Saturday, 10 March 2012


The clocks will be changing soon to officially welcome in British Summer Time. But, the birds and the bees have been feeling nature’s wake up calls for some time... The earliest flowers are here already and none is more welcome to hungry honey bees than the springtime crocus.

It is the larger ‘dutch’ crocus, out now in our gardens, that consistently bring bees out from their six month confinement to enjoy the first of the new season’s fresh nectar. Hidden away in their hives since the last, late ivy flowers of autumn, they have eaten their way through much of their winter honey store and need to replenish stocks fast. 

These crocus also give copious quantities of rich orange pollen, high protein food for the growing, baby bees... The colonies are rapidly expanding and have upwards of 500 extra mouths to feed every day.

I kept forty hives once, whose million busy inhabitants brought me in over a ton of delicious honey a year. But, now I just admire the industry and activities of a thriving wild swarm which took up residence in an old chimney at Levens Hall. 

Bees generally may have struggled in recent years, but we can all do our best for them in the garden by planting some dependable and delightful springtime crocus.


  1. Wonderful swathes of crocus in the sunshine. We planted the large Dutch 'Negro Boy' which has just started to bloom in the deepest richest purple, rather stunning also.

  2. Interestingly, hillwards, these photos are from last year. This year we had the crocus, but no sunshine!

  3. Beautiful photos! I love spring flowers!

    I just wanted to say that I'm a passionate fan of topiary, was finally able to visit Levens last July, and was totally swept away by the incredible topiary gardens!
    You won't remember me, but I said a quick hello to you at the entrance of Levens, just as the gardens were being opened, on July 4th. Both my husband and I had our Nikons at the ready and you asked whether we would be putting our photos online (or words to that effect).
    Though I have lots more photos still to add I thought it was about time I sent you a link to my online photos as I thought you might like to see them -

    They were posted in order of my preference, so my better ones (at least in my opinion) were posted first. So I liked Levens Hall photo 1 better than Levens Hall 91!

    I hope you enjoy them. And I hope that the link will work. But like I said, I still have lots more to add.

    Best wishes


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