A handful of hellebores are flowering this first week of January (below), with many others expected in a few days though several will not flower until later in February. With recent mild temperatures bees are out and buzzing, searching for fresh blooms. Flowers of mahonias are fading, and while we’re still a few days early for the vernal witch hazels, there are bunches of bees visiting each hellebore, with the buzz heard clearly in sunnier spots.
With the bulk of hellebores flowering in mid January and later, I’m always on the lookout for ones that bloom earlier. One local grocer stocks bushy, early flowering hellebores (Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’, below) for a very reasonable price in December, I assume as Christmas plants through hellebores fare poorly indoors, so I’ve bought a few in recent years and again a few days ago. The bees are thankful, and both were planted in part sun so they’re the main attractions.
While I have no need for nectar, I must have flowers every day through the winter. I regularly monitor witch hazels for swelling buds and snowdrops as they rise through the clutter of fallen leaves, so the more hellebores flowering and the more early ones, the happier I am.