This mini-hummingbird garden is in my upcoming Lowe's blog posting.
Have you ever forgotten to plant something you bought? I am guilty of this. I bought lots of onions, shallots, and garlic in February and promptly forgot about them. They languished in my garden shed through the gentle rains of spring, and last week, during a heat spell, I walked inside the shed and smelled the wonderful aroma of onions. "Yikes," I yelled as I grabbed the basket filled with small red and white Cipollinis (the best onions for sauces and caramelizing). "I am SO SORRY I forgot about you."
This was filled halfway with onions, which I have dutifully planted (finally).
I immediately took them to the newly mulched garden beds and planted them around sunflowers, tomatillos, artichokes, and cinnamon basil bordered by Nepeta (catmint, not catnip, but the lovely lavender flowered catmint). Honestly, if I apologized less than a hundred times (once for each onion), I would be amazed. Now here is the thing. I believe that plants have the most amazing will to live, so I'm betting that though many of them were shriveled little fragments of paper, many will survive and thrive.
You can see the Nepeta, the tall spires of love-in-a-mist (I use the seeds as flavorings), and the little twigs sticking up all over. They are markers for the sunflower seeds so that I don't dig them up accidentally (also so my grandkids didn't stomp the seedlings during their hunt for Easter eggs).
I witness the amazing will to live every time I work in my garden or spy a seedling struggling up through a tiny crack in the pavement. When I attended the scion exchange of the California Rare Fruit Growers, I picked up a few twigs of pomegranate to graft onto my old bush, and then I forgot about them until last week. I reached into my jacket pocket, pulled out a handful of twigs, and realized that I had another handful of forgotten possibilities, but I believe in the life force. I stuck the twigs into a glass of water on the kitchen counter and VOILA...
...the miracle of the life force of plants.
I never take the miracle of a plant's life force for granted. So, I am optimistic about the onions and the pomegranates, and I am optimistic about the life burgeoning in my gardens. And, I'm not only talking about plants, but also birds. I want to share the final days with my little family of hummers.
To make sure that they would have plenty to keep them in my gardens, I planted more coral bells, fuchsias, impatiens, and red nasturtiums, and right outside my studio I filled a big container with a mini hummingbird garden.
Heuchera (coral bells are a hummingbird favorite)
Colorful Lotus vine to frill the edges of my hummingbird container garden.
Alum root, Heucheras, and Lotus Vine– watch me design and plant this in my upcoming blog for Lowe's. It includes a video and photographs. I hope it will make planting a hummer garden easier for you. And please, do leave a comment!
Together for the last time.
Perched on the side of the nest, and then LIFT OFF, and I was there to watch its first flight.
Little sister left behind just fluffed up, spread out, and enjoyed the dappled sunlight, the roomy nest, and a mama who kept coming back with food she didn't have to share with anyone.
To say that I checked on this little one 50 times a day is probably no exaggeration. She was so used to me that she barely budged, just sat and eyed me until two days after her big brother had left. Then I walked out to check on her, she helicoptered straight up from the nest and flew away. I'll admit it. I got hit hard with the empty-nest-syndrome (again). I felt relieved that they'd made it, but so sad to lose their welcome presence in my garden and in my life.
Look at all the hair, feathers, and spider web.
I turned to walk to the studio and there she was; the little one sat on a twig above me and chittered her tiny call. I grinned from ear to ear. Ahhh, that amazing life force. Onions that were left unplanted and hummingbirds that thrived despite the odds. I watched as Mama dueled with jays, chased crows, and put up with a nosey human. They made it. Hurrah!
Later in the day, I was feeling blue. I sat at my work table and there, right outside my studio door, was one of the hummingbirds feeding at the coral bells. Maybe I shouldn't wallow in my empty-nest syndrome. Maybe they'll raise their young here someday, and the life force will flourish.
Until next time.
Lovingly and see you in Oklahoma City on June 1st at the Oklahoma County Master Gardeners meeting.
The Kitchen Gardener's Handbook
P.S. Please leave a comment to be eligible for this wonderful book give-away. Jennifer Bartley, the author of Designing the New Kitchen Garden, has written The Kitchen Gardener's Handbook, which is stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey with goodies galore. You'll enjoy great recipes, ideas, and photographs of bouquets you can adapt for your home, an A to Z compendium of edible and decorative plants for the home and garden, and Jennifer's professional yet do-able garden designs. I love it that she describes this as a book that "will help you live with the seasons, embracing what each has to offer." She does it with her inimitable grace and style. I want her to adopt me. Drawing will be next Monday, May 9. Comments must be dated May 8 or earlier.
Remember, members of the Grimy Hands Girls' Club always receive an extra gift if they're the lucky winner, like Susan Freeman of Ash Tree Cottage.
Thank you dear Jennifer for letting me excerpt one of your recipes for others to enjoy. This is a bit esoteric, but I know that many of you will love the process of picking wild elderberry flowers and making your own cordial. I love doing this and haven't done it in years, but I will this year.
Elder Flower Cordial
Makes 6 cups
12 to 15 large flower heads
4 cups sugar
3 cups water
Select flowers at the peak of their bloom: the tiny flowers will be fragrant and white. Remove flowers from the stems and place in a crock pot or ceramic bowl. Zest the lemons and add to the flowers; then slice the lemons very thinly and add them to the bowl with the sugar.
In a saucepan, heat the water until it's just boiling. Pour it over the flower-lemon mixture and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cover and let steep in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days, stirring periodically.
Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth and place in saucepan. Bring the mixture to a hard boil, cook and pour into sterilized glass jars. Attach lids and store in the fridge for 1 to 2 months. Serve with 3 parts of sparkling water or champagne to one part elder flower cordial.