Back home

SnowdropIt cannot be compared to The Savill Garden but at least I was correct in guessing that the snowdrops would be through in the garden.  Seeing the first snowdrops appear in the garden always lightens the winter for me.

Group of snowdropsMy only regret is I do not have as many snowdrops as I would like but then again I am not sure if I could ever get too many snowdrops.  I could always try.  Even their name is evocative.  In English the name works on the picture of snow dropping from their slender stems.  In French they are called “perce-neige” recalling that they often push their way through the snow to flower in the coldest of months.

Yellow Crocus Just as early as the snowdrops is my first crocus.  The weather has been dull and wet since my return but the mild temperatures have encouraged the bulbs to appear.

Broad beansI planted the broad beans later than I meant too but the mild, wet weather is helping them catch up.  Cold weather is forecast to follow but I’ll have to wait and see what the rest of January has in store for the garden.

Hazel catkins

The garden is certainly not at its best in winter but their are some things that I like, such as the hazel catkins at the bottom of the garden.

Viburnum tinusThe Viburnum tinus is a mass of flowers.  It has grown from a tiny cutting in a few years and is such an easy shrub to maintain.   While it has been cold and damp nothing has been attracted to the flowers.  Yesterday it was sunny and we had friends for lunch.  After lunch I grabbed my camera, said, “I’ll be back in 5 minutes” and tore off down the garden.  I proceeded to shoot amazing shots of bees gathering nectar and pollen in the Viburnum.  Overjoyed at discovering there was another good source of food for the bees in the garden, I took the camera on our after-lunch walk, so I would not miss anything interesting.

In between chatting on our walk I managed to take some photographs of fungi.  The mild, wet weather must be ideal for them.  It was not until later I discovered that  in my keenness to tidy I had put my camera in its bag and left the memory card in the computer.  So no shots of bees in the Viburnum (yet).

This is not the first time it has happened to me.  You would think there would be a warning that you are not recording the shots.  Has anyone a tip for avoiding forgetting to replace the memory card?

Bee on winter honeysuckle

As the saying goes this was one I had taken earlier, with the card in the camera.  Although it was only 10 degrees C and not sunny the bees were all over the pefumed winter flowering honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima) on Thursday.

Bee with pollen bags

What surprised me was that some were gathering pollen.  Perhaps my beekeeper friends can help me out but I thought they would only gather the pollen to feed the larvae.  I thought they only foraged for nectar in the winter to keep up the food stores but perhaps I have misunderstood their winter needs.

Hoverfly on winter jasmineAnother thing I was surprised to see was a hover fly (Eristalis sp. ?), I associate them with the summer but perhaps another false assumption.

White tailed bumble bee, Bombus lucorumOne thing I was not surprised to see was a white-tailed bumble bee (Bombus lucorum).  They have been coming to the honeysuckle when it has only been 7 degrees C and have had all the flowers to themselves.

I have missed the bees whilst I’ve been in the UK, now I really feel I’m back  home  when I hear them buzzing in the garden.

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30 thoughts on “Back home

  1. Lovely, lovely post. You somehow managed to convey that just got home feeling! I am trying not to envy you having bees and hoverflies to photograph! Also, crocuses and snowdrops! A few leaves here but no sign of buds yet. Mind you, the forecast is dire for next week so it’s probably best that the garden continues to hold fire for a little longer.

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  2. The Viburnum is beautiful. And the bees! I know what you mean about the appearance of the snowdrops lightening the winter. I do not have any in my own garden yet, but I have seen them blooming in a neighbour’s front yard, so my hopes are up.

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  3. Well IDd! Your hover fly is a female Eristalis tenax, the most common of the Drone flies and one that you can see in any month of the year. You can see very clearly the main vein in the wing with its big loop that tells you this is one of the Eristalinae ie Eristalis or one of its close relatives. This specimen is also very dark, indicating it experienced cold weather while pupating, so I would guess it hatched in late autumn.

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  4. How lovely to see the snowdrops and that little dewed crocus. I love snowdrops and as my daughter was born in late January, fancied naming her after the snowdrop. The latin name is Gaultheria, however, so that idea didn’t last long. 😀

    My camera warns me when I haven’t got the memory card in, but by that time it’s too late. I am in the habit now of checking before I go out, and also I usually leave the little door open when I take the memory card out, so that I notice when I pick up the camera to put it in my bag.

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    • I have been leaving the little door open but I tidied up and put the camera in the bag, so I closed the door to prevent damage. I was still using the memory card in the computer. Its great your camera warns you. I have a spare card in my camera bag now but you still have to remember to put it in the camera.

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  5. Your garden is ahead of mine! Maybe the bulbs need some winter cold before flowering. I think my Crocus will be a while yet. The only thing flowering well is the Iris that has been flowering since November. Even the Lonicera isn’t as open as yours, although it won’t be long. Christina

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    • That seems so strange, I would have thought your garden would be at least at the same stage. I had a look to see if I could see your Iris ungulata in the UK but I did not find it, perhaps it was the wrong time of year and I did not look at specialist iris places.

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  6. Beautiful pictures! Spring really seems to be well on the way in your corner of France. I’m still wondering if we’re going to get a proper winter freeze! A few snowdrop shoots are about 1cm tall, but that is the only sign of life. My tip for the memory card – from experience(!) – I always leave the slot open on the camera, so I notice if it is empty. Not sure if that’s possible on all cameras, but it works for me!

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    • I’ve tried that but I was being too tidy and stashed it away with the door closed in my camera bag while I was still using the card in the computer. Looks like the answer is going to be – concentrate!

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  7. I love the snowdrops. I had never heard of this plant before and I’m sure it’s as delightful in person as it is in the picture.

    In riding a horse, we borrow freedom

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  8. No card in camera… my Pentax warns me… when I am looking at the rear screen when I turn it on… normally not the case… I am usually concentrating on keeping the subject in site.. so been there – bought the T-shirt!!
    Try putting a small scrap of yellow paper in the door when you close it, leaving a good length sticking out [I use a non-sticky bit of post-It note]… the door on my cameras are hinged away from the back, so a bright yellow bit of paper poking me in the face if I haven’t already noticed it, reminds me pretty smartish… however, I have recently taken to going to the computer with the camera… taking the card out and uploading the current batch of pictures to a holding folder… putting card back int’camera and then organising the pix….

    Also, are your Snowdrops a cultivated form? They have much wider, more blue-green leaves than I’m used to… and I can’t see a green edge to the inner petals… or is it that they aren’t open enough yet?

    Great pix as usual.

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    • I think the paper idea is good. The camera usually gets left near a source of scrap paper so I will do just that if I have to put it away whilst I still have the memory card in the computer. I am determined!
      I planted the snowdrops myself. I particularly like having the different sorts. Some are quite large and sturdy and some are very tiny and fragile looking. Some have more green than others. I can’t quite decide which ones I prefer! These ones open very slowly and are not fully open in the photograph.

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  9. I love it when the first snowdrops and/ or the first crocus appear; I get so excited and forget that spring is usually still a long way off for us. I planted my broad beans very late and I had the best crop ever.

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    • We have had no real winter weather yet but last February we had snow and the temperature hit -17 degrees Centigrade. That was really exceptional but I know we can still have a lot of cold weather yet, but like you the early bulbs always excite me.

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  10. Lovely, Amelia. You’re way ahead of me with snowdrops and crocuses in flower. My camera tells me when I’ve forgotten to put the card back in, but as it has two memory slots I always have one in there. Pretty helpful, as I was always forgetting on my old camera. Dave

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    • Brilliant! Two memory slots! Perhaps it was designed when memory cards had a smaller capacity. I think even I could manage to keep a back-up in the camera. I do keep a back-up in my camera bag but I still have to notice I’ve walked out the house without putting the card in.

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  11. “What surprised me was that some were gathering pollen. Perhaps my beekeeper friends can help me out but I thought they would only gather the pollen to feed the larvae.”

    There will be a small amount of brood in the colonies now, particularly as you have the beautiful snowdrops out already (ours have tips poking up at the apiary but no flowers yet). They should have some pollen stored but they prefer fresh pollen. The pollen is not just used to feed the larvae directly, but is eaten by the nurse bees to enable them to produce brood food.

    They’re probably collecting much more pollen than nectar now, as nectar is usually collected at temps of 12-14°C or above. Below that plants aren’t producing much nectar and it’s hard for the bees to evaporate the nectar down enough to produce honey.

    Thanks for the photos, they’re lovely.

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