Nectar bar for hummers

DICK BUSHNELL,  – July 21, 2005

Hummingbirds stick to a liquid diet, drawing nourishment from the nectar of flowers. One shrubby perennial is so popular with these hyperactive birds, it’s commonly called hummingbird trumpet. Indeed, when Zauschneria is in full summer bloom, masses of ½- to 1½-inch-long tubular flowers serve as a virtual nectar bar for hummers.

Z. californica garrettii ‘Orange Carpet’ lights up the front of Lisabeth Davis’s house in Santa Fe. She set out 16 plants from 4-inch pots a few years ago, and they spread across the bed. The ‘Orange Carpet’ is backed by deep green mugho pine and Salvia ‘Blue Queen’ (to its right), purple coneflower (center), and bearded iris (right).

Native to Utah and Wyoming, Z. c. garrettii performs best in Sunset climate zones 2-11. It prefers afternoon shade and regular water. ‘Orange Carpet’ and two other kinds of hummingbird trumpet are available from High Country Gardens in Santa Fe (800/925-9387).