyming with 'roof'.

 In the plastic polytunnel we can grow things that like it warmer - sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and basil.

We're having another cool, wet summer, after a warm, dry spring. A recent study shows that the jet stream is moving north, and combined with warmer ocean temperatures this has caused regions north of the jet stream (Ireland, England and northern Europe) to have very cool, wet weather, while regions south of the jet stream are having prolonged heat waves and drought.

While our families and friends in America are trying to stay cool with air conditioning, we are trying to stay warm by burning wood and peat. Yes, I have actually been lighting fires in our woodstove in June and July. So now we are all using even more fuel in order to stay comfortable, thus burning more carbon and causing more ocean warming, pushing the jet stream further, causing more extreme weather, etc etc.

 This is a crop of leeks that we growing for seed, as Seed Guardians for Irish Seed Savers. These plants are in their second year now and the flower heads are starting to form seeds now, each one staked up because the seed heads are so heavy. 

This is one of the landscaping projects we did for new clients in June - an overhaul of what was an overgrown jungle of old shrubs, ivy and weeds, cleaned up and replanted with new trees and shrubs, and Bill made an intricate fan-patterned patio in the center.

The Burren
We made a special point to visit the Burren in north Clare in June, the peak of the wildflowers and especially many types of orchid. It's strange that such a rocky, barren looking landscape could host such a profusion of wild flowers, but they grow in the cracks, or 'grikes' between the stones, and on the thin soil at the edge of roads and base of stone walls.

 Wild geraniums

Carline Thistle

An unusually tall orchid, I think because it was growing in the shade of the hazel trees.

It was a spotted orchid, a common one in the Burren, but no two are quite alike in color or pattern. 

 The trail goes through a wee glen. These mossy little hazel woods are such a sweet contrast to the grey expanse of stone surrounding them, and I always keep my eyes open for fairies or leprechauns here!

 Wait, is that one there?

 A seasonal lake called a 'turlough'. This year they are all full to the brim.

 Even some meadow areas were turning into ponds with all the rain we had in June.

With all the rain here you would think it would be great for mushrooms, but we rarely see them. Too cool, maybe. This is one big bolete that we saw that day.

Finally we came to one of our favorite Burren meadows, which is practically carpeted with wildflowers at this time of year.

Oh flowers, how I do love thee!

 A strange orchid called the Frog Orchid

 Another Spotted Orchid

 The Pyramidal Orchid

An especially long Spotted Orchid

 Spotted Orchid, closeup

 There was one orchid we did not see that day although we looked hard. It's my favorite so I'm going to put in a picture of it from a Burren walk in 2008. The Bee Orchid mimics the size, shape and color of a bumblebee, enough so that the male bees are fooled and try to mate with the orchids, thus spreading the pollen from plant to plant.