10 Mar 2021

Nature wakes

Ardd Fotaneg · Botanic Garden

The deep blue sky is reflected on the twinkling surface of the lakes, where mallard ducks seem to cackle as you pass and Canada geese float peacefully across the water. Red kites and buzzards silently soar above, as they hunt for prey over the meadows of Waun Las National Nature Reserve, silhouetted against the few fluffy clouds drifting slowly across the sky.

In the Double Walled Garden, honeybees buzz past your ear as they head towards the pink and white winter-flowering heather. They drink nectar frantically and pack grey pollen into their pollen baskets, before returning to the hive to deposit these valuable resources, where other worker bees are swiftly leaving to go on cleansing flights and to locate other early-flowering sources of nectar and pollen.

They are overlooked by a robin perched proudly on top of the wall, confidently projecting its melodious song across the Garden, almost competing with the inconspicuous green woodpecker that seems to be laughing in the treetops. Below, a blackbird rummages around in the flower beds, flicking soil in all directions in its intense search for worms whilst nearby, a mouse hastily scuttles along the bottom edge of the wall to the gateway, in the hope of going unnoticed by human eyes.

Delicate snowdrops and fragrant daffodils sway in the gentle breeze, forming a sea of golden-yellow and pearl-white outside the Stable Block. Across the Garden, crocuses are blooming in a variety of colours, such as deep purple and brilliant orange, adding a pop of colour to the flower beds where little else has appeared. Newly emerged queen buff-tailed bumblebees crawl across them and dive into them headfirst to drink nectar, resurfacing with their fuzzy faces dusted in bright yellow pollen. They clean it off their eyes and antennae with their forelegs, and then fly clumsily to the next set of flowers that takes their fancy to gather more resources for their new nests. Common and tapered drone flies sit atop the stigmas, with their ommatidia looking like little pieces of glitter in the sunlight. They are often disturbed by an industrious honeybee who has also discovered the valuable rewards the crocuses offer. Dotted amongst the crocuses in the flower beds, lungwort is emerging, like little sapphire jewels against the dark soil, enticing honeybees and hoverflies alike.

We really hope that the Garden will be open to the public soon so that the magnificent display of nature’s beauty can be enjoyed with us!