Tag Archives: Native Honeysuckle

WELCOME TO GOOD HARBOR BEACH!

A surprise meeting with a beautiful female Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

She is drinking nectar from the wildflower Saponaria officinalis. The plant’s many common names include Soapwort, Bouncing-bet, and Wild Sweet William. The name Soapwort stems from its old fashioned use in soap making. The leaves contain saponin, which was used to make a mild liquid soap, gentle enough for washing fine textiles.

Saponaria blooms during the summertime. Although introduced from Eurasia, you can find this wildflower growing in every state of the continental US.

The hummingbird in the clip is a female. She lacks the brilliant red-feathered throat patch, or gorget, of the male. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are all around us, you just have to know what to plant to bring them to your garden. Mostly they eat tiny insects but if you plant their favorite nectar-providing plants, they will come!

If I could only grow one plant to attract the Ruby-throats, it would be honeysuckle. Not the wonderfully fragrant, but highly invasive, Japanese honeysuckle, but our beautiful native trumpet honeysuckle that flowers in an array of warm-hued shades of Spanish orange (‘John Clayton’), deep ruby red (‘Major Wheeler’), and my very favorite, the two-toned orange and red ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’

Lonicera sempervirens’ Dropmore Scarlet’

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird drinking nectar from zinnia florets.

Hummingbird Fall Banquet

Crimson-eyed Rose mallow ©Kim Smith 2014Native Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moshuetos)

Fall Blooms for Tiny Travelers ~ just as we can create milkweed corridors in summer and aster corridors in autumn for the Monarchs, we can provide a nourishing banquet for the weary Ruby-throated Hummingbirds so that they may rest and refuel on their southward migration.

Lonicera John Clayton. ©Kim Smith 2010.Native Honeysuckle ~ Lonicera sempervirens ‘John Clayton’

Jewelweed ©Kim Smith 2014Native Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Hibiscus ©Kim Smith 2014jpgHibiscus 

Visiting Liv in Brooklyn: Gardens at the HighLine, Battery Park, and The Bosque

Liv Hauck ©Kim Smith 2013Snapshots from a recent trip to Brooklyn and NYC to visit my darling daughter Liv.

We had a wonderful time walking everywhere and dining out. Liv always takes me to the most fun restaurants with fabulously yummy food, and they are never too pricey; the prices are comparable to our favorite Gloucester restaurants.

Native Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens High Line NYC ©Kim Smith 2013 copyNative Honeysuckle for the Hummingbirds at the HighLine

For our HarborWalk Gardens, I had wanted to to see what’s in bloom at the HighLine gardens during the late summer and early fall, as well as what was blooming at Piet Oudolf’s designs for the Battery Gardens of Remembrance and The Bosque.

Harlequin Glorybower Clerodendrum trichotomum  ©Kim Smith 2013At the HighLine, we paused for some length at the stunning grove of Japanese Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum trichotomum); whose one of several common names befits it’s great beauty–Harlequin Glorybower Tree. The stop-dead-in-your-tracks-deliciously-fragrant blossoms float atop a canopy of  fluttering leaves. The blooms are similar looking to jasmine flowers, but are even more sweetly scented. A magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds, the tree blooms at a time of year when much of the rest of the garden is winding down. The glorious glorybower is on my wish list for next year and, as it is just barely hardy through zone 6, I’ll find a sheltered and protected spot in which to experiment.

The Bosque Spiral Fountain ©KIm Smith 2013The Spiral Fountain at The Bosque (Spanish for a “grove of trees”), with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Battery Park Park, New York City.

Liv Hauck -1©Kim Smith 2013jpg copy

A grove of Magnolia viginiana at the HighLine

Where to Place Your Hummingbird Feeders

Another great hummingbird question from my friend Kate:

Where do you place the feeders? Are they okay out in the open and, if so, do the hummingbirds become too nervous to feed if they can be seen by birds of prey?

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer feeding at a station where they perch and observe the landscape, and then zoom in. Typically, I recommend hanging the feeders on the lower limbs of trees and on shepherd’s hooks close to shrubs and above perennial wildflowers, about four to five feet off the ground.  I haven’t read or heard too much about birds of prey in regard to hummingbirds; they move too fast, however, bluejays are said to attack nestlings. House cats and praying mantis pose a more serious threat to hummingbirds.
Native Honeysuckle Lonicera 'Dromore Scarlet'Native Honeysuckle Lonicera ‘Dropmore Scarlet’
The greatest threat to hummingbirds is development resulting in loss of habitat and nectar-rich wetland plants. By placing hummingbird feeders in the garden during the months when little nectar is available (April, May, and October), creating habitats in our backyards, and planting their preferred nectar-rich wildflowers help mitigate the loss of hummingbird habitat, and greatly increases their chance of survival.