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Wildflowers remind me of the colour patches on sheeps’ behinds, or those glow-in-the-dark stickers that adorned my childhood bedroom ceiling. The nights slide across, rolled under. And just like that, the bright yellow coconutty vanilla smell of spring hits. 



Knee-deep in crop plans, farmers may not always see wildflowers as headliners. Often overlooked, they offer precious habitats for the thousand or so species of pollinating insects of Ireland. Research shows that dedicating a mere 1.25 to 2.5 hectares of wildflowers for every 100 hectares of crops can markedly enhance pollinator populations. The benefits extend beyond pollinator support, as grass margins enriched with wildflowers act as natural buffers, combating weed grass intrusion and providing homes for insect allies that prey on pest species. 



The colour of a tennis ball, gorse (ulex europaeus) is a native Irish wildflower with a prickly exterior, tales weaving around its hardy nature. This bush is quite forgiving, for it is said to possess the power to ward off mischief – some would even craft a brush from its stems to sweep away evil. Irritating and tough to the touch as a man’s stubble, the yellow petals in my hands, curved.


Bluebells (hyacinthoides), these little beauties, have a special place in Irish folklore. Fairies adore them. Beyond simple friends, they act as bodyguards of the plant world, protecting humankind from witches and other nasty spirits. People in Ireland used to tie bluebells to their cows’ necks to keep the witches away. 


There’s this incredible legend too about Sadhbh, a beautiful woman turned into a deer by a druid’s spell for refusing to cave to his advances. Oisín, her son, went on this epic adventure and ended up in Tír na nÓg – land of eternal youth. Where Sadhbh used to run as a deer, you’ll find bluebells today, a symbol of this heart-tugging love story woven into the very fabric of Irish mythology.


Confetti-like blossoms, endless hedges, the whitethorn (crataegus monogyna) is rather iconic on Irish soils. Come spring, many pollinators including our native Irish Honeybee, find it a vital source of nectar and pollen. A captivating post-pollination transformation unfolds as its white flowers shift from common white to a delicate pink, deepening into a rich hue before bidding farewell to the petals. One side of the bush – I hear the south one – starts the dance first, leaving the tree adorned with both white and pink flowers simultaneously, mirroring the ever-changing moods of Irish landscapes. 

And don’t forget, many wildflowers are supposed to be home to fairies. Disturb it, and misfortune may follow.


Green Sod Ireland has this wild notion that there is pure beauty in the unruly, sheer magic in the messy, and a whole bag of wonder in letting your grass do its thing. Why don’t we give the lawnmower a day off or two, and embrace the chaos, maybe even throw a few native Irish seed bombs into our patches of green ? Resist the mow, toss some seed bombs, and do check they’re the legit local type first. They will soon release their nectar and pollen so many native species crave.


References :

Native, B. (2023). Why Irish farmers should include wildflower mixtures in their sowing plans. Connecting to Nature. https://connectingtonature.ie/blogs/news/farmers-include-wildflowers-in-spring-sowing-plans#:~:text=Wildflowers

Sewell, D. (2014). Up close #038; personal with gorse. Greenside Up. https://greensideup.ie/gorse/ 

Sinead. (2023). Experience the enchanting magic of bluebells at Lough Derg – Discover Lough Derg. https://discoverloughderg.ie/experience-the-enchanting-magic-of-bluebells-at-lough-derg/ 

Bomb, S., & Bomb, S. (2023). How native Irish seed bombs benefit to bees ? | Seed bomb. Wildflower Seed Bomb | Native Irish Wildflowers – Wildflower Native Irish Seeds  https://seedbomb.ie/2015/02/how-native-seed-bombs-wildflower-benefits-to-the-bees-bees-butterflies/ 

Bäckmo, H. (2023). Whitethorn : A tale of Irish folklore, Bees & # 038 ; Colour-Changing Flowers. Hanna’s Bees. https://hannasbees.ie/whitethorn-folklore-bees-colour-changing-flowers/  

Photos by Rory MacCanna: https://www.flickr.com/people/maccannarory/, gorse pic by Hélène Marotine