Although there are very few pollinating insects active in January and February, those that do appear are often struggling to find food. In recent years, Buff-tailed Bumblebees have maintained colonies right the way through the winter, and on sunny days workers can be seen looking for pollen. Some hoverflies are also on the wing at this time of the year. Gardens are particularly important in winter as they are more likely than natural habitats to have plants flowering – and as they are generally in urban areas, they can also be warmer.
Here are our top three recommendations for winter flowering shrubs that can help hungry pollinators:
Mahonia (Mahonia aquifolium)
These are evergreen shrubs, with holly like leaves. They have bright yellow, fragrant blossoms from November to April, and produce grape like fruits that are loved by birds. Also called the Oregon Grape.
Hebe (Veronica sp.)
Usually flowering in summer, some varieties of these tall shrubs will flower through the winter, such as Autumn Glory.
Winter-flowering Heathers (Erica sp.)
These short evergreen shrubs create clusters of bell shaped flowers in pink, purple and white throughout the winter.
Other good plants include Fatsia Japonica, winter aconites, hellebores and Winter Honeysuckle.