hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees

It’s that magical time of the year when all the gardens look lovely! The rhododendrons are blooming all over town and my garden is a riot of purple, pink, blue, and green. We haven’t had as much spring rain as we normally would, but we’ve had some seasonal drab days punctuated by beautiful sunny periods these last few weeks, so everything is growing like crazy. I got some new flowers (more lavender, more lithodora, more white flowering something-or-other that spreads and cascades, and a new plant – a beautiful purple columbine) and three cherry tomato plants in the ground. Now I just have to do the boring bits – weeding, more weeding, and taking care of the garden’s water needs.

garden, currently

Lately I had been thinking about getting a hummingbird feeder. Lots of people seem to have one or two red bottles hanging out in their yard and it seemed like such an easy thing – fill a feeder with sugar water and sit back and watch the hummingbirds come to visit.

But then I did a little research. I had gotten rid of my bird feeders after I found out that if you don’t keep them really clean you can facilitate the spread of illness between birds. And I wasn’t the best at keeping up with cleaning and refilling the feeders. It turned into kind of a nuisance. Well, it turns out that hummingbird feeders present the same issues. They are supposed to be cleaned at least once or twice a week. Sugar water kept in the sun is a perfect growing medium for mold and bacteria. Ideally the feeders should be emptied (by the birds) and refilled every day or so to keep them clean and fresh. Of course I don’t think most people are doing that. But I would feel horrible thinking about harming the little birds I was trying to help.

Oh, and those little feeders with lots of drinking ports are a bit of a con. Hummingbirds are notoriously territorial about their feeding spots, so each feeder will likely only cater to one bird, and having several tiny feeders dotted around the yard is recommended if you’re serious about attracting lots of hummingbirds. So that’s several feeders to gather, clean, and refill every few days.

Sigh. At this point I decided that buying a hummingbird feeder sounded like more trouble than it was worth for me. I dislike having to clean finicky plastic things covered in mold. I don’t want to have to find a little bottle brush to scrub out the crevices of a feeder. I don’t want to have to refill a feeder on a daily or even weekly basis. I’m just not a big fan of maintenance, you know?

And then I started wondering what the simple way to attract and feed hummingbirds (and butterflies and bees) would look like and I realized I already have it right in front of me! A colorful garden with a range of flowers that attract nectar-loving wildlife. I already have hummingbirds – they come to feed on the rosemary, and on the Rose of Sharon. I’ve seen them figure out that the NZ flax flowers are worth drinking from even though they aren’t red or purple. I had gotten the idea to put up a feeder because a hummingbird had “visited” me outside my house while I was talking to a neighbor recently. I already call my garden Beetopia, so I’m on the right track already. Planting a few more varieties of flowers in different parts of the garden that bloom at different times of the year is probably all I need to do to attract more hummingbirds and bees, although now I realize I’m never going to see lots of hummingbirds gathered in one spot to feed.

Letting nature take care of her own is by far the simplest solution to this “problem.”

It’s funny how often I figure out the right “solution” to my “problems” is just to let it go and do nothing. It’s much more fun to talk about turning a mason jar into a bird feeder –  painting it with some special product and then fashioning a feeder out of junk you have lying around the house… or about locating the perfect feeder out of the hundreds on the market. But writing about living simply and frugally is often rather dull because so many stories end with “I realized I didn’t need to buy or do anything at all, so I just let go and stopped seeing this as a problem.”

It’s all too easy to fall prey to the solutions being sold in every store and not notice that you never actually had a problem in the first place.

Just a thought.

Thank for stopping by today,


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2 Responses to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees

  1. Emily says:

    I never knew any of that about bird feeders! Those little birds are lucky you did your research!

  2. Dale says:

    I saw an interesting program on TV the other day on hummingbirds. They have to feed almost continuously to stay alive and go into a torpor during the night to save energy. So keep up with the flowers is the best idea. I have some lavender and it is doing very well. I got your letter yesterday 4th June. Once I dried it out (no damage) I was able to read it and liaise with Lynn over stuff. The photos are just beautiful. Lovely children. Thanks I love getting letters and photos. I promise to respond in kind. LOL Dale
    PS Its good to know that your business in doing well and you get to see more of each other.

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