Our native trees and hedgerows are our national heritage and Tree Week offers us the opportunity to take the time to get to know and cherish the trees and hedgerows in our neighborhood.
Trees have always been our great companions and we have very intimate connections with them – we are dependent on them for the air we breathe! They are also the lifeline for so many other species, offering shelter and food. They play a large role in maintaining climate balance.
We have very rich folklore and traditions associated with our native trees. We find these narrated in Niall Mac Coitir’s interesting and beautiful book of ‘Irish Trees – Myths, Legends and Folklore.’
If you are planting trees or hedgerows this week we strongly advise planting only native varieties. That is because every habitat over centuries has developed its own delicately balanced sequences to suit soil, climate and geography. In nature everything does not evolve, it “co-evolves”. A native tree/plant will form leaves or flowers when its main pollinators are abundant. A non-native variety of the same tree will have different leafing and flowering time from the native variety.
Planting a non-native variety, even of the same species, upsets the natural sequence and disrupts the natural balance, thus leaving the indigenous pollinators without their food and habitat.
At An Gáirdín this week we will be planting another native hedgerow. You will be welcome to join us’
Gerry Cunningham MIAHP will again facilitate a day on Mindfulness at An Gárdín.
The cost is €30 and includes light lunch and tea break.
Booking: email@example.com or 0909741689.
Spring is in the air! The morning birdsong delights the heart and brings a broad smile. The snowdrops are coming into full bloom. The daffs and other spring bulbs are slowly burrowing their way into the open. There are signs of growth all around us.
At the same time we cannot ignore the fact that the growth which we saw yesterday is quite likely to be completely under water today. We may also have noticed that really there was no stoppage of growth, no really dormant period. Neither did the birds leave us – just a little less song for the past few months. We did not experience the ‘normal’ bitter cold days and nights. We missed the bright glistening frosty mornings and we missed the evening red skies telling us what the morn would bring. There wasn’t the opportunity to hear the crunching noise as we trudged through 3 or 4 inches of snow.
Where have all the – not flowers but- winters gone? Have we skipped a season? Have we a new season of just rainfall and mild humid temperatures. Not only have the boundaries between the seasons become more and more blurred but the seasons are becoming almost unrecognisable.
Isn’t there a sadness about this? Isn’t it a cause for greater sadness knowing that this situation is brought about to a great degree by the way we humans, particularly over the last century, have chosen to be and to live on this magnificent planet. See YouTube “Call to Earth – a Message from the World’s Astronauts to Cop21” – a short but beautiful inspiring film.
As national election hype begins we can be asking ourselves what the real issues are just now. Are we able to put the immediate issues we have into the bigger and larger context. The reality is that many of the life systems of the planet including the human species are under threat of survival. We have long been talking about climate change and it’s effects on poor countries. We somehow assumed that the effects for us locally were in a vague future. Climate change is here and at a rapid pace. We can plan to adapt to climate change but we know that is only a temporary measure. As the famous Thomas Berry once wrote, we are arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic and ignoring the fact that it is sinking. We need to address the causes of climate change. This is challenging. But as a species we do rise to challenge.
What will our questions to canvassers be when they knock on our doors over the coming weeks. The following are possible ideas under four relevant headings:
- REDUCING OUR HARMFUL EMISSIONS:
For example, present Government policy to increase the current herd of 7.1 million cattle by 300,000 over the next 10 years, surely is a contradiction of our commitment to climate change at COP21 in Paris. One third of our current emissions comes from agriculture.
Have you a robust policy that will support farmers in adapting from cattle production to producing more cereal and vegetable crops?
Our transport system is drastically unsustainable from many aspects but particularly from an emissions aspect. Lack of public transport in rural areas is a major disadvantage.
Have you a public Transport Policy? If so will it encourage people to choose public modes of travel in preference to using private modes? Have you a Public Transport Policy specific to rural areas as well as to urban settings?
- RURAL SUSTAINABILITY:
Rural life has suffered severely under the outgoing government. Towns and villages have been devastated. The removal of Garda Stations, Post Offices and other State services and offices have resulted in low morale.
Have you a policy for Rural Life? Does your policy include restoring the infrastructure and local services that have been removed from rural communities? Does it include support measures to promote and to ensure the viability of the smaller self-supporting organic holdings?
- RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY:
We are trailing way behind our European neighbours and many other parts of the world in our replacement of fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.
Have you a policy for promoting Renewable Sources of Energy?
Do you have the conviction and therefore the policy to make sure that the provision of community-based co-operatives for producing Renewable Energy will replace the large corporations e.g Airtricity?
Will you ensure that the grant system is an adequate incentive for people to upgrade their houses to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. How will you ensure that the house owner receives his/her just portion of the grant along with the suppliers and fitters.
and what more mindful way of approaching the New Year than a
Mindfulness Retreat Day with Gerry Cunningham
Saturday 30th January 10am – 4.30pm
Gerry Cunningham MIAHP, The Mindfulness Clinic, Dublin, will be back to facilitate a ‘New Year, Wise Intention ‘ retreat day. The day will help us to enter mindfully into the new year and offer us some supports to continue on our mindfulness journey.
The cost for the day is €30 with deposit of €10, including light lunch.
Booking at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ph.0909741689
The first class, Gentle Yoga is from 6 – 7.15pm, costing €80 for 10 classes. The Continuation Class is from 7.30 – 9pm costing €90 for 10 classes. Ruth teaches Satyananda yoga which is suitable for everyone, and for men and women. It is a holistic system that brings balance between mind and body.
Book with Ruth at email@example.com Phone 0872434759
Thanks to our 40 wildflower enthusiasts and learners who turned up on Thursday last for Sandro Cafolla’s workshop. We had a most informative session and lots of fun. Our hope is that we caught some of Sandro’s great passion for the wild and particularly for wildflowers, for their beauty and importance in the ecosystem. He challenged us to let go of our inclination to straight lines and precisely measured flower beds. Thanks to Sandro and his team, we now have in Ireland a seed-bank of native wildflowers. So many of our native wildflowers would have been lost forever but for his enthusiasm, conviction and above all, his hard work.
Sandro had some seeds with him. He explained that each packet of seeds contains annuals, bi-annuals and perennials. The packets also contain some bulking material. When somebody innocently asked a question, as Sandro proceeded to reply, he flicked a packet of seeds in the questioners direction. This was to reward the questioner for being awake – not that there was any fear of us dosing off!
After all, it’s not rocket science: Clear your area of vegetation, harrow if a field, rake lightly is a small patch; spread your seeds; harrow or rake lightly again – and wait. For the first year you will have your annuals, the second year your bi-annuals and the third year, your perennials. Everything we need to know is clearly described on their website Sandro also referred us to Zoe Devlin’s website. Zoe has produced a beautiful book on the Wildflowers of Ireland.
An added dimension to the night were the handmade biscuits by Anne sampled during the night. She is offering the recipes here, as requested.
- 6oz/175gr of 100% wholemeal flour
- 1.5oz/40gr coarse oatmeal
- 1teasp/5ml of baking powder
- 0.5teasp/2.5ml of salt
- 3oz/84gr butter or margarine
- 2oz/56gr of raw brown sugar
- 3tblps/45ml milk dairy or soya to mix
Mix all the dry ingredients – except the sugar – together. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and add the milk. Stir in well until the dough is firm and manageable. Roll out fairly thinly and stamp out 3in/7.5cm rounds. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until light brown. Cool on a wire tray and store in an airtight tin.
- 4oz/115gr butter or margarine
- 4oz/115gr wholemeal self-raising flour
- 4oz/115gr raw brown sugar
- 4oz/115gr coconut
- pinch of salt
- 1 free-range egg
Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar, coconut and salt. Mix well. Stir in the egg. Mix into a soft dough. Roll out fairly thinly on a lightly floured board and stamp into 3in/7.5cm rounds. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4, for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a wire tray and store in an airtight tin.
The 2015 Paris Climate Conference -COP21- is taking place from the 30th of November to the 11th of December. More than 190 political leaders have agreed to take on the mammoth task of trying to come to a legally binding agreement to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celcius. All over the world at grassroots level, people are expressing their solidarity with our COP21 representatives.
We hope that the negotiators will be led by deep appreciation for the gift of Planet Earth with her immense biodiversity and astounding beauty.
We hope that they will be gifted with deep compassion.
We hope too that they will have the wisdom and courage necessary to let go of short-term, more immediate unsustainable goals for a long-term sustainable vision for Planet Earth.
We trust that they will have the wisdom, knowledge and generosity that is required at this time.
Future generations of all life demand this. ‘All life’ – because all is precious and all is connected. Everything is interdependent.
To our negotiators in Paris we send the energy of support and good will from all life on the planet at this time and in the future, from Earth, Air, Soil, Water, Bacteria, Insects, Plants, Animals, Mammals and Humans – Everything that lives and breathes, our good wishes go to you.
See www.cop21paris.org for more information on the conference.
Details have been finalised for the wildflower workshop, taking place Thursday, the 3rd of December. Find all the details here:
Tree Day seeks to celebrate trees, raise awareness about Ireland’s native trees and to show what you can do to help the trees in your local area.
As everyone knows, tress take in carbon dioxide and give out the oxygen we breathe. What you may not know is that one fully mature tree provides enough oxygen each day for a family of four. But trees do so much more than that. They provide shelter to countless insects, birds and animals. They give us shelter from rain and shade us from sun. The provide wood for our fires and houses. The give us berries and nuts with which to eat.
So what can I do?
A start is to take five minutes (as hard as that can be nowadays) to look at a tree in your area and appreciate the tree itself. Take the time to be with the tree, view it not as an object, but as a living being.
Something else you can do is to get involved with local planting projects. These projects take seeds given off local trees, start them growing in a “creche” of sorts until they are year-old saplings, and transfer the saplings into the ground so they can grow into trees. This helps to preserve Ireland’s native trees, as well as to replace some of the trees that fall victim to deforestation every day.
You can also look out for the trees that are native to Ireland. Here are a few examples:
- Elder Tree: Elder trees are smaller than most, coming to about 6 meters in height and usually found in hedgegrows. In Spring, they flower with white flowers that later develop into small berries that range from dark-purple to black in color. Birds love these berries as a snack.
- Hazel Tree: Hazel trees are usually found underneath the canopy of oak or ash trees, but can also be found in the Burren. More of a shrub than a tree, hazels typically grow to around 5 meters in height. The nuts that a hazel produces are edible, but trees that are more in shade don’t produce as many nuts.
- Hawthorn Tree: Often spoken of in Irish myth and lore, hawthorns are a very recognisable, being bushy looking and with their distinctive light grey color, turning pinkish brown with age. Hawthorns produce small, juicy red berries that birds love to eat.
- Rowan Tree: The rowan tree, also called the mountain ash, is a small tree. It is able to grow in poor soil, giving it the ability to grow in poor, mountainous soil, hence the name mountain ash. The rowan produces small red berries that birds love to eat. These help to spread the rowan around the country.
These are just a few examples of trees native to Ireland. You can find out about more of them from the Native Woodland Trust.
And lastly, one way to help our native trees is to Reduce, Re-use and Recycle. The less we use, the fewer trees that need to be cut down.