It’s always a good idea to plant a few winter flowering bee plants just in case there’s an early spring, or there are any pollinators on the wing.
I sorely miss the sound of the bees in winter, but when you have a few bee plants you will always hear the hum of honeybees on sunny, milder winter days. And if you have winter active bumblebees then winter flowering plants are essential.
The winter flowering mahonia earns its place in the garden anyway. It’s evergreen with attractive serrated and prickly leaves all year round. But it comes into its own in winter and starts to flower anytime from November to February depending where you are in the UK.
It bears racemes of yellow, nectar rich flowers in a starry formation and once pollinated there are edible berries for the birds too. But it is the presence of hundreds of flowers all in one place with rich, sweet nectar that makes this plant a winter winner for pollinators.
It can get big and so it needs plenty of space. But you can plant it at the back of the border and let it do its thing. It can be pruned to keep it in shape but beware of the prickles.
This one is Mahonia ‘Charity’ but there are other smaller growing varieties of Mahonia aquifolium that could possibly be grown in a large planter or in a hedge.
Or why not beg a few berries from a neighbours plants and have a go at growing from seed. It will take a few years before it flowers, but you can share your plants around and each one will be a winter nectar bar for bees wherever it grows. Now that’s a nice thought.