Planting and enjoying a Hummingbird Garden

Published 2:55 pm Monday, July 12, 2010

Boy, its hot out there, and I think you will all agree with me. The dog days of summer are certainly upon us. Many of our local birds sit in the deep shade, only coming out to feed, drink and bathe. Even normally active animals lie sleeping to avoid too much exertion.

The only animals that seem to have any zip left in their step are the hummingbirds. Their energy seems to tire you out just watching them. Through the kitchen window I can watch their frantic activities throughout the day as they feed at the flowers and chase each other around the garden. I dont think any other bird in the eastern U.S. has more character than the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. They live life at a frenetic pace, never stopping anywhere longer than a few seconds, before it is off again to the next port of call.

In our garden here in Asheville, we have a well-established hummingbird garden, and as l speak, the flowers are wilting in the heat as the light catches the wing-movements of a hummingbird as it pauses at a scarlet Crocosmia.

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This garden has been slowly growing over the past 10 years of living in this house. We dug up a section of the lawn (a vastly over-rated ecosystem!), planned and designed the bed, bringing in additional topsoil to give the plants a fighting chance of survival in our heavy clay soils. Peat and fertilizer were carefully added to the soil and the bed was then left to settle before we started the planting.

The aim was to have flowers in bloom as long as possible during the summer months giving us color and food throughout the year. Perennials were planted such as Lambs Ear, various Day Lilies, Coral Bells, Crocosmia and many more. The bed is now ablaze with all of the aforementioned flowers, plus others we have added over the years.

And to cap the whole thing off, the hummingbirds are visiting the garden on a daily basis, although we did entice them with a couple of feeders filled with sugar-water. They now visit the flowers throughout the day, working their way up and down the tall blue spikes of the blue sage and into the tiny pink blossoms of the Lambs Ears.

Its a delight throughout the hot summer months whenever we have a spare few minutes to stop and take time to enjoy the flowers.

Simon Thompson has lived in WNC for the past 16 years. He owns and operates his own birding tour company, Ventures Birding Tours.

If you have birding questions, please drop Simon an e-mail at the above site.