It has not been a pleasant time with this pandemic but there have been some good moments and it is important to make the most of them – small happinesses are to be celebrated! The restrictions brought on us by Covid 19 has meant that I have been unable to join friends in outings to see native Irish orchids, something we have done over the last few years and something I have enjoyed very much. I have been out to visit a few nearby sites but have missed their company and the selection of plants which can be seen elsewhere. Even with the easing of restrictions I am nervous of travelling and mixing socially and reckon this year will be a non-event as far as seeing orchids goes. There will be next year and I look forward to meeting my friends then.
In the meantime, I have been exploring locally, very locally. As with our gardening and garden plants we often value the exotic and unusual more than the local and common and, in an effort to reverse that trend in myself, I have been looking at the wildflowers which grow close to me, along the roadside outside my house, a stretch of 100 – 150 metres to the end of our road, a stretch without houses and so little danger of unnecessary social contact.
My list of identified plants from this local area is at about fifty at present and will increase a little more as I notice and identify them. The new bridge over the River Suir, The Thomas Francis Meagher Bridge, crosses over the end of our road and it is possible to walk underneath it down to the bank of the river. It is an interesting place for wildflowers, a newly created habitat so to speak, as a great part of it is an area which was built out into the river to accommodate the main and central support of the bridge. This involved bringing in huge amounts of rock, stone and filler to provide a workplace during construction so it is quite different to the surrounding land and has a different selection of plants which makes it interesting.
The local plants have, of course, moved into this area but there are others which are not common hereabouts – Common Centaury, Yellow-wort and an exciting, for me at any rate, discovery I made on Monday: I found two plants of the Common Spotted Orchid growing in the area. I know of no other plants of this species locally so it was an exciting find. I expect seed may have come in with the introduced material during construction but it is amazing that this area was a barren, stony, newly-created site only ten years ago and now has an interesting range of plants growing there. I hope they flourish and increase.