The Trees, The Flowers, The Birds

Of course, what’s really great about this time of the year is how the trees have mostly come into leaf and the lovely wild flowers are covering the ground all around. Meanwhile, the migratory birds are returning.

Interestingly, I was part of a group walking around some trees in Castlebar just this week (as you do), where, among others, the Sycamore was in full leaf. Meanwhile, just one day earlier, no more than 40 km away, I visited some Sycamores as yet without leaf.

Yesterday, I was up at the new Arrowrock Hostel, on the beautiful eastern shore of Lough Arrow, Co. Sligo, where the bluebells cover the ground under their mature Scots Pines.

Sycamore and Primrose, north Mayo

Sycamore and Primrose, north Mayo

On Monday, I was up in Sheskin Forest, where the primrose lords over the hedgerows and damp grassy knolls.

 I love the way my house has a wild hedge on one side of the garden. It gives us wild primrose and dog violets, among others.

 

 

Punctually challenged Ash

Punctually challenged Ash

Meanwhile, my Ash trees stubbornly refuse to partake in the whole re-awakening thing …

This photo shows the characteristic black buds in the foreground, with another Ash in the background and Hawthorn plus Ivy in the middle. The Hawthorn is just about to blossom. Admittedly, the black buds of the Ash are beginning to budge at this stage.

 

 

The neighbour’s Crab Apple is in full bloom too. It reminds me that each year I ‘allow’ the kids to try the fruit. They’re still too young to remember the experience by the time the next year’s crop comes around.

The swallows are well back by now, as are the House Martins and Cuckoos. The House Martins have been seen in south Mayo for over two weeks, but there’s still no sign of ours. It’s lashing rain outside and the weather is promised bad for the weekend. That’s not good, because I need to paint the outside wall of the house, where our Martins have their nest, before they return. I don’t want to disturb them once they’ve arrived.

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Thursday Trees – Ash (An Fuinseóg)

Ash leaves, autumn 2008

Ash leaves, autumn 2008

The Ash is the last of the Irish native trees to get its new leaves each year – generally not arriving until May. I am lucky enough to have three and a half Ash trees in the ditch that forms two sides of my back garden. The “half tree” is now eight years old and I enjoy watching it grow each year and keeping the ivy from climbing its slender trunk.

The Ash has quite slender leaves, aligned in pairs on opposite sides of the stem. As a deciduous tree, it loses its leaves in autumn, although it is one of the more easily recognisable trees in winter when bare. This is thanks to the large black buds it develops during this season.

In Ireland, the Ash grows to around 25 to 30 metres and can have a width of some 20 metres. Of course, its wood, strong and flexible, is used to make hurls (although the wood is now mostly imported from The Baltic States).

Ash tree in autumn, Mayo

Ash tree in autumn, Mayo