Having caught up on our hives, we should now catch up on the trees we have provided specifically for for the bees, an update for last May’s planting and a belated report of new planting this May. While their days of abundant nectar are still years away last year’s plantings all survived fimbulwinter. The locust and bee bee tree were but tiny sticks and died back nearly to the ground but they have rallied with new foliage. Meanwhile the European linden, which had caused us the most worry after planting, looks incredibly hale.

We had planted it in a low area where the water table can get quite high because something we read suggested that it should tolerate that. But soon after planting came frequent heavy rains and the tree showed unhappy signs of overwatering. At four feet high it was already suffering from the shock of being dug up, shipped across the country, and replanted much more than its foot-high fellows. And now before it could develop a proper root system it was drowning. We had decided that in the unlikely case it survived until spring we would move it to a drier area and plant something more suitable in its old place. To our surprise it survived and thrived with water on the surface only yards away.

Meanwhile its intended replacement had arrived, a black gum or tupelo. Probably not the same species made famous by the movie Ulee’s Gold and comfortable in swamps, it is close enough that our occasionally wet site should be no problem. We planted it about twenty five feet from the linden. It has a short bloom season from late April to May in Florida. We shall see what it does in Michigan.

Clethra alnifolia, also called summersweet or sweet pepperbush, has a fragrance that can reach far out to sea from coastal plantings, giving it the additional name of sailor’s delight. We have wanted one to perfume our garden even before we had plans to keep bees. Indeed it is reported to be merely a minor source of nectar but it blooms during July and August when any nectar may be welcome while awaiting the goldenrod.

When bunches of pussy willow branches again became available at the local farmers market we once more bought some and hoped they would develop roots. Willows of all kinds are so fond of developing roots that willow water, that is, water in which willow has been soaked is a home made substitute for the rooting hormone one buys at garden centers. A few did and were to be planted out in the wet area with the one survivor of the four from a previous year. Life, as usual, intruded and we did not plant them in time. Next year, perhaps, we should just stick them straight in the ground. The ones that do not root may at least provide decoys for the deer.

That leaves our little orchard of dwarf fruit trees begun two years ago, still alive but yet to bloom. This year we have added a Hosui Asian pear, for which we ought to be getting a pollinator in the fall.
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