Columns

Gardener's Grapevine 2011.07.20

on . Posted in Gardener's Grapevine

What a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It is sunny and, of course, hot.

I guess all living things like water for one or more reasons. We sure could use about 24 hours of a steady rain. Everything is so dry and sun-baked. We’ve been watering the gardens daily. I think I heard the beans actually sigh when we set the sprinkler on them yesterday. 

Everything is doing nicely except the sweet corn. It was planted late and did not come up well. No “knee high” corn at this house.

We picked the first ripe tomatoes and squash this week. Summer tomatoes are like heaven on earth and we eat so many I’m surprised we don’t turn red. Soon we’ll have yummy green fried tomatoes.

I’d like to discuss things different plants attract. One is hummingbirds. These tiny little birds love anything purple or red, including a shirt or porch cushions. I have two hummingbird stories to tell. The first was a few years back when I somehow got talked into creating a history booklet for our church’s 150th anniversary. In order to do this, I needed to know our church’s history, which I did not. So every weekend I sat on our side porch in a comfy wicker chair with my feet up and a drink and read this wonderfully put together war and peace book on our church history, and most of it was so riveting, too.

One Saturday as I sat reading I realized something was buzzing around my head but didn’t sound quite like a bee. Every time I would try to see what it was it would stop, and it was really beginning to annoy me. My husband happened to come out on the porch and told me there was a little hummingbird buzzing just over my head at the flowers. Sure enough, there were purple petunias in a hanging basket and the hummingbird was trying to tell me they were his.

My other story involves Mary Johnson, my best friend and the sweetest person in the world. Unfortunately, when God made Mary he accidentally made her allergic to many things and bees are the worst. Needless to say, she is terrified of them and justly so.

One Saturday my daughter, Mary, and I were sitting on the porch and something the size of the end of your little finger kept buzzing Mary and wouldn’t stop. Of course, being deathly allergic to bees, she thought that’s what it was and had quite a time trying to get rid of it. Fortunately, we realized it was a baby hummingbird and he was trying to see if Mary’s purple shirt would taste good. For such a small animal they sure move fast!

Another plant that attracts hummingbirds is butterfly weed (orange milkweed) and butterfly bush. Butterfly bushes come in different colors, the blooms, that is, and my aunt has a yellow one which is really quite pretty.

Daylilies will attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. Peony bushes attract ants, and while my daughter Jacquie thinks they are nasty, they are really quite necessary if the blooms are to open. There is a nectar in the bud that the ants enjoy and as they clean it up the flower opens up leaf by leaf.

A friend of mine told me a way to bring the peonies inside without the ants. Using a large bucket of water, turn the blooms upside down in the water and shake them gently to get the water off and put them in a vase. The ants are not a nuisance, but a necessity—unless they are red and biting you.

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