Wednesday, 15 February 2017

February Flowers for Bees

While weeding a border yesterday, I was dragged from my winter torpor by a passing bee. Without a second thought for the hot drink I had been promising myself, I pursued the bee to see where it might be heading. 
There is plenty on the menu for early bees. Sitting prettily just above the surface of the soil are snowdrops, Crocus and Iris reticulataHellebores hang their heads shyly, as if scared to be noticed. Who can blame them when they are towered over by winter flowering shrubs pumping out great nostril-loads of scent and screaming for attention?
Snowdrops growing through Ivy. A match made in heaven

I do love a scented shrub. At the moment, the sweetest of the fragrance factories are the shrubby honeysuckles, Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'. Flowering from January to March in my garden, they are a valuable source of nectar for early bumble bees. Delicate creamy-white flowers hang on almost leafless branches. Their scent is not as heady as Sarcococca which is belting out fragrance at the moment, but Lonicera certainly packs enough of a punch to get attention. 
Lonicera fragrantissima grows to about two metres, so it needs space. It might be big, but it is not a dense shrub and it looks great with winter flowering bulbs and hellebores at its feet. Later in the year, dark green hellebore leaves make a wonderful foil for the lighter leaves of Lonicera
Crocus brightening up the car park border
Happy in sun or part shade, if there isn't room to let it romp, it may be grown as a wall shrub, but take care not to over-prune. I only ever trim a branch if it is encroaching on a path. I certainly wouldn't cut away more than two or three branches in any one year. Pruning should be undertaken straight after flowering. 
Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty' has purple-red stems in spring and early summer. I can't say that this makes a great deal of difference to me as it like the flowers, foliage and the form of both Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera x purpusii 'Winter Beauty'. Best of all, they get the bee seal of approval.

I am joining with other bloggers around the world to celebrate Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Why not pop over to http://www.maydreamsgardens.com and see what is blooming in gardens around the globe?

39 comments:

  1. Pretty signs of Spring!
    Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

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    1. Definitely signs of spring...not forgetting the weeds which are growing and flowering. Then again, I might not have spotted the bee had I not been weeding, so the weeds are forgiven.

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  2. I love those little irises. Amazing that they are up already. None of mine are showing yet. Happy GBBD.

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    1. Hopefully you won't have to wait too long to see them. I plant several bowls with bulbs for an indoor display in January, then in February I enjoy the garden Iris.

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  3. I must be doing something right because there was a bee buzzing around me as I worked today. It wasn't the Lonicera though because it isn't blooming for me. She's about to get a shove up the wotsit with a spade. Perhaps a new spot in the garden will bring her to her senses, and therefore back to mine.

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    1. Fingers crossed that a change in scenery will bring on a spate of flowers.

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  4. Spring is in your garden! I have not seen a crocus or iiris reticulata in my garden. Lovely photos. Groetjes Hetty

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    1. It does appear to have arrived! More flowers open every day, although the aconites have been a little slow off the mark. They look as if they will all pop open within the next day or so. About time too!

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  5. Keeping the bees happy is important and it helps that the flowers that attract them are so pretty! I take it that you don't have bees year round? It never occurred to me that bees might not like cold weather but I guess their year-round presence here is another of the luxuries of life in southern California.

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    1. How wonderful to have them buzzing around the garden all year! They hibernate here, but I aim to have nectar sources for early emerging bees. It has been warmer today, and I have noticed several bees, so it is worth planting winter flowering bulbs and shrubs.

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  6. Your writing style is very engaging. Thanks for the reminder to add Iris reticulata to my wish list.

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    1. Thank you Ricki. Iris reticulata has never managed to leave my wish list - every year I add a few more.

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  7. I enjoyed your early spring blooms and they make me even more excited about the arrival of spring. I am hoping to see the start of some bulbs coming up within the next month. Your iris reticulata is such a stunning blue...love it!

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    1. I love Iris reticulata too. They seem to be flowering better than ever this year.

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  8. A lovely showing for bloom day! Thanks for joining in!

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  9. You get the feeling that things are just waiting for the starting pistol don't you?

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    1. All apart from the weeds - they don't seem to have the decency to wait!

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  10. Wow you have beautiful blooms in your garden! Especially the iris!

    Greetings, Sofie #26
    http://sofiecreates.blogspot.be/2017/02/garden-bloggers-bloom-day-february-2017.html

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    1. The Iris are lasting for ages this year. Such a treat!

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  11. Love your very beautiful garden!!! The pictures are amazing. Love those gorgeous colors!!! Thanks for sharing:)
    Jessi

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  12. We need some sunshine, to get both the bees and the gardener going here!

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    1. The sun makes all the difference, Brian. I swear I am solar powered!

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  13. I think I need one of those Loniceras...

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  14. Wow, so much floral goodness for the middle of February. Here the first snowdrops are almost ready to bloom.

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    1. I love snowdrops so much. I think they could bloom all year round and I would never tire of them.

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  15. Just got back home after three weeks away. my goodness how spring is moving and if the weather stays as hot as it is today it will soon be summer!

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    1. Oh I do hope so! I hope you had a good trip!

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  16. So many beautiful blooms! There is something blooming in my neighbourhood and it has the loveliest scent. We are just beginning to see the camellias and daffodils. I have seen the odd rhodo, but the season is still a couple of months away. It is such a wonderful time of anticipation.

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    1. It is - and the plants seem to be unfurling suddenly this year. The flowering currants started blooming today. I swear there was no sign of a single flower yesterday!

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  17. I haven't noticed bees in the gardens here yet but a clump of Sarcococca in a client garden was absolutely buzzing a couple of weeks ago. It just makes me feel so happy to watch the little bumbles buzzing around! During my training at Capel Manor, I used to love wandering the grounds in winter to see which shrubs had the best scent - there's a few out there, my fave was Chimonanthus praecox.

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    1. Chimonanthus praecox is lovely. We have one in the garden here, but it's still very young. I know what you mean about Sarcococca - the bees seem to be all of a frenzy on it at times. Today the Lonicera was buzzing - the other day it was Sarcococca.

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  18. Hi, enjoyed your post. Strange in my garden lonicera fragrantissima is really strong scented but the sarcococca doesn't give much out at all. It seems healthy enough so I haven't worked out why. But the honeysuckle on the pergola is perfect, delivering loads of fragrance when I walk past!

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    1. That is strange. We can't miss the scent of Sarcococca here!

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  19. Hello Sarah, I was out in the sunshine the other day and saw one of these very loud and very large bees trying to cram itself inside a crocus flower. The bee was so large it barely fit and then the poor stem was giving way under its sheer weight. I'm going to need to look into sturdier winter flowers, able to take bees with bigger hips!

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    1. I love the way some bees sleep in Crocus flowers. When they wake, they get breakfast in bed!

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