Also, lime-blossom time, lemon-blossom time, peach, apricot, plum, rose, petunia, sweet pea, Senna, penstemon, and a whole lot of other blossom time.
This morning, standing in the middle of the rear yard here at the Ranch, the landscape was literally buzzing with the activity of honey bees and hummingbirds. For sheer floral display, scent, and hyper-frenetic activity, no Mardi Gras celebration can hold a candle to Shrove Tuesday in the Desert Garden. No bead-throwing, but the honey bees are scattering citrus blossoms everywhere.
This is the first of the year's major nectar flows, and all the bees and hummingbirds take advantage of the bounty. It is also the most important part of the year for the gardener cultivating tree fruits. Most of our citrus trees, and all of our deciduous fruit trees – apple, plum, apricot, peach – bloom only once a year. The blossoms pollinated right now become the fruits we harvest in the coming months; no pollination, no fruit.
That gives us each a special responsibility at this time of year: don't spray anything bad in your yard.
If you normally use systemic insecticides on your roses, fast-acting weed-killers in your yard, bug spray around your home, weed and feed in your turf, or anything similar, now is the time to take a break. At this time of year, anything you spray anywhere will end up in the bees and the butterflies and the hummingbirds fluttering around your landscape.
In the past few years, bee populations in the United States have been devastated by unknown causes; the scientists are still figuring out why, but while they work on it, we can each do our part and decide not to poison the bees in our own little neck of the woods. And even if you don't have fruit trees, one of your neighbors does, so do it for their sake.
We'll make a deal: you give up spraying for Lent, and I'll let you eat all the chocolate you want.