When landscaping for wildlife (including some insects), I prefer plants that provide multiple benefits through the seasons. A flowering crabapple tree (Malus spp.) with attractive, spring flowers and persistent, colorful fruit that feeds Robins in late winter is an example. As the snow melts in early spring, my attention is drawn to a small perennial flower that also supports this landscaping priority: Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa spp.).
Glory-of-the-Snow is native to alpine habitats in the eastern Mediterranean region and is therefore very hardy, tolerating winter temperatures down to minus 20 degrees (F) or colder, depending on the variety. In this area it is often seen blooming in a snow-covered perennial bed or lawn (they naturalize) in March or April.
The temperature was 18 degrees (F) when this photo was taken (the slender green structures framing the flower are the typical leaves of this variety).
Aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal of an early spring bloom and carpet of blue on white, Glory-of-the-Snow also performs a valuable ecological role in the landscape. It provides a food source for honeybees, flies and other insects. Take a walk and tally up all of the flowers in bloom that might be visited by a honey bee for nectar. Here, you’ll find landscape crocuses (Crocus spp.), some willows (Salix spp.; cultivated and natural) — but not much else.
Bees returned to feed soon after the deep freeze, when afternoon temperatures reached 45 – 50 degrees (F).
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.