Creating the Conditions

My partner Derek was first introduced to hummingbirds when he traveled up to Michigan to help my father after he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer.  At the time, my father had decided to go through his chemotherapy treatments in Florida, but he and my stepmother needed help getting their house in Michigan closed up, so Derek flew up to help them get everything ready and eventually drove them both to Orlando.  Now, Derek had seen hummingbirds before but never in the numbers that there are in Michigan.  He was enamored with them at once and has been ever since. 

Several years went by after my father passed and one day Derek was watering a tree that he had planted in our yard and a hummingbird did a cork screw spin around the stream of water coming from the hose.  Derek couldn’t believe his eyes. He had never seen a hummingbird in Florida but there it was, right in front of him.  He immediately called our dear friend Eileen, who has the most beautiful butterfly gardens, and asked her if she had seen hummingbirds in Florida before and she told him that she has them in her garden all of the time.  Derek was elated and Eileen agreed to meet him at Lucas Nursery in Oviedo to buy some plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden.  

When Derek and Eileen arrived at Lucas Nursery, Derek was overwhelmed with the selection of plants that they offered!  Luckily Eileen had a lot of experience and she guided him to purchase two specific varieties, the Mexican Firecracker bush (also called the dwarf hummingbird bush) and the salmon colored porter weed along with other blooming plants.  Each one is an excellent nectar plant that hummingbirds love.  Eileen explained to Derek that attracting hummingbirds is really the same as attracting butterflies, you just have to create the conditions in your yard that they enjoy and let them find you.  

I came home from work and Derek had drawn up an entire garden lay out with irrigation lines, pots, planters, borders and everything else between.  I just looked at him and said, “Good thing your parents are coming for the spring!”  One of the things that I admire about Derek is that he isn’t afraid to dream big because if he can draw it, his parents can build it.  Nothing makes me happier than watching the three of them creating something beautiful out of nothing, together.  I, of-course, pitch in whenever I can, but even if I am at work, I just can’t wait to get home to see what they have created.  I so appreciate all of them for making my life so beautiful. 

The first garden was completed about 4 years ago and the new plants filled in almost immediately and that first summer the hummingbirds found us.  A red throated male and a brown female.   They came back the next summer, to even larger gardens, and then two years ago, 2 babies arrived.  They were so small that at first we thought they were dragon flies but we recognized the flight pattern from the parents and eventually we were able to get close enough to confirm that they were baby hummingbirds.  Last year another two babies joined the family and as I am writing this the shrubs are about to bloom so we should be seeing all of them again soon this summer. 

Don’t be afraid to create the conditions in your life that inspire you this spring.  Take your ideas, write them down, draw them out, talk to your friends and family members and get started.  Let people help you and enjoy the process of creating the possibility of something beautiful simply finding you.

Mark Ramey