"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Pretty Muscari and some other Spring Bee Flowers

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.

image

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.

image 

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 1 sm

Muscari watercolour 4 x 4.5 inches. Arches Not

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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.

primrose sm cherry blossom sm
Primrose                                          Heavenly pink Cherry blossom

crocus sm current sm

Crocus                                               Flowering Currant

pear muscarism 

Pear blossom                                     Muscari  of course !

forget me not sm willow copy

Forget me not                                    Pussy Willow

There are, of course, many others but these will suit a variety of bees.. more bee flowers soon..

4 comments:

Shady Gardener said...

Very Pretty. It will be fun to read about this exhibition... and to see your final exhibits! :-)

Blackbird said...

Thank you Valery! I love your early flower collection. I am Spanish myself and I also love Muscari as is is are a plant I know from when I was a kid as a harbiger of spring. We called them 'Nazarenos' which comes from the purple hats in processions during Easter.

Ellada said...

Hi,
You draw very well, and you draw my favorite flowers, the muscari.

sharp green pencil said...

Thank you all
I have been struggling with computer problems this week so late answering. I now look at muscari a little bit differently and I had no idea that there were so many different varieties.. and yes they are very pretty..and worth a closer look.