I’d like to share a little bit about our flower and foliage choices and why they’re important to our wildlife.
Due largely to climate change resulting in warmer winters Bumblebee Queens are coming out of hibernation more frequently and are now being seen regularly during the winter months.
It’s yet to be determined what the long-term implications will be, studies have been carried out but only on farmed bumblebees nothing on our wild bees. There are two schools of thought, a longer active season may facilitate a second or third colony and increase their numbers or on the other hand,
starting a colony too early leaves them vulnerable to extreme weather like we experienced in 2018 and could kill them thus losing anything from 50 to 500 pollinators and no new queens for the following year.
To help them cope with the ever-changing weather patterns it’s critically important to have a year-round supply of available nectar food for them. Because our early emerging bumblebees are all short-tongued, flower structure and quality of nectar are also incredibly important. This is why we have an abundance of suitable flowers so early in the season and some of these we use in our bouquets such as hyacinth, scented narcissus, anemone and early sweet William. Our flowering foliage like winter heather and skimmia is of equal importance as a superb nectar source.
[caption id="attachment_3024" align="alignnone" width="242"] Bumblebee spring 'Gift of Life Bouquet'[/caption]
Our foliage choices are governed by our need for windbreaks and nesting sites for our wild birds. Cryptomeria and Cupressus are favoured nesting sites by our smaller wild birds like wrens and blackbirds. We harvest these varieties during the winter months as cut foliage but are off-limits during the nesting seasons as unwittingly human interference can cause nest failure.
While our main focus is on our pollinators to ensure a steady supply of food to support all the stages of their life cycles, we are also mindful of all the animals that live with us and prioritise our work around their needs. From not being to tidy and leaving hollow spent stalks as overwintering sites for ladybirds some hoverflies and solitary bees these in return act as natural pest control as well as pollination.
[caption id="attachment_3117" align="alignnone" width="200"] Dying stems are a wonderful overwintering resource[/caption]
Our offerings change with the seasons including who and what they support.
Our spring flowers include Hyacinth, anemone, scented narcissus varieties, early sweet william, winter flowering heather, skimmia and pittosporum. Late spring, just in time for mother’s Day, the first of our tulips begin flowering alongside iris, ranunculus, antirrhinum and alstroemeria.
[caption id="attachment_2293" align="alignnone" width="200"] Late spring statement arrangement[/caption]
We can’t always guarantee particular flowers, but we can promise to send out the very best of what’s in flowers at any given time during the year.
Thank you again for supporting our small flower farm and we hope to see you again soon.