Garden Views-03-March 2021

March began with a couple of gloriously sunny but cool days, and minus 5 degrees C, frosty mornings.

Followed by two really gloomy, cold damp days. Sunshine then returned, but it was once again very cold, and for several days, ice in our water barrels remained frozen all day, with very chilly winds from the North or East. In spite of this, honeybees from the PV hive were active on March 6th, and finally in a fairly sunny but less windy day on March 8th, bees from the larch and butter churn hive were also flying, after nearly 10 days with no signs of life.

For the first time, I had bees pollinating the Tomcot in the greenhouse, and around lunch on the 8th, the internal space was literally buzzing with noise from the many bees which had found their way inside. Around the garden, the mix of cold and wet has held daffodils back, but the Tenby daffodils, Narcissus obvallaris, are now flowering as well as they ever have, so perhaps it’ll be a bumper season for other later forms.

On the few occasions that the honeybees have been able to fly, the numbers in the garden have been very high, as well as the first few bumblebee queens, emerged from their long hibernation. The consequence is that I’ve seen honeybees on certain flowers (Pulmonaria, Chrysosplenium, Narcissus, Primrose), which I’ve never seen them visit before – presumably a reflection on a relative shortage of pollen or nectar.

The relatively dry start to March, with just 5 mm of rain falling in the first 9 days, did at last dry the land out a bit, and allowed us to make good progress with laying another hedge, and restocking our log store. Hopefully this won’t be needed for another 18 months at least.

All of this wood came from this one hedge, together with a couple of hyper-mature willow trunks by the stream, one of which I’ve opted to leave as an example of large woody debris, which overtime should create more interest and variety in the aquatic habitat, in this part of the stream.

On March 19th a high pressure system to the West brought a run of dry days, but with only fleeting sunshine, and because of winds from the North, daytime temperatures were still almost always in single temperatures, so until Monday 22nd, there were once more few honeybee flight option windows. Daffodils continued to emerge slowly and N. ‘February Gold’ was approaching its peak in the third week of March, by which time Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ P. ‘Valley Valentine’ were in full flow and attracting both bumbles and honeybees in profusion.

As did the stunning early, and quite dwarf, Rhododendron ‘Cilpinense’

March ended with another high pressure system building, and at last a sunny and fairly warm day after a glorious sunrise.

The PV inverter record shows a reasonable level of light for the month, 289.9 KWH, although with typically patchy distribution. But this doesn’t capture how chilly the opening few days were, which is why the garden enters April behind where it’s been in many recent springs. The rainfall total for the month of just 98.05 mm came as a surprise after totting it up. Anything in just double figures is low for most months here, and coming after many wet months in a row, with still saturated ground, we’ve missed how rainfall totals have dropped from February’s deluges.

But the daffodil display is, as I expected when the early Tenbys, Narcissus obvallaris, appeared en-masse early in the month, the best I can ever recall.