The hummingbirds are most active early in the morning in Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar. One recent morning, a tiny Allen’s hummingbird guarded an entire line of California native plants, scaring away competitors who ventured too close to its flowers.
Meanwhile, a male Anna’s in mid-air engaged in a dogfight to impress a potential mate, while dozens of other hummingbirds squeaked and buzzed around the many species of native plants, seemingly undeterred by the patrons strolling the grounds.
Roger’s Gardens celebrates Hummingbird Summer with educational displays, events and, of course, hundreds of colorful, drought-tolerant California native plants.
On Saturday, July 16, wildlife experts from Sea & Sage Audubon Society, the local branch of the National Audubon Society, will be at the nursery from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM to teach visitors about the different species of hummingbirds that live in or migrate through Southern California . They will be on hand to answer questions about these important pollinators and teach visitors how to attract them to the garden.
“Hummingbirds are like humans; they like pretty flowers,” says Sarah Smith, horticulturalist at Roger’s Gardens. “The key is to have a variety of native plants, as each plant has a different sugar content.
“It’s a misconception that hummingbirds are only attracted to the color red,” Smith said. “Add a variety of colors in the garden and you create a hummingbird buffet.”
They love the many colors of salvias, monkey flowers, golden Agastache or hummingbird mint, the orange fireworks flowers, California fuchsia, just to name a few. They are also attracted to the flowers on coffee currant bushes and Western Redbud, Toyon, manzanita and bottlebrush trees.
“They even like the succulent flowers,” she said. And the plant doesn’t need to have tubular blooms to feed the hummingbirds.
California native plants are an important food source for birds and other wildlife. These native plants have coexisted and evolved alongside birds and pollinating insects over time, each depending on the other for survival and reproduction.
Tune in to livestream videos on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. when Smith discusses a featured hummingbird plant of the week. Other educational videos and information about hummingbirds can be found at rogersgardens.com.
Event attendees can attempt to lure a hummingbird to a portable dot feeder at a station near the nursery amphitheater.
During the summer, customers who wish to donate to Sea & Sage can round up their purchase to the nearest dollar to take advantage of the educational and conservation programs at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine. Roger’s Gardens will then match the donation amount received through August 28. Last year, the nursery donated $7,559 to the local Audubon chapter of the Hummingbird Summer event.
Jennifer J. Meyer is a freelance writer for Mission Viejo. Write to her at [email protected] or visit her blog at jjthebackyardbirder.com.