Posts tagged ‘ciaran burke’

November 15, 2013

oneTree365 – The Book

by Ciaran Burke

onetree365-12 month collage

On December 4th 2012, I decided to start a project, a photography project, but also an exercise in tree appreciation and observance of nature. Taking time each day to spend a few minutes observing a tree and its surroundings. As the photographing phase nears its conclusion, the project is taking new directions.

There is an exhibition being planned for the Spring at Charlestown Arts Centre in Co. Mayo and currently I am working on a book of the project oneTree365 -The Book.

The book will feature all of the 365 photographs of the tree,one for each day. Printing costs associated with the project will be expensive so I am trying the crowd funding route to make this a reality. My project has gone live on the Irish based site. Visit the link below to find out more about the book project and/or to support it and get a copy of the book.

oneTree365 – The book on:


January 21, 2013

Getting to know a tree -OneTree365

by Ciaran Burke

Screen shot 2013-01-20 at 16.16.17

On December 4th, I decided to start a project, a photography project, but also an exercise in tree appreciation and observance of nature. Taking time each day to spend a few minutes observing a tree and its surroundings. Already I have been surprised by how different a willow tree can look in a photograph each day, and even throughout the day.

15th January - sunrise

15th January – sunrise

I decided to use this willow which grows close to our house for a number of reasons; it is a native tree, possibly a spontaneous seedling in the hedgerow, it is close to my home so I can observe it each day without the need to travel, convenience makes my year long commitment easier. The fact that it is an unremarkable species in terms of rarity or uniqueness is important, horticulturists are often guilty of only valuing exotic species with flamboyant flowers, foliage or bark or for their rarity, we horties can be a tad snobbish about plants. So this willow, an unassuming arboreal neighbour was chosen for the fat that is ordinary. But it has its qualities to admire, its winter outline, the form sculpted by wind and time. It has pride and character, and like all trees it draws from the earth as it reaches to the heavens, making food from the air and water in the soil, providing us with oxygen to breathe and maybe one day with carbon rich wood to burn. In the meantime it hosts insects, food for birds that stand on its branches and sing. Like very tree, it is important, it is beautiful.

17th January - One Tree with traffic...

17th January – One Tree with traffic…

Each day I take a photo of the tree and upload it on –

Screen shot 2013-01-20 at 16.16.54

September 5, 2012

A Saturday Night with Black Sabbath Making Rose Hip Jam…

by Ciaran Burke

Two pots of rose hip jam

Its coming to that time of year again, blackberries are ripe, elder berries are ripening and the rose hips are nearly there. I “look forward” to some Saturday nights making jam. During the summer I made some rose hip jam from fruits that were in the freezer, it is a delicious jam but it does take a bit of work.  From my old blog here is the story of a Saturday night spent making rose hip jam in the company of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. I have added my revised rose hip jam recipe using sugar and apples to add pectin.

The knife cuts through the red flesh, the head is severed, then, thop, brop, brop… bouncing in the bucket. I pick up the next one, cut and chop, thop, brop, brop…

It is Saturday night, the guitars, the bass, the drums, they blast from the speakers. Ozzy Osbourne’s tortured cries accompany, “Am I Going Insane?”… Cut and chop, top and tail, thop, brop, brop… Perhaps I will go mad! I am preparing a bucket full of rose hips, our bounty from the hedgerow, getting ready to make rose hip jam.

Rosa rugosa – hips

Rose hips, the fruit of the rose are easy to pick, once you get started its hard to stop. Wild dog rose, Rosa canina is ideal, and Rosa rugosa hips are also good. The bucket fills quickly, as you add more and more. Then you get home. Now you have to top and tail them. Remove the stalk from the base, and discard the leafy calyx from the top.

Rose hips- a long night ahead!

I start with enthusiasm, what better way to spend a Saturday night? Black Sabbath are playing loudly as I pick through the harvest, topping and tailing. Soon the sound of the falling rose hips is dulled as they land on a layer of prepared hips, no longer do I hear the hollow thop, brop, brop of topped and tailed hips bouncing in an empty bucket. I  work away, Ozzy sings “Tomorrow’s Dream”, rose hip jam on my bread for breakfast.

A busy Saturday night topping and tailing rose hips!

The bucket of unprepared hips is still quite full, and Sabbath are nearly finished one album. I am beginning to think that I am going to get to hear their whole back catalogue. “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” has me singing “Rosehips Bloody Rosehips” as I dip into the never emptying  bucket.  But I continue with my toil, my three containers in front of me; the harvesting bucket, the compost bucket and plastic bowl of prepared hips. Black Sabbath keep blasting out the tunes, I keep cutting. It is good to hear the old tunes again, air guitar with a sharp knife is not a good idea though

Eventually there is hope, a slight glimpse of white plastic, the bottom of the bucket. Briefly glimpsed before a hip rolls to replace its vacated companion. “Never Say Die”, ah yes, ah song for every occasion, the band plays on. With renewed vigor, I keep chopping, topping, tailing and the bucket is empty at last.

Rose hips topped and tailed

Next I wash some old jars, weigh out 1.2Kg of hips, bag the rest and put them in the freezer.  I place the fruit in a big sauce pan add some water and cook them. Its getting late, but I have lots of Black Sabbath albums. As I move to the next phase of the jam making operation, I change to the second era of Black Sabbath, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals, “Turn Up The Night”. After about an hour the fruits have softened.  I have to press them through a sieve to remove the seeds, a thick pulp of rich red results, it is hard work. Then I skin a few apples and chop them in the food processor. The pulp goes back into a saucepan with two 400ml bottles of apple juice concentrate  and chopped apple. The mixture bubbles like a witches brew, Dio sings of circles and rings, dragons and kings, as I stir the jam. The temperature rises, the jam starts to thicken and after a while of continuous stirring it is time to fill the jars.

Rose hips in the saucepan

This is always the messiest part. The boiling jam is transferred with a spoon into jars that have been heated in the oven to sterilize them. I usually manage to spill some, but only minor scalding results. Soon the jars are filled, I scrape the cooling and setting jam from the edges of the pot. I lick the sweet sticky fruit from the spoon.   It is late, it has been a long night of toil, but this is the best moment, it is hot, it is sweet and it is delicious as Dio sings… “ Heaven and Hell”. Well, it was hard work, for two and a half jars of jam. Not quite hell, but rose hip jam is close to heaven.


Since I fist made rose hip jam I have revised the recipe using sugar instead of apple juice concentrate. This jam wont be set like a jelly, instead it will be like a thick delicious sauce. It still involves topping and tailing!


  • 500 g rose hips chopped
  • 500ml water
  • 200ml boiled water
  • 3 apples, cored and chopped, don’t peel them
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1.5 cups of sugar


  1. Boil the rose hips in 500ml of water until they are soft.
  2. In a separate pot boil the chopped apples in a little water until soft and mushy.
  3. Push the pulp of the rose hips through a sieve into a bowl and set aside.
  4. Put the seeds back into the pot and pour in 200ml of boiling water, cook for a few minutes and sieve again, add to the rose hip pulp.
  5. Next, put the apple pulp through the sieve and mix into the rose hip pulp.
  6. Heat the pulp, add the sugar slowly, stirring to make sure it is dissolved. Add the lemon juice. Turn up the heat and boil the jam.
  7. Continue cooking for about 20 minutes until the jam has thickened.
  8. Put the mixture into sterilized jam jars.
  9. Fasten lids and allow to cool.
June 2, 2012

Jane Mc Corkell’s My Garden is a garden for everyone -BLOOM 2012

by Ciaran Burke
Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’ by Jane McCorkell

Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’ by Jane McCorkell

Maybe it’s the economic climate, maybe people are more nostalgic when times are hard and we reminisce with our rose tinted glasses as we look back on the days that were better. Some of my favourite show gardens at Bloom have a touch of the past about them, where the simplistic design relies on a strong selection of plant material and the emphasis on plant composition. The overall large garden category award went to Jane McCorkell for her entry “Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’, a garden with straight borders and a central lawn. Simply a gardeners garden, lots of colourful herbaceous planting, a veg patch, greenhouse and potting area.  I like it a lot!

Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’ by Jane McCorkell

Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’ by Jane McCorkell

The garden which was designed as a space that can be recreated by visitors in their own homes incorporating a working garden for horticultural enthusiasts while offering an engaging space for all the family.  Jane Mc Corkell has had four previous entries at Bloom and she sets a high standard where nothing less than gold is the result.

Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’ by Jane McCorkell

Bord na Mona Growise ‘My Garden’ by Jane McCorkell

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May 20, 2012

Spruce Shoot Jam – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
New spruce shoots

New spruce shoots

Spruce trees are a common site in the west of Ireland, not just as part of the alien forestry that covers much of the land, but also you see groups of old trees close to houses, derelict old cottages and lived in houses like ours.

Spruce trees beside our house

Spruce trees beside our house

That is exactly what we have close to our house, very close. I guess that these spruce trees were originally planted so as to provide shelter from the frequent and strong west winds.Now they have grown tall and cast a shadow over the garden in the evening time. We plant exotic woodland species under them, and hostas thrive there.

The species often seen is Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis, a fast growing species. It is the most widely planted forestry tree, a non-native species that is controversial. It is favoured by forestry companies due to its rapid growth but it does not do much for enriching the wildlife of the country. Beneath them nothing grows and they have a big impact on acidification of soils.

Spruce trees are a common sight in the west of Ireland

Spruce trees are a common sight in the west of Ireland

Spruce has been traditionally used as a cough syrup, in fact it is sold in health food shops in that form. Spruce syrup can be made which is quite tasty and sweet and also spruce cordial. I made the cordial which is very nice and refreshing when diluted with sparkling water. The spruce shoot jam is very good too, an almost caramel like flavour with a hint of, spruciness…


To make the jam I first cooked the spruce shoots in water, i used about 2 cups of shoots and covered them with water and cooked simmered for about four hours. After it cooled overnight I strained it through a muslin cloth and then kept the spruce liquid in the fridge.



  • 1 cup of spruce concentrate (see above)
  • 3 Large dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped finely
  • 2 bottles (2 x 360ml) of apple juice concentrate
  • Juice of one lemon


  1. Wash the spruce shoots in cold water
  2. Add the apples, lemon juice and fruit concentrate to the saucepan
  3. Cook with a medium heat until the apple pieces are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Add the spruce concentrate
  5. Turn up the heat and cook until the jam starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes
  6. Spoon or pour into sterilized jam jars and put lids on straight away

This made three jars of jam.

Fresh new growths in May on spruce tree

Fresh new growths in May on spruce tree

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