Monday 22.03.2021

I have a meeting with a horticulturist. it was raining as I left so took a brolly, down to the bridges to meet JJ feeling bad for bringing him out in the rain, we walked and as we did I found I’d been misnaming the trees, the birch with the oyster is a mountain ash, the big old cedars are Monterey Cypresses, at the snake corner I found that the bank of trees with the starry yellow blossoms are Dogwoods. JJ was delighted to see the anemones and we went looking for the Irish spurge. What I’d thought was it, was actually a more common variety. The Irish Spurge is a Lusitanean plant, meaning it covers an area along the western seaboard, through Spain and Portugal and up along the wild Atlantic Way. It would be at its eastern edge if found in the Glen and quite rare, the Irish spurge has been photographed by a walker and posted to the FotG FB page and JJ would like to see it. Euphorbia hyberna, Bainne caoin, The common name of the spurge comes from the French ‘espurge’ meaning to purge, as the sap can have this effect if taken internally. Handle Spurges with caution as the sap can also damage skin.  Spurges are considered to be poisonous on the Irish Wildflowers page. The common kind is spreading here on a watery carpet under the willow where the hemlock grows.

JJ is delighted to see nature taking a hold, a hands off from the powers that be, those who once instructed the removal of all cotoneasters in the park due to fire blight, a thing that arrived around the time of the mad cow at the turn of the millennium. There is an escapee cotoneaster at the river’s edge by the snake, JJ points out its deep dark evergreens, no red having recently given up its berries to the winter foraging birds, I sense a deep satisfaction about its presence there, a chalking up of a significant victory. We are joined by LJ and her little rescue doggy, Sadie, and we do a round together since the showers have passed, and the sun is there. I am caught up in a space of sibling banter and as they play their roles I find myself wondering who is the elder, names with meanings intertwine between them, Martins, Callaghans, who have been here before, The Engineer’s house, which I know as the (later) O’Briens with its vegetable patch and orchard. We walk by the mysterious circle on the steep bank opposite The Hatch, none of us any the wiser. I hear about the elms who got the dutch beetle in the 1970s, that brought the fungi. In self protection the tree gums up its sap which in turn blocks the nutrients from passing to the upper reaches, and little by little the tree dies back, but ever the survivor, each spring the elm produces new growth close to the roots, and more gummy sap to protect it. Elms propagate via the roots so the fungus moves along with any new tree and there is never the fresh beginning to be had from an escapee seed.

Published by @julforres

Julie Forrester, artist based in Cork City Ireland

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