There are some flowers that always seem to be around and very much taken for granted. I cannot remember ever living in a house in the UK that did not have a few of these odd little flowers. They come under the category of “What do we do with the straggly leaves” plants, along with daffodils and bluebells. They don’t obligingly retreat underground but loll and flop about turning yellow and a little bit slimy. I was always so delighted to see them and then just wanted to tidy them up and would have a day of “folding” up the untidy leaves.
But, if I ever had any doubts about them, I would now plant them like a shot, because I now know they provide a rich source of early food for insects of all kinds. To see who likes them go to Blackbird’s excellent Bugblog and read the entry Grape Hyacinth Visitors. There you will find photos of the bees and butterflies who are visiting. Below, for a change from bees, is Blackbird’s photo of the beautiful Peacock butterfly feeding on Muscari armeniacum.
She also reminds us to plant in drifts or at least in large enough numbers to make it worth while for bees and other insects to stop.
They are very forgiving little plants and reward neglect by spreading around on their own without very much encouragement at all.
There are different varieties and colours and when we lived in Spain I was delighted to find the exquisite Muscari comosum growing wild on the mountain side near El Chorro gorge. Its deep ultramarine-going-on-purple colouring colour is stunning and I made a few drawings of it which are in storage somewhere.. but below is a photo taken Hans Hillewaert in Mallorca from Wiki here.
The little onion like bulbs of this particular variety are still eaten in parts of the Mediterranean and are on the curious “Ark of Taste” list which is “an international catalogue of heritage foods in danger of extinction maintained by the international Slow Food movement.” You can go their website here to see what food is endangered near you.. sadly nothing so far in Florida!
In Italy the bulbs are called “Lampascioni” and considered a delicacy. Katie Parla in her sumptuous Parlafood blog based in Italy has an entry here which describes eating them “fried and then soaked in orange honey” (you can’t quite escape the bees can you?).
I had made a small painting of this pretty flower for my bee flower set, but, as I have now decided to change the format, it’s one on its own, but still rather a favourite of mine.
Muscari watercolour 4 x 4.5 inches. Arches Not
Eight Spring Bee Flowers.
After more deliberation about the flower notes I decided to rethink them and include the written notes on the sketches. This kills two birds with one stone as it were, and simplifies everything…which is good.
Crocus Flowering Currant
Pear blossom Muscari of course !
Forget me not Pussy Willow
There are, of course, many others but these will suit a variety of bees.. more bee flowers soon..