Sunday, 17 February 2013

The First Bee of Spring

We spotted the first bee of Spring on Saturday, on a chilly day at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where it was busily flitting between the fragrant catkins of the Musk Willow (Salix aegyptiaca).

It is a species native to Armenia (it is also known as the Armenian Willow or Goat Willow), south-west Asia and northern Africa.

The large, yellow anthers of the catkins not only provide a late Winter/early Spring feeding place for bees, but also add a little bit of colour to the garden when there is little else of interest.

It is a relatively compact tree, growing to about 4m (13ft) high and spreading to about 5m (16ft), with grey-green leaves, while the young branches have a silver-grey down for up to two years, becoming dark green with hints of purple or red.

It will grow in full sun or partial shade and likes well-drained damp soils (but will put up with drought or wet areas). It is fast growing.

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