Growing wild

Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist

PRIMROSE: Look out for the first primroses, peeping out on south facing banks. Delicate pale yellow petals deep yellow in the centre converge into a long tube. This contains nectar at the base, which is only accessible to long-tongued species of bumblebees, bee-flies and butterflies. Bee-flies have two wings but otherwise look like bees.

A butterfly whose lifecycle is in tune with primroses is the brimstone butterfly. The male has luminous yellow wings while the female is pale green. They emerge from hibernation now having overwintered as adults and feed on primroses on sunny days. Primroses nó sabhaircín are widely recognised and welcomed as one of the signs of spring – part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Picture of the Week

Ruairí Craig with his pet lamb on his grandad’s farm. \Submitted by David Craig. Co. Meath

Quote of the week

'We’re the only abalone farm in Ireland now, and we’re facing a seed [for abalone brood stock] conundrum. We produce our own, but we also used to get seed from another Irish hatchery [no longer in existence]. We currently only have four settlement tanks, so that limits our ability to expand' – Mungo Murphy Seaweed Company

Number of the week

There has been a decline in the number of applicants selecting a Level 8 agriculture course classification. It was selected as a first preference by 321 applicants in 2024. This number was 408 in 2023, representing a 21% decline. – Agri Careers

Online pick of the week

In this week’s Meet the Maker, Grace Hanna chats to Janni Sjostrand of Janni Bars about her soap business which started out as shampoo bars for horses.

Janni Sjostrand.

Build your own home

Eco-builder, television presenter and former Irish Country Living cover star Harrison Gardener is looking for homeowners and aspiring builders to get involved in the next series of RTÉ’s Build Your Own Home.

Harrison and the team at RTÉ are looking for people who are on their self-build journey. Over six months, participants will be helped by Harrison, who strongly believes anyone can learn how to build. Harrison will share his building expertise and teach you how to renovate your dream home, whatever the budget. If you, or someone you know, is looking to self-build their own home or extension, you can email

Harrison Gardener.

Poetry corner

The Wordsworth Letters: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, also known as ‘Daffodils’ is William Wordsworth famous poem, inspired by those yellow flowers of spring.Catherine Fahey has penned an imagined letter from Wordsworth, to his sister, Dorothy about the experience. Here is Dorothy’s reply.

Brother dear,

Oh, poet of dreams, I hear you say

That all the earth was young that day

When you beheld those daffodils

By lake and river, vale and hills,

The child in you reborn, proclaiming

Their praise, their golden beauty naming.

You have indeed a turn of phrase,

A way with words, a poet’s gaze

That so enchanted by the sight

Of golden heads in flowering flight-

You penned those verses, lovers’ lines

While I within the grim confines

Of kitchen sink and carrot peelings,

Was giving vent to jealous feelings

That you can word-spin, fancy free

While I stay home to make your tea.

I wish I had a washer-upper

Who’d scrub and clean

and make our supper

And I could wander, pen in hand

In search of floral wonderland.

Knowing that in March they bloom;

That April heralds in their doom,

I’d search through pasture, hill and glade

Then pause at half a dozen splayed

Bright daffodils of green and gold,

The joy of each one to behold.

I wouldn’t seek a spread so vast

And knowing beauty doesn’t last

I’d weep for them, and then disown

The scoundrels who would chop them down.

Dear William, and this isn’t funny,

Those daffodils were grown for money

And if you walk by another day

You’ll see the scavengers at play

Nipping, snipping, lopping, chopping,

Disjointed yellow heads a-flopping,

Tied in bundles, stems askew,

No more to feel the morning dew,

Pitched atop of Carters’ truck,

Their erstwhile home a field of muck,

And all to fill those greedy coffers

And boost some Blooming Special Offers.

The motto, Will, is grow your own.

Ten thousand daffs are easily sown,

A tiny spade, some soil to land on,

Then scatter bulbs with wild abandon,

Under hedgerows, by the grove,

Go plant yourself a treasure trove.

And if you do the job with haste

You’ll lose some inches from your waist.

Then come next spring, your heart will soar

Each time you look outside your door

A sea of golden heads will greet you

‘Good morning, William, nice to meet you.’

Their beauty will your spirits raise

As you respond with glowing praise

And never need you fear the fate

Of those wondrous blooms inside your gate.

Ever yours, Dorothy