The first of the wild bluebells have come into flower. I photographed these among the trees growing beside the old Anglican Church in Moyard. There are also plenty of bluebells growing in the Connemara National Park, where they form a wonderful carpet of blue during the month of May. This photograph doesn’t quite capture the true colour of the flowers, which are slightly more purplish in real life.
This charming pink flower is known as the cuckoo flower because it appears each year around the same time as the first cuckoos are to be heard. As it happens, I spotted the first of these flowers yesterday, and I heard my first cuckoo today, so it must be true! The flower is also known as Lady’s Smock. It thrives in damp ground, so it is very much at home in Connemara and particularly in what passes for a “lawn” behind our house. This year, it seems to be more prolific than usual, perhaps it’s something to do with the very wet winter we have just had.
These lovely flowers grow in huge numbers along the Connemara seashore. Somehow they seem to be able to thrive on solid rocks battered by the Atlantic waves. It has been a cold spring this year, and few of these are flowering, but I found one plant in flower yesterday nestled in a hollow of the cliff-face at the beach in Rossadilisk, near Cleggan. I have also come across them growing at the rocky summit of a mountain in the Twelve Bens. The plant is also sometimes known by the name “Thrift”.
I noticed the first of the Wild Strawberry flowers on our lane today. The flowers are easy to spot as they appear before the rampant summer growth of the hedgerows which tend to hide the tiny strawberries when they appear in early summer, as you can see in the picture below. Wild Strawberries have a delicious flavour, which is much more intense than the cultivated varieties. They are best eaten straight off the bush, while still warm from the sun.
The blackthorn is a viciously spiky shrub that grows abundantly in Connemara. At this time of year, the delicate white flowers look almost like a sprinkling of snow along the hedgerows. There is a delightful description in my ancient copy of The Observer’s book of Trees and Shrubs of “the pure white starry blossoms that brave the cold blasts before the leaf-buds dare unfurl their coverings”. In late summer and autumn, the blackthorn produces its dark purple fruit, known as sloes. These are far too bitter to eat, but can be used to make jellies, or, even better Sloe Gin, a delicious sweet liqueur with a rich dark red colour, which will be ready just in time for Christmas.
I was surprised to see this charming yellow flower growing in a shady part of our lane today. Officially it comes into flower in May, and we have had such a cold spring this year, you’d expect flowers to come into bloom later than usual. Of course, it’s possible that I have mis-identified it, although I’m fairly sure it is a Yellow Pimpernel.
Several closely-related varieties of violet grow in Ireland, and I have noticed a lot of variation of colour, from light blue to deep violet. The flower is particularly attractive, especially when you come across a clump of them clinging to a wall by the roadside. This year, I didn’t see any until the beginning of April, although they often flower during March.
I spotted this Wood Sorrel today growing on a shady bank under some mature trees. On warm sunny days the dainty white flowers open up to show the stamens inside a white star-shape with a yellow centre, similar in appearance to the Wood Anemone. The petals have beautiful delicate veins, visible when the flowers open. The wood sorrel is easily identified by the shamrock-like leaves,. Some people eat the leaves in salads, but I didn’t find them very tasty!
This rather inconspicuous flower is growing on disturbed ground on a building site on our lane. It gets its name from the leaves which resemble those of the nettle although they do not sting and the plants are not related. On closer inspection, the flowers have an amazing shape almost like an orchid, as you can see from this zoomed in picture:
This beautiful little flower is growing in a patch of woodland on the riverbank near us in Moyard. I have also seen it in the Ellis Woodland walk in the Connemara National Park in Letterfrack. When the flowers are closed they could easily be mistaken for Wood Sorrel, but the leaves are quite different. In sunshine, the flowers can open fully, and sometimes form a beautiful carpet of little white stars.
We have had a very cold month of March this year and there are still very few flowers in bloom. I spotted these tiny greenish-yellow flowers in a shady part of my local lane. The flowers are so small you would easily overlook them. But close up they are very pretty. I couldn’t find them in my flower books, but identified them with an online search.