So this week Ann-Christine has set me an impossible task – choose my favourite flowers. I have tried to narrow it down by only including native Irish wildflowers. The why is simple – they are beautiful and they support so much life. It’s a selection of some of my favourites.
First spring flowers – celandine one of the first to show itself; dandelions are just little pots of sunshine loved by pollinators; wood sorrel is so delicate and cuckoo flower so dainty.
If I had to choose one spring flower it would be wild primroses, for the colour and smell, the essence of spring.
Then comes summer. Harebells, for the name and the delicate shade of blue; ox eye daisies as they are big, bright and happy flowers and sea thrift because it appears to grow from rocks.
And if I had to choose a favourite I would cheat and choose a whole flowering meadow.
Late summer and early autumn, there is perennial sow thistles (here with woundwort another lovely pant) and the latest flowering of our wildflowers, devils bits scabious – loved by pollinators.
A big thank you to Ann-Christine for reminding me of the beauties of spring and summer on this dark October day.
Herons are quite shy birds, so I rarely get opportunity to get this close.
Secondly an amazing sculpture (known as the Iron Man) by Maurice Harron, found near Boyle in Co Roscommon.
It is said to be of a chieftain, Hugh O’Donnell “Red”, and his horse, who lead a rebel Irish force against an English force in 1599 called The Battle of Curlew Pass. The English were ambushed while marching through a pass in the mountains, near the town of Boyle.
For this week’s Len-artist challenge John asks for “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles… and the Places they take us” – but I have veered off topic a little to talk about places boats have taken me. In recent years, we have had a few interesting trips on boats – or at least the boats got us to our destination. The first trip was to Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland. A small ferry takes about 20 minutes to cross from mainland to the island.
The island is lovely. We visited in January – but the day was glorious and clear and the light beautiful.
Then home again on the ferry at sunset.
Our next island visit was to Inishbiggle. Also off the west coast, but a much smaller island – talking only about ten minutes in a small boat similar to the small boat in the picture below.
Here crossing over from the mainland.
The island is lovely, exceptionally quiet (there are not many families living on it now) and the only shame was all the abandoned cars (and tractors) that it is too expensive to remove and so are left to rust away.
This year, I have been lucky to be working for the Great Yellow Bumblebee Project. The Great Yellow Bumblebee is Ireland’s rarest bees and it occurs on the Mullet Peninsula and Erris coastal mainland of County Mayo in the west of Ireland.
We have been working with farmers looking at how best we can manage fields in a way that provides lots of flowers for all types of pollinators. This area of County Mayo is stunningly beautiful, and supports a unique flower-rich habitat called Machair.
Machair is traditionally been used as winter grazing, which has benefitted the wildflowers that grow here and in turn these areas support a wealth of insects including pollinators.
We find lots of different bees. And finding the the rarest of them all, the Great Yellow Bumblebee, brings deep satisfaction.
Other rare and vulnerable bee species can also be found in this special place.
I love the sun on water, the way it makes it shimmer and shine.
Without the sun we would not have plants. This one is a native Irish plant called the perennial sow-thistle. But I like to think of it as our own sunflower. They are tall plants – from 80 cm up to 150 cm with these glorious yellow heads and they are loved by bees and other pollinators.
With the sun, comes shadows and butterflies too of course.
And without the sun we wouldn’t have sunsets.
Many thanks to Amy for this week’s lovely challenge.