Monday, March 30, 2009

Holly bush in bloom

Last week took us by surprise.  We had been cruising along at Spring temperatures for a month or so, when a cold front moved through and dropped a bit of snow on us over the weekend.  We can have freezes up until mid-April in central Oklahoma, but the recent warm temperatures had tricked all sorts of plants into sprouting a little earlier than usual.  Saturday morning I took pictures of our tulips topped in snow.  That may happen elsewhere, but it hadn't happened here to my recollection.

Sunday morning was back to usual, with the sun shining and an afternoon high temperature of 65F.  Walking out to the car I noticed a wonderful fragrance of something blooming.  I looked around, trying to figure out what it could be.  The tulips are without scent and nothing else is really blooming right now.  The saucer magnolia was too far from where I was when I smelled the scent.  I mentioned it to my wife and she said she could faintly smell it.

Our red berry holly bush (Ilex cornuta) in the front flowerbed
I walked in and out of the house several more times before I pinpointed the location.  There were bees swarming around me as I walked down the sidewalk by the holly bush.  I must confess that I wasn't a big fan of the holly bush in our front flower bed for quite a while.  I trimmed it up in to a nice shape a couple of years ago and now it is kind of nice, especially with its red berries that seem to be there year-round.  It is an evergreen-and-red bush.  The leaves on this bush are downright vicious, especially once they dry out and turn brown.  You want to wear thick gloves when picking those up.

Bee at work on the holly bush blooms
I had never really paid much attention to the bush as it changes throughout the year.  I really had no idea that it blooms.  It's amazing how many things I miss and how the bees take notice to these same things.

A couple more bees at work
The blooms are not showy, nothing really to look at.  But, man, they really smell good!  I was surprised by this.  And the bush was just covered with bees.  I even saw a couple of flies on several of the clusters of blooms.

Fly at work on the holly blooms
Later in the day, my wife and I noticed that you could smell the bush from our front porch, about 15 feet away.  I'm not surprised that I missed this blooming event in past years, but I can't imagine how I missed the smell as I walked by.  This is definitely an event I will anticipate next year.


  1. I have never saw holly blooms before. The blooms and berries together with the honey bee is a great shot.
    Wish I could smell the blooms :)

  2. I don't think I've noticed a holly bloom either. Great bee picture!

  3. It is amazing what you notice when you start blogging and photographing things. Even the common becomes a thing of beauty!

  4. I don't remember having seen blooms on the holly bush either. Hmmm.....just remember feeling the pain when it would grow into my path.
    The berries area beautiful, though and go with your color scheme you have going---red brick (berries) and green roof (leaves). :-)
    I will need to come take a whiff....

  5. What is the smell? Is it sweet and spicy? I am trying to figure out where this sweet and spicy smell comes from in the spring and summer... a Holly bush always seems to be near by but I cannot find blooms to smell. My husband thinks it is fresh cut grass from people mowing mixed with the scent of honeysuckle, but there is a very distinctive sweet and spicy smell that just doesn't seem to fit the profile of the grass mixed with honeysuckle... the smell just always seems to be in the air in spring and summer and it is my all time favorite smell and I want to recreate it but cannot figure out how. I am in the middle of NC.

  6. Rebecca-
    I don't think I would consider it "spicy," though I would call it sweet. It is very similar to honeysuckle. When you smell it this coming spring, you should walk towards a holly bush and see if the smell gets stronger. You should be able to see little flowers just like the ones I have pictured on this blog post.