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Shrubs with Winter interest and food for Early Queens

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Hello I’m trying to help a friend choose a shrub for her garden, she would like a wildlife friendly plant and one that will help the early Queens and have some interest over the winter months

Any ideas please?.......................Many Thanks smile

     
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How about Christmas Rose (helleborus niger )?
Flowers from December to March !

     
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Winter flowering Heathers are good food for queens and are colourful too grin

     
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Thanks marym and alibumble, great suggestions there smile

     
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You could try Mahonia. It comes in many varieties and they flower at different times from autumn through the winter to spring I believe.
vicbee

     
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Thankyou Vicbee…..I’m passing all these suggestions on smile

     
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I have been pondering your interesting question and have come up with a few more suggestions:
spring crocus, spring anemone, daphne (has many species), Witch Hazel, viburnum (also with many species).

Listing these is the easy bit!
Making sure that any purchase you make is of a plant that is not a hybrid will need some research.
Some plants from growers/garden centres are hybrids and do not contain pollen/nectar for bees to forage on.

Good luck!

vicbee

     
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Paula,
I have scattered pots containing small Salix shrubs (trad Pussy Willow) around the garden. The BBs really love all the yellow pollen that is available to them early inthe year. As it is quite a boring shrub for the rest of the year, the pots are placed out of the way till next January and Feb.Pots are also a good idea to prevent salix spreading its roots too far;....they are very hungry for water and wont sniff at a nice underground water pipe :o)
They are all over the garden centres.
Hope this helps.

     
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I have a bush of winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, it stays as a bush not like the summer honeysuckle and the early queens flock to it.  The flowers are perfumed and it is very easy to grow.

     
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labourie - 11 December 2012 09:54 PM

I have a bush of winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, it stays as a bush not like the summer honeysuckle and the early queens flock to it.  The flowers are perfumed and it is very easy to grow.

I hadn’t heard of that plant before, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for it at the garden centres. I love the scent of Viburnum x bodnantense, but there are no bees to feed from it where I am at this time of year.

     
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I had assumed that the different types of Spring Crocus were equally good for bees. I bought a variety from Wilkinsons and then noticed just one had got their bee friendly logo on it. This was Crocus Tricolour

The only other bulb I could find at Wilkinson’s with the Bee friendly logo was Allium sphaerocephalon-Drumsticks.  They have got it right about their Drumsticks as this photo I took earlier in the Summer shows and most of you will know

     

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I too grew those drumstick alliums this year and they looked great scattered through the border. They should come back this year too.

I think that most crocuses should be fine for bees - as long as they have an open top, as some varities have petals that are curled in and close the top over.

I’m also trying fritillaries for the first time this year, and the tiny corms might do well in my garden - I’ll let you know!

Anthony
BBCT Outreach Officer

     
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I’d second Vicbee’s suggestion of Mahonia. We have a Mahonia aquifolium in the garden and the bees are going nuts for it right now. It has blue coloured berries over Winter too. Also there is Berberis darwinii which has lots of lovely small orange flowers that the bees love in early Spring, and usually again in Autumn too which seems to be very popular with our bees. Both of these are evergreen and have berries for added interest.

     
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I find the best things for bumblebees at the moment in my garden are Willow, Pieris,  rosemary, heathers and one of my favourites and the most popular the Lungwort.

     
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It is not really a winter plant but it is very early and in time for the queens -who seem to love it:
Pieris forrestii/ formosa. Need to ask about the earliest flowering specie. Allan

     
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Pieris does need acid soil so if your soil is alkaline this will grow quite happily in a pot with acid soil watered with rain water.

My next door neighbour has a large one in a pot and the bees certainly love it.

Sparrow Sue