Monday, 1 February 2016
Yesterday afternoon saw Katrina and I playing the part of a stereotypical middle-aged couple, National Trust membership cards in hand and ambling around the walled gardens of Polesden Lacey. The construction of the grounds date from the beginning of the 20th century, and are a mixture of formal garden, wild planting and vegetable plots. Whatever time of year that we visit there is always colour, even on this particular grey January afternoon. Admittedly there are sleeping earth beds and bare trees that are the expected fare, but there is also a 'winter' garden, constructed in the mid 1960s which was an oasis of flower. Hellebores, snowdrops, winter aconites, crocuses, viburnum, Christmas box (sarcococca) - they really cheered the soul. But what really stirred my blood were the bees. At least 15 of them were busily visiting the hellebores (plus the odd snowdrop) in defiance of the January gloom. It was mild, but even so they were like a message from the coming seasons - "We'll soon be here!" They were all Western Honey Bees (Apis mellifera). I did see one bumblebee in the distance and a single hoverfly, both of which escaped specific identification. That didn't matter. It was their presence that was reward enough.