Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)

It’s Wimbledon time again and even if you have no interest in tennis what a great excuse for adults and children to enjoy local strawberries over the next few weeks while getting one of your five a day. Technically not a berry at all (as a berry has seeds on the inside) strawberries are the only fruit that wear their seeds on the outside.

Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

The Pin Oak (sometimes called Spanish or Swamp Oak) is native to North America where entire forests of it grow. It was introduced to the UK in the 1800’s and has become a common sight in our parks and gardens due to it being very fast growing and easy to transplant compared to other Oak species. It likes both free draining and moist soils and is pollution tolerant so makes a great street tree for our towns and cities.

Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Not to be confused with its smaller relative, the ‘Ox-eye’ Daisy is our largest native member of the daisy family. At a height of up to 65cm, its large round flower heads sway in even the slightest breeze. The flower is about 5cm in diameter and normally contains around 20 pure white florets (these look like petals) which surround a bright yellow ‘eye’. The ‘eye’ is made up of many tiny flowers that create, the one large yellow disc. The plant produces an abundant number of flat seeds that when released remain viable in the soil for 2-3 years. 

Living the Green Way

This week we celebrated all things sustainable with a ‘Living the Green Way’ festival which aimed to help us all learn how to live greener, more sustainable lives.

Along with attending our first Connswater Community Greenway ‘What’s Growing’ photo exhibition (coming soon to a Library and Leisure centre near you!) we popped down to two of the planting and growing events which were demonstrating what you could grow along your Greenway.

Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

The Common Spotted-Orchid gets this name because it is one of the most widespread of our native orchid species. Orchids are one of the largest plant families in the world, with approximately 25,000 different species. This type alone is said to have 30 different variations of which Kew Gardens have only officially recognised 7 on their Word Checklist of plants. So the Orchid family is big and still growing.

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)

Cow Parsley is a tall plant you may recognise from rural roadside verges. It’s also thriving on the Connswater Community Greenway appearing rapidly over the last few weeks along our riversides, woodland edges and hedges, bringing a bit of the country to the city.

Wildflowers

Spring is an amazing time on the Greenway, with new plants appearing every week for us to enjoy. It’s a pleasure to get out there and experience the diversity of wildflowers on our doorstep. Sometimes appearing en masse taking over large areas or hiding in more secluded locations waiting to be discovered, wildflowers live up to their name as you're never really sure what you may find.

Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

The Common Bluebell will be a familiar wildflower to walkers and native nature lovers. It is most commonly found within woodlands and is an indicator of our ancient woodland ecosystems. The flower is best suited to the quiet and sheltered woodland environment and it makes most use of the sunlight that reaches the woodland floor in spring before the trees come out in full leaf casting a heavier shade.

Photo credit: Paul Hunter, Cregagh Glen

Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)

BBC Radio Ulster Gardeners Corner visited us in C.S. Lewis Square this week and commented on the large pine trees being used as the backbone of the new planting there. We used a number of different pines to create a bit of Narnia but the versatile and native Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) was one of the first on our planting plan.

Snowbell (Allium triquetrium)

Allium triquetrium (snowbell) is a plant you might have considered as many other things, possibly a white bluebell, wild garlic or maybe a snowdrop. This could be why it has attributed so many names, most commonly; three-cornered garlic, three-cornered leek, onion weed, three-sided snowbell, to name a few. It can be identified by its garlic /onion smell, its three narrow leaves and an upright three angled stem that bears white bell shaped flowers. The plant is about 30cm high.