I purchased a Kimberly Queen fern at the farmers' market, which looks perfect in a wicker basket I had. I placed it between the front door and the bench, a space that needed some color, height and shape. On the steps, a blue pot holds a caladium, a good shade plant that looks pretty in a container. Rounding out the front porch are a couple of hanging Boston ferns and a calibrachoa Superbells Grape Punch with pretty, two-toned purple flowers.
The ferns in the front garden are coming back beautifully. They always look a bit rough after winter. I love this birdbath, and so do the birds! Regular visitors include robins, catbirds and blue jays. For the backyard, we bought a new birdbath at our favorite garden shop. It's smaller and lower to the ground, and will probably get more use from the dogs as a water bowl.
If you've never fed hummingbirds and are interested in doing so -- and I highly recommend it -- here are some tips. Forgo the packaged mixes and red dye, and instead use a feeder that has red on it, which will attract the birds. Some people believe that red dye may harm the little birds and there really is no need to use it as long as your feeder is red.
Making your own nectar is easy using a one to four ratio: 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar to 1 cup water (do not use any other kind of sugar, honey or artificial sweetener). We boil the water first to remove impurities and pour it over the sugar so it dissolves quickly. Be sure to let the mixture cool before filling the feeder. Change the nectar and clean the feeder frequently during hot weather since mold can form in just a couple of days.
Hummingbirds are amazing and beautiful little creatures. They're also entertaining, especially when there are two or more birds vying for space at a feeder. Hummingbirds are territorial and will chase each other off. I have seen photos in which many hummers are feeding at the same time, but we've never had that happen, have you? To learn more about hummingbirds, here are a few good sources: The Hummingbird Society, Wild Birds Unlimited, National Geographic Kids (video).