Update July 1: The hummingbird has not yet arrived. The red bee balm is now at its peak. I am philosophical about this. I have enjoyed hummingbirds in my garden many times in the past, and now that I think it over, it might have taken a year or so at my garden in Massachusetts before the hummingbirds discovered my bee balm patch and marked the location on their GPS units. I’ll keep you posted in case I do have a very small visitor.
Update four hours later: The hummingbird is here! That very distinctive shape, the way the bird dangles down from the flower, the luminous green color of its feathers, the way it races off at incredible speed—all there. I am so happy. And I’m so glad that these kinds of things do make me happy.
Update July 23: The red bee balm is past its prime. Some of it got knocked over in a big thunderstorm, and all of the blooms are losing their inner petals, leaving those big brown domes exposed. This morning I went out to look at my new *red* echinacea that I bought at the nursery last month—it just started blooming. I was standing next to the bee balm and heard a tiny squeaking noise. A hummingbird was suspended in the air a few feet away from me, asking me to please move away so that he could get at the flowers! It made my morning.
I know it will happen. My red bee balm started blooming a few days ago. The hummingbird will come.
Why do I say “the hummingbird” (singular instead of plural)? Because I have a particular hummingbird in mind. I saw him several weeks ago, scouting the territory. I wasn’t ready for him yet—no bee balm, no trumpet vine, no red day lilies—nothing red or reddish-orange and tubular.
I am hoping he will also be attracted by this day lily or one of its siblings.
When I lived in Gloucester, Mass., I had lots of bee balm, and the hummingbirds always arrived within a few days of the bloom. Here, in a garden I’m just getting to know, I’m not so sure how it will all work. For one thing, I’m still figuring out what’s already here. Someone interested in gardening did a fair amount of work here years ago, but the garden is terribly overgrown, especially on one particular slope that’s steep enough that it’s hard to keep your footing. I’m in the stage of “I’m not sure if it’s a weed or not, but even if it’s a weed, I might like it.”
I’ve already made some embarrassing misidentifications. Something I thought was going to be delphinium turned out have tiny, inconspicuous white flowers. There’s something else next to the driveway that might turn out to be pale purple bee balm when it blooms—or not. I do know, from the square stems, that it’s something in the mint family.
I’ve discovered just in the past week that I have echinacea (purple coneflower) growing in all sorts of unlikely places, some spots quite shady, competing with obvious weeds that have enormous leaves and thick, watery stems.
Someone planted a lot of rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan).
I’ve added a few things.
I put pink perennial geranium and purple perennial geranium on the two sides of the shed.
I’ve put in a little mini-rock garden with sedums, and some interesting hostas, even though I’m not usually a huge fan of hostas. There’s a nursery in Waynesville, Rux Nursery, that specializes in them, and they have a really nice selection of plants.
I’ll take a break from the gardening for a while. One big problem is that there’s poison ivy hidden away everywhere, and I am very susceptible. Despite my best decontamination procedures and my eagle eye for it, I end up with little bubbles and faint stripes of poison ivy where the smallest drop of its venom passed across my wrist or my ankle. My window box on the deck at least keeps me safe from that.
But the main thing is—please come soon, Mr. Hummingbird.