Archive for hummingbirds

Mariposa, The Flying Flower

Posted in Butterflies with tags , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2010 by PickMeYard

We have lots of beautiful flowers blooming in our garden and plenty of veggies to harvest, but we have butterflies on our minds.  We’ve been collecting butterfly host and nectar plants to put into our newly designed garden. 

We’ve been to the library, book stores, and searched online for ideas on how other people have designed their gardens.  We went to the local University of Florida agricultural extension office to check out their bird and butterfly garden.  We wanted to see what it will look like when the plants have matured and been through many nights of freezing temperatures.  We visited the Butterfly Estates in downtown Ft. Myers to explore their atrium. It was beautiful and the staff spent an hour with my son explaining all the different plants and butterflies.  We wanted more. 

In our quest for more information we drove to Butterfly World  in Coconut Creek (Pompano, Florida).  The picture above shows what you could expect immediately upon entering their atrium.  You’re not supposed to touch the butterflies, but what if they touch you?  This one landed on my daughter’s finger and then on her head.

Butterfly World was worth the trip.  We  enjoyed flirting with butterflies from all over the world in the beautiful and huge atrium.  It was full of rainforest fauna, water features and of course…exquisite butterflies.  The hummingbirds whiz by your head.  You can get close enough to the hummingbirds to almost touch them.  The gardens are lovely too.  There are so many different types of  passion fruit vine growing that it is difficult to keep track of them all.  They are all marked so that you know what you’re looking at and you learn a bit about them.

They have quite a few other things to do while you’re there as well, and their gift shop is huge.  You can buy seeds from them that cannot be obtained anywhere else.  They also have a small potted plant selection of some very unique butterfly and hummingbird plants.  We left there with lots of seed packets, a sky vine plant (thunbergia grandiflora), and some adorable garden sculptures to add to our garden. 

We also bought a luna moth cocoon.  They told us to pin it somewhere that we can keep a constant eye on it so we don’t miss it coming out.  We have it pinned to a curtain with a piece of paper towel behind it.  

My kids have learned so much about butterflies and their life cycles with this latest gardening adventure.  We can’t wait to see what kinds of little critters our garden will attract.  We’ll be out there soon with our magnifying glasses and notebooks. 

 Come grow with us!

 

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If you plant it…they will come, Part II

Posted in Bees & Hummingbirds with tags , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by PickMeYard

This is Florida’s beloved firespike plant (odontonema strictum).  It is one of my favorite plants. It isn’t edible for people, but it sure feeds the hummingbirds.  They really, really love it.  We  had a hummingbird hanging out at this plant all day, every day,  for many months.  I have this planted in front of all our windows.  My son does his homeschooling at a table in front of a huge window with this plant as his view.  He watches the hummingbird while he works.  My son said a new hummingbird appeared yesterday while he was working. 

I  tell everyone I know to plant this if they want hummingbirds in their yard.  I  planted this at a house we used to live in that was completely covered under an oak hammock.  The entire yard was in dense shade.  This firespike plant still bloomed profusely most of the year and the hummingbirds were all over it all the time.  When we moved from that house I dug up some small seedlings and carried them with me to the new house.  When the firespike bloomed, the hummingbirds arrived. 

We’ve had many nights of freezing temperatures in zone 9b this year.  My firespike isn’t as green as it usually is, but it hardly looks damaged.  I believe the overhang on the side of the house protected it.  If it does freeze back to the ground, it will usually grow back.  In the ten years I’ve  grown this plant in my yard I have never seen it harbor any pests.  Firespike grows to a height of about six feet.  There are many other plants that attract hummingbirds, but this one is a must have for a Florida yard.

Come grow with us!

Gardening: A family Affair!

Posted in Meet our Family with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2010 by PickMeYard

Gardening is fun…so are chickens.  Meet my son Grayson and his favorite hen  “Floofy”.  Most days you’ll find Grayson deep into a new project.  Sometimes it’s a homeschooling project, but most of the time he’s in his garden.  His latest project is researching and planning a huge butterfly, bee and hummingbird garden.  We have removed the sod and will be planting on Wednesday. 

Grayson completed a six-week beekeeping course through the Lee County Agricultural Extension office  .  Now he  is a backyard beekeeper and is a member of the Southwest Florida Bee Association.  We have 2 boxes of bees.  We can’t wait to harvest our honey! Did I mention he is only eight?

Come grow with us!