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.
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 in the background with rainbow
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.
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Walled Garden, Enniscoe House
Walled Garden, Enniscoe House
Amazing garlic beds
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.
I started drafting an Earth Day post that was becoming depressing. So I have decided on a list of ten positive actions anyone can do for our Mother Earth instead. Actions to help us live in harmony with the planet we call home.
- Go outside. Close your eyes for fifteen second and use you ears to listen and your nose to smell.
- Plant some vegetable or herb seeds, even if it is only in a pot or window box.
- Walk or cycle somewhere you would usually drive to.
- Find a local farm shop and buy something.
- If you live in Ireland, sign the petition to strengthen the draft climate change plan. If you live in another country find out what your government is doing about climate change.
- If you have left overs from dinner, eat them the following day for lunch. Don’t throw them in the bin
- Make a more sustainable choice in one food product you buy each week. For example, buy organic free range eggs, or organic flour etc.
- Pick a sunny day, and look in your garden or go to your nearest park and see how many bees and butterflies you can see.
- Instead of your usual present when you go to visit someone bring them a nice flowering plant they can put in their garden.
- Find a new woodland, nature reserve or other wild place to visit.
Bumblebee on dandelion
Turlough, Co Mayo
Path through wild garlic
In this week’s photo challenge, Jen H is being “surprised” by some dandelion details. In my dandelion photo last week, the black and white version allowed me to see the serrated petals really well. But how about this little surprise – a double dandelion!
The tadpoles have hatched and are growing quickly. They are concentrating themselves in dense clumps in the shallower water at one end of the garden pond. I suspect as they get bigger they will begin to move out.
In the picture below you can see some of the braver ones!
You can click here to learn a bit more about our Irish frogs.
This week’s photo challenge was to take a photo atop of something. So I had to dig back to some old photos – this one from 2006, when my husband and I climbed Nephin (806m), one of our higher mountains here in Mayo. You can see right the way to the west coast, though the day wasn’t hundred percent clear.
In our journey through life we take so many different roads. Here just a little selection of our rural roads here in the west of Ireland for this week’s photo challenge – The Road Taken