DEW DROPS AND SPIDER WEBS

This beautiful, calm and wind still Sunday morning, the garden has been transformed into what reminds me of fairy land, the reflexion of light in the dew drops makes the spider webs shimmer and reminds me of fairy lights or even the Christmas tree and brings me back to early childhood days, innocence and happiness. I wander around the garden with my camera to capture this beauty and these feelings. Autumn leaves have been brushed up yesterday, but it is the spider webs that really herald the beginning of autumn here in West Cork. There is not a sound to be heard, all the neighbours are still sleeping, then a robin takes the floor and cheerfully sings its heart out.
Wind still and glorious, another day has begun.
My heart fills with gratitude.
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THE ABORETUM AT ARDNAGASHEL

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The second part of the guided tour of which I took part, it being part of the Heritage Week, was last Saturday’s visit to Ellen Hutchins gardens at Ardnagashel. Though quite overgrown, and in the sub-tropical climate of Glengarriff, in the South West of Ireland, a very lush garden, we did see a great variety of trees.  Many of them quite new to me.  Walking under their expansive canopies one becomes aware of the magnificence of their beings, our heads were constantly held high and apart from the sounds of wow and oh, the explanations of our guide, and the whispering of the leaves, the forest was quiet – the trees majestic!

One of the most impressive species in the gardens is this extraordinary large Cryptomeria japonica elegans or the Japanese red Cedar.  Its feathery leaves are so delicate.  The red brown bark peels in vertical strips, as can be seen in the photo below.  It is said that the wood is very scented and used in manufacturing of light furniture.

These are photos of the cork tree (Cuercus suber) these trees give us the cork which is used in so very many different ways.  The small tree in the middle bottom photo has actually died from the frost one year, but the large one that is standing between many other species survives and has grown very big.  Actually cork is a renewable source as when the cork is taken from the trunk it will regrow.  It is harvested about every ten years.

This is the Myrtus apiculate, closely related to the Myrtle tree.  It was introduced as a decorative tree but it soon became a very fast growing invasive weed.  The wood looks nice and is put to use when cut down for a variety of fencing and a little bridge was made out of it too.  It is not native to Ireland.  It gets beautiful white flowers.  Below is a photo.

Myrtus apiculata

This tree has had its roots growing on its trunk, the reason why is because the soil around it was so crowded apparently by the suffocating growth of the Myrtus trees that there was no space for its roots to grow underground (we were told by our guide).

A variety of interesting looking trees of which I am not sure what they are exactly.

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One of my favourites, again I do not know what its name is.  A trunk covered in moss!

Ferns were everywhere, including a few tree ferns (Dicksonia Antartica).  Ferns even growing on the branch of this large tree.

Rhododendrons grow very well in this part of the world, often giving a lovely display of purple along the roads of Counties Cork and Kerry.  But in Glengarriff one is able to grow quite exotic types of Rhododendrons, from the regions of the Himalayans.  Very large leaves (as my brothers is showing) and most beautiful flowers, whites or delicate pinks, among other colours.  Some of these types bloom already in January.  Besides Rhododendrons there are a variety of Magnolias, Ammonias, Camellias and Acacias growing in this garden.

Three other fabulous species.  The top left is a Griselinia Littoralis.  The one underneath I thought is the Cypressus macrocarpa.  The trunks of trees on the right I cannot identify – ideally I will visit this garden again and become more familiar with all the trees, something to look forward to I think.

Sequoia Sempervirens - Coast Redwood

This tree, again if I am right, is the Sequoia sempervirens (Coast Redwood tree), it was pointed out to us that it was growing here. A tree of the Cypress family.  It is an endangered species.

A beautiful and interesting walk it was, wetting our appetite for more that is for sure.  This garden also contains the Davidia involucrate or Handkerchief tree but I did not see it this time.  It has plenty of Vagus Silvatica (common Beechtrees) growing too.  As I already mentioned the climate in this part of Ireland is sub-tropical, very mild and wet winters, mild summers.  This garden is lying along the coast of the Bantry Bay.

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This is a list of the trees found in the garden.  The list was compiled by John Bevan and can be found here:  John Bevan’s article

And here is a link to the WordPress site of Ellen Hutchins (Botanist) and the Ardnagashel Estate.  There is a lot to explore on the following blog link, I hope you enjoy as much as I did to explore this rich heritage.

Ellen Hutchins – Ardnagashel Estate

 

 

SEAWEEDS OF THE IRISH COAST

Yesterday saw a whole bunch of us interested folks going to explore the arboretum at Ardnagashel in Glengarriff, West Cork, but apart from admiring the wonderful trees we also received lots of information on the seaweeds and lichens along this stretch of coast. Ardnagashel was established by the Hutchins family and it was as part of the Heritage Week of Ireland that these activities took place, in memory of Ellen Hutchins (1785-1815)who was a remarkable Irish Botanist. The talks on the lichens and seaweeds were given by Howard Fox, who is the State Botanist (National Botanic Gardens) and by Maria Cullen. This ‘life’ introduction to the seaweeds and the lichens of the coast of Bantry Bay was so very interesting. a true first introduction in this field for me. Later in the afternoon Madeline Hutchins (Ellen’s great great grand niece) took us through the forested area of this garden and introduced us to some wonderful trees, among them an enormous Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). But more about the trees in another blog.  Now to concentrate on the seaweed for a start.  There is so much information that I took in yesterday and research I want to do on this that I feel delighted (because it’s right here at my doorstep), but I am also a bit overwhelmed because so far in my life I have been concentrating on enlarging my knowledge about wild plants, flowers, insects and spiders of Ireland.  Now this is taking it one step further with looking at lichens and seaweeds.  There are no days enough in the week to enjoy all this abundance of nature, and to do the research.  Needless to say I am a huge amateur in all this. (an enthusiastic one).
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So we learnt that there are three types of seaweeds and they are divided by their colour. These are the greens, reds, and brown seaweeds. There are about 10 000 species.  This particular species is called Fucus serratus L.  (Serrated wrack).  This seaweed is used commercially in the manufacturing of cosmetics and seaweed baths.

Photo on left is Knotted or Egg Wrack (Ascophylum nodosum) with another seaweed growing parasitically (it gets its sugar from the Knotted Wrack) on it, it is called Polysiphonia lanosa. Maria Cullen (right photo) told us to nibble some of the parasite and to me it tasted only like….sea water!  Maria gave us great demonstrations of a variety of seaweeds which she picked straight from the sea there.

Duileasc (Palmaria palmata) a red seaweed, and Nori (Porphyra tenera) and another one of the Wrack seaweeds (Fucus) .

Top right photo is a calcareous red seaweed, Howard is here showing and telling us about the Sea Spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata).  The book I am giving attention to on the right is an excellent cookbook with lots of information on the edible seaweeds.  I bought it for my son-in-law once and he was very pleased with it.

DSCF2696The coast of Bantry Bay is rich in seaweeds, and it’s beautiful too.

Nori seaweed, Laver (Porphyra tenera) in the top left photo is paper thin and edible, much used in countries like Japan of course.  The green seaweed is sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca).  The book on seaweeds looks real interesting and essential if seaweed foraging and identification is taken seriously.

DSCF2706Microscopes and strong magnifying glasses were all available for us to have a look through.

More samples laid out for us to check out and learn about, far more than I can identify right now.  Further in the water there were even more types of seaweeds to be seen.  Howard and Mary never tired of explaining to us all the details, it was such an interesting hour spend on a lovely and warm Saturday afternoon in this beautiful part of Ireland.  My brother Johan and his wife Lorraine who were visiting Glengarriff, were among those interested and it was lovely sharing this time with them too.

CARRAIG ABHAINN GARDENS

Carraig Abhainn Garden which lies in Durrus, West Cork.  It is one of the very interesting, well established and peaceful gardens in the area. It consists of 1-hectare which is bound by a mill stream. An amazing waterfall and further along the tranquil stream add to its charm and serenity. My daughter and I visited it recently with my grandchildren and the garden was loved by one and all. The children found it exciting with all its nooks and crannies, and we adults – although we often become like children when we are surrounded by nature – we just loved the tranquillity of the place. I was particularly interested in the variety of trees and plants, among them a Mimosa tree, a Korean Fir, and a whole range of other exotic trees, even a Banana tree! The variety of other subtropical plants, Palms, Rhododendrons and others was interesting too. I think it would be a lovely garden to visit in the autumn also just because of the variety of trees, although many of them are evergreens, a lot of them are deciduous trees also. I think my photos will speak for itself.  I hope that everyone enjoys the walk through this lovely garden with me.
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20170803_142255After our walk we had a chat with Eugene, the owner together with his wife of this beautiful garden.  Eugene is a goldmine of information on plants and trees and he knows his garden inside out.  I will be visiting again and he promised me a guided tour to which I am looking forward very much.  Here is a link to information on this garden.

http://www.ireland-guide.com/gardens/carraig-abhainn-gardens-.7116.html

 

SHARING MAGIC WITH ALICE

The day started good. Alice is one of my grandchildren, at nine years of age she has a great interest in art and in nature. We spent a day together recently which started with us going to buy clay as that was Alice’s plan for one of our activities. But our first action was to put the hammer to a genode which my grandchildren had gifted me.  After a few knocks we were rewarded with wonderful crystals!

Before long we went into the garden, and as there are lots of wild things growing there at the moment it is naturally attracting quite a bit of wildlife so we went hunting for insects or any creatures we could spot and take pictures of. Alice was the fastest and I heard her call out in delight when she found yet another creature. She was the one spotting the Crab spider, a little white spider of which I had not seen many in our garden so far. She also noticed a curious thing to do with bees, she spotted nine bees that seem to be sucking water from moss, this on the shadow side of our steps leading into the garden proper. Never seen anything like it in my life! Delighted to see the honey bees in our garden though.

The white Crab spider (Misumena Vatia) and the Cucumber spider (Araniella Curcubitina)

Here are some of the honey bees and the moss on the steps from which they seemed to be sucking water.  Curious, and never heard of this before.

Two different types of Harvestmen (Dicranopalpus ramosus) and Saddleback Harvestman (Mitopus morio)

A most beautifully grey and black striped Flesh fly (Sacrophaga bercaea)  It is said that they deposit their larvae on meat or carrion.   They will eat decaying vegetable matter.  I learnt that the majority of this species will feed on small carrion like dead insects and snails.  I’m only reading up on this fly, never knew anything about it before.

Peacock Butterfly

Early in the morning I had a visit from a marvellous looking Peacock butterfly which I had to rescue as it had a bit of spider web on one of its legs, It flew away happily afterwards, but in the meantime it had made my day!

Common Greenbottle fly (Phaenicia sericata), a common garden spider (Araneus Diadematus), and a yellow and black ladybird.

A brown Leaf hopper (Philaenus spumarius) and a Bumblebee which I have been trying to identify but it is not easy, I was wondering if it was the Bombus pascuorum because of it orange thorax and black on its abdomen, but I am not sure about it.

After all our discoveries in the garden and our speculating what the bees were up to, we set to making some fun things in clay, it kept us being creative for a long while.

One of Alice’s craft results, and showing me one of the snails she was feeding with dandelion leaves.  She did release them in the garden before she went home again!  Well that is where they live after all.

What an enjoyable day it was, it is interesting and nice to see a young mind look at nature, ask very many questions and have respect for creatures and enjoyment from observations.

If I have any of the identifications wrong and someone spots it may I please be corrected, I would appreciate that.