A beautiful hike of the Barranco del Infierno in Adeje, Tenerife

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Páraic and Dana in Costa Adeje, Tenerife

We enjoyed our time at the Hovima Hotel in Costa Adeje, where all of the staff were incredibly friendly 🙂

Something funny happened when my husband and I started talking about how to celebrate our upcoming 23rd wedding anniversary. Instead of deciding which restaurant to go to, or which show to pair it with, fairly typical in the past, we decided to take a little trip away, and completely “unplug”. What a fabulous, spontaneous decision! It was just a long 4 day weekend, which doesn’t seem all that long, but it was perfect from start to finish.

Playa del Duque beach on Costa Adeje in southern Tenerife

Playa del Duque is considered a premium beach on Costa Adeje in southern Tenerife, and we’d have to agree! It wasn’t crowded, it was clean, and it was beautiful. The water was so refreshing from the searing heat of the sun!

Hovima Hotel Costa Adeje, Tenerife

We enjoyed relaxing by the pool (but always with my hat!)

Neither one of us has wanted to take a “do nothing” break … ever! But with all of the kids away on their own vacations, we decided to try something different with just the two of us. What a wonderful time we had! We relaxed by the pool, swam in the waves of the ocean, and we sweat our way through a beautiful hike of the Barranco del Infierno.

Dana and Páraic at the start of Barranco del Infierno in Adeje, Tenerife

Páraic and Dana at the start of our hike in Barranco del Infierno

The Barranco del Infierno is a nature reserve, and the hike starts at 300 m above sea level, in Adeje, Tenerife. I was rather thankful that we took a taxi to the visitor center, as the car wound it’s way up, and up, and up the steep streets! The hike itself wasn’t steep – just getting to the start of it was!

Barranco del Infierno CAT at the entrance

This cat was helping to enforce the “no cars allowed any further” rule

It was hot and humid (31 degrees Celsius 88 degrees Fahrenheit by 9 AM)! Reservations are required for this hike, as they wish to preserve the environment and not alter the development of the species, flora and fauna, by limiting the number of people in the reserve to 300 per day. Thankfully, our early reservation meant we were on our way by 9:15 AM, and we more or less had the trail to ourselves for most of the hike.

Barranco del Infierno sea view with cactus

The view of the sea is such a contrast to the dry, desert conditions at the start of the hike.

Barranco del Infierno with view of the sea

Easy to navigate paths and great views!

It is not a difficult hike, being just 6.5 km, and the hardest part was dealing with the heat. The views were beautiful, and unusual, and the trails were easy to navigate. We were required to wear helmets, due to the possibility of falling stones. Some areas we were warned not to stop and rest at, to keep safe of falling terrain. Happy to report we had no issues!

Barranco del Infierno Bailadero de las Brujas

Bailadero de las Brujas – The Witches’ dance floor

Barranco del Infierno cactus with babies

I find babies of all varieties to be adorable, including cactus babies!

Barranco del Infierno desert view of canyon walls

Gorgeous views of the canyon walls as the sun’s rays break through.

The half-way point of the hike leads to a waterfall, and along the way you can see the difference in surroundings change from desert-like, to plush greenery and the benefits of flowing water.

Barranco del Infierno desert flower

These lovely “flowers” were along the desert path.

Barranco del Infierno tree from palm plant

I loved this tree-like structure growing from some of the plants! They were so tall.

Barranco del Infierno points of interest

There were signs describing points of interest throughout the hike.

We saw so many lizards on the second half of the hike, as the sun rose higher and the trail was bathed in sun.

Barranco del Infierno lizard

he blends in quite well!

Barranco del Infierno plush green with backdrop of high stones

definitely in the plush section of the preserve now

Barranco del Infierno FIGS

We even saw figs!

Barranco del Infierno full view of waterfall

the waterfall area was serene and beautiful

Barranco del Infierno Dana and Páraic at the waterfall

The waterfall is more than 200m high

We both really enjoyed getting out, moving and seeing such lovely scenery. After we finished the hike, we walked down the steep streets and caught a bus back to our hotel quite easily. Well, I did feel it in my quads a tiny bit, if I’m truthful…

oh that’s just me photobombing my husband’s picture… 🙂

We’re so glad we did something different this year for our anniversary! Have you done anything spontaneous and fun lately?

In peace,
Dana

 

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A walk along the majestic Cliffs of Moher

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Country Road to Cliff Walk

First we start with a bit of a pre-walk (800 m to be exact) to get to the official “Cliff Walk”

Hi there! I hope the weather where you are is as exceptional as it has been for us in Ireland. My husband and I were in Ennis for him to bike the Skoda Ring of Clare (he’s a bit biking mad). This gave me some free time to explore, and although there were quite a few options of where to go, I really wanted to see the Cliffs of Moher, again, because really, why not?

first tower country road flowers and stone wall

a view up to the tower on the left, where the Cliff Walk begins (but my focus was on the stone wall and flowers!)

Sone wall with view of the sea

Stone wall – need I say more? Simplicity and beauty all in one.

stone wall with view of sea

as many varieties as there are stones…

I’ve probably said it before, but I am not great with exploring on my own. I’ve been getting better at it, slowly, but it still really challenges me. Thankfully, this trip was really wonderful, which should help me the next time I face a new challenge!

landscapes on way to cliff walk

I was in love with the scenery even before beginning the “official” walk.

We’ve been to the Cliffs of Moher a few times. It has been referred to as the 8th wonder of the world! It truly is majestic. But this time I was on my own, and I relished in the fact that I could stop and take as many pictures of birds or the sea or wild flowers, and no one was going to tell me to “keep up”! I could just stare out to the sea and enjoy its awesomeness. And of course I stared at the cliffs. It was a wonderful case of just ‘being’.

Meadow Pipit on rock

I believe this is a Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit on wooden post

Birds are tricky to photograph as they never sit long enough for me to focus my camera!

It is a little crazy, too, the cliff walk. I mean, you can literally walk right on the cliff’s edge. Recently they’ve created a much safer path which is a number of feet in from the cliff’s edge. But on the day I was there, it was a beautiful day with little wind, and people were using both paths, despite the signs warning of the dangers of walking on the edge. It really is too tempting.

Cliffs of Moher Stone Wall path

One of the official stone paths with stone wall edging

Stone wall official path

Official stone pathway with a stone wall as a barrier to the “unofficial” path. The fencing had an electric fence, too, which I was lucky wasn’t on because the path was quite crowded closer to the visitor center, with not quite enough room for 2 people to pass each other!

Let me back up a tiny bit and tell you how my adventure started. It was just under an hour drive from Ennis to Liscannor. The directions I was given? “Turn down the road on the left, just before the Rock House Giftshop in Liscannor”(!). The Rock House is a well known tourist stop. O.K. then! And that actually worked. Once I turned left it was easy to see the parking signs I needed. Long story, but we’ve started at the visitor center before, and it can be maddening with so many tourists. I wanted to see if this way would be “less traveled”.

full view of cliffs with archway

A full view of the cliffs (can you see the beautiful archway?)

I paid 3 euro to park, then had an 800 meter walk to the “official” area of the Cliff Walk. It was well worth it. I was parked by 9 AM and I had the trail to myself for nearly the first 2 hours.  BLISS!

full cliff view with heather

Just a bit of heather showing in this view of the cliffs walking in the direction of the “Cliffs of Moher visitor center”

Cliff view looking toward starting tower

This view is looking back towards where I started my walk

It was a beautiful walk. I was very lucky with the weather! It was warm and sunny (warm being high 60s Fahrenheit / 20 degrees Celsius) with very little wind. It was about 5.5 kilometers to the visitor center from where I started.

Cliffs with heather

View of the cliffs outlined with heather

Cliffs of Moher

Majestic Beauty

pink wildflowers

wildflowers … because I think they are lovely.

I walked at my own pace and thoroughly enjoyed my time surrounded by such beauty. It was truly uplifting!

Dana at the Cliffs of Moher

All smiles on such a beautiful day!

The day before, I really wasn’t sure about driving the distance (and those directions!)  and then I wasn’t sure what I’d find with regards to crowds. There was a Plan B, but that walk wasn’t nearly as nice as the cliffs would be. I’m so glad I went with my first choice and that I was there early to beat the crowds!

I hope you’ve had the chance to get out and just “be” – wherever that may be! 🙂

In peace,
Dana

P.S. My husband did great on his 165 km Skoda Ring of Clare bike ride, and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at The Town Hall restaurant in Ennis that evening!

Wordless Wednesday – Be the welcoming neighbor

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No matter where in the world you are from, we're glad you're our neighbor

O.K., I have just a few words on this Wordless Wednesday. I took this picture in April of this year when we were visiting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We were taking a stroll through the neighborhood where we were staying and I came across this sign in front of one of the houses. This is one beautiful, powerful message!  I hope we can all be that neighbor, who welcomes everyone no matter where they are from.  Makes me think of the words to the beloved Mr. Rogers Song “Won’t you please be, my neighbor?”

In peace,
Dana

Probably my most favorite time of the year!

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Peony bouquet on table July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ bouquet July 9th

Well hello, and welcome to my blog! There is something about summer that creates a feeling of being carefree, don’t you think? The bright evenings and, when we get it, the warmth of the sun energizes me. The all too busy family schedule takes a bit of a breather, which is a welcome reprieve. Best of all, we get to spend more time with family and friends. The garden, on the other hand, is full steam ahead!

Peony bouquet up close Sarah Bernhardt July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ bouquet July 9th

The peony season was fantastic this year! The very last of my peony (two ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ plants) finished blooming just this week.  Oh they were so pretty!

Peony Sarah Bernhardt July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ July 9th

Also coming to an end this week were the poppies growing in my rose bed. There were hundreds of flowers! I was surprised how strong some of their roots were, which I discovered as I pulled them up. One ‘two handed pull’ had me landing on my backside when it finally came free! 🙂 They were pretty, but the downside was that they didn’t allow any air circulation around my roses, which I think was quite unfortunate.  I will have to thin them out next year, and not allow them to take over the bed!

Purple Poppies Full Bloom Rose Bed

Purple Poppies in full bloom in the Rose bed – Where are the roses?

Purple Poppies ONE bloom Rose Bed

Just a couple of blooms of the Purple Poppies left in the Rose bed

Poppy heads

the Poppies I pulled from the Rose bed

Rose bed

A look at the Rose bed just after pulling the purple Poppies (and after a bit of weeding)

I did manage to get some pictures of some very pretty roses (ones that weren’t hidden by poppies!).  Over the past few years I have planted quite a few David Austin roses. All of them are scented, some more so than others. Sometimes their blooms can be so heavy that they face down, and therefore are harder to photograph (if you see me crouching on the ground, this is why!). But other than that, I think they are absolutely wonderful!

Light Pink David Austin 'Olivia Rose Austin' Rose July 13

David Austin ‘Olivia Rose Austin’ Rose

David Austin 'Teasing Georgia' Rose July

David Austin ‘Teasing Georgia’ Rose

Boscobel David Austin Rose

David Austin ‘Boscobel’ Rose

The hosta are in bloom with tall lilac colored flowers. Hosta would prefer shade, which I have very little of in my yard. For now, they seem to be doing OK.

Hydrangea, Lilies, Hosta

Hydrangea, Lilies, and Hosta in bloom

Lilies + Hosta

Lilies in a pot, Hosta flowers in bloom

The area in the background of the above picture was originally all brambles and weeds. Over the past two years, after clearing the area, I’ve added some really hardy perennials to see if they will overtake the weeds. This year looks pretty good! The perennial geranium, bergenia, and Lychnis coronaria (rose campion) came back and are doing well!

Lychnis coronaria rose campion

Lychnis coronaria (also known as rose campion) is a real eye-catcher in the garden!

There are different varieties of hydrangea in the garden, and the Incrediball is just now coming into ‘color’ bloom (creamy white), which you can see in the picture below. The pink lupin (or lupine) to the right of it is just about finished, and there is some Lychnis coronaria (also known as rose campion) in there, too. The hydrangea paniculata is still forming its blooms, with no color just yet, while the lavender is perfect for harvesting (to dry) right now!

Front Gate Garden July 18

Our Front Gate Garden July 18

Front Gate garden hydrangea lavender lupin

The same Front Gate Garden the week before: with pink lupin (or lupine), hydrangea ‘incrediball’ and lavender

Early morning view of lavender

Lavandula angustifolia – Lavender July 18th and ready for harvesting (for drying)

Phew! There is so much going on in the garden! And the lavender is just calling me to do something creative with it. 🙂

I hope you are enjoying your summer, too!

In peace,
Dana

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt' fully open July 9

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ fully open July 9

The story of a special floral frog

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floral frog front view

front view of the floral frog

Hi there! I hope the weather is pleasant where you are, and that you are able to do what you enjoy. For me, I enjoy flower arranging, and I have planted several rose shrubs just to be able to bring flowers into the house to enjoy their beauty and fragrance. David Austin roses are so showy and can be incredibly fragrant, so I have several. The only problem I have found with these roses is that their stems are quite short! Putting them in a vase can be problematic, that is, unless you have a floral frog. 🙂

side view of floral frog

side view of floral frog

“A what?” you ask. A floral frog! It is a heavy metal object that is filled with what appears to be short nails, which are placed closely to one another. They are so handy to have!

David Austin 'Boscobel' roses

David Austin ‘Boscobel’ roses

Now, if you happen to have one of these in your carry-on bag going through the airport security, I can attest that you will be stopped and checked. I bought one on our last trip to the States and inadvertently packed it in my carry-on – these things happen, right? The thing is, the timing was everything in this story. Let me back up to when I first learned about floral frogs. My neighbor in Manlius, New York, was a dear friend and also a master gardener and floral arranger. She, and her husband, had a huge, positive influence on me (and my family) over the course of the 10 years we were neighbors. A while back I wrote a “Wordless Wednesday” post (that was quite full of words, actually) about Betty. Sadly, Betty just passed away during my trip to the States. I can’t accurately convey in words how this affected me. I was heartbroken. She will be sorely missed by her friends and family.  She was a very special woman, as was her husband Harold who sadly passed away 2 years prior.

Betty is the one who introduced me to floral frogs. I have not seen one in many years (I moved away from Betty & Harold almost 11 years ago) and I don’t have one. Well, I came across one at a gift shop on our trip shortly after Betty passed. Absolutely no coincidence. It didn’t even belong in this shop, in my opinion. But I scooped it up, bought it and couldn’t wait to use it when we arrived back home. Except that at the airport I was convinced it would be taken from me… Somehow, I was allowed to wrap it back up, put it back in my bag and resume with our travels. Betty was definitely looking over me 🙂

David Austin 'Boscobel' roses

David Austin ‘Boscobel’ roses

Those small stemmed roses can now be displayed in just about any container I want to place them in. I chose a small pottery bowl that would fit 4 open roses. The flowers fit in perfectly and stood upright. Whereas tiny vases won’t fit multiple stems due to how wide the blooms are with such short stems, the floral frog can fit at least 4 open blooms, which is a perfect small bouquet. Just a note that even though the floral frog is small, it can be used for tall stemmed flowers as well.

Boscobel Rose single

David Austin ‘Boscobel’ Rose single

So many wonderful things already remind me of Betty, and my new floral frog is one more special reminder.

Dana, Betty & Harold

Dana, Betty & Harold

Thank you Betty and Harold for being the special neighbors you were, especially encouraging my love of gardening. You will forever be in my heart.

In peace,
Dana

Peonies in the Garden including an Itoh Hybrid Peony ‘Hillary’

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Peony Hillary

Paeonia ‘Hillary’ a hybrid between garden and tree peonies

Peony season is still in full swing in my garden! Our temperature is quite mild here (in Ireland), which would have an influence on how quickly (or rather, slowly!) the flowers bloom. It started around the middle of May with the blooming of my Tree Paeonia Renkaku. Following quickly behind that was my new hybrid peony, Paeonia ‘Hillary’, which started to bloom on the 20th of May. I only bought it in early spring this year, so it was a treat to have a flower this year!

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

“A hybrid peony?” you ask.  Why yes, it is. I had not heard of a hybrid before and was curious to learn about them (and to get one!). Here’s what I’ve learned about my new hybrid peony ‘Hillary’ (from the Peony Shop Holland):

Paeonia Intersectional or Itoh Hybrid Peony Intersectional Peony Hybrids, also known as Itoh Peonies, named in honor of Toichi Itoh, the originator of these unique hybrid peonies. They are representative of the progeny of crossing or hybridizing the two main groups or selections of peonies; the herbaceous hybrids which die down sub surface buds during their dormant season and the tree or woody shrub peonies which retain a year round woody branch structure above ground level.

During their dormant season, the Itoh or Intersectional hybrids retain only extremely short (1″-2″) woody stems above ground level. Ornamentally, they achieve the best of both parental worlds with the handsome flowers and foliage of the woody tree peonies displayed on an herbaceous plant, with annual new growth originating from buds below ground level.

Strong healthy plants form attractive dense, neat rounded bushes which are shorter in stature than most tree peonies. Flowers are displayed above the handsome foliage that remains greener longer than their herbaceous parents. Intersectional hybrids are somewhat hardier than tree peonies and more tolerant of heat and humidity which extends their ornamental potential in both the North and south.

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

The Irish Specialist Nursery Association hosted St. Anne’s Park Plant Fair in Dublin in March. I don’t usually head into Dublin on the weekends, and honestly driving someplace new is always a challenge for me, but I was intrigued enough to put aside my fears and check out what was on offer at the park. A slight tangent here, but St. Anne’s Park is absolutely fabulous! It was full of life with the plant sale along with a farmers market and lots of families milling through, just in the hour or so I was there. It is on Mount Prospect Avenue in Raheny, with free parking all along the outside of the park, but I’m sure any Irish ‘locals’ would know all about it already!

The point of telling you about the Plant Fair is that I bought my hybrid Peony there from Leamore Nursery. It was well worth challenging my uncomfortableness of driving someplace new (especially on my own!) to get such a lovely plant (and a few others, too).

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

The description for ‘Hillary’ stated that it should have large double flowers opening as very dark pink, gradually fading to cream on the upper part of the petals. I found the color difficult to describe – I’m not sure I’d describe it as dark pink. It did fade, though, changing the look. I look forward to seeing it in years to come with more blooms in different stages of color!

Paeonia 'Hillary'

Paeonia ‘Hillary’

I’m always thankful for a fully hardy plant, and it enjoys either full sun or part shade, with deep, fertile, humous-rich moist but well drained soil. I think it is in a really good location, so I’m hopeful that it will be happy in my garden.

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Fast forward to June 11th for the next blooming peony (Bowl of Beauty).

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

‘Bowl of Beauty’ is an herbaceous perennial (no woody stem like the Tree Peony has) which grows to 80cm tall, and has mid-green, divided leaves. What I like about this peony is that it looks completely different closed as when opened. The flowers are a bright vibrant pink on the outside with a cream almost pointy-like petals on the inside, and open as wide as 20cm.

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

Just in case you’ve ever wondered (like I have!), the peony, or paeony, is a flowering plant in the genus Paeonia. They are native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. There, now we all know! 🙂

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty'

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’

I try to support them as they tend to flop over with the weight of the flowers! There are some handy metal supports you can buy. I have tied them up, too, which also works. My next blooming peony plant needs lots of support (no woody stems like the Tree Peony!) as again the flowers are heavy. I don’t know the official name, but it is a common white variety that normally just has a streak of pink in it. This year, though, it is more pink than white!

White Peony that is pink

White Peony (really?)

I even checked my pictures from last year (because I was doubting myself!) – they were 99% white last year with streaks of pink. Funny isn’t it?

White peony up close

White Peony (with lots of pink)

Don’t get me wrong, I love pink! I think they are still so pretty. They were quite conical in shape this year too.

White Peony

White Peony with shades of pink

This next Peony, which is also currently still blooming, was added to the garden in 2017, and this year is the first it has bloomed. The color is one of my favorite – a deep fuchsia pink! I bought it at National Trust’s Hidcote, in Gloucestershire, England, which is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds. I was there on a very special ‘Gardening Gals Getaway‘, so it reminds me of the wonderful time I had with some very special friends.

Peony 'Kansas' in bud form

Peony ‘Kansas’

I’ve had a difficult time capturing the color with my camera – the sun distorts the color!

Peony 'Kansas'

Peony ‘Kansas’

Peony 'Kansas'

Peony ‘Kansas’ + Foxglove

You’ll just have to take my word for it that it looks different in person (and much prettier).

Every year peony plants add more flowers, which is such a delight. I have two more Peony plants that aren’t quite blooming yet, both of them ‘Sarah Bernhardt’. And then the Peony season will be finished in our garden. That’s not a bad run!

The last one to bloom … Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’.

Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

I hope you have enjoyed my Peony tour! It was a pleasure having you visit! Which is your favorite Peony? 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

Killary Harbour Coastal Walk

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Killary Harbour

view of Killary Harbour and the farmed mussels behind us as we hiked towards Rosroe pier

I have lived in Ireland for 11 years and the beauty here never ceases to amaze me. There is so much to do and see, especially along the Wild Atlantic Way. To celebrate my Father-in-law’s 80th birthday, all 20 members of the extended family went away for the weekend to the Killary Lodge, which is a stone’s throw from Killary Harbour. Despite the bad weather we’d been having the past few weeks, we lucked out with two nice days of no rain! 🙂

view of Killary Fjord from hiking path

The coastal path had a great view of Killary Fjord.

Killary Harbour (An Caoláire Rua) in Connemara is one of just three glacial fjords in Ireland, the others being Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough. It forms a natural border between counties Galway and Mayo and is 16 kilometres long.

I turned to DiscoverIreland.ie to learn some more information about the area:

On the northern shore of the fjord lies the mountain of Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest mountain, rising to 814 metres. To the south rise the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens.

There are two minor settlements nearby. On the southern side near the mouth of the fjord lies the hamlet of Rossroe while Leenaun lies inland to the east.

Nearby lies the so-called Green Road, a rough road running along the side of the fjord back east towards Leenane at the head of the fjord. It stretches for approximately nine kilometres and was part of the famine relief program during the 19th century.

Aquaculture is important locally with a salmon farm based at Rossroe while mussel rafts are a common sight more to the east.

Killary Harbour

beautiful views of the harbour

Organizing activities for 20 people to do together is challenging. On this day, given the different abilities, we split into “hiking” vs. “non-hiking” groups. Our hiking group included 5 cousins, 2 brothers and two sisters-in-law. This hike was really nice. The only challenging part was the fact that it was 14 kilometers. It took us four hours to complete, and by the end we were all pretty tired! 🙂

stone wall along Killary harbour walk

Stone walls are a (beautiful) common feature.

Here in the West of Ireland, the stone walls, typically for dividing fields, don’t have mortar and are thus called dry stone walls.

full view of a long stone wall

View of the other side of the stone wall along the Killary harbour walk.

climbing a gate along the path

Climbing a gate along the path.

waterfall

Waterfalls are great for photos 🙂

waterfall

It is harder to see, but this is the view of the same waterfall taken from the Killary Harbour boat tour we took the day after our hike! You can just make out the stone wall pathway.

hiking along Killary habour

We hiked at a family pace, and whenever I needed a rest I just took pictures!

climbing high on the Killary coastal path

The walk was manageable with some rocky terrain, some dirt paths, and some country roads.

view of Killary harbour

A requisite selfie with my husband 🙂

Killary harbour view

a blue sky backdrop looking to Rossroe

We stopped and had our picnic lunch when we reached Rossroe pier. Not only did blue skies appear, but the weather turned warmer at this stage, too.

Rosroe pier

Rosroe pier is where the coastal path ended and the country road path began.

stone cottage

stone cottage along the road

stone wall and sheep

Two common features: stone walls and sheep.

Mayo Blackface Sheep

Mayo Blackface Sheep, originally from Scotland, are mainly raised for their meat and not their wool.

looking down hill of path

The two littlest in our group, 9 year old cousins, added walking sticks at about 8 kilometers, helping them to keep going for the entire 14 kilometers!

view of hills

Although different from the coastal views from the first half of the hike, the views were beautiful along the entire walk.

lake view

We passed some lakes, too (see the sheep?).

rhododendrons and lake view

The Rhododendrons were at the very end of their season, with just a few blooms left.

lake and mountain view

It was at about this point (about 9 km) when we started singing Scouting songs! (Did you catch them on my Instagram stories?)

We saw some interesting things along the way!

donkey

a quiet donkey

turf drying out in pyramids

In the bog you could see the turf being dried out after being cut into briquettes, and arranged in pyramids.

turf pyramid

briquettes of turf

bog land

Harvested turf

bog cotton

Common Cottongrass (Eriophorum angustifolium), also known as bog cotton (thanks goes to my sister-in-law for knowing this!).

sheep in road

Typical scene in Connemara

road sign

End of the hike for us

A picture of ‘just the girls’ at the start of our 14 km hike

I have to add that the next day, we went on a boat tour of the harbour and were delighted to see three dolphins! I managed to capture one of them with my camera, and enjoyed seeing the others “live”.  What a treat it was!

dolphin fin in Killary harbor

Dolphin in Killary Harbour as seen on our boat tour

Any plans to visit Ireland? 🙂

In peace,
Dana

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

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Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Hi there! One thing you might not know about me is the fact that my memory isn’t great. 🙂 I have a notebook that I use to track the plants I buy and where I plant them because I will forget! I like to tape the plant tags into the book, which means that it is quite fat at this stage. It’s also a hassle to go through when I’m searching for a plant name. So recently I started a “google sheets” file of my flower beds and what is in them. It is so much easier this way!

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

One of the first plants I put into the file was this Tree Peony. Its name is Tree Paeonia Renkaku and from May 11th through May 21st I was obsessed with tracking its progress with my camera!

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku – this reminds me a a bowl of vanilla ice cream!

I was so excited to see the huge flower bud on it this year! I think this poor plant has been moved a couple of times (peony plants take time to adjust when moved). But honestly, only for the fact that I had to look up its details in the notebook did I realize that we bought it way back in 2012. So only having one flower is not a great sign.

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

I’m undecided if I should leave it here or try yet another place in the garden.  It is not ideal for it to be all squished where it is now and where it can’t be fully seen.  😦

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

This Imperial Tree Peony species is native to China, and is a deciduous woody shrub peony featuring large, showy flower(s). The plant can reach 5 feet tall with a 4-5 foot spread, but is slow growing.

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku – the flower is a handful!

The flowers are quite delicate and are easily damaged by rain, hail and frost (typical early spring issues!). By the time my flower finally opened up, it lost one of its outside petals to harsh wind!

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

In hindsight, I can say that I prefer the pictures of the progress along the way as opposed to the final “I’m open!” pictures. The petals were so delicate, lovely, and pure white.

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Just like in life, it is better to enjoy the journey and not just focus on the final destination.

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

I loved seeing what the Peony looked like every morning, as it grew and bloomed.

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

The petals were starting to get a bit frazzled by the time the flower finally opened up (although it was still lovely).

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

Tree Paeonia Renkaku

It was a pity that the outside petal came off!

I’m hoping to keep better track of my flowers with my “new system”. And I’ll probably move this lovely lady one more time.  Wish me luck!

In peace,
Dana

Gardening – it’s worth the effort!

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Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’

Hello there! It is a rather funny name for the post today, but as I was working in the garden most of the weekend, it seemed apt. Maintaining and growing a garden *is* a lot of work, and I think even more so when you do it organically. This is worth it to me, though, as I absolutely love being in the garden and seeing how it is transformed and how it brings such beauty into our lives. And when things start to not balance out, it’s time to change things up and find easier plants to maintain!

Playhouse garden

Playhouse garden with yellow lupine, Iris ‘Benton Storrington’, and bleeding hearts

The weather hasn’t been great recently, so I haven’t been keeping up with the weeding. It reached the point this weekend, though, that my husband even pointed out to me that “those flowers would look much nicer if there weren’t so many weeds! How sweet of him to notice  🙂

early stage pears

early stage pears

You’ve heard me say it before, and it remains true, that we like to grow what is easy (to grow and maintain)! Our fruit trees are a prime example. We’ve been very fortunate with an abundance of pears and apples the past few years. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the season, but as of right now we have a bumper crop of pears! All of this with just composting on a regular basis and light annual pruning.

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

I try to add some new flowers every year. This Iris was added in 2016 and has done really well in my yard. I started with just two rhizomes, and last year we divided what had developed into a huge clump. I was actually trying to find spaces around the yard to fit in the divided plants! We planted several rhizomes around the yard, all of which are now ready to bloom.

Purple Sensation allium

Purple Sensation allium

The Purple Sensation allium is a new addition which we added into two beds last fall.  Actually, I bought “Purple Sensation” allium years ago, but it most definitely was not Purple Sensation as the color is quite light, which you can notice in the picture below.

Purple sensation allium

Purple Sensation allium and NOT Purple Sensation allium

a view of the main rose bed

a view of the main rose bed to the right of Abies Koreana (Remember when I planted those boxwood plants? Spring 2018)

The longest blooming flower in our garden is the rose, so we created a second rose bed a few years ago, and filled it with David Austin roses. The empty space between the roses was filled in no time with poppies (I didn’t plant them here, they “moved” from different beds in the garden, and possibly from my compost!).

Rose bed filled with Poppies

Rose bed filled with Poppies (with a few allium “popping” up!)

Poppies love my yard.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be 100% happy with them in this rose bed. They’ve grown incredibly tall, but thankfully they are also sheltering my rose plants from the harsh wind we’ve had recently. Pity you can’t really see the rose plants here though!

David Austin roses light pink

David Austin roses (the far side of the poppy invasion)

David Austin Standard Tree Rose Princess Anne

David Austin Standard Tree Rose Princess Anne

My first Standard Tree rose went into the garden last fall. It is rather tall and the roses are bright pink and very much visible!

Poppies

Poppies in the Rainbow garden

The Rainbow garden is filling out even more with the addition of two varieties of Iris last year. Poppies are definitely hogging the stage at the moment, though.

Iris + Poppies

Iris among the poppies

Rainbow garden with one chicken

A full view of the Rainbow garden (with one chicken)

2 chickens in Japanese Maple tree bed

the chickens love to roam the garden!

Hawthorn trees + Japanese maple

Hawthorn trees in bloom (Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’ is the bright flowered shrub) + chicken about to jump!

flower bed of iris, hosta, sedum

this flower bed at our front gate is filled with Hosta, Sedum, Iris, Roses, Asters, Lavender, Bergenia, and the White Lilac is visible from the other side of the fence. We added the Bergenia (at the very front) last year.

Front gate garden

front gate garden today

This little ‘Front gate garden’ has Aster, Sedum, Foxglove, a new Climbing Rose, and two new Primula capitat subsp mooreana, Woodlander (thank goodness for plant tags!). They are right on time for blooming now and should go until July (we’ll see!). My one variety of peony has just finished blooming – the blooms usually fall through from the other side of the fence and give a splash of color here (you can just see the spent redish flowers on the other side of the fence).

Primula capitata subsp mooreana Woodlander

Primula capitata subsp mooreana, Woodlander

I’ve already made many “new flower/plant/tree” purchases for this season! Hopefully, everyone will settle in and adjust to our garden (and not be eaten/dug up by the chickens). There is just so much going on in the garden! The next flowers to bloom should be the rest of my peony plants.

Garlic beds + sweet pea plants

Garlic beds with sweet pea planted in the middle.

Oh! and I almost forgot that we’ll be harvesting our garlic in July!  I’ve planted some sweet pea down the middle of one bed, and sunflowers down the middle of the other.  I’ll find out soon enough if that was a good or a bad idea!

So the main point I make to myself, on a regular basis, is to keep a balance. I can’t spend all of my time in the garden. I’ve learned to be O.K. with weeds – I’ll get to them eventually. The garden is a long term project for me anyway, no point in rushing!  🙂

I hope you get to spend the perfect amount of time in a garden and enjoy every minute of it!

In peace,
Dana