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Mother Nature Confused In Thurles.

Mother Nature continues to remain somewhat confused here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Pics: G. Willoughby

Berberis (Barberry) (Top Picture Above)
The attractive, easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub Berberis (Barberry) loved for its abundant bright orange flowers, which are normally expected in late March to May, was in bloom yesterday, some 5 months early.
These evergreens shrubs bear small blue-black shaded berries much loved by our feathered friends, (birds).

Primroses (Irish: Sabhaircín) (Bottom Picture Above)
Meanwhile, our dainty and colourful wild primroses (from the Latin word ‘primus’, meaning ‘first’.) which can be found decorating grassy banks, woodlands and roadsides, have not been fooled and appear to be on schedule to bloom in early or mid-December.

Both the flowers and leaves of the Primrose are edible; the flavour ranging between mild lettuce and more bitter salad greens.

More importantly, Primroses are beneficial as an excellent early source of nectar for bees, as well as an attractive flower to brighten up your outdoor spaces.

Also keep in mind that according to Irish folklore, when primroses are positioned near your front doorway, same protects your home from an unwelcome visit by the fairies. In Ireland, fairies were blamed for stealing babies and children, especially boys with blue eyes and fair hair, leaving fairy substitutes in their place; so do take care. You have been warned.


Mother Nature May Have Lost Her Engagement Book.

The Daffodil [In Irish – Llus an chromchinn – Literal translation- Flower with bent head] is considered one of the most popular heralds of Irish springtime; its flaming yellow or snow white flowers waving from our rural and urban gardens and along the edges of our Irish roads.

Best planted in September, bulbs spend several months developing roots, before usually emerging in late January and early February; flowering between the end of February and on into April.

However, here in Thurles all of that has changed and for the second year in succession, we note that long established clumps of Daffodils have been appearing above ground, since mid-October last.

We also have reports of hellebores in bloom, same not due to show their lovely faces until mid-January.

The bisexual flowers of the Magnolia bush, [latter has both a functional male stamen and a female pistil], named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol, is a much awaited attraction at the beginning of each year. However, here in Thurles same is ready to bloom again for the 2nd time in just 12 months, almost 12 weeks before its correct flowering season.

Perhaps Thurles should host the 28th session of the UN Climate Change Conference [COP], as certainly Mother Nature here in Tipperary is taking an unexpected seasonal course and she appears to have lost her personal organizer or engagement book.


Pheasant’s Tail Grass (Anemanthele lessoniana)

Pheasant’s Tail grass in late September (Anemanthele lessoniana).
Pic. G. Willoughby.

Fast-growing, frost hardy, Pheasant’s Tail grass (Anemanthele lessoniana), which enjoys full sun or partial shade, will provide all year-round colour in your garden, while also offering a certain movement and structure.

Pheasant’s Tail grass enjoys moderately fertile, medium to light, well-drained soil and will form a fountain-like clump of slender colourful foliage; its blades emerging first as healthy, green shoots, before quickly changing to irregular yellow, orange, brown and red streaks.

Like so many other plants, during the colder months of the year, these grass blade colours become much more intense; worthy of beholding especially if planted and viewed in an area, to the fore of where the sun either rises or sets.

An added bonus are the sprays of airy grass flower heads, which will emerge in August/September. It does self-seed, but unwanted plants can easily be removed or simply potted up and given to other lovers of gardening. Seed-heads do provide a winter food source for finches and other seed-eating birds.

In spring, as your garden comes back to life, you can easily tease out any deceased foliage by gently and safely running your fingers through its gentle blades.


June 2nd 2022 – Shame On Thurles Municipal District Councillors.

Empty flower beds and empty dirty flower containers, Thurles June 1st, 2022

Today is June 2nd, 2022, and as yet not one flower container or flower bed has been planted this year by Thurles Municipal District Council staff.

Perhaps one of our local councillors might like to communicate to the public on why this has been allowed to happen.

Before the introduction of Property Tax all of our flower containers and hanging baskets were planted. Today, no public hanging basket exists and expensive flower containers remain filthy and empty of plants, except for what seeded itself over last year.

Thurles Railway Bridge, 1st June, 2022.

Yes, we have some large new pink flower containers on Liberty Square filled with “Box Hedging” and lavender-blue flowered “Catmint”, but these containers also are being neglected, with much evidence of “Dock” plants and “Yellow Rocket Cress”, same never ever intended for planting.

Thankfully, Thurles Shopping Centre and Lidl Supermarket have privately set the example, with both premises shaming Thurles Municipal District Council officials and our local elected councillors.

River Suir Thurles yesterday, June 1st, 2022.

Between poor street surfaces, a river that currently looks like an open sewer and street lighting burning 24 hours each day; 4 questions:
(1) Why do we need a tourist office?
(2) Why do we continue to pay Property Tax?
(3) Why do we continue to pay the salaries of failed administrators?
(4) Why are Thurles residents accepting poor standards of administration in complete silence?


Trachycarpus fortunei – Another Reason To Look Skyward In Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

We regularly recommend the people of Thurles and their temporary elected public servants to focus their gaze more upwards these days, away from their mobile phones screens.
Reason being that the public can more readily view how taxes from hard earned income is being wasted, e.g. 29 street lights burning 24 hours each day, 24 of them for over 3 months.

For all you flower lovers out there, I am happy to relate that there is now another reason to stand and stare skyward. Yes, the “Trachycarpus fortunei” or “Chinese windmill palm“, has burst into bloom here in Thurles.

Trachycarpus fortunei” or “Chinese windmill palm Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Also known as “Chusan palm“, this solitary 45 year old, 25ft hardy evergreen palm tree, in the family Arecaceae and native to parts of China, Japan, Myanmar and India, can be viewed in all its glory in O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre, latter situated on the Mill Road, east of the town centre and well know, throughout Ireland, as the home of rare plants.

The tree is a single-stemmed fan palm which can grow between 12–20 m (39–66 ft) high with a trunk diameter of 15–30 cm (6–12 in). Each leaf is 140–190 cm (4 ft 7 in – 6 ft 3 in) long, with the stalk that connects the blade with the leaf base (petiole) some 60–100 cm (2 ft 0 in – 3 ft 3 in) long, and the leaflets up to 90 cm (2 ft 11 in) long.

The flowers, as the picture shows are yellow (male) and greenish (female), measuring about 2–4 mm (3⁄32–5⁄32 in) across, borne in large branched panicles up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) long in spring; with male and female flowers produced on separate trees (dioecious). The fleshy fruit is of a yellow to blue-black, kidney-shape, with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed 10–12 mm (13⁄32–15⁄32 in) in length , which ripens in mid-autumn.

One of the hardiest of palms, “Chinese windmill palm” has been cultivated in China and Japan, for thousands of years for its coarse but very strong leaf sheath fibre, used in the making of rope, sacks, and other coarse cloth where great strength is important.

The species was first brought from Japan (Dejima) to Europe by the German physician Philipp Franz von Siebold * in 1830. Its more common name, “Chusan palm” refers to Chusan Island (now Zhoushan Island), where Robert Fortune first saw cultivated specimens.

* Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold (1796 – 1866) was a German physician, botanist and traveler. He achieved prominence by his studies of Japanese flora and fauna and the introduction of Western medicine in Japan. He was the father of the first female Japanese doctor educated in Western medicine.

In 1849, Robert Fortune * smuggled plants from China to the Kew Horticultural Gardens, London and the Royal garden of Prince Albert, East Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, hence the later name Trachycarpus fortunei, after Robert Fortune.

* The Scottish botanist Robert Fortune was also commissioned by the East India Company to steal tea from China; one of the greatest heists and pieces of corporate espionage carried out in human history, that resulted in dislodging one monopoly and establishing the British East India Trade company, as the largest producer of tea.