Bees have to force their way past those lateral hairs when the flower starts to open. Do the combs of hairs loosen pollen already on the bee so that it gets transferred to stigma just behind them? Or do they help keep other insects out?
The lateral hairs are said to reflect UV light so they must present a glowing invitation to bees. The dark honey guide lines look as if they’ve been added with a fibre-tipped pen.
The common primroses that we’re planting come with an RHS recommendation as being ‘perfect for pollinators’. This variety is pin-eyed: the stigma appears as a small round pinhead in the centre of the flower. The male anthers are grouped out of sight, halfway down the flower tube.
In a ‘thrum-eyed’ primrose this arrangement is reversed: the anthers are grouped at the entrance to the flower and the stigma is hidden halfway down the flower tube. When a long-tongued bee visits a thrum-eyed flower, the pollen that collects around the upper end of its tongue so it is likely to get transferred to the next pin-eyed flower it visits. It’s an arrangement which helps ensure cross-pollination.
To give the bed some structure we’ve planted a hardy perennial hebe, Purple Princess. Its lilac pink flowers attract bees in early summer. It prefers full sun, so I hope that it will cope with the shade of the rowan.
Daffodil & Sedge
We’d normally plant tête-à-tête daffodils, Narcissus, as bulbs in the autumn but we’ve still – just – got time this spring to plant some pot grown plants which are about to burst into flower. This variety is more in scale with the our planting than the regular taller daffodils that we’ve taken out from under the rowan.
Refreshing the Soil
When we cleared this front garden bed we added a few trug-fulls of garden compost. Although the soil appears to be rich, moist and crumbly, we feel that it needs refreshing because we’ve removed a small conifer from the middle of the bed and that must have exhausted some of the nutrients in the soil. We’ve also added a sprinkling of bonemeal which is intended to encourage root development.
The landscape fabric that we spread across the bed fifteen or twenty years ago has done its job as we haven’t come across any perennial weeds. For years we battled with lesser bindweed, which would push up through the pavement and pop up the lawn. The pavement has since been patched up and mowing has prevented the bindweed from spreading across the lawn.