Today, I was thinking about my Grandparents who always had beautiful flowers growing in a garden filled with birds and butterflies. I can't remember ever seeing a feeder, yet, there were always birds... like humming birds, and bright colored butterflies. In the late evening I would join my Irish Grandfather to go to the chicken house to gather eggs for the next morning. Now, my Grandfather chewed tobacco and my French Grandmother would not let him in the house until he 'rid himself of it'. So Grandfather and I sit on the back steps until, ' he had rid himself of the sinful tobacco' and that was when we would talk.
So, on long Summer days while we set on the steps, I would ask him why the garden had so many birds and where did all those butterflies come from. His answer was simple, 'plant the right flowers'. To me flowers were flowers ... they came and they went.
The next afternoon my Grandfather with a full mouth of tobacco said, 'Look around what do you see'? Flowers ? No, you see Madevilla, Impatiens, Pinks, Day Lilly, Phlox, and by the kitchen window Columbine. 'I planted those there so your Grandmother would see humming birds when she washed dishes,' he said.
Way out past the chicken house stood an old red barn. 'What about the tall growing flowers by the barn', I asked. 'Oh, those are for the other birds that like seeds.... they are the Hollyhocks, Coneflowers, Blackeye Susans, Broom Corn and Sunflowers'.
Near the kitchen door in large white pots were planted purple Petunias. They were full of blooms and some hung over the sides of the pots. 'Purple Petunias are very inportant if you want hummering birds... those bird love purple Prtunias', he said, adding, he had seen one sleeping in a flower early one morning.
'Are you sure', I asked? 'Sure as you are sitting here', he said. In my heart I knew if I had ever found one sleeping in a flower I would have fallen over dead.
'Look, Honey, gardens are what you grow not just to look pretty, but to do some good.... like feeding the birds and helping the butterflies....everything on the earth benefits when you plant a garden'.
Now, some 65++ years later a friend has sent me a photo of a humming bird that one early morning was, you guessed it, sleeping in a purple petunia flower. As you can see for yourself..... it sure looks like a hummer to me ! I guess Grandfather wasn't just telling a tall Irish tale !