Tag Archives: blossoms

Dandelion Time

Up until last week it was still quite cold, but finally the weather has improved and at last we are getting proper warm spring weather. It’s that special time of year, the height of the great spring dandelion blooming. Dandelions support the vast majority of pollen-feeding and pollinating insects to a degree impossible to any other spring flowers. It’s great to see these important plants are finally starting to get the recognition they deserve:

They are beautiful flowers too, and give us a bright yellow landscape. Other flowers are starting to reach their full bloom too – here, for example, are Bluebells, the true wild bluebell which is quite common in Wicklow and possesses a beautiful scent, unlike the similar-looking Spanish Bluebell:

That butterfly is a Peacock (Inachis io) and it soon gave up the bluebells to feed on dandelions again.

This is also the time when the cherry trees are candyfloss pink from blossom, and they really do brighten the place up a good bit:

However, as beautiful as it is, it’s also important to remember spring is a time of high drama. At the moment you have a good chance of seeing the rare Tawny Mining Bee, which I mentioned in the last post. The male bees have now passed on, and the females are pregnant and busily constructing their nests, which are burrows. The mouth of each burrow is surrounded by a mound of soil, sometimes quite a lot. Tawny Mining Bees are parasitised by Cuckoo Bees, such as Nomada panzeri. They lay their eggs in the nests of the Tawny Mining Bees, and their young feed on the larvae of the mining bees. Here is a Cuckoo Bee, in the foreground, watching for an opportunity to get into the nest of a Tawny Mining Bee, but the owner is watching from the entrance:

As I tried to get a closer photo I accidentally scared the Cuckoo Bee off, and the Tawny Mining Bee decided it was safe to emerge:

These bees are usually gone by May, so now is the time to look for them. Next year’s generation will soon be hidden underground awaiting their time to fly in the sunshine.

 

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.