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Do you ever wonder what hummingbirds ‘talk’ to each other about?  To be honest, I had never considered this before….that is until had the opportunity to eavesdrop on a conversation between two visitors to my garden.

Let me set the stage first…..it was early evening and the sun was setting.  I was inside when I happened to look out into the back garden and noticed not one, but TWO hummingbirds sitting in my Palo Blanco tree.  I rushed to grab my camera and began taking pictures through my window. 

Because the way the light of the setting sun was shining, I could not see the colors of the hummingbirds. 
Not content to stay inside, I ventured out into the garden and slowly approached the tree so that I would not scare them away…..I just had to get closer to get a better picture of them and to eavesdrop on their conversation.
I could actually hear them ‘talking’ to one another.  Since male hummingbirds are extremely territorial, I assumed that this was a male and a female.  Maybe they were discussing their children, which made me wonder if they had a nest nearby.  I have seen a few hummingbird nests before and my secret dream is to discover a hummingbird nest in my garden someday 🙂
After talking for a few minutes to each other, one of the birds decided that it was time to leave…..
Which left only one…..
I was thrilled to listen in on their conversation and the hummingbirds let me get quite close.  They probably didn’t mind because they realized that I couldn’t understand a word they were saying 😉

During the summer months, I enjoy spending time in my garden in the evenings, just as dusk settles in.  I love the warm dry heat, without the bright sun beating down on me.  I like how the light from the setting sun brings a new dimension to the garden.

One of my ‘Desert Museum’ Palo Verde trees is a late bloomer and is still in full flower, which this bee is taking full advantage of.  I love how the sunlight shines through it’s delicate yellow petals.
My attention is drawn to another one of my favorite trees, my Palo Blanco (Acacia willardiana).  The common name, translated into English means ‘white stick’, which refers to the white trunk.  I have three of these trees and I walked over to see the delicate foliage and seed pods.
While I was standing there, my attention was captured by what was going on higher up in the tree.  There were two hummingbirds enjoying the setting sun, just as I was.
I couldn’t believe how close I was and they were aware of my presence, but I think that they were so focused on each other, they could care less about a human standing nearby.
Because of the lighting, I could not tell what color they were to identify what species they were.  I would make a guess that they were Anna’s though.  I am sure they are a mating pair.  I wonder where they have built their nest?  I will have to keep my eyes open.
I have never photographed two hummingbirds together and was so excited – I could hardly believe my luck in getting a picture of them.  On my way back through the garden, my attention was captured by the last bloom of my English Rose, Abraham Darby.  I say that it is the last bloom, because it will not produce more roses until late September, when the summer heat begins to abate.  
The bloom was quite small, but lovely just the same.  **The heat of summer causes the rose blooms to open too rapidly, before the petals have fully formed.  
Before, I went back inside, I went to see how much larger our pumpkin has grown.  We have had so much fun growing pumpkins, even though it will be ready far before October.  But, my kids wanted to try growing them early, and they are having so much fun seeing how quickly it has grown.  You can read more about our ‘escaped pumpkin’ here if you like.
Here is what our pumpkin looked like one week ago…
 
And here is what 7 days of growth looks like….
Isn’t it amazing?  We are so proud of our little ‘escaped’ pumpkin.
As I prepared to go inside, I noticed that one of our sunflowers is beginning to open.  
It’s face points east, ready to welcome the start of a new day.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Mondays are usually busy days for most of us.  I know that for me, when the weekend ends, there is a list of things for me to accomplish, including writing my first blog post of the week.


This week promises to be busier then usual for our family.  As I have mentioned before, my son is going in for surgery later this week.  He will be getting another bone graft onto his hip.  Kai, is no stranger to surgery and this one will be his sixth.  The hard part is that he will be confined to a wheelchair and unable to walk for approximately 2 months.  Now that would be hard for most of us to handle, but when it happens to a very active 8 year old boy, it can be even more difficult.  


Due to the upcoming surgery, we celebrated his birthday on Saturday at the park.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time with family and his friends.  Kai’s real birthday is this Thursday.  I wanted to thank those of you who commented on my last post and wished him a happy birthday 🙂


With all of the upcoming stress of this week, I spent this morning taking a walk in my garden in the morning.  I love to do this after the busyness of the weekend is over and to see what has happened in the garden over the weekend.


I was not disappointed….


 
My Orange Jubilee (Tecoma x ‘Orange Jubilee’), is now covered with beautiful sprays of trumpet flowers.

This is one of my very favorite summer flowering shrubs.  I love the rich, green foliage and that this shrub can grow quite large (12 ft. high and 8 ft. wide). 
Orange Jubilee, pruned up from the ground for maximum height.
 
Another reason that I like this shrub so much is that it is super low-maintenance.  I planted my Orange Jubilee 11 years ago when we built our house.  I have never fertilized this shrub, ever.  It does very well in poor, rocky soil and also thrives in rich, organic soils.

Supplemental water is required in the desert southwest.  The tips can suffer frost damage when temperatures dip into the 20’s and will freeze back to the ground when temperatures hit the teens.  But, it grows back quickly and can achieve heights of 5 – 7 ft. in a single growing season.   It is hardy to zone 7.

Orange Jubilee, pruned from the top, resulting in a fuller and shorter shrub.
It thrives in full sun and in filtered shade.  I like to use it as a background planting along a wall.  I have also recommended it as a screen for a air-conditioning unit and as a less expensive option to hide pool equipment, rather then build a low wall.

Plant smaller shrubs or perennials in front such as Purple Trailing Lantana or Gold Lantana.


Oh, by the way, if you like hummingbirds in your garden, they will love your Orange Jubilee.
I would like to introduce you to one of the littlest residents of Double S Farms.
He is what we call a ‘snowbird’.  Now, where we live, a snowbird is a seasonal resident , usually human, who lives in the desert during the winter months.
However, this particular snowbird is a little hummingbird.
I first met him when I was taking pictures of the citrus trees for a future blog post.  I was quite close when I noticed him sitting in the lemon tree.  Unlike many hummingbirds, he was perfectly content to sit still and have his picture taken.
On another visit to Double S Farms, I saw him perched at the top of the Almond tree. 

This is his favorite place to perch, probably because the Almond tree is the tallest tree and he can see the surrounding farms all around him.

Although Costa’s Hummingbirds are year-round residents in our area, this particular one left for the summer, but came back in the fall.  
Now every time I visit Double S Farms, I go out of my way to look for my little friend. 

*On another note, I will soon be introducing you to “The Refuge” and it’s garden, surrounding beauty and the residents.

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) is a must-have for the desert garden.  There is so much to love about this shrub.  

 
My favorite attribute is that it flowers off and on all year.  Its red flowers are shaped like miniature feather dusters.  Also, this plant attracts hummingbirds, is low-maintenance, drought tolerant and great by swimming pools because of its low litter.
 
Baja fairy duster has a vibrant red flower, which is often a color missing in the desert plant palette.  The majority of flowering occurs spring through fall, but some flowering can occur in areas that experience mild winters.  
 
It is native to Baja California, Mexico and is also called red fairy duster by some.  It is evergreen to 20 degrees F.  During some unusually cold winters when temperatures dropped into the high teens, I have had some killed to the ground, but they quickly grew back from their roots. 
 

USES: This shrub grows to approximately 4 – 5 ft. High and wide, depending on how much you prune it, so allow plenty of room for it to develop.  

 
It makes a lovely screening shrub, either in front of a wall or blocking pool equipment, etc.  It also serves as a colorful background shrub for smaller perennials such as damianita, blackfoot daisy, Parry’s penstemon, gold or purple lantana and desert marigold.  
 
Baja fairy duster can take full sun and reflected heat but can also grow in light shade.  It is not particular about soil as long as it is well-drained.
  
 Baja fairy duster in the middle of a desert landscape, flanked by desert spoon to the left and ‘Torch Glow’ bougainvillea to the right.  Red yucca is in the foreground.
 
MAINTENANCE:  As I mentioned before, this is a very low-maintenance shrub.  Some people shear this shrub, which I DO NOT recommend.  This removes most of the flowers and takes away from the natural shape of this shrub.  However, it’s size can be controlled with proper pruning.  Pruning should be done in late spring and should be performed with hand-pruners, NOT hedge clippers.
 
Baja fairy duster does require regular irrigation until established but then is relatively drought-tolerant.  However, proper watering is needed for it to look its best and flower regularly, which is what I do.  


Other than adding compost to the planting hole, no other amendments or fertilizer is needed.  Most native desert plants have been adapted to growing in our nutrient deficient soils and do best when left alone in terms of fertilizing.  I tell my clients to fertilize only if the plant shows symptoms of a nutrient deficiency.
 
So, go to your local plant nursery and get some of these beautiful shrubs for your garden.  Then, while you sit and enjoy its beauty, you can debate what you love most about it….the beautiful year-round flowers, the hummingbirds it attracts, it’s low-maintenance, or come up with your reasons.

Do you like hummingbirds?

If so, you may want to make sure that you have some autumn sage (Salvia greggii) growing in your garden – it is a hummingbird magnet.

While red is the most common color of this small shrub, it also comes in other colors including shades of pink, purple, coral and white.

It has has a long bloom period in low desert gardens, beginning in fall and lasting until late spring. When growing in the flat desert, plant it in a filtered shade for best results.  Prune back by 1/2 its size in early March.