Tag Archives: blossoms

May Blooms

May is the most spectacular month in Wicklow. This is due to the sudden mass-blossoming of the various trees and shrubs along the hedgerows and in the parks and gardens. May is usually quite warm too, and it is this year, but there is quite a bit of rain too, which also helps the blooming, but can cause them to fade a little faster too.

Hawthorn is one of the most beautiful blooming plants and can be found right along Wicklow hedgerows.
Hawthorn is one of the most beautiful blooming plants and can be found right along Wicklow hedgerows.
The apple blossoms are all but gone now, but they were absolutely spectacular this year and gave Wicklow its scent of spring. In this photo you can see tulip flowers too. Apple trees are very common in Wicklow and there are many old orchards, and even apple trees growing in hedgerows.
The apple blossoms are all but gone now, but they were absolutely spectacular this year and gave Wicklow its scent of spring. In this photo you can see tulip flowers too. Apple trees are very common in Wicklow and there are many old orchards, and even apple trees growing in hedgerows.
Lilac trees are not quite as numerous as hawthorns, but they are common and widespread along hedgerows and in gardens and their magnificent flowerspikes produce a heavy yet subtle perfume that actually makes the air smell fresh. This year they had a bumper blossoming making for a fantastic May.
Lilac trees are not quite as numerous as hawthorns, but they are common and widespread along hedgerows and in gardens and their magnificent flowerspikes produce a heavy yet subtle perfume that actually makes the air smell fresh. This year they had a bumper blossoming making for a fantastic May.
The so-called 'Wedding Cake' Viburnum is a magnificent shrub which, for some reason, is very common in Wicklow and produces huge swathes of blossom but no fragrance. However, they are extremely popular with insects, especially hoverflies.
The so-called ‘Wedding Cake’ Viburnum is a magnificent shrub which, for some reason, is very common in Wicklow and produces huge swathes of blossom but no fragrance. However, they are extremely popular with insects, especially hoverflies.
The bluebells came up early this year and are still forming carpets of blue in the mountains, but I don't think they'll be around too long, so make sure to get out and look for them. You can tell the true native bluebell from the similar Spanish bluebell because only the native has a scent, and it's a beautiful scent too.
The bluebells came up early this year and are still forming carpets of blue in the mountains, but I don’t think they’ll be around too long, so make sure to get out and look for them. You can tell the true native bluebell from the similar Spanish bluebell because only the native has a scent, and it’s a beautiful scent too.
In boggy areas (of which there are many in Wicklow) the Yellow Flag is the dominant flowering plant and they can be seen in huge numbers in coastal marshes right now. These beautiful plants are irises and they can be kept next to garden ponds, but the root can be more than a metre under the soil, which is usually under almost as much water in the areas these plants inhabit, so digging them up is certainly not worth the effort. Leave them where they are and admire from afar.
In boggy areas (of which there are many in Wicklow) the Yellow Flag is the dominant flowering plant and they can be seen in huge numbers in coastal marshes right now. These beautiful plants are irises and they can be kept next to garden ponds, but the root can be more than a metre under the soil, which is usually under almost as much water in the areas these plants inhabit, so digging them up is certainly not worth the effort. Leave them where they are and admire from afar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Flowers

We have some April showers at the moment, but since the Equinox on the 21 March the days have been pretty nice and warming up well. Spring moves from the ground upwards into the canopies of the trees, so that the undergrowth blooms earliest and then the insects begin appearing, feeding on the nectar and pollen that is available.

The Early Dog Violet - Viola reichbachiana - one of the earliest flowering spring plants.
The Early Dog Violet – Viola reichbachiana – one of the earliest flowering spring plants in Wicklow.
Primroses - Primula vulgaris - blooming. These are among the most hardy spring flowers, sometimes blooming beneath snow. There was no snow this year, thankfully.
Primroses – Primula vulgaris – blooming. These are among the most hardy spring flowers, sometimes blooming beneath snow. There was no snow this year, thankfully.

Keep an eye out on the flowers for the insects, especially different species of bees. Spring is the time of the Mining Bees, and there are a number of different species, but the most commonly seen in Wicklow is probably the Mining Bee –¬†Andrena haemorrhoa.

A female Andrena haemorrhoa Mining Bee feeding on Lesser Celandine, one of the most beautiful spring flowers, which will continue to flower well into Autumn.
A female Andrena haemorrhoa Mining Bee feeding on Lesser Celandine, one of the most beautiful spring flowers, which will continue to flower well into Autumn. She collects pollen on special hairs on her rear legs, which gives them a yellow colour.

At this time of year the larger trees and bushes begin to blossom and their fragrances are now beginning to fill the air, and they contribute very much to the distinctive fragrance of the spring air. One of the most impressive of these bushes is the Flowering Currant –¬†Ribes sanguineum¬†– which is found throughout Wicklow in lowland areas and has beautiful flowing tresses of pink flowers.

Flowering Currant as you will see it at the moment along hedgerows and even riverbanks. Unfortunately I cannot reproduce the scent for you via the internet, but one day it may be possible, and that will be quite an adventure,
Flowering Currant as you will see it at the moment along hedgerows and even riverbanks. Unfortunately I cannot reproduce the scent for you via the internet, but one day it may be possible, and that will be quite an adventure.

Now that there is nectar to be had, keep an eye out for moths at the windows at night time. More and more are showing up, day-by-day, and one of the most common is the Hebrew Character – Orthosia gothica.

A Hebrew Character moth on a night time wall.
A Hebrew Character moth on a night time wall.

 

The Big Bloom

Now it’s high spring, so the countryside is a blaze of colour. There’s something a little sad about it too, because the blossoms on the trees last only a few days. But the flowers on the ground will continue to bloom for most of the summer, whith few exceptions. Anyhow, here are some of the beauties:

Apple blossom, which I photographed in a little orchard in my garden. The scent of these flowers could almost define spring. Sadly, after only a few days, they are soon to fall from the trees. Live for the moment!
Apple blossom, which I photographed in a little orchard in my garden. The scent of these flowers could almost define spring. Sadly, after only a few days, they are soon to fall from the trees. Live for the moment!

Although I found a few cherries blooming in January (big mistake!) most are only blooming now, or coming out of bloom, and the occasional breezes of May have carpeted footpaths and lawns in the pink of their blossoms. Cherries are fantastic trees, and they can be found throughout Wicklow. Most are cultivated but there are wild ones too.

Heavy cherry blossoms on a thin tree. Beautiful, especially against a blue sky.
Heavy cherry blossoms on a thin tree. Beautiful, especially against a blue sky.

Closer to ground level the combination of sun and rain has caused an explosion of wildflower blooms. The hyper-sanitised gardening which developed in the 1950s and has continued more or less unchanged until modern times treats Dandelions and Daisies as enemies to be destroyed, yet these beautiful little flowers are the very bedrock of the Wicklow ecosystem, as they once were in most of Europe. They support millions of pollinating insects on which the human race depends for its very survival. Ironically, Dandelions are not only edible, but in many countries, such as France, they are served in the best restaurants as food.

A lawn of daisies and a complimentary dandelion.
A lawn of daisies and a complimentary dandelion.

Some flowers which can be found thriving in Wicklow are currently considered endangered species in many other parts of Europe. While not exactly a common sight, a sharp pair of eyes will find Cowslips along the hedgerows and borders of damp meadows. Bees love them.

The gentle but strong yellow of a Cowslip, a plant which has become very precious as it is in decline in many parts of Ireland.
The gentle but strong yellow of a Cowslip, a plant which has become very precious as it is in decline in many parts of Europe.