The vegetable garden remains untouched although it is not from want of time as we are now in our third week of isolation.
Despite the unprecedented events in the outside world the large plum tree fills its branches with leaves to provide shade. This is a favourite spot for outdoor eating, but when will be able to eat again under its leaves with friends and family?
We are never the less so grateful for the warm weather and sunshine that allows us to watch as the tulips take over from the daffodil bulbs. It is an unsettling feeling as I think of so many people obliged to stay in appartements or who find themselves alone.
I stalk my bees and find the Cerinthe are the noisiest flowers at the moment. They are a great place to see the Anthophora, like the one above.
The Cerinthe are a great favourite with all the queen bumble bees at the moment.
I love these teddy bear shaped bees and remember searching in vain to discover what sort of grey bumble bee it was, and being so puzzled to discover that bumble bees did not come in grey.
Outside in the wild, Anthophora (and bumble bees) love red dead nettle, so it is a good time to see them at the moment.
Only the Borage can attract similar numbers of bees just now.
Our broad beans are doing very well this year. I plant the seed in the autumn and often the young plants get hit by winter frosts but this year was the first year that we have had no sub-zero frosts in the garden.
The broad bean flowers are a magnet for pollinators. The Carpenters, like the one above, are particularly fond of them but all the bees come for nectar. The beans are setting but the ground is getting dry as we have had no rain for some time.
This has been our wettest winter and early spring. The river at the bottom of the garden is still full of water. Our daffodils put on a good show but it was too wet to enjoy them when they were at their best.
Some plants seem more value than others. Our Hellebore are still blooming in the shadier spots, they first started flowering at the beginning of February.
When the flowers start to produce seed, the petals lose their colour but I still find them attractive with the softer hues.
I made an unpleasant discovery in the garden. A lily has been infected by the lily beetle (Lilioceris lilii). The only way to get rid of them is to squash them until they pop. I recommend using some kitchen towel to perform the dirty deed. It is best to surround the plant with a white paper kitchen towel because if you drop one, it will lie on its back and you will never find it on the ground. I did this on three consecutive mornings and I have got rid of this infestation but I am sure others will follow and I am keeping my eyes on them for the moment.
The Coronilla is another worthwhile shrub that is still flowering and providing nectar for the bees.
Even very little ones.
In February 2017 we bought 10 Eleagnus umbellata for 1.71 euro each from the Pepiniere Bauchery online. We planted 7 and gave 3 to friends and this year we are reaping the rewards. They are pretty, small trees which survived well the drought of last year to flower profusely with these attractive white flowers, to the delight of the bees.
Not all our trees have survived. One of our two quince trees is dead and a young self sown plum tree that we had transplanted the previous autumn.
After the intense heat and drought of last summer, I decided to grow more succulents in the pots and they have survived well through the winter.
Our Osmia cornuta continue their nest building oblivious to the trials outside in the human world.
We just follow the example of our little tree frogs and stay peaceful in the calm of the garden.