Mahonia – a winter wonder

Take a moment to have a look around your garden right now. What is in flower? As I post this in late November the insects are sparse, the birds are very active and the sound of bees is distant memory, mostly.

But it’s so mild and there are bumblebees still actively foraging. Some, like the buff-tailed Queens may even be making a nest nearby. Winter active bumblebees are becoming more and more common. Probably due to our warmer winters, climate change and global warming. So it becomes even more important to ensure that there are plants flowering in your garden every week of the year.

One of the winter wonders for winter active insects is Mahonia, oregon grape. It has racemes of nectar rich scented flowers and like many shrubs where there are dozens of flowers in one place, they make efficient feeding for any insects on the wing in winter.

Venture into the garden on a sunny winter day and listen. Can you hear the buzz. It might be honeybees that will leave the hive on mild days, but look and see if there are bumbles foraging nearby too. Make a point of growing more plants that flower out of season and through the winter months, these are the toughest times for our insects. And actually a few flowering and scented plants in our winter gardens can lift our spirits too.

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