Close Sartfield Nature reserve owned by the Manx Wildlife Trust have its traditional week of guided Orchid walks. It is usually well signposted from the TT course at the ‘Cape’ a road junction quarter of a mile before the Wild Life Park. At Close Sartfield you are able to see five species of orchid, Common spotted, Heath spotted, Northern Marsh, Twayblade and Early marsh and there is also a sixth which grows there but there is only a single flower, the Greater butterfly orchid. It is hoped that it will eventually multiply and produce more ‘spikes’.
To see three more orchids it requires a visit to the Ayres, here can be found, Early purple orchid and Pyramidal orchid the third species has been missing for a couple of years, Autumn ladies tresses orchid. Hopefully this will return this year but tends to be later in the year anyway.
Bee orchid is the final orchid that can be seen on the Island but this too can be very fickle and also grows on private land.
The weeks following TT fortnight are usually my busiest time for taking groups around the Curragh, by the month of June the majority of the flowers are out. In the Curragh and other wet places, Bogbean – Lubberlub should be well in flower, Marsh cinquefoil – Lus ny curreeyn, Yellow flag – Cleeshag, Hemlock waterdropwort – Aghaue, Figwort – Arym, Tormentil – Crammelt veg and Eyebright – Lus y tooil should all be in flower. Tormentil was used to relieve stomach upsets, hence ‘torment still’ and eyebright was used for eye complaints. Many, including ladies of pleasure, used a tincture from the plant. It is reputed to enlarge the pupils of the eye, this property was used by the ladies to give the impression that she was enchanted by the gentleman!!
Other notable plants, some of which can’t be missed because they grow tall, Foxglove – Claggan slieau, Frappyn and Polters (the first name means little bell of the mountain and the last two names refer to the fact that it sometimes ‘pops’ when you tap the unopened blooms – Frap and polt are Manks word for bang – I can still hear the ‘old’ people saying things like “There was a polt come out of her” meaning, the thing made a loud bang), Common valerian – Kere hallooin (this plant I believe is on the increase). The Honeysuckle – Ullagagh should be out now and I defy anyone to tell me a nicer scent, on a summers evening it hangs in the air, wonderful!
Butterflies and Dragonflies will be ‘on the wing’ so be watchful for Peacock butterflies along with Red admirals and Painted ladies. I have seen a number of Small tortoiseshells already this year, and the Curragh again is an excellent place to see butterflies. On sunny days the pathways are a magnet for most species.