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Durango, Colorado

Purple Passionflower

Irvine, California

Macro photo of Orange Tulip Petals

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Watching our baby hummingbirds grow these past few weeks has been so fascinating. I feel incredibly lucky to have had such a close-up view of this little miracle.

By the beginning of last week the babies were hard pressed to fit their almost adult-sized bodies into the nest and I had no doubt that they’d be ready to leave the nest soon.

Though I never saw these two move much, I’ve read that baby hummingbirds will hold onto the nest with their feet while flapping their wings to prepare for their first flight, so when I saw them perching on the edge of the nest on Thursday I knew that they were almost ready to fly.

I also knew that this was a vulnerable time for them and was really worried when I saw our pesky crows nearby. They were clearly plotting a raid on the nest. We ran out a dozen times a day to chase them whenever they got too close. My little JRT, Emmie, was delighted with this activity — no doubt she thought that we had finally come to our senses about our live and let live policy.

Crows are very skittish creatures and they can be brutal. (If you’ve never seen a crow devour a fledgling, consider yourself lucky.) So I was REALLY worried when I saw just one baby in the nest on Saturday.

All day Saturday the remaining baby perched on the edge of its nest. Come evening it fluffed up its feathers and looked rather pathetic all by its lonesome. I fretted about the crows, the cold and every other thing my imagination could conjure up. First thing on Sunday morning I went to the window and was so relieved to see Mama Bird sitting on the branch just above her baby. Then I noticed the missing baby in the tree above. Hallelujah, the crows didn’t eat it after all!

I realized that this might be my last chance to take a picture of the reluctant little hummingbird, because Mama was trying to get her late bloomer to leave the nest.

As soon as I clicked the shutter, it flew off. Aside for a glimpse or two on Sunday I haven’t seen the babies, but I’m sure they are around here somewhere.

I really miss going to the window to check on them. Curiously it looks like someone has been doing renovations to the nest. That means we might have another clutch of eggs this spring. Wouldn’t that be terrific!

P.S. Type “hummingbirds” into the search box and take a look at earlier pics of the eggs and little hatchlings. To find out how to attract hummingbird to your garden click here.

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My how our babies have grown! It’s been nine days since I last shared photos with you and I think you too will be amazed at the changes.

Here’s how the little ones looked on April 8th when they were about 8 or 9 days old. They are getting their pin feathers and their beaks have begun to darken.

They are sleepy little things. I check on the countless times a day (it’s bordering on obsession) and I always see them resting peacefully under their leafy canopy. Rarely does Mama Bird sit on her nest. She seems to be out and about most of the day, coming home to keep her chicks warm only when the sun is setting.

I’m not really able to take any pics of her feeding the chicks. I read that she feeds them a regurgitated mixture of bugs and nectar every 20 minutes or so. I have managed to get  a glimpse of her feeding them once or twice but, while she usually doesn’t get too bothered by me looking at her babies or taking pictures, she completely freaks if I’m anywhere near while she’s trying to feed them. I took this shot on April 11th when they were 12 or 13 days old.

Our babies have gotten a lot more feathers which is a good thing, because they can no longer snuggle deep into the beautiful nest their Mama built them. As a matter of fact by about 9 days they have enough feathers to regulate their own body temperature.

This next picture is from today. They are about 16 days old and starting to look like hummingbirds — if you look closely at the feathers on their rumps you can see that they are beginning to get a little color.

In a few more days, when they are around three weeks old, they will try their wings. Can’t wait!

Some of you have asked me to take a shot that shows just how little everything is. So here’s your picture. Look at that tiny, tiny wing!

I think that our babies need names, but I’m so lame when it comes to coming up with cute names. So how about some help naming our little birds. Anybody have suggestions — other than Sleepy and Dopey?

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California


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Durango, Colorado

Del Mar, California



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Hello? Tink, tink, tink — anybody out there? Activity in blog-land is at a near standstill and we feel like we’ve been talking to ourselves the past couple of weeks. Of course everyone is busy with the holidays, but still…it’s a little lonely in here.

We thought we’d share a bit about the past gardening season — successes and failures, plants or plant combos that excited us. This kind of review is very helpful for planning for next year’s garden.

Mary Beth: This was my first growing season back in Colorado after 5 years on Block Island. I enjoyed reconnecting with my poor, neglected garden.

My vegetable garden was mostly successful with lettuce, strawberries, beets, herbs, tomatillos, and radishes all doing well. The exceptions were kale, chard and squash, which grew to two inches and then, for reasons unknown, stopped. In spite of that little glitch, I was so pleased with how well the vegetable garden did that I put in more beds with about twice the amount of room for veggies this coming season. I also had great success with the potted vegetables (tomatoes and peppers) that I grew on the deck.

I noticed that our Colorado garden had a lot of pinks and blues. So to remedy this I bought some plants in different colors towards the end of the season. I also divided and moved many plants into new and existing beds this fall. I’m looking forward to seeing how it will all come together.

Plant combos I can’t wait to see when they fill in: new bareroot Basye’s Purple rose from the Rose Emporium planted next to the Iceberg climbing rose. The orange butterfly weed combined with Jupiter’s Beard. The one flower the butterfly weed had in the fall looked amazing with the Jupiter’s Beard, very hot color combo. Agastache ‘Desert Sunrise’ combined with Russian Sage and a soft pink rosa rugosa and miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ that I placed in a new bed next to the pond. This coming season I plan on adding more white, silver and flowing grasses to all the beds.

Barbara: I’m still fighting the idea that I have a shade garden and am frustrated that the low light prevents me from growing any vegetable but lettuce. Still my tomato jealousy was at an all-time low this year because all the gardeners in this coastal region of Southern California had a less-than-ideal tomato season. The weather was too cool and overcast for these sun- and heat-loving plants.

I did find a bit of sun in which to plant blood butterfly weed, Asclepias curassavica, (similar to the one MB planted) with Mexican sage. It looked great. Soon I’ll move them even closer because if I can get them to intertwine a bit I think it would look even better. These are also plants that hummingbirds, and of course butterflies, love. We’re always thinking about the birds and the beneficial insects as we plant.

The coffeeberry — Rhamnus californica ‘Eve Case’ — I planted this spring is doing very well. It’s a handsome plant with large cranberry-to-deep-purple berries (for the birds) and grey-green leaves. I want to get a couple more.

In the next few weeks I’m going to start moving plants around. I’ll give a few of them a second chance in different locations. And I’ll “shovel prune” the ones that didn’t perform.

In my clients’ gardens I had great success with giant blue scabiosa. I just planted Convolvulus cneorum ‘Snow Angel’ in another’s garden. (Click here for a “beauty shot.”) I hope it does well because I’m in love with its sweet white flower and silvery, soft grey leaves.

As we get ready to celebrate a brand new year, we’re looking forward to the growing season ahead of us and to sharing our experiences with all of you. Thanks for coming to visit. We appreciate each and every one of you!

Wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2011!

Barbara & Mary Beth

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Durango, Colorado

Irvine, California


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