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Gardeners Continue Learning, about Lichen
May 27, 2008

My apologies for not mentioning a Tuesday letter instead of Monday.

With many of you enjoying a long holiday weekend, Tuesday works. beside that, I was stuck working all of the long week end.

For northern garden centers, Memorial weekend is "THE WEEKEND." Mild and warmer temperatures came just in time as we were swamped.

When is the big push for plants in the Provinces?

Things continue to grow and more baby birds appear in our yard.

We do need rain, however.

Mama duck is still sitting on her nest at the garden center. I'm guessing another week plus before eggs hatch.

She is a good girl.

More hummers are visiting the feeders now and that makes us happy.

Continue offering nesting material for your birds.

Offer clean egg shells too.

Egg shells offer calcium for egg laying females and also works as a grit for all birds and we know that birds need grit.

Bird bath activity is really making a big splash these days. It is important to a keep fresh water supply for birds.

They need it for drinking, bathing and some birds require water for nest building.

For us, it is a joy to watch as some like Chickadees daintily come for a drink, while Robins, Blue jays and sparrows dive right in.

Besides, water attracts more birds and even butterflies and other thirsty insects.

On a couple of walks last week, Keet decided to eat a couple of Dandelion puff balls.

Great I think to myself, not only will she deposit them in my yard, but fertilize them as well if I don't get it right away.

We spotted a couple of baby Woodchucks as they quickly scurried into their hole in the ground.

I hope they stay way from my yard.

I see more wildlife and activity on nature walks. All a person has to do is keep their eyes and ears open. Eventually you will learn what to look at and look for.

Today's letter will be on hummingbird gardens and a small history lesson.

I haven't been on my "orange crate" in several months, or so it seems. So, this seems as good of time as any to climb on my crate.

The celebration of Memorial Day has passed, but how about this short history lesson?

Memorial Day

Memorial Day originally called Decoration Day, has its roots in the late 1800's following the Civil War.

Many different cities and towns lay claim to being the birthplace of Decoration Day.

Women's groups in the South were decorating graves with flowers before the end of the Civil War.

General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed May 30 as Memorial Day in his General order No. 11.

Most calendars today will still designate May 30 as Memorial Day, but it is celebrated on the last Monday of the month to create a long holiday weekend for Federal workers and many other businesses followed suit.

Interestingly, the South refused to acknowledge the designated day, they honored their dead on a different day until World War I changed the holiday to honoring all Americans who died in any war.

It was also WWI that reinforced the decorating with flowers idea.

Somewhere, we lost the meaning of Memorial Day.

It isn't about the Indy 500, cook-outs, or camping.

Memorial Day is a day to honor not only our fallen heros, but all of the people that put their life on the line for the rest of us.

In an election year when we are at war, gas prices are through the roof, recession is debated and jobs are lost.

We hear all the time how bad things are and we point blame at our leaders.


Shouldn't we be reminding ourselves and others of the amazing freedoms we enjoy due to the sacrifice of countless others who went before us?

The grass is green on this side of the fence.

Are there some weeds?

Sure, but there have always been weeds.

We are free in the greatest nations on earth.

All men are created equal and fighting for the preservation of life, liberty and happiness is a noble cause.

Are things really that bad?

Or do we have to remember what was done for us and work to make a difference?

Let's gratefully remember and accept the sacrifices of those currently and before us and use the freedom we have to do work before us.


Because the ceiling and visibility is unlimited, and the grass is green.......

Instead of complaining, we need to pray for our leaders at all levels of government.

We need to pray for our men and women in harms way.

We need to pray for our countries and for each other.

We need to remember all of those that went before us and gave the ultimate sacrifice so we can have the blessings of cook-outs, camping and events like the Indy 500.

Thank a soldier, fire-fighter or police officer next time you see one.

Thank your "Creator" for all that you have.

Do it today.


I'll step off my orange crate now.

Hummingbird Gardens

We all love hummingbirds and many of us wish we could attract more to our yards and gardens.

I grew up in rural Michigan which means the only hummers we have is the Ruby-throated hummer.

My parents didn't get into feeding birds till I got them into it, but my mom always planted flowers just to attract hummingbirds and we always had hummingbirds (mom called them her little hummies).

I've lived in the country, the city and now suburbia and every home we lived in, we managed to attract at least one hummingbird.

Now, that being said, it is easier to attract these jewels if you are in a more rural setting or at least live near certain areas.

Some hummers like Ruby-throated hummers do indeed prefer a rural setting, but that doesn't mean you can't attract them. I have and still do.

Anna's hummer has adapted to people and indeed has expanded their territory because of our exotic plantings. They seem to enjoy the city or suburban life along the Pacific coast.

So, what makes up a hummingbird garden?

Like all birds, hummingbirds need food, water, protection and if you are blessed, nesting.

Food is provided by our nectar feeders and certain flowers that hummers prefer.

You can offer protection by planting shrubs an trees (make sure some are evergreens).

Not only do shrubs offer protection and a place to rest, but they offer places for out little birds to perch as they protect their little kingdom.

Wet foliage offers a place for hummingbirds to bathe and take an occasional drink (most liquid comes from nectar).

Misters and sprinklers offer hummers a quick shower.

What a treat it is to watch a little hummingbird fly through a mister or sprinkler. Sometimes you may see them taking a leaf bath as they rub the wet foliage from your sprinklers.

Like all birds, hummingbirds have keen eyesight and see in living color, so they have no problems spotting a desired flower.

Now imagine how attractive a whole flower bed or beds must be.

Their little eyes must almost pop out when they see what looks like the mother load.

Now you have hummingbirds hanging around your flower garden you made with them in mind.

Trust me, they will hang around your yard more often when there isn't a need to go elsewhere to look for food.

Why go hunting elsewhere when you have provided everything they need.

Big patches of color (reds, pinks, oranges and other desired plants) are just what the hummer ordered.

Offer up fresh nectar water in your feeders and what hummer can refuse.

You may want to plant some Zinnias or other flowers that attract tiny insects.

On a regular basis, I watch my hummers hover over a Zinnia flower licking insects with their barbed tongue.

Yes, the high performance engines need protein and insects fit the bill.

If possible, plant your flowers and flowering shrubs here you can enjoy them and the hummers that visit.

Its not much fun when you can't see the birds.

Plant near a patio or even a special window you enjoy looking out.

If space is limited, plant a window box filled with red salvia or a nice pot.

If a hummer is around, they will find you and will come back next year to the exact same spot looking for food.

Remove the food source and they will go else where and that bird may never return as it establishes a new territory that offers what it needs.

But who wants to risk losing their hummingbirds?

As you may see, there is a responsibility to keep.

As your garden grows, you may catch a glimpse of one bird chasing another away.

Action heats up when the youngsters get in on the action.

Birds are buzzing each other and flying around in a dizzying display.

When fall migration returns, you may live in the middle of a migration path and hummers will fill your flowers and feeders.

Fall migration is the only time when hummingbird tolerate each other. There is no territory to defend and there is no big hurry like there is for the migration North.

If you have patience, you can have them feed from your hand. I've never had that experience, but I have had them feed while hanging onto a feeder.

No matter where you live, there are native hummingbird flowers and several exotics that attract hummers.

High on my list are native Monarda and Hyssops.

For a flowering annual I plant red salvia all over the place.

You can never go wrong with any of these plants.

Besides offering the tubular shaped flowers, they have very little if any smell. This is a good thing, because bees and many other pollinators hunt by smell.

Nothing like minimizing the competition.

An added bonus is they are also rabbit and deer resistant plants if you live where that is an issue.

Hummingbird gardens are easy to plant and grow and the joy they offer is endless.

Even in the arid southwest, you can have a hummingbird garden.

Plan and plant a hummingbird garden soon if you haven't already.

Plant some of the plants on the hummingbird flower list and you wont be sorry.

After all, if hummers are around, you want to join the fun.

Well, that's it for now.

Before I go, here is your thought for the week.

If anything is worth trying at all, it's worth trying at least 10 times.

Art Linkletter

Those are some true and powerful words.

Words that makes you want to smile.

And when you smile you just feel better and act better.

Smiles rub off onto others.

Just think of the positive chain reaction you started with a simple smile

Now go out and share your smile at least 10 times this week.

Until next time my friend.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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