Looking back at last year’s photographs it looks like this year’s dwarf daffodils and crocuses are about a week ahead of 2016. The larger daffodils are yet to open.
I took this photo last September. At the time, this newly emerged queen buff tailed bumblebee was building up her fat stores, before hibernating for the winter. In the next couple of weeks, against the odds of all an Irish winter can throw at them, queen bumbles will start emerging from their winter hibernation. When they emerge, it is vital that they find sources of pollen and nectar to restore what they have lost over the winter and to allow them to start building a new nest and laying eggs. In this way, they start the whole bumblebee life cycle all over again.
What can you do to help? Ensure a plentiful supply of nectar and pollen rich plants in your garden. Good early plants include crocuses, snowdrops, willows (female – ie with catkins), and fruit tree blossoms. If you have a lawn allow dandelions to flower before cutting.
Start thinking about what you can plant for the summer. Most herbs are great for bees. Many traditional cottage garden type flowers are also good like delphiniums, bellflowers, lupnis, foxgloves and aquilegia. Annuals like nasturtiums, snapdragon and poppies are all worth growing too.
Today in Ireland we celebrate St. Brigid’s day. It is also seen as the first day of spring on the Celtic calendar – not that it feels like it outside. Still there is a stretch to the evenings now, and the first crocuses, snowdrops and primroses are showing. Each morning, as we walk to the school-bus stop the birds are cheering us with their songs. January is gone and we have something to look forward too. My fingers are starting to itch to get into the greenhouse and see what’s growing.