19 February 2012

Elf Caps and Squills

Look at that red - it caught my eye in the woods the other day. Walking with friends who were home from Holland for a visit, we ambled through the woods, inhaling the fresh and pungent smell of the wild garlic, chatting, watching Izzy tear through the dead leaves and then, bang! this shouty red on a prostrate tree trunk. So bright, so brash. I think it may be a Scarlet Elf Cap (Sarcoscypha sp., either S. coccinea or S. austriaca?), but fungi are notoriously tricky to identify... Beautiful though, regardless of its identification, and I love its common name. And doesn't it look just like an upside-down elf cap when you see it from the side?

Later in the week, Izzy and I took a very slight detour on the normal morning walk and I was delighted to spot this tiny gathering of wild squills (Scilla verna). I love the garden varieties, but to see them in the (semi-)wild is lovely. Nearby where these are growing I know there'll be anemones later in the spring. And all of this in a very normal suburban park. Great...
When you think of spring colours - do you think yellows? Blues? I tend to think of yellows first, the primroses, the narcissi, the daffs. But blue is such a spring colour too - the wild squills here, and at home in the garden, one of my pots has started to do its thing: the irises are up, such an azure blue.

I especially enjoy these splashes of colour now as otherwise things are looking rather drab in the garden at the moment... lots of beiges and browns still - the soil, the cutback grasses, the frost-burnt Asplenium, the very sporey Hart's tongue ferns. But  I got a wonderful dose of colour on Thursday night when I went to an AGS talk by Deborah Begley who has created an amazing garden down in Co. Limerick: Terra Nova. Such an abundance of colour, such variety of plants, and such an entertaining speaker. She lit up a dark Thursday night and even the cycle home past abandoned, half-built apartment blocks didn't dull the colours in my head.

And today, the spring sunshine cheered us all up. Only 10 minutes drive from the house, we parked the car and went walking in the Dublin hills for almost two hours. The views of the Irish Sea and the Wicklow hills were lovely as always: from the pointed peaks of the Bray Series Quartzites (Bray Head, the little Sugar Loaf and the very pointy Sugar Loaf that many Dubliners still think is an extinct volcano - it's not: ancient marine sands in fact!) to the more rounded domes of the Leinster granite.

Met lots of happy walkers and cyclists, and of course dogs! It was windy (see pic of schnauzer as wind vane), but we didn't care! Spring sunshine is the *best* kind - it always feels like a gift.

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