Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Garden in May

The Cercis siliquastrum - Judas Tree came into flower during the first week of May, but it is now almost over for this year.
It has very pretty blossom and lovely heart shaped leaves. Our tree was purchased as a young sapling, but it now towers high up into the sky.
Summer colour has arrived in the garden - predominately showing shades of pink and purple. 
I am a great lily lover, and these Zantedeschia - white arum lilies are the first summer lilies to have opened.
Nectaroscordum siculum - Sicilian honey garlic 
Lots of free foxgloves turn up every year in various shades of pink and white, but they are very welcome. 
The heather has now reached its finale, but it has been flowering continuously since January.
five tunnels filled with a sixth one now completed since this photo
I cleaned our solitary bee hotel during March hoping that some new residents would decide to move in during late April. Solitary bees are non aggressive and much smaller than honey bees. 
Last week I suddenly noticed that one of the tunnels had already been completed and sealed off by a Mason bee, and in the last few days five more nesting tunnels have been finished. 
The bees build a series of cells inside each of the tunnels starting at the far end and gradually moving forward. They deposit pollen inside each cell and an egg. The pollen is mixed with nectar and is there to provide food for the developing larvae. Finally each individual cell is sealed up with some mud. Each tunnel holds roughly 12 eggs, and so my six tunnels represent approximately 72 little bees, which will hopefully develop and fly away next April. A bee manages to complete a whole tunnel from start to finish within two days. The eggs at the far end of the tunnel are all female with those nearest to the entrance being male. This enables the males to leave first so that they are ready and waiting to mate with one the females as they emerge from the tunnels. Once they have mated the males job is done, and they die. 
I am now watching for the leaf-cutter bees to arrive, they normally turn up slightly later. The leaf-cutter bees cut holes and semi-circles into the leaves that they collect which they then use to line and separate each cell. It is quite a work of art that they perform inside each tunnel.
During October the bee hotel should be placed in a cool dry place for the winter and then put back outside during March the following year. This will help to protect the bees from winter weather, and importantly prevent them being attacked by parasites.
Solitary bees are very important pollinators so having a hotel is a great and very easy way for us to help them. They are fun to watch, and require very little maintenance or assistance from their hotel proprietors!!! 

43 comments:

  1. Your garden is looking absolutely beautiful. I love lilys too. Our veggies are growing well. We've not planted as much this year. We couldn't get seed potatoes, so we let some old potatoes grow tubers and then planted them. Red and white onions and peas. Take care and stay safe. Best, Jane x

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    1. Hope that you vegetables do well for you Jane - I have pots filled with different varieties of lettuce, runner beans, and tomatoes, along with clumps of chives and mint.

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  2. Glorious photos of the nature!

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  3. My bee hotel, newly installed this spring, has yet to receive its first occupant. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first tenant to move into this high end accommodation. My garden is not as beautiful as yours, Rosemary, and that perhaps has something to do with it!

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    1. As long as you have your hotel in a sunny spot, flowers nearby to supply some pollen, and sometimes a source of water helps when making mud from the soil. This can be placed nearby in a saucer. Hope all goes well - good luck, and let me know sometime how you get on.

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    2. I actually noticed the first Mason Bee looking interested in moving in yesterday afternoon. It is located with a southeast exposure, close to the bird bath, so the conditions should be right for full occupancy. I suspect that the cool spring has had a good deal to do with the apparent lack of interest. It is only a week ago Monday that we had snow. Spring seems finally to have arrived and yesterday was very pleasant with a temperature nudging twenty degrees. We have a similar forecast for today. Yippee!

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    3. Sounds as if you are on course David to have plenty of solitary bees taking up your nesting site offers. I know that in Canada you can go from winter straight into summer in no time at all. Unlike us, who have a slower love affair with the weather.
      Since I wrote this post on Monday, I now have nine tunnels filled. If the Leaf-cutter bees don't turn up soon, then there will be no room at the inn.

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  4. Hello Rosemary, Your garden never fails to produce for us! It was fascinating to read about the solitary bees. It seems that the useful, non-aggressive bees are all endangered, while the annoying and dangerous wasps, hornets, and now those "murder hornets" are proliferating.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I get quite a thrill out of seeing these solitary bees building their nests in the tunnels. It is such an easy thing to do, and so worth while.

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  5. What beautiful photos of your Summer flowers, especially the Arum lily. I lose these and remember them from my childhood when they were grown by many gardeners. Alas, they are never seen here now, for some reason. Perhaps it is the warmer climate. The bee hotel is a marvel, and what a treat to see their routine in this way. Good luck to all the bees.

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    1. Dear Patricia - that is strange, perhaps it is just too hot with you. These lilies seem to be surviving here better than ever since our weather has become warmer - I always used to consider them to be a flower seen more in Mediterranean countries rather than ours. I vividly recall seeing them growing wild all across Madera, and feeling quite envious.

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  6. Thanks you Rosemary, such a fascinating account of the bee hotel! I loved learning more about the bees which are so important to our gardens and wild habitations everywhere. What amazing tiny creatures they are.

    We have a small fountain - which sadly no longer 'founts' (is that a word?) but remains in front of the porch as a bird bath - the squirrels often drink there also! A few weeks ago I noticed the honey bees were drinking the water which they could just reach from the edge. Only thing is we sit out there and as there were so many flying about I feared getting stung! From online searching I discovered I needed to keep the water level lower so they couldn't reach it from the edge without falling in, apparently they don't enjoy swimming. So I dumped enough water, and sure enough they stopped coming BUT I had to put another water source nearby - actually under a hydrangea bush - to give them a better place to drink. I am using a large painted clay saucer filled with small glass pebbles that one would use in a flower vase, a few shells to make it pretty, and topped with water. They found it right away and seem to love it - and we can sit outside now without concern for stings!!!! Of course today it's continuing to rain again due to the passing of Tropical Storm Arthur, so the fountain is overflowing - hope the bees don't notice!

    Gorgeous garden - and your flowers, boxwoods and blossom trees are exquisite.
    Will reply to your email later dear.
    Mary x

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    1. I have just been out to check on the little bee hotel Mary - it is dark so I used a torch. There are two bees guarding two of the tunnels ready to continue with their building work tomorrow. The tunnels are now filling up rapidly.
      A hot day for us today - 26แต’C, the hottest day of the year so far - Take care Mary & Bob x

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  7. What a beautiful garden! I love the bee hotel. ENjoy your summer beauties.

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    1. I really enjoy having the little bee hotel Barbara - it is great fun watching the bees flying to and fro busily building and laying their eggs.

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  8. Very cool bee hotel for solitary bees!

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  9. Dearest Rosemary,
    Your garden is quite a showcase all through the year.
    Our Redbuds are among the first ones to bloom and are long gone by now.
    Love your Zantedeschia, we had all varieties at one time but guess they got all eaten... Sad in our climate that there are so many predators for roots, bulbs and rootstocks.
    Enjoy those miracles of nature.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - it is sad to loose our beloved plants. Every year I notice plants that have gone missing, but sometimes they actually unexpectedly reappear.

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  10. I love your garden, though I wouldn't want the work of keeping it all in shape! It's a pity that some flowers and blossoms don't last a bit longer.

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    1. Fortunately we do have some help John, which we actually do need.

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  11. Beautiful Arum lily photo something which I have not got in my garden and should have.
    Your garden is lovely as always.
    Take care.

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    1. Arum lilies fill corners of the garden beautifully with their large leaves and spectacular flowers.

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  12. Smashing garden with loads of interest which must be a bonus during lock down. I went a walk yesterday in the local countryside near me and with the grass verges and many gardens not being cut back by councils for several months and running wild dandelion seeds were blowing around in the air and landing in drifts like snowflakes. Never seen so many seed heads allowed to flourish into full bloom. A good year for weeds as well as wildlife. The SAS of the weed world as they can grow new heads overnight, unlike the Tudor Queens. Weeding is not my favourite pastime in the garden and dandelions never stay down for very long :o(

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    1. We have just had two roasting hot days, and took a 10 minute drive to a forest which was a new place for us to visit. It offered us plenty of shade which was needed. The countryside is looking wonderful - isn't it?

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  13. I wish I had the space in my city garden for a Cercis siliquastrum, an incredibly beautiful tree in the Spring with the eye-catching flowering . In Milan you find it in lots of places in the various piazzas , but this year I kind of lost Spring due to the corona virus , staying indoors for almost two months . Your garden is a stunner and I love your care for bees so vital for all of us.

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    1. I too love the Cercis siliquastrum Jane. You don't see any awful lot of them here, and I don't understand why. I think that people tend to think that it will not survive in our country. Hope all is well with you.

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  14. Your garden is gorgeous, Rosemary. I didn't know about bee hotels or the life of the solitary bee. It's a fascinating topic!

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    1. It is lovely to be able to help these little bees, and so easy too. Keeping honey bees is a job in itself and requires many different skills, and lots of time and attention. These little solitary bees do everything themselves, the only thing that I do is keep them safe during the winter months, and then clean out their nesting tunnels every spring after they have flown.

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  15. Your garden, with all those shades of pinks and purples, is simply lovely. Our son has Mason Bees, and I'm watching to see how they do with the thought of getting some next year. Our roses are getting ready to bloom, but it's rather cold and breezy and drizzly these days. Hoping for better weather soon so that the vegetables do well.
    Have a lovely weekend, Rosemary.

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    1. The Mason bees have now filled 8 of the tunnels. They are great to watch and are very easy just requiring a nearby supply of pollen, a source of water and a sunny spot. The only thing that I do is provide the accommodation, clean it out, and place it in a dry, safe place during the winter.

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  16. Such lovely photos and your bee hotel is a handsome object. I am glad that it is receiving guests - unlike the human variety!

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    1. It is a lovely time of year for the garden isn't. How fortunate the wildlife is to be still going on doing its daily business without a care in the world. Thank for your kind comment and visit.

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  17. Dear Rosemary,
    What a happy and beautiful space you have created within such colorful walls. I love all of it. Learning about your bees was fascinating.

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    1. I love watching the bees building within the tunnels which they achieve surprisingly quickly. Thank you for your very kind comment Gina which has brightened up my day.

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  18. How beautiful spring is, May is an incredible month.
    Wonderful photos to brighten our eyes.

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    1. I love May too, but how I wish that it would stay around for longer.

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  19. I enjoy hearing about your bee hotel. The colorful flowers and blue skies are a welcome sight ..We have a whole week of rain and thunderstorms.

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    1. Since we have been in lockdown, from which we have now been slightly released, we have had hardly any rain at all. We are now busy in the garden most evenings watering all of the pots. One good splash of rain would be really welcome.

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  20. Dear Rosemary - All the flowers look having the time of their life in full sunlight.. The tree with purplish-rose blossoms and heart-shaped leaves is “hana-zuo” or “Chinese redbud” in English. I had thought Juda tree was another local name but to be exact, I found science name difference. “Hana-zuo” is Cercis chinensis. Running a solitary bee hotel is fantastic. Thank you for the explanation.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - apparently there are severn varieties of redbud trees in various different shades of pink.
      The solitary bee hotel is so easy to maintain, and it is lovely to think that it helps the solitary bees in their quest to procreate.

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