This past week has been dominated by the weather, with storm Ellen on Wednesday evening/night the centre of disruption. It had come on foot of days of unsettled weather, heavy rain and gusting winds and these conditions have continued since. Gardening was disrupted prior to Ellen’s arrival and difficult afterwards as the conditions continue to be unpleasant and the ground is saturated.
However, there was a reprieve on Tuesday last when the morning broke bright and cheerful, with sunshine and blue skies. and we decided make a run to Kilmore Quay in south Co. Wexford to see Autumn Lady’s Tresses, the last or our native orchids to flower each year. Two of my regular orchid-outing friends had visited in the previous week and had reported a good season – for these orchids have good and bad years, depending on weather, and it seems this year’s rains had brought on an especially good flowering.
The sand dunes at Kilmore Quay, Ballyteige Burrows, are an especially good location for anybody with an interest in wildflowers as you have a variety of environments within a small area – seashore, sand dunes, saltmarsh and agricultural land, so the range of plants is varied and interesting and some are quite rare. Early summer is a good time for orchids and it is these which bring me there.
On Tuesday morning, I wandered to the usual spots where I had seen Autumn Lady’s Tresses on previous years – generally in areas of short grass where the competition is less – and found the usual scattering of plants. Each plant is beautiful, a vertical spiral arrangement of flowers, but I searched on and on for a group, for a group always makes a better photograph and three is always better than two. Such groups can be difficult to find for even though there were plenty of plants they were all in the Covid 19 frame of mind and keeping a sensible social distance!
Mary took off over the dunes to the seashore. She is not as enthusiastic as I for wildflowers and less inclined to dilly dally over them though she has an excellent eye and I often call on her to help spot some of the smaller, elusive and difficult to see species – a sort of orchid hawk-eye. When I reached the beach, Mary was paddling so I wandered a little further along the sand dunes and came, quite accidentally, on a wonderful gathering of the orchids I sought. I stood and counted to 120 before stopping as I was losing track. It was one of those wonderful moments – blue skies and Lady’s Tresses!
Below is a selection of other wildflowers photographed on the day. Clicking on the first image will begin a slideshow and the names should be with each photograph.