This comes as no great revelation but one of the joys of gardening -- some would almost say a pleasant duty -- is creating a welcome habitat for birds of all kinds. This goes beyond hanging a bird feeder or two. Birds welcome trees and shrubs of all kinds, like nearby water for drinking and bathing and for some fruit eaters like mockingbirds and robins, a fruiting bush can be, well, the cat's meow. Of course you want to take care to hang your feeders where our feline friends can't get at them and for many, it involves trying to keep the squirrels away as well. I live in a second story apartment and I use a suction cup bird feeder, which is both safe from other critters and affords me an eagle eye view. And for my hummer feeder, I use a plant hanger with a swivel hook, having secured it to the outside window frame and then used the swivel to position it directly in front of my kitchen window (only 15' away). Birds also appreciate a nearby tree that they can use for shelter and from which to launch foraging flights to nearby feeders.
You'll have common birds like finches, sparrows, chickadees, titmice and oaktits in your garden. Making the garden bird friendly means you'll have many more of them. While the winter birds have moved on, if you're lucky (as I am) you'll have delightful summer visitors such as Hooded orioles and mockingbirds. Maybe we bird lovers can actually turn the somewhat negative description "For the birds" into a positive description!
So, here are a few photos from my mid-May garden. As those of you who read the blog know, I'm a bit of a collector. This week's photos give evidence of that.
I've posted several photos of my Amorphophallus kiusianus, as the spathe shot upward. Well, it finally opened and here's what all the fuss is about (for those of you that like weird plants). It has that lovely alabaster mottled 'nest' and then the black as night spadix. To be followed later by strange bluish-black 'berries.' As writers say about real life "You just can't make up weird stuff like this."
The latest wowie-zowie petunia -- Cha-Ching Cherry. Nope, didn't make that up either. Very cool colors though. For those of you familiar with the Phantom petunia, this is like that, only red.
I took a closeup photo of my Nigella African Bride to show off its 'Jester's Hat.' They are especially large, and prominent, on this white flowering species.
Although my Pavonia missionum is a bit less hardy than I would like, it produces the most indescribably beautiful flowers. Not much equals its saturated reddish-orangish coral color.
Nope, not a dandelion. Any other guesses? I doubt a look at the leaves would aid in solving this plant's ID. It's Scorzonera hispanica and there's a good chance nobody would even remember its name, much less bother to grow it, except for one wee little reason. Uhh, that would be its INTENSE chocolatey fragrance. There's simply no other flower I've ever heard of that comes anywhere close to this intoxicating fragrance.
Speaking of heavenly fragrances, Iris pallida can hold its own. Sometimes known as the 'grape iris' for its sweet smelling, grape-like fragrance, it adds pretty lavender flowers to its list of reasons to grow it.
Another shot of the fabulously ornate Papaver Lavender Semi-Double. Breadseed poppies may have a short season but there's plenty of wow while they're in bloom. Plus it's very easy to collect the seed.
My Cunonia capensis (Buttrerknife Tree) keeps steadily advancing. You can see three of the stipules in the center of the plant, which open to produce more leaves. My specimen is in year three and yet to bloom but I'm willing to be patient. Meanwhile, love the red stems.
Calluna Firefly.' This heather is supposed to turn red in the winter then have golden new growth in the spring, aging to green. This year the red growth has appeared in spring. Curiouser and curiouser.
Echium Blue Bedder. Want Echium but can't wait for the slow growing perennial bushes? This annual form gives you an instant fix of those wonderful blue flowers, sure to attract bees to it. This guy is just getting started.
Hebe speciosa may have one of the more boring species names (really, that's the best you could come up with?) but it has proven vigorous, disease free and floriferous. So I guess it doesn't need to be called H. 'Cellophane Symphony' or whatever (gratuitous Tommy James & The Shondells reference).
No, this isn't an outbreak of the measles but the wonderfully spotted Crassula alba var. parvisepala. Umm, that's a succulent to you non-succulent geeks. I love this little guy.
And the "First lily of the year" prize goes to Lilium 'Trebbiano." I had to google the word to see where the name might have come from and it turns out it's a type of wine grape from Italy. Not sure why it was chosen for a lily but hey if anyone knows, let me know.
Helenium 'Mardi Gras.' I've posted lots of photos of this vigorous Sneezeweed but it's so colorful that it's hard to resist. Another plant that bees adore and butterflies like it too. Buying it from the nursery, it's slogan could be "A party in every pot!"