The lively activity of the past months has come to a standstill now that winter has truly arrived but, amongst the bare branches, a rambling rose bush is still producing bunches of elegant white blooms that have not yet been affected by the cold weather and frosts.
On a cold, dank day even the birds are scarce and the only signs of action on the plot are a few upturned onions that I carefully planted a few weeks ago. Squirrels are presumably the culprit, foraging for food although the bulbs have been left uneaten, discarded beneath the chickenwire which has not been a good deterrent.
Most of the beds have been mulched over apart from one in which the winter cabbages are coming along slowly but there is yet no sign of the broad beans. If these are unsuccessful I shall make a second sowing in February or March.
A nesting box made with pieces of cut bamboo is attached to the front of the shed. Here Red Mason Bees, who are otherwise known to nest in holes and cavities that they may find in the soft mortar of walls, can lay their eggs. They are a wild bee native to Britain and are very efficient pollinators, especially of fruit trees.
During the spring the females lay a single egg in each nest cell which is then sealed up with mud. Following the larva and pupa stage, the adult bee will not emerge from the cell until the following spring. The nest box has been well used this year as almost all the holes have been sealed and the new bees may well nest in the same site next year.