It has not really been a cold month, with hardly any frost but in the middle of the month there was a hard one that froze the molehills, making cunning trip traps for me as I made my way down the garden. It has been a good winter for the moles.
The frost tried to beat the spring flowers into submission but the daffodils take it in their stride.
Not so the broad beans that should not be flowering yet. They are less hardy and have lost their first flowers to the cold. Will we have a broad bean harvest this year? It depends on the weather that will follow on.
Some plants look even better frosted.
But maybe it is time to clip the old flower heads to let the sun reach the new shoots.
The Choisia Sundance is a star of the winter garden whether frosted or not it adds a splash of colour even in the dull winter days.
The frosted back garden is quiet. Although I prefer the cold to the higher than average rainfall we have been having this month. February has been unusually wet and grey.
But it has not prevented the big plum tree from flowering and on the sunny days I can hear a comforting buzz from the bees collecting the pollen and nectar. The butterflies also visit but not in great numbers. Last year we had very few plums as the weather was very similar and the newly pollinated flowers were destroyed by a subsequent frost. I notice that the tree has been opening its flowers slowly so perhaps like this there will be more chance that some fruit will hold if the cold returns.
The hazel trees started to push open their discrete flowers in February. The catkins were already open and presenting their pollen to the wind and any passing bees that might be interested. I have read that the hazel pollen is a precious source of protein for the bees at this time of year but try as I might I’ve never seen any bees on them let alone steal a photograph. Those sneaky bees!
It’s not hard to find bees on the Hellebores, in fact, you’ll hear them first. The pollen is a dull grey/beige but it must taste good as it is very popular.
The Hyacinths too are popular with both the honey bees and the queen bumble bees. But even the bees get lulled into a false sense of spring with a few sunny days. I found a frozen bumble bee queen one frosty morning futilely sheltering inside a hyacinth flower. Why had she not taken better shelter for the night?
The solitary bees have started to appear but I wonder if they regret their early arrival during the rainy days.
The Reinettes (Hyla meridionalis) seem content with the situation. They croak happily on the patio when it is raining and sit serenely soaking up the rays when it is sunny. It is so good to feel the winter sun after the gloom.