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My Oh My July

My Oh My July

One of the drivers behind all that we do with Superfolk is to share what we love and learn about nature and the wild environments around us where we live in the west of Ireland. We believe in the philosophy of “know, love, protect”.

We don’t claim to be experts - but we love to look, explore, learn, and share. Here are 6 things that we are looking forward to in the month of July. You might enjoy looking out for some of these too.

1. BILBERRIES

 

July is bilberry time in Ireland. While there is a long rich tradition of wild bilberry picking we have found that it is something that is now unfortunately mostly forgotten. Bilberries grow best in well-drained acid soil beneath a canopy of broadleaf trees. The traditional day to pick bilberries is “Fraochan Sunday” - the third Sunday in July. Though we start earlier, because we just can’t wait. Bilberry, Fraochan, Blaeberry, Whortleberry, Whinberry, Windberry, Myrtle Berry - what do you call them? We are going to make a very simple bilberry jam. The trick we have found in previous years is to allow the taste to mature after making, this really allows a deeper flavour to develop.

Picking Bilberries on a Hill

 

2. MEADOWSWEET

 

Meadowsweet is now in bloom. The scent of meadowsweet in the air for us is really one of the signifiers of high summer. The flowers of meadowsweet can be picked and dried and added to ice creams, vinegars can be made from the leaves and sugar syrups, cordial and wine are options.

Last summer we created and shared a recipe for meadowsweet jelly which is really popular in our house - we make this and serve it with cheese throughout the year. One pot we will set aside to use for our Christmas cheese board - a reminder of the heady days of summer in the darkest days of winter.

Recipe Link: How to bottle a summer evening

 

3. ROCKPOOLING

 

While Spring is really the time for seaweed foraging, these summer months are a great time to get out and explore rockpools for all the magical creatures that live there. One of the best things we bought some years back was a finer mesh rockpooling net. Along with this, we bring a white-bottomed deep tray and a magnifying glass. This really helps with visibility and allows children (and adults) to appreciate the wonder and beauty in the tiniest finds. Of course, always take abundant care when exploring rocky areas of shoreline, watch the tides, and return what you find to the water.

Rockpooling Equipment

 

4. GRASS SEED HEADS

In July grasses grow tall, their seedheads flowing and dancing in the breeze. Take a simple moment to appreciate the beauty and variety of grass types which become more visible at this time of year. I love the different textures and colours of the grass seedheads – rough, chunky, smooth, and delicate. My own July resolution is to learn to identify and name more grass types.

 

5. YOUNG HARES

A young hare is called a leveret (up to one year of age). We have been so lucky to watch one in the garden of our house renovation for the past few weeks. Leverets are born with their eyes open and are left alone during the day, laying in place, to avoid attracting predators. The mother returns at sunset and the leverets gather around her to feed. An individual female hare may have three litters in a year.

More about the Irish Hare

 

6. WILD STRAWBERRIES

While there are boxes of strawberries piled high for sale right now in supermarkets and along the roadside - finding a patch of tiny wild strawberries is still a summer highlight. The taste is stronger and magical, living on in your memory the next time you walk that same patch of woodland. Zoe Devlin writes “The fruits of this plant are really the tiny pips on the surface of the 'strawberry'.  The 'strawberry' is in fact the swollen base of the flower.  I can honestly say that there is nothing to beat eating one of these fruits straight off the plant.”

How to Identify Wild Strawberry

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