Surrey Homes | SH57 | July 2019 | Summer supplement inside

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and early emergers with food to help them get through

this period when resources may be scarce elsewhere.

Nectar from flowers may be in short supply in the

winter, but there are other sources: ivy flowers late in the

year, the winter cherry tree Prunus subhirtella autumnalis

flowers sporadically throughout the autumn and winter,

Clematis balearica is in flower from mid-winter and once

the worst of the January weather is over, there’s a host

of late winter flowering shrubs to choose from, with the

added bonus that many of them are scented. Early spring

brings the first of the bulbs, together with woodland

natives like primroses, aconites and wood anemones.

Flowers

Flowering plants have co-evolved with insects. Without

insect pollinators there would be no real flowers – the

plants would all have to rely on wind pollination, which

is a fairly haphazard and wasteful process. Much better to

pay someone to do the job properly. Nectar is the reward

for pollinators and it is only produced in the nectaries of

flowers as a lure – the plant has no need for it at all.

Some flowers hide the nectar in order to make doubly

sure that enough pollen is collected, the bees have to go

down deep into the flower to get to it, covering themselves

in pollen in the process. These blooms tend to be tubeshaped

and some even have landing strips to guide the bee

to the right part; look closely at a foxglove and you will see

the speckles inside are arranged in a specific way to help the

bee. Snapdragons have a hinged lip that opens only when a

heavy enough bee lands on the right spot, thereby ensuring

that the pollen will brush off when the bee squeezes inside.

Other flowers are more open about the process and go

to lengths to make things easy for their pollinators. Plants

in the daisy (Compositae) family make a wide and secure

platform for insects to land on; the centre is packed with

lots of individual tiny, nectar-filled flowers surrounded by

a fringe of sepals. This also means that once the bee has


Top: Echinops is a ‘bee magnet’ in late summer Middle left:

Flowers in the daisy family make great ‘landing pads’ for insects

Middle right: Chives and other alliums are nectar rich

Bottom: A honey bee collecting nectar from lavender

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