Tag Archives: winter

The Earliest Spring Ever!

Last night we had a severe frost in Wicklow, but it seems the plants have decided, for whatever reason, that spring is here to stay. I have never seen anything quite like it. On New Year’s Day I found Bluebells throwing the leaf-litter off and raising their juicy leaves to the sun.

Bluebell leaves …on New Years Day!

And not only were the daffodils up, but irises had poked their blade-like leaves through the soil, and the crocuses were not only well up above ground but some now have flowers on the verge of opening.

A crocus about to blossom, as I photographed it yesterday.

Okay, so maybe you’re thinking these impetuous plants are mistaken: crocuses can sometimes bloom in the snow, as can primroses, and daffodils often make mistakes. Fair enough arguments, but have you ever seen cherry blossom in January? There are certain October-flowering Cherry trees, but not January ones, and the pair of cherries growing out front of the church (opposite the petrol station) in Newcastle village would seem to me to be the typical spring variety. True, they are in sunny areas, but covered in blossoms and being attended by big Bumble Bees. Incredible!

 

One of the blossoming cherries outside the church on Newcastle main street.
A close-up of the beautiful blossoms, with bees in there somewhere.

According to the weather forecasters we are in for another week of cold frosty nights and mostly clear sunny days, so winter is certainly not done with us yet. But spring is here, whatever the weather. And just to end, keep an eye out for the beautiful feather-duster like, aniseed-scented blooms of the Winter Heliotrope. They are in abundance this year, and they have to be as there is so much competition.

Winter Heliotrope flies the flag for winter, while it still can.

And after a great 2012, with the massive successes of Wicklow boxer Katie Taylor and cross-country runner Fionnuala Britton, it seems the very landscape itself has decided to throw a celebratory party. 2013 is off to an awesome start.

A Slowly Arriving Spring

Ireland has escaped the extreme wintery conditions that have struck the rest of Europe, including the island of Great Britain, but soil temperatures are still below normal for this time of year and so far the crocuses in my garden, the most accurate gauge of the arrival of spring, have not risen and flowered, although other people have reported finding crocuses. However, there have been some nice surprises due to the Siberian system that struck Europe, and a few days ago I photographed a peculiar warbler in my garden. Not being a warbler expert by any means I showed a series of photos (taken through a foggy window) to Dick Coombes of Birdwatch Ireland, and it seems that the mystery warbler is, in fact, a Siberian Chiffchaff, a subspecies of the Chiffchaff warbler that arrives in Ireland for the summer.

Siberian Chiffchaff photographed in Newcastle in Wicklow, seen here foraging for insects in tubs of garden plants.