Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mid-winter Delight

I've posted several times about how much I enjoy Edgeworthia Chrysantha, also called Chinese paper bush. In the summer, it has attractive green foliage, but it's in the fall after it drops its leaves that it really puts on a show. It develops white clusters of bell-like buds that decorate the bare stems throughout the fall and winter. In mid-winter, usually early February, little yellow blooms appear at the bottom of the bells.

Our Edgeworthia is planted in a bed near the entrance to the garage. Today when I walked by it, I could hear buzzing, and when I stopped for a closer look, I saw numerous bees buzzing around it. At first, I couldn't understand why. Then I noticed the most wonderful fragrance and a hint of yellow underneath the white bells. The Edgeworthia had begun to bloom. I had heard it was suppose to be fragrant, but I had never detected any scent in the several years we've had it. In fact, I've read that winter-blooming plants generally have a strong fragrance to attract the few winter pollinators available. Maybe I was simply not near the plant at the right moment of the day (have you noticed that plants often more fragrant at some times than others?). In any case, I had forgotten it was suppose to be fragrant.

These bees, probably  from some backyard beekeeper's hive, must have left their hive to expel waste on this springlike day and happily came across an unexpected treat--the tiny yellow flowers of the Edgeworthia, just beginning to open. There were a lot of bees but none of them wanted to be still long enough for me to snap a picture. It took me quite awhile to get this picture of even one bee. I didn't mind the wait, however. What better thing could there be to do on a warm winter day than stand in the sunshine beside a fragrant plant and watch bees foraging? January doesn't get any better than this.

The flowers on the Edgeworthia are striking, but barely visible, as they emerge from the downward-facing white buds that form the bells. When the flowers are fully open, the bell will have a hint of yellow border as they protrude slightly. 

As you can see from this picture of the underside of the bell (I am holding the stem up to give a better view of the flowers), there are many more buds yet to open. When fully bloomed out, the bottom of the bell will be completely yellow, even though you won't be able to see much of it. With the warm weather forecasted to continue for a few days, I'm hoping all these flowers will entice the bees back for a return visit. 

Later yesterday, I noticed that the bees were also taking the opportunity to check out pansies nearby, but I am sure it was the fragrance of the Edgeworthia that lured this group of bees into our garden. Isn't it remarkable how unexpected occurrences converge--a warm, sunny winter day, the opening of flower blooms, a group of honey bees--to lift the human spirit. Don't despair. Spring will be here soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated and will appear as soon as they are approved.