Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sweets for Tea

Today I went to our local farmers market and purchased one of these cute cookies from Holly's Sweets & Eats to have with my afternoon tea.  Mmm, it had cardamon in it and was delicious.
I pulled out my poppy teacup with the handle that is one of the most comfortable for holding a cuppa. 
Just behind the teacup is a pretty stained glass piece I picked up on the weekend. 
We've been buying local honey for a number of years from Dickey Bee and this year they're selling their own maple syrup.  I'm glad I was at the market to buy a bottle from them as I do like to support the local businesses and we were running low on it.
As usual, a bit of honey in my tea and the anticipation of trying the maple syrup on something - frozen yogurt perhaps?
Dickey Bee also sells bee pollen as one their other products. A discussion started between the vendor, another lady and myself on the benefits of eating it. Anyone taking it who can offer their two cents worth?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gardens of Ireland - Hunting Brook & June Blake's Cottage

While in Dublin our tour group visited Hunting Brook, a visual delight created by Jimi Blake.
In this photo I'm standing at the top of the driveway which is flanked by colourful borders on either side.
There were lots of lupines at Hunting Brook and the stately maroon ones in the background are 'Masterpiece'.
'Pretty in pink', two cranesbill geraniums that I'll have to find for my garden. 'Dragon Heart' on the left and 'Venus' on the right.
On the path to the ravine; one of Jimi's hand written quotes on a slab of slate.
On the left, a constructed path that zig- zagged down the steep slope into the ravine below. With the tree canopy, lush green ferns, other forest plants as well as a gentle trickling brook, this area provided a tranquil place for contemplation. Look at the long table with stump seating for a midsummer's eve banquet.
The view from the upper meadow of misty mountains.
Jimi likes to experiment with plants and in a year or two, this will be an interesting focal point.
Now we're over at June Blake's cottage, Jimi's sister. Charming stone work as you walk along to the cottage.
The cottage and farmyard were designed by Robert Coppinger Ashlin in 1867.
June sources seeds from all over the world to see what will grow in her gardens.
The large drift of knautia and scabiosa (on the right) makes a stunning airy see-through combination.
In 2013 June renovated the derelict cowhouse which is now a small house for vacation rental. It's to the right where a new window can be seen.
We were served a delicious lunch at June's - Irish hospitality at its best!
There's a lot of history and character in a home that is almost 150 years old.
Deep in conversation, Jimi and our tour guide Donna Dawson and June as she gave us the rundown on her home. She farmed sheep for over 20 years and is happy now to devote all her time to gardening.
I will be linking with Mosaic Monday.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Irish Afternoon Tea

May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart might desire.   An Irish Blessing
Welcome friends for tea this week. I brought a few things back from Ireland to use for afternoon tea, so make yourself comfortable and join me over a cuppa.
 As you know, Ireland is famous for green shamrocks and they were a ground cover at many places.
Fancy light standards featured them, and I had hoped to find some authentic Irish linen with shamrocks on too.  However, Belfast which was the linen capitol of the world now outsources to China for their souvenirs in the stores. I did find some authentic plain linen, but only a polyester with shamrocks.
At one of the National Trust Gardens, there was a basket of linens which were likely donated to help raise funds. The square table topper with the crocheted sides above caught my eye.
The tag that was attached, and the piece is in immaculate condition. The topper is on the kitchen table for tea today and we're having Irish afternoon tea...
along with shamrock shortbread biscuits. 
Connemara is well known for the marble found in the Beanna Beola mountain range and beautiful necklaces and earrings are made with it. Now my linen has a shamrock on it!
Of course Belleek Pottery is an item to collect and although I considered a small teapot, instead settled on an Irish blessing door which was easier to transport in a suitcase.
I picked a small bouquet of chartreuse lady's mantle flowers that are perfect for an Irish themed tea.
I've set out my husband's grandmother's teacups for us, I use them every St. Patrick's Day but was happy to have another occasion to use them.  She came from a village just south of Belfast.
I'll leave you with the photo of a mug I saw in a store.
Thanks for visiting and I hope you'll stop by my hosts and their guests for tea.
I'm linking with:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Gardens of Ireland - Ballyrobert

Come with me through the arbour as we visit Ballyrobert Cottage Gardens in Belfast, owned by Joy and Maurice Parkinson. Maurice has a Masters in Horticulture from the RHS and the sweeping beds and vistas he has created are fabulous.
The cottage in the top two photos and cow barn below that has two floors that would have had cattle on the bottom and chickens on the top. A hole is cut in the top of the door to allow bats and birds a safe place to roost. Let's head back through the arbour to see the gardens.
Bottom right is the gate to the gardens at the driveway entrance and the stone pillar has a flat part on top where fairies can dance in the moonlight.
On the left is a fairy tree (usually hawthorn) where people can make a wish by draping a piece of lamb's wool on a branch. (look closely and you'll see two tufts of wool) The photo on the right is a marriage circle through which a young man could hold the hand of his beloved and ask her to marry him. 
Although we didn't see any fairies in the garden, I'm sure they do come out at night to dance in the moonlight.
I'm linking with Mosaic Monday.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Personal Photo Challenge for July - Portraits

With Donna's challenge for this month on portraits, one photo came to mind right away.
 I like to use mirrors to reflect other parts of a room, plants around a garden or in this case to feature granddaughter Emma's braids as well as the look of sheer satisfaction on her face. The contrast and saturation were tweaked a bit since it was bright in the washroom. ISO 320 f/2.7
An older photo of our dog Topaz kissing granddaughter Mia, who at her age then was savouring the moment. I doubt we'd capture the same scenario today. The contrast was darkened to compensate for the sunny window nearby.
Both photos were taken with a point and shoot camera.
Come join the fun of the monthly personal photo challenge (1-3 photos) hosted by Donna at Cottage Days and Journeys.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gardens of Ireland - Helen Dillon

I plan to share the beautiful gardens visited in Ireland over the next few weeks but they won't necessarily be in order. I'm starting with Helen Dillon's gardens in Dublin and hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Unfortunately Helen was away when we visited but her husband Val was a gracious host. Here he is beside Donna Dawson, our tour guide. Donna's organizational skills and experience as a host left nothing to chance and the trip was wonderful. I highly recommend any of her tours that can be found at ICanGarden Garden Tours.  Her other website ICanGarden is where you can find some of my gardening articles and a whole myriad of interesting things for the newbie to most experienced gardener. Thank you Donna for showing us the beauty of Ireland and for bringing together a group of women (and two husbands) that bonded over a common passion.
Val was quite the story teller while we had tea and cookies in the dining room. 
Galvanized trash cans make quite the attractive large container, don't you think?


Rustic Wardian cases with lettuce growing in them.
An aviary that filled the garden with song.
I managed a 'selfie' in the extraordinary bathroom, or water closet as Val insisted. :-)
An overview from an upstairs window. Helen Dillon is a well known plant collector, writer and broadcaster who has created an enviable oasis.










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