Along with the snowdrops there are many trees that wake up early and give us a display of flowers that promise the start of spring. Some of them like the beautiful witch hazel Hamamelis ‘Diane’ are highly scented and fill he air with spicy perfumes to attract any pollinating insects that might also have woken from hibernation early to make the most of a little winter sunshine. These winter flowering plants provide vital pollen and nectar for the overwintering insects that will be getting low on energy by now.
Another shrub with a powerful fragrance is the winter honeysuckle Lonicera x fragrantissima one of the shrubby honeysuckles that bears pairs of fragrant flowers all along its arching stems from January through till April will be covered in bees on a sunny winters day. Spot the pollen sacks on the bee in the photograph taken 24/01/18
Not all trees and shrubs are insect pollinated. Some are wind pollinated and produce separate male and female floral structures. The male flowers are usually catkins, releasing pollen when they mature. At the moment the hazel trees are in full flower, their make catkins having elongated over the last week or so waving away in the hedgerows distributing their pollen in the wind. Harder to spot are the female flowers that look like miniature sea anemones emerging from small plump buds along the stems. Hazel trees need a period of mildly windy weather without too much rain for the pollen to spread effectively and be caught up on the sticky female floral parts. Unfortunately high winds and heavy rain at this time of the year can lead to a bad crop of nuts.
With the weather picking up this weekend in the Limousin why not take the opportunity to go outside and see what nature you can spot in your garden and hedgerows.