Month: May 2020

The Whiteness of May

Audio version of May Blossoms – P Madden One of the great sights of May and June is blossoming Whitethorn or Hawthorn (1) (Crataegus monogyna) or Sceach gheal in Irish with swathes of its frothy whiteness sweeping across the countryside on hedgerows or punctuating green fields with mounds of loveliness.  Because it is synonymous with…

The Jailer of Midges

Audio version of Wildflowers – P Madden Lords-and ladies, Wild arum, Cuckoo-pint (Arum maculatum) (1) or Cluas chaoin in Irish is a May wildflower that likes woodlands and shady areas.  It is a plant of extraordinary interest because of its unusual method of attracting pollinators.  In fact, it relies mainly on one pollinator to carry…

Potatoes

Audio version of Potatoes – Paddy Madden The first early Home Guard potatoes planted outdoors in mid-March are between 20cm and 30 cm tall so need to be earthed up.  (1) (2) This entails building a mound of the growing medium up around the stems to prevent the potatoes from being exposed to the sun…

Cowslips

Audio version of Cowslipss – Paddy Madden The cheerful primroses which are in the same family as cowslips graced woodland edges, hedgerow bottoms, roadside verges and embankments from March to April. As their flowers fade tiny green seeds form in the fruiting capsules at the base of the plants.  Meanwhile its close relative, the cowslip, (Primuls…

Bluebells

Audio version of Bluebells – Paddy Madden May is the month for observing broad swathes of bluebells carpeting old woodlands and running along the edges of old hedgerows.  They emit a sweet scent and are pollinated by insects, especially bumblebees.  The native Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) has bell-shaped flowers on one side of a drooping stem. …

Butterflies

Audio of Butterflies – Paddy Madden The Orange tip (Anthocharis cardamines) butterflies have been active since late April.  The male is easy to recognize with bright orange tips on its forewings. The female, however, does not have the male’s orange markings. Instead she has dark grey wingtips with a black spot in the centre of…

Unfolding buds

Audio of Unfolding Buds – Paddy Madden Beech buds (Fagus sylvatica) are among the last to unfold in spring.  The lovely, soft, silky, lime-green leaves slowly emerge from the cigar-shaped buds. Some people find these leaves very tasty when they are at this stage of development. The black ash buds (Fraxinus excelsior) are slow to open…