Monthly Archives: May 2017

Lost without friends

Combining two weekly photo challenges – Lost and Friend – I decided to do a post on how lost we would be without our friends the bees. Anyone who drops by here regularly will know that I am just a little bit passionate about bees, and in particular, bumblebees. What is there not to like; cute, clever, industrious and they pollinate so many of our flowers and crops.

Bees are every gardeners friend – we’d have no runner beans, strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes or fruit like apples without them doing the work of pollinating. Going further afield – do you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a bar of chocolate? Well without bees you’d have neither. It is estimated that the production of more than three-quarters of world crops depend on insect pollinators!

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Union Wood

A couple of weeks ago we visited Union Wood in County Sligo. The bluebells were amazing.

Union Wood is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to the presence of old sessile oak woodland. Today,  the woodland is mixed and includes commercial forestry and is part owned by Coillte and the NPWS.

The wood was once part of the Cooper Estate, The Cooper family had acquired the land in the mid-17th century under the Cromwellian settlement. Prior to which it was owned by an old Irish family, the McDonaghs.

There are two looped walking trails to enjoy, one 4km and the other 5.5km long.

 

 

Celebrating International day of Biodiversity

22nd May is International Day of Biodiversity. Here are just a few of the recent highlights from the garden and further afield. There is so much wonderful biodiversity out there. Go and explore.

Hawthorn hedgerows

One of the distinctive features of our Irish countryside are our hedgerows. These field boundaries are part of our cultural and agricultural heritage, often forming townland as well as farm demarcations.

Hawthorn hedgerows

Hawthorn hedgerows

In many counties, including Mayo, hawthorn makes up a large proportion of these native hedgerows (hawthorn is estimated to occur in about 90% of hedgerows in the county).
Hawthorns flower in May, so it is sometimes called the May tree, or whitethorn. This year there is an abundance of hawthorn blossom, much like last year. Some of the hedgerows look almost white (perhaps an indication of why it is also called whitethorn). Anytime there is a strong wind, the little roads around us are covered in fallen blossom. So it almost looks like it has been snowing!

In Ireland, the hawthorn is often associated with fairies and the underworld. Lone hawthorns in the middle of fields will not be touched for fear of upsetting the fairy folk. Hawthorns can live up to 400 years old, and while they never get tall, they can become quite gnarled, so you can see where it may get this reputation.

Hawthorn rainbow

Hawthorn in the background with rainbow

Enniscoe House

Enniscoe House and Estate can be found near Crossmolina in Co Mayo, on the shores of Lough Conn.  Steeped in heritage the Georgian house dates from 1790 and today is run as a family hotel. We visited a couple of weeks ago to take part in a bumblebee workshop (held by the National Biodiversity Data Centre). The second half of the day involved looking for and identifying bumblebees.  It also allowed us to enjoy the grounds including the beautiful woodland, but especially the organic walled garden. The garden is divided into two; first the formal garden or pleasure grounds, and secondly the vegetable and impressive fruit growing area. Strawberries, apple trees and currants were all in bloom.  The garlic was huge in comparison to my own! And the potatoes were coming on very well.

Enniscoe is also the location of the Mayo North Heritage Centre, where people can go and explore their North Mayo ancestors / genealogy. There is also a looped walk, a museum and all important tea rooms.