From the first week in January:
What with the daytime temperatures of early January being a relatively balmy 15°C or so, we’ve had some fine weather for a spot o’ bumbling about.
Lonicera x purpusii ‘Winter Beauty’ had a steady flow of visitors for a few sunny days. It’s guests found plenty to forage and we can only presume that the shrub itself was quite pleased with the results. Winter flowering shrubs (think Sarcococca spp., Chimonanthus praecox, etc.) often seem to be heavily fragranced. I assume this is because scents can travel quite a distance, drawing in what few pollinators are braving the florally depleted winter landscape.
Fragrance can be quite an elusive phenomenon. For a while I was convinced that the alleged perfume of the winter flowering honeysuckle was a nurseryman’s ruse. However, every now and again the scent catches me unawares. Nasally exploring the plant at close quarters yields little to no results. The only way to experience the scent is to walk by feigning nonchalance; inspecting the lawn, gazing up at the sky, only to perform the olfactory equivalent of a sharp about turn to catch the plant unawares. I suspect if I stood in my neighbour’s garden I’d be able to detect the scent quite distinctly.
To get back to my theory: from a distance the scent captures the attention of potential pollinators, at closer quarters the abundant white flowers suffice. No need for any showy petals, just a tasteful show of colour. From the number of bees that passed through this tactic seemed to be working.
Since photographing this merry pollination-fest we’ve had a rather sharp cold spell. That’s put paid to any mid-winter foraging from the bees but the Lonicera seems happy to carry on just incase.
P.S. This post has a photograph of the Lonicera two years ago in somewhat different weather.