|Crocus vernus 'Pickwick'|
To date, I have had more crocus pest problems this year than any years prior. Deer are the number one problem, particularly with the crocuses, yet slugs are a close second, favoring the nearly opened flowers. You are lucky to see this, it may already be gone. The deer have been particularly famished this year (apparently), and I am ready for a family of cougars to come clear my garden of the bastards. Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) prefer the forest edges, which happens to be where my garden is, and thus like to sample every plant in my garden. If they don't like it, they spitefully pull the plant out and leave it on the ground, like a used contraceptive, especially fond of leaving the chewed-up nearly-developed flower bud there for me to discover. So enjoy the flower, while you can.
|Crocus chrysanthus 'Prins Clause'|
|Crocus vernus 'Pickwick' attracts a small dance fly (Family Empididae)|
|Where there are flies, there are spiders|
|A male cluster fly (Pollenia sp.) on C. vernus 'Pickwick'|
A quote from last year's post A Year of Pollinators: Flies!:
The genus Pollenia feed mostly on plant products (fruit) and their secretions (nectar, sap), as well as feces and meat [thus are beneficial recyclers as well as pollinators]. The larvae, once hatched on the ground under dense vegetation where humidity is high, proceed to seek out earthworms by following the natural pores in the soil. After finding one, they burrow inside and feed on its insides before pupating.
A good deer resistant bulb, the reticulated irises do quite well here growing where the ground dries out and gets figuratively sun-baked in the Summer. Deer seem to ignore them, though they may occasionally browse, yet it seems voles will eat them if they are planted where the soil is friable.
|A honeybee is suckered into visiting a daffodil|
Typically considered deer-proof, Narcissus are occasionally "sampled" by deer with bad memories of the foul taste and toxicity (hopefully resulting in some gastric distress). They are rarely, however, "sampled" by honeybees. There are a number of surprising things going on here. First, there is but a single daffodil blooming now, honeybees typically prefer many flowers in bloom at once of a single species to be attracted to it. Second, they typically avoid Narcissus even when blooming en masse. It has been speculated that they simply don't like Narcissus pollen, or perhaps like some Ranunculus the pollen contains toxic constituents like the rest of the plant. I will be exploring the pollination of Narcissus (backed with a whole lot of research) in a future post, pending more observations this year as more of them bloom.
For now, please enjoy this brief recording I made of a honeybee in a daffodil:
Note that after the bee exits the corona, it cannot figure out how to get back in. Before she found her way in, she struggled for like five minutes trying to access the nectar from outside the corona, much to my amusement. She found the entrance, no help from the apparently misleading perianth, and attained some pollen. She then packed it into her corbicula, and went on her way. The apparent confusion of the bee is perplexing, chiefly because trumpet/large cupped daffodils are known to be pollinated specifically by bees (short cupped Narcissus pollinated by moths/butterflies). More on that later, stay tuned!
|Erythronium hendersonii in bud|
The local fawn lily is here at last, easily one of my favorite wildflowers. Growing from a bulb, it is situated much deeper than one would suspect to a depth exceeding ten inches. I find this species superior to many other species, perhaps in result of some personal pride that they grow in my backyard, but more so because they have deeply mottled leaves, delicately intricate flower colors, and a lot of variability which is apparently regional. To me, this species nearly equally beautiful in all stages of growth, including the dry seed capsules.
|Dodecatheon (Primula) hendersonii|
In my view these are allied with Erythronium hendersonii due to their occasionally overlapping bloom periods, and very distant superficial similarity (both have purplish reflexed petals, best compared with blurred vision). Dodecatheon hendersonii, or rather Primula hendersonii, exhibit a very wide range of variables including petal shape, height, bloom period, and color.
|Dodecatheon bud detail|