A Hummingbird Tale: If you build it, they’ll come; if you take it down, they’ll kick butt

My husband, Stephen Nichols, is a bird-lover. Let me just say that he feeds the outdoor birds the entire year, and has feeders for every bird need. In particular, Stephen lives for hummingbird season. He’s studied this matter deeply, and we have planted flowers to attract them, and have at least three feeders up between April and October. We built it, and they did come. Since we have a nice back deck, we often eat out there, and get to watch the hummingbirds diving, swooping, hovering, skipping about the yard and neighborhood. We never have more than one or two, but they are quite regular visitors.

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A patch of sun, a little love, and . . . WOW!

A while back, May 6 to be precise, I wrote a blog entry entitled Now that we have a patch of sun. I told you about how we had tried for 8 years to make a shade garden, and now had ended up with a sunny patch in the corner of our garden. I said I tilled the soil, weeded, put in some dahlias and vines in memory of my great grandmother, encouraged the perennials we planted last year, and gave the new sun garden my blessing: “Poof, grow!” It’s been a little less than two months since that day, and the miracle of the garden has evolved. I thought you might like to pay a re-visit to that special little corner. So here is an overview shot of it (from the same point that I took the picture in the last blog entry), and then I will comment and add a collage of 4 close-ups.

Our sun garden on June 30.
Our sun garden on June 30: clockwise from center left, white coneflower, menarda, rose, black-eyed susan, hosta, shasta daisy, daylily, and lemon balm

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Maintaining the Shade Garden

I wish I could show you a picture of what the west shade garden in our back yard looked like in April of last year. It was totally congested with Virginia creeper and Indian Strawberry. I mean, it was BAD! As you can see from the included pictures, we now have a nice combination of  Vinca Minor and English Ivy. I inherited the care of the garden after Stephen unfortunately developed joint disease. He would rather do it, and I am glad to do it, but at 70 + years, I have to make my bendings, kneelings and pullings count. I think I have done that, and I am here to write about it.

Ivy and Vinca Minor as Shade Garden Ground Cover
Ivy and Vinca Minor as Shade Garden Ground Cover

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Now that we have a patch of sun

IrisWhen we moved to this 1895 townhouse in 1998, the back 1000 was basically 8 cleveland pears, 4 to a side, a nice back deck, and dirt (& rocks, glass, yetch, etc.). I remember Steve’s brother driving his camper through the back gate and parking under the trees. But the house was such a deal (under 100K) that we couldn’t worry about the state of the garden. Since that time, first Stephen, and then I, have been putting that dirt to work big time. But always we have been struggling with making a shade garden … until three years ago, we just had one of the trees removed! That created about a 100 sq. ft. patch of ground next to the back walk where there are at least 4 hours of direct sun every day. Two years ago, we planted an ever-blooming rose, some menarda, iris and day lilies. Last year, we planted a white cone flower and a black-eyed susan. There is also a clematis on the south fence. These were all perennials, so they all came back. And then a few days ago, I put in a few herbs, such as a dill plant, chives and a Mexican sage.

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