|Salvias are magnets for hummingbirds. Photos by Jennifer J. Meyer|
Here's my latest column scheduled to run July 9th in the Southern California News Group newspapers including The Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, The Daily Breeze, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and the Riverside Press-Telegram.
The hummingbirds are most active early in the morning at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar. On a recent morning, a tiny Allen’s hummingbird guarded an entire row of California native plants, chasing off competitors that ventured too close to his blooms.
Meanwhile in the sky overhead, a male Anna’s performed an aerial courtship display to impress a potential mate, while scores other hummingbirds squeaked and buzzed around the many species of native plants, seemingly undeterred by the customers strolling through the grounds.
Roger’s Gardens is celebrating Hummingbird Summer with educational displays, events and of course, hundreds of colorful, drought-tolerant California native plants.
On Saturday, July 16, wildlife experts from Sea & Sage Audubon Society, the local chapter of the National Audubon Society will be at the nursery from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to teach visitors about the various hummingbird species that live in or migrate through Southern California. They will be on-hand to answer questions about these important pollinators and teach visitors how to attract them to the garden.
“Hummingbirds are like people, they love beautiful flowers,” said Roger’s Gardens’ horticulturist Sarah Smith. “The key is to have a variety of native plants, because each has a different sugar content.
“It’s a misconception that hummingbirds are only attracted to the color red,” Smith said. “Include a variety of color in the garden and you’ll create a hummingbird buffet.”
They love the many colors of salvias, monkey flowers, gold Agastache or hummingbird mint, the orange firecracker flowers, California fuchsia, just to name a few. They’re also attracted to the blooms on coffeeberry bushes, and Western redbud, Toyon, manzanita and bottle-brush trees.
“They even like the succulent flowers,” she said. And the plant doesn’t need to have a tubular bloom for the hummingbirds to feed.
California native plants are an important food source for birds and other wildlife. These indigenous plants have co-existed and evolved together with birds and pollinating insects over time, each depending on each other for survival and reproduction.
Tune into live-stream videos on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. when Smith discusses a featured hummingbird plant of the week. Other educational videos and hummingbird information can be found at rogersgardens.com.
Participants at the event can try attracting a hummingbird to a hand-held dot feeder at a station near the amphitheater in the nursery.
Throughout the summer, customers who would like to donate to Sea & Sage can round-up their purchase to the nearest dollar to benefit the educational and conservation programs at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Roger’s Gardens will then match the donation amount received through August 28. Last year, the nursery donated $7,559 to the local Audubon chapter from its Hummingbird Summer event.