Mid morning today the temperature was not above four degrees Centigrade. Such a quiet garden. The Viburnum tinus had no visitors.
At least the willow buds (Salix caprea) are protected from the cold by their white, silky fleece. There is no urgency for them to open as the wild bees will be still safely tucked into their nests in hollow stems or tunnels in the ground or perhaps in our house walls. The honey bees will be in their hives while the cold prevails.
I think of the nectar and pollen that the willow will provide but for the willow the season will arrive and its pollen will be dispersed and seed will be set irrespective of the bees and other pollinators because it is wind pollinated. The bees can help a bit but they depend on the willow much more than the willow depends on them.
The Hellebore are providing colour in the cold weather, oblivious to the chill.
My mainstay Hellebore is a dark purple plant. I inherited several seedlings of them from my sister’s garden in the U.K. and it has taken some years to establish clumps of them around the garden.
She has been generous with her seedlings and whereas I was hoping my deep purple might revert, I think it is relatively stable. This spotty pink is probably another of her seedlings.
This one has green markings but but is more likely to have come from a later seedling of my sister’s than a natural hybrid.
The Hellebore self-seed so well I thought I might try my hand at pollinating a white Hellebore with a dark one and collecting the resulting seed. I opened a white bud and liberally rubbed pollen from the dark red Hellebore, closed the bud and tied thick red wool around the flower head. I get ten out of ten for enthusiasm and enterprise but the poor flower is brown and shows signs of a too rough treatment. I’ll try again but more gently.
I did treat myself to a named variety last year in the U.K. – Helleborus Harvington. Unfortunately, I have just discovered this refers to the Hellebore bred by Hugh Nunn at Harvington and there are many varieties of beautiful Hellebore that he has bred. So I still do not have a named variety.
Luckily, I love all my Hellebore. I do not mind that for the most part they hang their heads and conceal the beautiful interiors.
The bees care little about the position of the flower heads either.
I took the photographs of the bees on the Hellebore on 2 February and you can see the ivory pollen she has gathered. The Hellebore are generous to the bees and also provide them with nectar. I, in my turn, am rewarded with lots of Hellebore seedlings that I lift and tend in seed trays over the summer until I find a suitable place for them.
I am finding them very useful in the garden as they can be put under the shade of deciduous trees and will take being baked in the summer when they are established.
Hey girls! I really am trying to make sure there is enough for everyone.