NORMAN — Have you ever seen the birds as active as they are during this cool, rainy spring? They were just going bonkers during Mother’s Day weekend — the sparrows especially hop-skipping, dive-bombing over each other in order to grab that tad of grain sprinkled for them on the back lawn.
Last Friday night I was working in the garden just before the sun went down, grubbing out grass and weeds from the neglected garden when I became aware of a number of birds standing still on the ground while intensely following my movements.
After a little I was becoming a bit paranoid, so I stopped a minute and thought of the soon-to-come darkness; the parent birds wanted to return to their bush, tree or vine without alerting the enemy (me) to the whereabouts of their nests.
A robin was the only feathered one who stood his ground, pulling up 2-inch worms and struggling to get them down his throat — when not chasing other birds out of his territory. Without the aid of hands it appeared a bit difficult because the worm, still wiggling, wasn’t so easy to get down his throat.
Robins are the most approachable of the wild birds that dwell in most yards. I have a pair of that dominate the front yard and another pair that rules the backyard. They were the first feathered wildlings to drink and bathe in the lovely bird bath given to me for Mother’s Day by my daughter Jerri.
Tonight, Wednesday, as I write, thunder sounds as rain trickles off the roof, and I’m thankful for the moisture even though it comes a little late for some of the earlier garden crops such as lettuce and other greens. Warm weather crops include squash (summer and winter types), corn, beans, black-eyed peas and soy.
Along with food crops, it is fun to grow flowers to attract butterflies and other pollinators: perennial Asclepias curassavica (otherwise known as Tropical Butterfly Weed), Dianthus, Hummingbird Shrub, Pink Preference Autumn Sage, Coral Plant, Turk’s Cap, Yellow Coral Plant. Bees, butterflies, and dozens of other flies/bees and hummingbirds act as pollinators for vegetable crops, ornamental flowers, weeds, etc.
Aerial movement in the garden adds dimension to the landscape, so plan to incorporate plenty of annuals and perennials to attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, jumping spiders and spiders that dangle from a limb by a thin silk thread.
I love to walk along the garden paths just to see what I stir up, and usually spot numerous butterflies sipping nectar from zinnias, Shasta daisies, asters, coneflowers dianthus, coral vine and lantana during sunny summer days.
Here are some Butterfly Host Plants: Arizonia Butterfly Weed, Sun Gaillardia, Carnival Hardy Lantana, Dallas Red Lantana, Blazing Star, Giant Coneflower, Hardy Heliotrope, Heirloom Dianthus Hummingbird Shrub, Hybrid Passion Flower, Large Coneflower, Lavender Pentas, Lead Plant, Narrow-Leaf Purple Coneflower, Narrow-leaf Sunflower, Pale Purple Coneflower, Pink Preference Autumn Sage, Prairie Gaillardia, Purple False Vervain, Rayless Gardinia, Rigid Goldenrod, Rue, Coreopsis, Texas Lantana, Tropical Butterfly Weed, Willowleaf Aster, Yellow Queen Gaillardia, Zinn Orange Hardy Lantana.
Aster drummondii is a native perennial that blooms well in partial shade or sun that has sturdy stems and broad leaves to display its small white to lavender blossoms with tiny disk flowers in the center of the flower head in its fall floral show. Another native aster is a perennial that grows to 4-feet wide by 4-feet tall.
Email Betty Culpepper at email@example.com for comments, questions or ideas for future columns.