A mixed week but the last couple of days have been frosty and then bright. Feeling very like spring, and first pollinators are emerging so bit of a pollinator theme going on this week. Many thanks for our host “The Propagator” for hosting Six on Saturday. Check out the participation guide.
My first this week is a dandelion with the first of the pollinators, a hoverfly, which I think is Eristalis pertinax. It is really important that we leave dandelions to bloom as they are a very important food source for these early emerging pollinators.
Crocuses are another great food source for queen bumblebees that are emerging from hibernation at this time of year.
Willow catkins, again here being used by hoverflies, and they will also be used by bumblebees.
As will Hellebores.
I love daffodils – and the larger ones are also flowering now – bees will use them but only if they are really hungry and can’t find anything more appealing.
And finally this week the frogs have pretty much finished spawning in the garden pond (this photo is from earlier in the week). I hope the spawn won’t get too frosted.
Finally some sunshine today. Hoping that a little bit of heat will bring the runner beans on. They are only just coming.
The most existing new arrivals though are our new chicks! Just started hatching last night.
Another new arrival is this Dahlia. Not the one I thought I had bought, but still an interesting flower, and a carder bee did visit it today so should be good for pollinators. From searching online this one appears to be Dahlia Honka Black, but open to correction. It is the first time I have grown Dahlia. I have another but no sign of flower buds on that one yet. Unlike The Propagator I won’t be able to leave them in the soil to overwinter, so for ease I have put these in pots which I can move to the greenhouse or polytunnel.
Next this week, we are getting the odd rasperberry. I got a photo of this one just before I popped it into my mouth!
Next a busy bumblebee collecting pollen from the outside oregano.
And finally this week, American elderberry. It flowers much later that our native elderberry and so we rarely get any fruit. But the flowers are lovely.
Is it really time for Six on Saturday already? Despite everything, the week flies by. Spring is well under way. I do love this time of year. It has been exceptionally warm and sunny (for the west of Ireland at least), but we won’t complain. So here is this week’s six.
1. Ragged jack kale self seeds its self freely around the garden and at this time of year the flowers are valuable food source for pollinators – usually bumblebees and hoverflies but I have also had a solitary honey bee.
2. Common carder bee – this one feeding on comfrey that is now flowering outside as well as in the greenhouse.
3. Autumn olive – the flowers smell a little of citrus and are popular with bumblebees too.
4. Crab apples. There is the one I showed last week. It is at it’s best now and the scent is heavenly. I have another crab which is the red leafed variety. The flowers are pink and not too plentiful – in fact it’s hard to see them against the leaves. The fruits are tiny. Still I like the leaf colour, as it adds contrast to the mainly green leaves of the other trees in the garden.
5. American Hawthorn is also in flower. It usually flowers a bit earlier than our native hawthorn.
6. Red campion, I grew these from native seed collected at Raheens wood and they are doing well at the base of a hedge.
It is unnaturally warm. Some parts of Ireland it was 17 degrees Celsius today, here in the west only 15, a temperature we would be happy with in May.
The mild weather has brought out the bumblebees. Queen bumblebees hibernate over the winter. In usual years we would see the first queens emerge in mid-March.
The first bees were spotted by my children on Sunday, and over the last couple of days we have seen some more. This was the first one I managed to get close up to photograph.
The spring flowering heather is a new addition to the garden planted to provide early food for the queens. They need both nectar and pollen after there long winter sleep. Heather, crocus , hellebore, dandelion and willow are all good early food sources.
With Climate Change resulting in much less predictable weather patterns, bumblebees are vulnerable. If the weather turns cold again the queens can only survive a couple of days without food.
This poor little battered peacock butterfly had been hibernating in our wood pile. And it was accidentally brought into the house. Of course the warm house fooled it into thinking it was spring time (though the way the birds are starting to sing at the moment I think it is getting closer!).
Anyway my husband managed to get the butterfly into this bucket of bird peanuts and brought it outside to the colder workshop. It was given a sugar-water solution to drink. We’re hoping it’ll have enough energy now to settle back into a sleep till it is warm enough OUTSIDE to let it free. Of course there will have to be some flowers out there for it to feed on. In previous years I have seen early emerging butterflies and bees feeding on hellebores, fruit blossom and crocuses and wild flowers such as dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) and coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara).