by Charlene Burgi
The hummingbirds finally arrived at the ranch. We live on their migration route, and this is the time of year we anticipate their arrival. As I walked out the front door the droning from the rapid beat of the wings of these hummers assaulted my senses. Excitedly, I returned to the house and stated that it sounded like a NASCAR speedway in the front yard.
We encourage these tiny feathered friends to stop at the ranch by providing food and protection from their predators. We are always on the lookout for different plants and feeders to aid in their survival while they are here.
As a result, it wasn’t unusual for Jack to walk into the house this week carrying a sprig from one of our plants that managed to successfully survive the critters around here. He asked me to identify the flower and suggested that we get more for another area of the garden that needed color. Little did he realize the big job assigned to this little plant.
It was Agastache that he held in his hand. It is commonly known as hummingbird mint or hyssop. As I thought back, it was a relatively new plant for me, too. Fortunately, one of my co-workers at MMWD introduced it to me a few years back when asking how I thought the botanical name should be pronounced. Keith is pretty good at birding, and he said a garden shouldn’t be without this plant for attracting hummingbirds.
Research found these perennials live about three years, though they will tolerate harsh winter and summer conditions. They like fast-draining soil and full sun, and they attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. According to the books, they resist browsing deer and rabbits. The plant comes in a host of colors that would highlight any plant palette. After doing the research, I decided Agastache would be a good choice for Lassen.
Last summer, I planted the Agastache into the oval planting area with other perennials and watched it disappear after the first freeze. I chalked the disappearance up as a loss and went back to the books. This spring I was in for a huge surprise as the plant came back at least five times its original size. The added joy is the hummingbirds love it. I knew this was a picture to share.
I went out with camera in hand not realizing the challenge of capturing the rapid movement of hummingbirds. My attempt at this task had me laughing. Either they were too quick, or I was too slow. I was being dive-bombed by these darlings as they fought to sup on the tiny trumpet flowers. It was amusing to watch their acrobatic maneuvers around this pretty addition in the garden.
If you are looking for a spot of color to fill an empty space in the garden, try Agastache. I promise you will have the bonus of watching a good show without the throng of people found at the raceway.