Call of the Wildflowers

We admire the strange and brilliant plant of the green-house, but we love most the simple flowers we have loved of old, which have bloomed many a spring, through rain and sunshine, on our native soil.”

― Susan Fenimore Cooper

This post is nothing more than a – wow – look at all these amazing wildflowers post.

After a week wandering around Donegal, I have a new appreciation of wildflowers. Their tenacity to grow in the wildest of places. Their ability to attract hoards of insects and butterflies with their design honed through evolution to suit particular insects. And also…their incredibly beauty.

While we are all busily attending our gardens and buying showy exotics, the natives are quietly living out their lives against the onslaught of modern agriculture, pollution and climate change.

Some of the wildflowers we spotted along the Wild Atlantic Way could easily be incorporated into our own gardens.

Saponaria officinalis L. – Soapwort, Bouncing Bet
Achillea millefolium – Yarrow

Yarrow is not only great for pollinators, it has been used to heal wounds in the past. You may have a cultivated bright pink or yellow variety in your garden, but this one is quite happily wild.

Nature seems to know how to do colour palettes well. At the end of summer yellows and purples abound.

Lotus corniculatus – Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil

Also known as ‘butter and eggs’ – WHAT? These lovely custard slipper like flowers are loved by the common blue, silver-studded blue and wood white butterflies as well as bees.

Lythrum salicaria – Purple Loosestrife

All long-tongued insects love the Loosestrife. Red-tailed bumblebees and Elephant hawk moths love this one.

Centaurea nigra – Common knapweed

This is my new ‘must have’ wildflower – as the insects were drawn to this like a moth to a…well knapweed.

Common Ragwort

If I could rate a number 1 wildflower for pollinators in this part of the world it would be the Ragwort. Friends of the Earth say that actually it rates number 7 – but still – 35 insect species totally rely on ragwort for food and another 83 like to use it as part of their balanced diet.

It’s demonised nature is apparently based on a lot of myth. Although it can be posionous to animals in it’s dried state – a horse would have to eat 7% of its own body weight to be affected. Read the Friends of the Earth briefing report here.

In Duntally woods, near Cresslough we found so many Silver-washed fritillary’s and dragonflies. You could see why, as the woods were full of Field Scabious and Ragwort.

Campanula rotundifolia – Harebells

At twilight on the coast, the Harebells lit up my fairy lamps. In County Antrim, they are known as goblin’s (or Puck’s) thimble!

The kids and I defintely stopped A LOT to smell the flowers and admire the insects. It made a simple walk in the country – an adventure.

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