17 March 2009
admiral proves me wrong
This Red Admiral woken by the warm weather was up and down the garden for most of the day. It was feeding here and there but not settling anywhere for long, far too warm and wary to get close to. Until it landed on a head of bergenia blossom. The butterfly sat for long periods with its tongue uncoiled deep into the flowers, pulsating as it pumped up nectar.
I am unsure about bergenias. I admire in good forms their cast iron constitutions, early bloom, and big, bold, healthy, winter-red leaves but some are an incongruous pink, stubby stalked with dirty leaves cut from green flabby latex and seem to lurk grimly immortal in churchyards and unhappy places being gnawed at by weevils. This is one of those - Bergenia cordifolia (I think) - it has few redeeming features and it irritates me every spring.
I have recently planted two named varieties, Abdenglut and Ballawley, with better colour and posture to replace them over the coming years. This was to have been without mercy but maybe now that would be hasty (or not - they will take a good few years to bulk up enough to split and spread around). I hadn't noticed that these flowers held any special attraction for early insects refueling. I will keep an eye on it. Good sources of early nectar are invaluable and there may be a corner where an old bergenia can be tucked away if it proves so good for the early feeders.
Of course if luck has it then the new ones will be better at this too - then I'll rip the olduns out by the roots - ugly things!