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Easily Overlooked Nature

Easily Overlooked Nature 

This small swamp area could easily be missed if you weren’t looking down but is an example of how much biodiversity can be fit in such a small space. Almost going dormant in winter without flowers or insects, in spring and summer these kinds of mini wetlands burst into life as the water mint, meadowsweet and yellow iris come into bloom, the delicate pink fronds-like flowers of the ragged robin are one to watch out for. The rise in temperature and appearance of flowers brings bees, damselflies and other insects to the area, who fill the air with the quiet chorus of wing beats.

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In the summer you may catch the faint scent of coconut, which comes from the bright yellow flowers of the gorse bush, also called furze or whin. It’s leaves have adapted to form sharp spikes and it is one of the few plants in Ireland that flowers all year round (though it’s tropical smell is strongest in the summer), leading to the old saying, “when gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season”. Later in the year you may see a few crab apples along the trail, as the pollinated flowers of spring and summer grow into the sour fruits of autumn.

Fun fact: Gorse flowers have five petals, which have been described as being like parts of a ship. When opened and viewed head on, the lower petal is called the keel, the two lateral petals the oars, and the wider top petal (which is actually two fused petals) is known as the mast.