Our man Albert Nolan recently visited Clare Glens
Another storm passed us by and nights of high winds are becoming all too frequent. In the morning we headed over to Clare Glens for a change of scenery.
As we walked down from the car park we could hear the sound of the raging river. This flows along a steep and narrow gorge and forms a boundary between Tipperary and Limerick.
Along the roadside hedge holly, ash and elder were growing. There were also a few interesting plants. Navelwort leaves look like a large bellybutton and we were surprised to find a tall clump of bamboo. This is a highly invasive plant and if left unchecked will continue to spread creating a real jungle.
As we entered the woods a Robin was singing. There is a steady but long climb and we took plenty of breaks to examine the wildlife. The shade cast by the tall trees creates unique conditions and plants have to be well adapted to survive here. My garden is also very shady and I picked up some great ideas around plants I can grow in nature’s garden centre.
Also plants have great names and stories and can be enjoyed all year long. The very descriptive enchanter’s nightshade has spikes of small white flowers and flourishes along the path. Herb robert has a pigment that reacts with sunlight turning the whole plant red. The sap from broad and narrow leaved plantain soothe insect bites and nettle stings. Many species of hoverflies (bee and wasp mimics) eat the abundant pollen and nectar from the flowers of the plantains.
Decade by decade conifers appear to be losing the woodland battle as slower grower oak trees take over the canopy. But the recent storm has exposed the oaks Achilles heel. Along the path several trees have been brought down and the roots reveal that they are growing on nothing by stone. Some have discarded large branches in order to survive and these are covered in mosses, lichens and Polypody ferns.
Where there is gaps in the canopy hazel, mountain ash and hawthorn have created an understory. Ivy and honeysuckle are also climbing up through the trees. The extra light also encourages different flower to bloom. Figwort and greater and rosebay willow flower herb brighten up the edge of the path.
Plants can reveal a lot about the hidden world of the soil. Heathers are in flower and the soil must be acidic for them to thrive. We gingerly crossed over a bridge and the force of the river was incredible and we did not linger long.
The side of the bank is more natural and this allows for a bigger adventure. You have to watch your step as there are steep and dangerous falls and stone steps set into steep banks. These steps are intertwined with the roots of trees. In the very muddy parts planks have been laid and there is a feeling of Flanders mud.
Rhododendron dominates most of the path and these are twisted into fantastic shapes. There is a little life under these trees. The red berries of lord and ladies berries are out but these are poisonous. In some places birds and animals have helped sow a little holly wood and woods can change species within a few hundred meters.
As we round the corner we get a very unpleasant smell and came across the adaptly named stink horn fungus. It has a sticky stop that attracts flies and I have not become across this species before.
Before we headed home we pay a quick visit to nearby Glenstal Abbey to plan our nest walk. On the way in we find banana growing in the shelter of the trees. There is also bamboo and this could potential be where one we saw in the Clare Glens came from.
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