They both hit the glass window at the same time, and fell with a soft thud, two little hummingbird bodies stilled mid-flirtatious-flight. Horrified that their mating ritual had resulted in coma conditions, I watched as my mother opened the sliding door and knelt over the tiny birds. They’re alive, she proclaimed, and created a sugar water mix to nurse them back to flight, when they woke from their love-stupor.
It was the first time I’d seen the teeny birds up close, and I was enraptured. As a child, I’d believed the old wives tale that hummingbirds never stopped whirring about. (I wasn’t one to lean towards the logical.) As an adult, I’ve carefully cleaned and filled with sugar-water the feeders at a friend’s house, sitting and enjoying the bitty-birds as they perch on the plastic ledge, dipping their beaks into the fake-flowers.
I love the image of the birds so much, I stock up and give away greeting cards that baffle my friends (but, they reply, I’m not technically getting married / having a baby / honoring a dead pet) from Papyrus, simply for their logo, the round sticker with the image of the bird, and the reminder they include: “Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration.”
Papyrus’s site continues to explain that, “Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”
Want to bring more awareness, presence and hummingbirds to your backyard, sans sugar water? Plant bright flowers that will draw them in. Hummingbirds do not have a great sense of smell, and beeline for color. The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests you choose reds and oranges, and create a habitat that will give them shade, shelter, food, and security. Their list includes petunia, foxglove, lily, and something called soapwort, which I HAD to look up.
According to Wikipedia, soapwort, or Saponaria, is a genus of flowering plants in the pink family, Caryophyllaceae. They are native to Europe and Asia, and are commonly known as soapworts. They are herbaceous perennials and annuals, some with woody bases. The flowers are abundant, five-petalled and usually in shades of pink or white. (You’ll want to choose the deep pink, for your olfactory-challenged hummingbird friends.)
Gardening Know How shares that “the plant makes a good addition to empty beds, woodland edges, or rock gardens. Soapwort seeds can be started indoors in late winter with young transplants set out in the garden after the last frost in spring. Otherwise, they can be sown directly in the garden in spring. Germination takes about three weeks, give or take.”
With spring just around the corner, will you plan to plant soapwort in your garden? It also grows well in containers, for those of us concrete-bound city dwellers. And a bonus: it was named “soapwort” as it works as a detergent! Checkout The Herb Gardener for tips on how to use your Saponaria inside, from a gentle cleanser for your quilts, to a facial cleanser or shampoo!