In a window of sunshine amid clouds and rain last weekend we opened the beehives. Beresford’s hive was full of brood, with only a bit of honey left. Luckily we were prepared for this as it was exactly what our beekeeping friend had thought might happen, so we gave the hive sugar water and pollen substitute. This seemed to go down well.
I set my camera up in front of Beresford’s hive, and after getting stung and dropping the camera, we all got used to it and took some pictures. It was a sunny late morning so there was a steady stream of bees leaving and returning, although not nearly as many as in Summer.
The pattern seemed to be that the bees would arrive and clean themselves outside the hive before being checked by the guard and allowed in. You wouldn’t want to be a bee arriving back without the right credentials.
After last year’s loss of the queen and decimation of the hive, I was feeling a little nervous when we opened the hives at the start of Winter in late May. There was almost no brood, and less honey than we had expected. So it was a great relief when our bee keeper friend showed up unexpectedly and offered to check out the hives.
Wow, last year at this time I had tulips and hyacinths, no roses in sight. The tulips are still only small, and daily being eaten by a stoat, I think. So there may be none at all at this rate.
While much of the country has had record snow falls last week and some are still without power, we didn’t even have a frost, which was nice for the new twin lambs frisking around the next door paddock. There must have been strong winds though, and the olive branches in my vase are from the olive tree which was on the ground when we arrived.
I’m assuming she is a queen, since only the queens are supposed to last through the Winter. In any case, when I first encountered her on a cold morning she looked still and dead, hanging from the Lavender ‘Sidonie’ flower by her front legs.
My Iris unguicularis is doing so brilliantly! I’m very excited about it – the nurseryman who sold me the baby plant said he grows his under a big Totara tree facing the sun. Mine is at the base of a tree at the edge of a path and it has spread to about 18″ wide after 3 years, and has been flowering since late Autumn. I’ve combined them in the vase with some native cultivars : leaves of the Cordyline ‘Magenta Rays’, and a pink flowered Tea Tree (Leptospermum).
The Red Hot Pokers are flowering (Kniphofia ‘Winter Cheer’) and this reminds me that last year I assumed that bees didn’t like them, because I hadn’t noticed any bees when I looked at the flowers. Others quickly mentioned that theirs were covered with bees. Sure enough, as the flowers start to go over the bees come in. It’s just a case of timing.
I picked some Hebes to remind me to plant more of them. At this time where the days are short and flowers are disappearing they are welcome food for bees and other pollinators, which made a *beeline* for the Hebes and Chrysanthemums in the bouquet.
Hebes are a native NZ plant, so they are tough in our environment, growing well in windy sunny places. They do well on a bank, but don’t cope with wet soggy soils or too much shade. There are hundreds of different cultivars – from the little green balls of the tiny Tom Thumb to large shrubs with exuberantly waving branches and long white flowers such as I have picked.
Salvias and Chrysanthemums are the most prolific flowers in the garden now, and are beloved by the pollinators.
Salvia confertiflora made it clear that she would not share the stage with anyone in pink, so I have 2 vases, one with the pink Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’, ‘Boutin’ and ‘Mulberry Jam’ as well as the lovely scented rose ‘Nahema’.
It’s been another lovely Autumn weekend. Thankfully my finger was healed enough to get a big size glove over it and I was able to finish my garden tidy up and bulb planting. The Anemones are wildly flowering – a huge row of them all like soft cotton pleats and ruffles. And the first of my random seedling dahlias has flowered! Although it’s parent was a rather garish raspberry ripple this one is a smaller soft lemon and white. Probably nothing for the show bench but perfect for me.
In contrast to the wild colours in the garden right now, I’ve tried to keep the colours soft and quiet so as not to overpower the anemones. Pelargonium Appleblossom Rosebud which I used to have years ago, and recently got again from C’s aunt, who has a garden full of wonderful things, is doing brilliantly under the lime trees, so I picked quite a few of these.