It was a wonderful Bealtaine here in West Limerick despite the rain, then this morning the cats arrived for a dawn visit. Here’s Simba, welcoming the light in his own sweet way.
Bealtaine (an Irish word pronounced ‘beeowl tin-eh’) is on May 1st and this is one of my favourite times of year, associated with light, looking towards the Summer, fertillity, and a lot more besides.
The days are brighter, the countryside is beautiful, and nature is flourishing.
Here are some gorgeous bluebells that I came across the other day. Apparently we should avoid picking them because the seeds need to stay exacty where they are in order to produce future generations of flowers. The same goes for the bulbs; if you come across some in a forest or ditch and feel tempted to dig them up for your garden, don’t! Buy native Irish bulbs from a garden centre instead. Ah do.
It turns out that the bluebells in the photo are not natives at all, even though they have the same kind of thin, delicate stems that we find in the Irish variety. Colour is another clue; the native plant has a deeper, richer tone and the flowers dangle to one side, unlike these hybrids.
So why does it even matter if the invasive Spanish bluebell merges with the Irish one to create a new plant?
This is why (there’s nothing nicer than reading sociology theory and being interrupted by a honey bee!). In our whole ecosystem, bees are the most crucial species of all. Familiar food is essential for their nutrition and they need plenty of native Irish wildflowers to source suitable pollen, including the bluebell.
As a side note I also read in many places (online) that the sticky sap produced by the bluebell (or hyacinth bulbs) was used in the 16th century a glue for bookbinding. There is no real evidence listed anwhere so I wonder if that is true. I would be interested in finding out more.
We owe everything to nature and I was glad to discover something new this Bealtaine. If you want to know more about the differences between the bluebell varieties, here is a short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGrWkRw70JU
Kathryn Crowley lives in Limerick, Ireland. Return to main page: https://artyshe.com/