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Showing posts from August, 2014

Late summer late dawn

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The sun has not risen above the ground behind me and the dry grassland in the immediate foreground still has a dawn gloaming greyness. Beyond this umbra, the day is already starting with the slope on the other side of a now dry watercourse boasting a golden hue. It is the end of August and whilst the days are hotter than they have been at any time this summer, the nights are lengthening. I stand in the freshness of a late summer dawn and it is almost eight in the morning.

I watch the parched meadow in front of me gradually change tone as the front of light advances. Then a distraction. From an unseen spot to my left a shape takes off and crossing my vision passes the massive silent form of an Eagle Owl. It flies in the mountain's shadow, low above the ground with rather deep but slow wingbeats, almost gentle rather than forced, but oozing power. It settles for a few minutes, again out of view in a gully before taking off to find an exposed perch, on the bank beside the very track…

Gleaming glossy green

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Whilst the herbaceous plants and grasses around it are withered and dry, there is an intense glossiness of its leaves, which appear gleaming and shiny. Somehow, the Strawberry Tree bucks the late summer feel, instead of seeming tired, there is an innate vigour, a flourish even. It always seems to be in the middle of doing something....the clusters of flower buds are forming, just centimetres from the dangling slowly ripening fruit. Now green, these will be strawberry-red in the the autumn, just as the gorgeous little white bell flowers will be attracting bees. An autumn contrast of fruit and flowers (see the photo above). The dark green, oval leaves which are barely serrated on the margins, also contrast with the rich mahogany-coloured bark. Deep bold colours.

I first met the Strawberry Tree when a student on a field course in southwest Ireland. The population there is the most northerly in the world and the species was described as an indicator of the Luscitanian flora. The extreme …