Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Wonder Bird and the Miracle Plant

Around our household, we consider our colorfully spreading Lantana our miracle plant. Every December and through the following Spring, it transforms into a true skeleton of its former glorious self leaving nothing except barren and brittle branches and roots. Even a casual inspection tells you that the poor plant has passed away. The first winter this happened, I left it in the ground mainly because I was too lazy to dig it up. I did trim its wasted-away limbs way back. Then lo and behold about June, tiny leaves and flowers began to sprout and by August the whole Lantana exploded from a few twigs near the ground to a 6-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide plant with a profusion of flowers of pink, orange, red, and white.

The Lantana flowers are varied in color and are fragrant; hummers and butterflies love them!

This rebirth delights our visiting hummingbirds, which of course are their own miracles of Nature, given their ability to perform extreme wing maneuvers and crazy flight patterns while weighing in at well under an ounce. (Butterflies love this wonder plant, too.) I thought we had just one resident ruby-throated hummer, but with the Lantana's blossoming this August I know we have at least two. Why? Because if one is trying to sip nectar from the Lantana flowers, the second one shows up in a rage and they go zooming away, fighting all the way. "Share" is not a concept hummingbirds practice. Apparently there is no hummingbird kindergarten.

If you look closely, you can see a hummer here (left); best  I could do today

Today I sat out in the hot sun and tried to take some photos of the miracle plant and miracle bird. The Lantana was easy, but the hummingbirds were not. One nearly took me out as I got within a few feet of the Lantana. That's okay, fierce warrior, I will be back tomorrow with fresh nectar for your feeders. I hope you will stay around as long as possible this fall before speeding off at 65 mph across the Gulf of Mexico or wherever you choose to go to spend your winters. Or you could just stay here. The Lantana will dry up and play dead in December but we will leave the feeders out and fill them with homemade nectar (one part sugar, four parts water) just for you. Deal? Peace?

© Robert G. Holland  2014
Lantana provides a lot of cover

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