A bee magnet

I am slightly curious why there are so few bees. When flowering in early March, a large ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’) by the corner of the garage attracts a multitude of bees that are often quite aggressive in early spring. I usually take an alternate route to the rear garden so I don’t stir them up, but now, even on a sunny, seventy degree day there are only handfuls (below). I presume there will be more next weekend.

A carpenter bee on Cavatine pieris.

‘Dorothy Wycoff’ (below) is by far the largest of the Japanese andromedas in the garden, and the closest to a path where bees must be considered. It’s at least eight feet tall, and annually side branching must be pruned to permit unencumbered passage along the bluestone walk.

Other andromedas are not so tall growing, and while ‘Dorothy’ is most tolerant of clay soils, others must be perfectly located or the stresses of poor drainage quickly become evident. Forget about planting in even a slightly damp spot. I’ve lost several over the years, but with a dry location and light shade, or by choosing the more tolerant varieties such as ‘Cavatine’ and ‘Scarlet O’Hara’, this is a sturdy evergreen shrub with bunches of pendulous spring blooms and varying shades of red new growth after flowering. (Also in the garden are the variegated ‘Flaming Silver’ and ‘Little Heath’, and ‘Prelude’, ‘Brouwer’s Beauty’, and ‘Katsura’. And at least one that is unidentified.)

The new growth of Katsura pieris hides leaves marked by minor lacebug damage.
Little Heath pieris
Brouwer’s Beauty pieris

3 Comments Add yours

  1. bittster says:

    ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ looks great. They’re usual trimmed into foundation balls here and it’s nice to see the grace of a naturally grown specimen.

    1. Dave says:

      I dislike having to alter the shape at all to keep the path open.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ was one of only about five cultivars we grew when we started growing the andromedas. Goodness, that was so long ago. Common Pieris forestii ‘Wakehurst’ was the biggest though. We actually grew Pieris forestii (not a cultivar) as well.

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