Tag Archives: saffron

Flowers for Pollinators II

Vegetables And Herbs

As I mentioned in the previous post, I left some vegetables and herbs flowering for pollinators and for seeds.  It also helps to draw beneficial insects into the vegetable patch.  The downside is that these beneficial insects don’t discriminate, they eat anything they can grab, honeybees and bumblebees included.  But we never have to spray our vegetables.

Globe or Greek basil has very strong flavor for a very small basil. I let some flower and draw a lot of bees in
Globe or Greek basil has very strong flavor for a very small basil. It’s only 6 inches tall with tiny bright leaves.  I grow many types of basil and found that they cross pollinate as well.  Last year I planted seeds I collected from the Globe basil but the basil that grew from it turned to be a short basil with small green leaves, a hint of purple and with a Thai basil taste.
Anise hyssop is everyone favorite-bees, wasps, butterfly and I.
Anise hyssop is everyone’s favorite, bees, wasps, butterflies and myself.  I like to brush against it which causes it to release an anise aroma.  The tiny flowers are also good in salads or desserts as it has a sweet nectar and anise scent.  Once the flower fades, the American Goldfinches take over for the seeds.
This is a honey bee favorite, Garlic chive. The flower is edible with strong chive flavor. Sometime I wonder if it will make honey smell and taste like chive
This is a honey bee favorite, Garlic chive or Chinese chive.  The flower is edible with a strong chive flavor. Sometimes I wonder if it will make the honey smell and taste like chive.
Any type of mints will do, they love it. Just don't forget to cut the spent flower off otherwise there will be plenty of mints in the garden. I have that problem and have to pull seedlings out.
Any type of mint will do, they love it.  Just don’t forget to cut the spent flowers off otherwise there will be plenty of mint in the garden as it spreads like crazy.  I have that problem and have to pull seedlings out.
Borage has pretty lavender and pale pink color that taste like cucumber
Borage has pretty lavender and pale pink colors and tastes like cucumber.  Flowers are good in salads and sweets.  However, it self-sows easily and can take over your garden in no time.
I love broccoli raab for it bitter taste. The wild one is very hardy
I love broccoli raab for its bitter taste.  Birds love the seedpods. The wild one is very hardy.
Chinese broccoli is one of my favorite
Chinese broccoli is one of my favorites.  It’s great in soup, stir-fry.  It’s also very hardy and self-sows.
Saffron is a type of crocus that bloom in late summer. I let the bees have the pollen before I picked three stamens off to dry.
Saffron is a type of crocus that blooms in late summer.  I let the bees have the pollen before I harvested three stamens off to dry.
I plant lavender along our walkway and stonewall where we can brush against them to create aroma in the garden. Not that many flowers that are deer and rabbit proof but this is one of them
I plant lavender along our walkway and stonewall where we can brush against them to release their perfume in the garden.  Not that many flowers are deer and rabbit proof but this is one of them

There are many more herbs and vegetables in our garden as both of us love eating fresh vegetables and drinking herbal tea.  Rubbing fresh herbs in your hands for the scent is also very refreshing.  I think the herb pollen that mixes in with the honey is also a good medicinal property.

Next will be flowers for bees from what we love to hate….weeds.

Autumn Flowers

Blooming When Nothing Else Does

I’ve been looking for flowers that bloom in autumn when nothing else will bloom.  I’m just trying to give our garden some color and the bees a late snack on any day that is warm enough for them to come out of their hives.  Not that many plants bloom at this time of year even the Goldenrod have already faded.

After some searching, I found Waterlily Colchicum and Fall White Crocus and planted them in late September.  Saffron also blooms in autumn but somehow they have not produced flowers this year.  I harvested some Saffron last year but this year there are plenty of leaves but no flowers.  Hopefully some will produce some flowers before it gets too cold.

Saffron flower from last year
Saffron flower from last year

I actually encountered the Waterlily Colchicum for the first time a couple of years ago at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when I attended the Chili Festival.  It was a love at first sight.  There was a large patch of them blooming but I didn’t know what they were until I found them in a plant catalog.  Here they are, a beautiful pink water lily look alike on dry land.

Waterlily Colchicum flowers among autumn leaves
Waterlily Colchicum flowers among autumn leaves
Up close. They really look like waterlily.
Up close. They really look like waterlily.
This Crocus blooms in autumn. Not many of them left from squirrels and chipmunks scavenging.
This Crocus blooms in autumn. Not many of them left from squirrels and chipmunks scavenging.

It’s nice to see colors in autumn that are not orange, yellow or red.  Hopefully there will be more of them next autumn.

 

 

Last Resource

Ode to a Honeybee In Late Autumn

We are having a warm autumn this year.  The daytime temperature is still hovering above 50° F on most days but drops back to slightly above 30° F at night.  We had frost for a couple of days early on in the season which killed off most of the garden.  So there is not much left for the bees.

Honeybees being honeybees, they still come out looking for food when the temperature is above 50° F and to relieve themselves as well.  We had fed them in mid-October but now we still worry that their food storage may not be enough for a winter that has not yet come.  Since they spend more energy flying around instead of semi-hybernating in the hive during this time of year, they probably have gone through more of their storage than usual.  So we are putting sugar syrup out on warm days.   They know exactly where the feeder is and zoom right to it.   They still go for any flowers they find blooming at this time of year: Alyssum, Chinese broccoli, Broccoli raab and…Saffron.

Alyssum, despite being tiny and low to the ground, they weather a light frost quite well. They smell like honey too.
Alyssum, despite being tiny and low to the ground, they weather a light frost quite well. They smell like honey too.
I let some broccoli raab flower and it turned out to be a good thing.
I let some broccoli raab flower and it turned out to be a good thing.
Honeybee collecting pollen from saffron flower
Honeybee collecting pollen from saffron flower

I should have grown more saffron but I always start small with any newbies.  If it fails I haven’t wasted much.  My fellow blogger suggested that I may be able to leave them outside since they are hardy to zone 6.  I will leave one pot out as an experiment.  If they are like other crocuses that bloom in spring (which I grow in the ground) they should be fine.  Then I can have plenty of saffron for tea and cooking, and plenty of food for honeybees in late autumn.

This girl didn't even wait for the Chinese broccoli to open fully
This girl didn’t even wait for the Chinese broccoli to open fully
They also go for the water at the heated birdbath
They also go for the water at the heated birdbath

Late Autumn

Back to Blogging

It has been five months since I posted last.  Aside from busy with work and garden, my doctor advised me to spend less time in front of the computer.  Bursitis and pinched nerve have been giving me aches and pain in my shoulders and arms.  So after a long day of sitting in front of a computer at work, sitting in front of one at home is not recommended.  Surprisingly enough, doing garden chores helps to ease the discomfort and after some routine exercise I’m back.

Autumn is almost gone and we are ready for winter.  All the tropical plants are down in their basement winter camp and the beehives are wrapped up to keep the girls snug.  All the leaves are gone but there are some flowers left in our garden and the Saffron is one of them. We are growing Saffron (Crocus sativus) for the first time and they are blooming.

Sprouting up after a few weeks in the ground
Sprouting up after a few weeks in the ground
Unfurling flower
Unfurling flower
Blooming one after another
Blooming one after another

I’ve been collecting their threads (stigmas) almost daily and dry them on a paper towel for a couple of days before preserving them in the vial.  They have such a subtle scent.

Full bloom with three bright orange stigmas
Full bloom with three bright orange stigmas
Close up
Close up

I’m not sure I can leave them outside during winter.  Winter here can be brutally cold (down to -4F last winter).  They’re in pots now and I plan to put them in the garage once the temperature drops below the freezing point.  Hopefully they’ll grow back and bloom next autumn so I don’t have to pay a hefty amount for just a few threads.

Drying threads on paper towel
Drying threads on paper towel