Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

Plants and herbs

Wild Woodbine, a Poem by – Joan McBreen

wild-woodbine-nigel-borrington

Wild Woodbine

Joan McBreen

Wild woodbine was beyond my reach
in the thick hedges round Lough Gill.
The heavy scent filled the house for days
when my father brought it in
and it stayed fresh far longer
then meadowsweet.

Wild Woodbine_1

Because I loved the delicate
pink and white wild rose
he picked it too, cursing the thorns, muttering
“it dies too soon,
you’d be better leaving it alone”.

Wild Woodbine_2

Yet once, when my mother
swept its petals from the floor
I saw him rescue one
and place it carefully
in the small wallet
where he kept her photograph.

Wild Woodbine_3Wild Woodbine


Irish wild plants , Wild Orange Crocosmia

Wild Orange Crocosmia Nigel Borrington 2016

This showy plant graces many country lanes from July to September with a wonderful display of spikes of bright reddish-orange flowers. A familiar sight in the west of Ireland particularly, it is taken by many to be one of our native plants, along with Fuchsia. However, like Fuchsia, this is an introduction to our shores and is a hybrid between two South African species.

Common Name: 	Montbretia Scientific Name: 	Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora Irish Name: Fealeastram dearg

Common Name: Montbretia
Scientific Name: Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora
Irish Name: Fealeastram dearg

Nevertheless it is a very attractive sight and seems to blend in to our landscape, particularly in places where it grows alongside our native Purple Loosetrife. The flowers (25-55mm) are in a one-sided loose panicle and have a corolla which is tubed with six lobes. The three stamens protrude. The grass-like leaves are long and narrow. This plant belongs to the family Iridaceae.

This plant was named after Coquebert de Montbret (1780-1801) who was a French botanist who accompanied Napoleon when he invaded Egypt in 1798 and who died there at the age of 20. However, horticulturists also refer to this plant as ‘Crocosmia’ which comes from the Greek ‘krokos’ – saffron – and ‘osme’ – smell. I am told that they smell of saffron when placed in water but honestly I cannot confirm that this is so.


County Kilkenny Landscapes and a Poem : Like Barley Bending, Sara Teasdale (1884 – 1933)

Barley Field County Kilkenny  Nigel Borrington

Barley Field
County Kilkenny
Nigel Borrington

Like Barley Bending

Like barley bending
In low fields by the sea,
Singing in hard wind
Ceaselessly;

Like barley bending
And rising again,
So would I, unbroken,
Rise from pain;

Barley in Kilkennys fields Nigel Borrington 02

So would I softly,
Day long, night long,
Change my sorrow
Into song.

Barley in Kilkennys fields Nigel Borrington 01


The Tree a poem by Tom Splitt

The Tree  Nigel Borrington

The Tree
Nigel Borrington

The Tree

by Tom Splitt

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Anchored deep in the earth
Reaching high in the sky
The calm quiet strength of a tree

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Full of life from its roots
To the tiniest branch
The calm quiet strength of a tree

And oh, how it comforts me
How it teaches me
Without a sound
Then I realize at once
That this tree and I are one
In eternity

The calm quiet strength of a tree
From the weight of its trunk
To its delicate leaves
The calm quiet strength of a tree

The calm quiet strength of a tree
Showing anyone near
All the secrets of time
The calm quiet strength of a tree


Bog cotton on the red bog, A Poem CHARLOTTE GRACE O’BRIEN (1845 – 1909)

bog cotton fields 7

BOG COTTON ON THE RED BOG

A Poem by
CHARLOTTE GRACE O’BRIEN (1845 –1909)
Foynes in June 1895

“ O STRONG-WINGED birds from over the moorland dark,
On this June day what have you seen?
Where have you been? ”

Where, oh! where
The golden yellow asphodel makes its boggy home,
And far and near, Spreading in broad bands of silvery silky foam
O’er the moorland drear, The slender stemmed bog cotton bends in waves of light,
Shaking out its shining tufts for its own delight,There, oh! there We have been.

“O sweet sky piercing, heaven mounting lark,
On this June day what have you seen?”

I have seen—I have seen
The dark red bog and the king fern green,
And the black
black pools lying dim between,–
The baby heather that blossoms so soon
In the splendid heat that comes after June–

———————–

Charlotte Grace O’Brien
was born in County Limerick, the daughter of
William Smith O’Brien who was a Conservative Member of Parliament for County Limerick; she championed the cause for better conditions for those emigrating to America.

Bog cotton on the red bog, images Gallery

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bog cotton fields 3

bog cotton fields 2


Three Poems about Orchid’s

Early_Marsh-Orchid_01

Faranani
Feb 23, 2014

Purple Orchid

“Purple Orchid”
A symbol of rare beauty
Exotic. Delicate. Mysterious
Precious, in every way
Lost in a tropical land of
Purple Haze,
I am there
Whispering with a tinge of
Innocence yet wild
With passionate dark desires.
A calm stability of blue and
The fierce energy of red
Stimulating mystery and thrill,
A darkened flower
Of refined passion
With strikingly lush petals,
Intoxicating.
In his mind,
I am
A
Purple Orchid

Orchid_02

Kayden Fittini
Apr 23, 2015

Petals of an Orchid

Graceful curve of the flower enriched with mystery
melting away any bubbling misery
walking towards the beauty.

(I’m looking to pull this special flower today.)

Wait shall I praise the wonderous bloom
with fragrant colors infused within me soon
something to admire on a daily
choosing between multiple types that look equally lovely.

(I just want to love you.)

The vanilla scent which never fades
you rose from a bed of vibrant shades
to hold and caress –
in your walk stems artistic introduction
keep me within your symmetrical seduction

And in your radiance glimmers across the horizon and seas
its in your nature to please while you tease –
but i cant lie, your approach continues with ease.
to compare your style with nature only makes sense.
how lucky can one be to build a connection that’s so intense!

I pluck the fascinating petals of an orchid.

Orchid_03

Colin Carpenter
Apr 12, 2013

Wild Orchids

Your colors diffuse in hushed streaks
across synapses,
as empty spaces also become orchids
and butterfly petals reach for a scent
their counterparts in rain.
A fringed April is actually an orchid.


Wild flowers and Woodland plants , Viola riviniana

Common Dog Violet Viola riviniana Nigel Borrington

Common Dog Violet
Viola riviniana
Nigel Borrington

At this time of the year our local woodlands here in county Kilkenny fill with new life and colours, one of the the wild flowers I love the most are the Violets.

They are a familiar little wildflower of the woodlands and grassy hedge-banks, this plant is quite similar to Early Dog-violet and is easily confused. The unscented, blue-violet flower is always solitary on the stem, and is open with five petals, the lower of which has a stout, blunt, pale, curved spur which is notched at the tip.

The mouth of the flower is absolutely wonderful to view through a hand-lens or magnifying glass. It has a pattern of deep purple lines which run into the throat over a paler violet patch, becoming white. The upper petals have a fringe which is over the opening. The dark-green, heart-shaped leaves are on long, slender stalks. This native plant which blooms from April until June is a larval foodplant of the Dark Green Fritillary. It belongs to the family Violaceae.

‘Look at us, said the violets blooming at her feet, all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you’.

Edward Payson Roe 1838-1888

‘I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.’

William Shakespeare 1564 -1616


Spring time Gorse flower in Irish mythology and culture

Gorse flowers  Nigel Borrington

Gorse flowers
Nigel Borrington

Gorse flowers in the Irish Landscape

Gorse is very common here in county Kilkenny but this does not make it any less loved by many, as it flowers in springtime. Many of the hills sides and woodland areas come to life with their yellow flowers.

Gorse, also known as furze, is a sweet scented, yellow flowered, spiny evergreen shrub that flowers all year round.

In fact, there are several species of gorse that flower at different times of the year making it a much-loved plant for the bees and giving it the appearance of being in bloom all year long. There is an old saying that goes, “When the gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season.”

Gorse flowers - in mythology Nigel Borrington 03

Gorse is often associated with love and fertility. It was for this reason that a sprig of gorse was traditionally added to a bride’s bouquet and gorse torches were ritually burned around livestock to protect against sterility. However, one should never give gorse flowers to another as a gift for it is unlucky for both the giver and receiver.

Monday Mornings in Kilkenny 02
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Beltane bonfires

Gorse wood was used as very effective tinder. It has a high oil content which means it burns at a similar high temperature to charcoal. The ashes of the burnt gorse were high in alkali and used to make soap when mixed with animal fat.

Onn, meaning gorse, is the 17th letter of the ogham alphabet. It equates to the English letter O.

In Celtic tradition, gorse was one of the sacred woods burned on the Beltane bonfires, probably the one that got them started. It was a shrub associated with the spring equinox and the Celtic god of light, Lugh, doubtlessly because of its ever blooming vibrant yellow flowers.

In Brittany, the Celtic summer festival of Lughnastdagh, named after the god, was known as the Festival of Golden Gorse.

Gorse flowers - in mythology Nigel Borrington 01


Flowers used in wine and whiskey

The flowers have a distinct vanilla-coconut aroma and are edible with an almond-like taste. They can be eaten raw on salads or pickled like capers. They have also been used to make wine and to add colour and flavour to Irish whiskey. However, consuming the flowers in great numbers can cause an upset stomach due to the alkalis they contain.

The prickly nature of gorse gave it a protective reputation, specifically around livestock. As well as providing an effective hedgerow, gorse made an acceptable flea repellent and the plant was often milled to make animal fodder.

Irish Gorse flowers Nigel Borringtpn

Irish Gorse flowers
Nigel Borrington

Gorse in Irish Culture

Gorse is the 15th letter of the Gaelic tree alphabet, representing O. Its old Gaelic name was Onn, and in modern Gaelic it is conasg. It’s a prickly shrub, which can almost always be found in flower somewhere, all twelve months of the year, and this means it has many positive connotations in folklore.
Snippets of lore

Here are the titbits of fact and folklore about pine tweeted by @cybercrofter on 15 December 2011.

Gorse is the 14th letter of the Gaelic tree alphabet, for O – in old Gaelic it was onn or oir (gold). In Modern Gaelic it’s conasg.

Conasg (Gaelic for gorse) means prickly or armed, appropriately enough as it’s the spiniest plant around.

As gorse’s branches, twigs and leaves are all spiny, which reduces water loss, it can survive extreme exposure to wind and salt.

Other regional names for gorse are whin or furze. In latin, it’s Ulex europaeus.

Here’s a lovely short Harry Rutherford poem about gorse. http://heracliteanfire.net/2009/01/26/poem/

Gorse bears yellow flowers all year round, and as they say, ‘When gorse is in bloom, kissing is in season.’

Gorse is a symbol of the sun god Lugh, as it carries a spark of sun all year.

Bees love gorse and it’s a good source of food for them on warm winter days and in early spring.

In late spring, gorse flowers smell of coconut and vanilla.

Here’s a poem from me, The Gorse is out behind Glencanisp. Audio too. http://www.pankmagazine.com/the-gorse-is-out-behind-glencanisp/

A decoction of gorse flowers counters jaundice.

Gorse seed pods explode in hot sun.

Gorse fixes nitrogen due to symbiosis with a bacterium in the roots.

Horses that eat gorse don’t catch colds (but presumably end up with perforated gums…)

The fierce fire of furze is ideal for baking.

Gorse boughs were used for creel-making. Ouch.

Gorse is a good windbreak and a gorse bush is the best place to dry washing – it naturally pins it in place.

A bundle of gorse is excellent for sweeping chimneys.

Here’s a recipe for gorse flower wine. http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/brewing/fetch-recipe.php?rid=gorse-flower-wine

Gorse flowers give yellow and green dyes.

Gorse bark gives a dark green dye. Add a bucket of urine and wait 3 hours.

Yellowed gorse, a poem by Fay Slimm http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/yellowed-gorse/

A missing home gorse poem, by Francis Duggan http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/i-d-love-to-see-the-gorse-in-bloom/

Gorse lifts the spirits of the downhearted, and restores faith.

Festival of the Golden Gorse is celebrated on 1 August (Lughnasa).

Gorse protects against witches.

Gorse’s magic is good for bringing a piece of work, a project, a relationship or a troublesome thing to a complete and final end.

Gorse symbolises joy.

Remember the nitrogen-fixing? Grow gorse for 7 years and the ground will be excellent for corn.

In 1778 a gorse crushing mill was set up in Perth. One acre of crushed gorse bushes will keep 6 horses in fodder for 4 months.

Bring gorse into the house in May to ‘bring in the summer’.

Giving someone gorse flowers is unlucky, for both giver and receiver. Best keep them for yourself!


Irish landscape Images for the week – (Monday) Irish bog lands.

Connemara National Park Galway 5

During this week, I just wanted to return to some of my most loved Irish Landscape locations and Monday today’s post I want to share some images I have taken since 2014, these relate to the Irish Bog and Peat lands of the Irish Midlands and the West coast.

Ireland has internationally important peat/bog lands but they are always under serious threat. Over the last few years the Irish government has protected areas of special conservation from historic family rights to cut peat in these areas, a decision that created problems for some but one that was very much needed in order to start the process of returning the bog’s to a point of growth and sustainability.

I love these locations, they are remote and full of life both plant and wild life and I feel like many others that they do need very special care and support.

When you visit locations like the Bog of Allen, you can see a contrast between the areas that are still wild and untouched and the areas that have been harvested for peat, when you see this contrast and its different effects on local bio-diversity you would only hope that one day we can find a less damaging way to heat our homes and produce energy.

Irish Bog-lands Gallery

Connemara National Park Galway 4

Connemara National Park Galway 3

Connemara National Park Galway 2

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 5

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 1

Will I get to see the Bog cotton again 2

The bog of Allen 2

The bog of Allen 3

The bog of Allen 4

The bog of Allen 5

The bog of Allen 6


Kilkenny landscapes (harvest time) , The Harvest Poem by Duncan Campbell Scott

Kilkenny landscape images  August in black and white 5

The Harvest

Written by Duncan Campbell Scott

Sun on the mountain,
Shade in the valley,
Ripple and lightness
Leaping along the world,
Sun, like a gold sword
Plucked from the scabbard,
Striking the wheat-fields,
Splendid and lusty,
Close-standing, full-headed,
Toppling with plenty;
Shade, like a buckler
Kindly and ample,
Sweeping the wheat-fields
Darkening and tossing;
There on the world-rim
Winds break and gather
Heaping the mist
For the pyre of the sunset;
And still as a shadow,
In the dim westward,
A cloud sloop of amethyst
Moored to the world
With cables of rain.

Kilkenny landscape images  August in black and white 6

Acres of gold wheat
Stir in the sunshine,
Rounding the hill-top,
Crested with plenty,
Filling the valley,
Brimmed with abundance,
Wind in the wheat-field
Eddying and settling,
Swaying it, sweeping it,
Lifting the rich heads,
Tossing them soothingly
Twinkle and shimmer
The lights and the shadowings,
Nimble as moonlight
Astir in the mere.

Laden with odors
Of peace and of plenty,
Soft comes the wind
From the ranks of the wheat-field,
Bearing a promise
Of harvest and sickle-time,
Opulent threshing-floors
Dusty and dim
With the whirl of the flail,
And wagons of bread,
Sown-laden and lumbering
Through the gateways of cities.

Kilkenny landscape images  August in black and white 2

When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles,
Bending and grasping,
Shearing and spreading;
When will the gleaners
Searching the stubble
Take the last wheat-heads
Home in their arms ?

Ask not the question! –
Something tremendous
Moves to the answer.

Hunger and poverty
Heaped like the ocean
Welters and mutters,
Hold back the sickles!

Millions of children
Born to their mothers’ womb,
Starved at the nipple, cry,–
Ours is the harvest!
Millions of women
Learned in the tragical
Secrets of poverty,
Sweated and beaten, cry,–
Hold back the sickles!
Kilkenny landscape images  August in black and white 1

Millions of men
With a vestige of manhood,
Wild-eyed and gaunt-throated,
Shout with a leonine
Accent of anger,
Leaves us the wheat-fields!

When will the reapers
Strike in their sickles?
Ask not the question;
Something tremendous
Moves to the answer.

Long have they sharpened
Their fiery, impetuous
Sickles of carnage,
Welded them aeons
Ago in the mountains
Of suffering and anguish;
Hearts were their hammers
Blood was their fire,
Sorrow their anvil,
(Trusty the sickle
Tempered with tears;)
Time they had plenty-
Harvests and harvests
Passed them in agony,
Only a half-filled
Ear for their lot;
Man that has taken
God for a master
Made him a law,
Mocked him and cursed him,
Set up this hunger,
Called it necessity,
Put in the blameless mouth
Juda’s language:
The poor ye have with you
Always, unending.

But up from the impotent
Anguish of children,
Up from the labor
Fruitless, unmeaning,
Of millions of mothers,
Hugely necessitous,
Grew by a just law
Stern and implacable,
Art born of poverty,
The making of sickles
Meet for the harvest.

Kilkenny landscape images  August in black and white 3

And now to the wheat-fields
Come the weird reapers
Armed with their sickles,
Whipping them keenly
In the fresh-air fields,
Wild with the joy of them,
Finding them trusty,
Hilted with teen.

Swarming like ants,
The Idea for captain,
No banners, no bugles,
Only a terrible
Ground-bass of gathering
Tempest and fury,
Only a tossing
Of arms and of garments;
Sexless and featureless,
(Only the children
Different among them,
Crawling between their feet,
Borne on their shoulders;)
Rolling their shaggy heads
Wild with the unheard-of
Drug of the sunshine;
Tears that had eaten
The half of their eyelids
Dry on their cheeks;
Blood in their stiffened hair
Clouted and darkened;
Down in their cavern hearts
Hunger the tiger,
Leaping, exulting;
Sighs that had choked them
Burst into triumphing;
On they come, Victory!
Up to the wheat-fields,
Dreamed of in visions
Bred by the hunger,
Seen for the first time
Splendid and golden;
On they come fluctuant,
Seething and breaking,
Weltering like fire
In the pit of the earthquake,
Bursting in heaps
With the sudden intractable
Lust of the hunger:
Then when they see them-
The miles of the harvest
White in the sunshine,
Rushing and stumbling,
With the mighty and clamorous
Cry of a people
Starved from creation,
Hurl themselves onward,
Deep in the wheat-fields,
Weeping like children,
After ages and ages,
Back at the mother the earth.
Find a place in the mountains

Night in the valley,
Gloom on the mountain,
Wind in the wheat,
Far to the southward
The flutter of lightning,
The shudder of thunder;
But high at the zenith,
A cluster of stars
Glimmers and throbs
In the gasp of the midnight,
Steady and absolute,
Ancient and sure