Tag Archives: Bees

Bee Wilderness

I am bee-ing uncharacteristically envious. My blogging friend  Ruth,  who reflects on life in central Christchurch, is now a host parent  to 20,000 bees. She is part of a “buzzy movement” to bring  bees into the city’s  green spaces and gardens, as well as onto the city ‘s roof spaces. I am envious because I would love to host a hive but, sadly,  most of my neighbours wouldn’t love me if I were to become a host family.  ( I can hear the complaints about bee droppings on their washing  before I even finish this thought in my head 😦 )

Sigh! But, even though a hive would be a difficulty, I do have a flourishing bee population in my garden, anyway. This is mainly because, this year, I have left the plantings, in my raised garden beds, to run to wilderness.

The Wilderness

The Wilderness

I was about to replant the beds with orderly rows of vegetables when I realised that, by doing so, I would be removing a vital food supply, and haven, for the  bees and  little birds. I reasoned that it was easier for me to find an  alternative supply of vegetables than it was for the small ones to find sustenance elsewhere. So the wilderness of overgrown parsley,

Parsley Paradise

Parsley Paradise

leeks, sage and self-sown borage

Self-sown Borage

Self-sown Borage

and  cerinthe remained.

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

Cerinthe, sweet as honey..

My reward….no honey… but the  bee chorus  is so humming that I can hear it from at least a metre’s distance.  The wild growth in  the planter boxes is supplemented, in the background, by the prolific flowering of my  ceanothus   blue sapphire . They are a-shimmer with bee activity, although you would hardly think so, since I have only managed to capture one of their number!

Ruth’s bees may travel up to five kilometres to gather food. I wonder if I am close enough for any of them to visit me. Wouldn’t that be lovely if they did?  Meanwhile Jack and I enjoy the bees that are already here.

Jack bee-listening

Jack bee-listening

© silkannthreades

Gandhi Jayanti

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;



plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.


to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:



is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

Lighting the way to the winter solstice

Apologies, good people, but I must interrupt my tales of the medlar to update you on my beautiful, blossom-ful,  ornamental cherry tree, the prunus autumnalis.  This lovely tree has the delightful habit of producing blossom twice a year; in spring and in autumn/early winter. About 3 weeks ago, it was just beginning its late autumn blossoming and I showed you these photos of it in my post Two Seasons in One Tree https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/2010/

Since early May we have had many days of rain, and few of sunshine.  I haven’t paid much attention to the cherry tree. I have been fixated on the dreary rain and equally dreary skies. So, imagine, my little bounces of joy, when, this morning, I awoke to bright sunshine, a blue sky and the apparition of my prunus autumnalis shimmering all over with delicate, pale pink blossom.  And it wasn’t simply the shimmering that made me joyful. The tree was a-twitter of tiny wax-eyes. These little birds, freshly arrived, in my garden, herald the time of colder days. Much as I dislike the colder days, I  welcome the winter appearance of  these busy, extroverted conversationalists.

I went out to the garden to take some photos and, of course, the birds flew away, but, in the absence of their chatter, I was able to hear the dense, humming chorus of the bees and bumblebees. On closer inspection, it seemed to me that the shimmering of the flowers was not so much from the light, dancing  on the petals, but the movement of the bees amongst the blossom. How glorious.

And, how lucky am I to have this loveliness on my doorstep. It’s a sweet gift from Nature to lift my spirits as we head rapidly to the darkest day of the year; the winter solstice.Prunus Autumnalis © silkannthreades

Two seasons in one tree

It looks like autumn. It feels like autumn. It smells like autumn.Looks like Autumn

The evidence seems clear; autumn is here.

Or is it? Take a closer look at this photo of my ornamental cherry tree.Two seasons in One.

Do you see the blossoms?

I used to think that my cherry tree was as confused as I was about changing weather patterns but, a few years ago, I realised that the previous owner of my house had gifted my garden with a Prunus Autumnalis. A Prunus  Autumnalis blooms twice a year; once in autumn/early winter and, again, in spring. The bees and the birds delight in this tree and its blossom. This year, I may ask my little ‘wildlife’ guests if they will let me share their feasting.  Apparently, the cherry leaves and blossoms are as delectable to the human palate as they are to the human eye.

© silkannthreades

Late Bloomers

‘Leo the Late Bloomer’ is one of my favourite books. (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/225542.Leo_the_Late_Bloomer) Written by Robert Kraus, the story tells us, through the character of Leo the little tiger, that each of us will bloom in our own good time. ‘ Leo the Late Bloomer’ is  usually referred to as a children’s book but I think the theme of the story has universal appeal. So I, on my own authority, have decided to delete the ‘children’ from the book’s description. Sorry, kids, but you can’t keep all the good books to yourselves!

Occasionally, I think of the story’s theme in relation to myself but, today, my attention was caught by the late bloomers in my garden. Here they are, in collage format, because I wanted to emphasize the visual impact of the  blue hues of their lateness.  The actual flowers are scattered thinly in different parts of the garden.Bluetiful

In two of the photos the blueness has not yet emerged; later than late bloomers, those ones. Some of the blooms may, more accurately, be described as stragglers, or long-lasting bloomers, but the plumbago is my true late bloomer having only emerged for the first time this week. But each flower is beautiful and, at this time of the year, very precious. The borage is especially precious to the remaining bees.  In fact, the bees are probably the reason that most of the late bloomers in my garden are blue toned. The colours that we perceive as purple, violet and blue are the colours the bees see best.

Thank you bees, thank you beautiful late bloomers and, as an afterthought, because the word ‘bloomers’ can never quite be said without a giggle in my brain,

No Thank You to those horrible blue garments we once had to  wear to physical education classes. They were bloomers too and were certainly not beautiful, nor intended to be. They discouraged any notion of birds and bees.

© silkannthreades

An Autumnal Day

One minute it’s summer and the next minute it’s autumn. The changeover happens so quickly. There’s a tangible change in the air that I find impossible to describe, but I absolutely know it’s there and I know it contains the essence of autumn.

Here are a few photos from this autumn day:

Leaves preparing to leave us on the breeze;

Autumn leaves in the Breeze

Quietly saying goodbye;A quiet farewell

The bees are working busily to make the most of the harvest and the autumn sun; Working overtime in the oregano

And the strength of the summer sun seems to have come to rest in the beautiful  yellows of the garden blooms.Sunshine in a GazaniaSunshine in the Rocket

© silkannthreades

Let me be cool white in shady green

This post is an excuse to show pretty pictures, although they do express how I am feeling tonight and how I would rather be feeling.

This is me, the dahlia, rosy red in the face, and feeling, in every open pore, the surplus, fiery heat that Australia is sending our way.Dahlia

Thank goodness, we are not as hot as our poor friends in Australia. However, it is very hot by our Christchurch standards. Oh, to be cool white in shady green, like these daisies.Cool Daisies

The photos were taken in Ray Blank Park.

© silkannthreades


Being taken ( along ) for the ride *© silkannthreades*

In life, we are often taken where we never intended to go, or never imagined we could, or would, go. On the journey, we come to dead ends, we take detours and make deviations and, occasionally, find ourselves on roundabouts from which there seems to be no easy exit. Eventually, we find a path through the distractions, obstructions and obfuscations and, sometimes, the route is  full of delightful surprises.  As it is in life, so it is in Christchurch these days; literally more than figuratively, although both apply.

On any drive around this city, on any day, you will invariably meet a sign like this,Follow the signswhich means that, although you may start your outing at one place, such as this, Elmwood Parkby the time you have followed, or not followed (naughty me!),  all the signs and the detours, you could end up somewhere else entirely, like this.Who wants to ride the Merry go Round?The route or the ride, or the direction, do not matter when it is holiday time and you have as much freedom as you want to explore and enjoy the sights. It’s not quite as much fun on a busy day when you have a specific destination and purpose for your travelling.

By the way, did you spot the bicycle amongst  the trees? Here it is, in plain view. Did someone have enough of his/her ride? Did I miss a person sleeping “it” off in the bushes?Bike in the BushesAs is usual during the holiday season, there are more of these cones around than people.Cones RuleSo, no need to worry about anyone else sitting under the apple tree with me, but me.Under the apple tree at Plynlimon Park.It’s an ideal place to contemplate that, one way or another, we are often being taken ( along ) for a ride, so we may as well enjoy it. You never know where it may lead .

Here is one plant enjoying a ride at new and, most likely, unexpected heights;Along for the RideAnother way to ride;

More ridersYet another way to be taken for a ride; Bee Rider

But does it matter how we are taken along if our destination turns out to be as sweet as this?Sweet floral destination

© silkannthreades

Will 2013 be this muddled? Absolutely!

For me, part of the fun of being a WordPress blogger is learning, learning and more learning. Another part is just having a go, for fun. A day ago, thanks to fellow blogger,kiwiskan,I found out about Wordle. And, a few days before that, another blogger Playamart – Zeebra Designs    introduced me to Irfanview. So, for the beginning of 2013, I put my two new learnings together, in the spirit of “having a go”,  and came up with this New Year wordle. It’s far from perfect but that is appropriate to life, where sometimes everything gets muddled and messy yet usually turns out well enough, albeit with  plenty of room for improvement.Let it Be

© silkannthreades

Bombulios, Bombylius, Bees

Every morning, from my kitchen window, I can see bumblebees a plenty enjoying my small, but vigorous, crop of phacelia and borage. (Are those plants ever unvigorous, I wonder? :D) I love watching them as I drink my morning coffee.

In the front garden I have several ceanothus bushes in full blue bloom. Regular bees, more than bumblebees, are having a feast in there. I can hear the bees before I can see them; such a buzz and hum; the equivalent of a cat purring with contentment.