Golden Moments

Jan 27, 2009

It blooms in winter and the bees love it. 

Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum), a rambling vine with trumpetlike yellow flowers, is charming visitors in the Storer Gardens at the University of California, Davis. The plant originates from western China. 

The six-petaled blossoms gleam like gold in the wintry garden. When the pelting rain strikes them, they look like delighted kindergarteners splashing around in yellow raincoats. 

Don't be surprised to see winter jasmine among the selections in the half-acre bee friendly garden being planned at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. The nationwide landscape design competition, which ends Jan. 30, is sponsored by Häagen-Dazs. The garden is expected to be a reality by October. 

Unfortunately, the winter jasmine has no fragrance. But that doesn't stop the bees from greeting and hugging the flowers and gathering pollen.  It would take the long beak of a hummingbird to reach into the trumpetlike flower for the nectar. Or a carpenter bee to slit the corolla and steal the nectar.  

But for now, on the afternoon of Jan. 24, 2009, the moments are golden.