About this time of the year many of our summer flowers are beginning to look a little faded but the fall flowers are coming into their own. One of these is the ginger lily (hedychium) which blooms mid to late summer/early fall giving your garden a vibrant burst of color. Ginger lily blooms are not only beautiful, but also have a heavenly fragrance. This carefree perennial spreads by underground rhizomes and can quickly form a sizable clump; in a few years you will have lots to share or to start a new spot in your landscape. I normally dig and divide in the spring. Make certain to plant them where you will have the opportunity to stop and smell the stalk-like flower on a daily basis. Ginger flowers grow on top of long stems; the plants have very large leaves. They prefer well-drained fertile soil and ample water during the summer. There are very large gingers that can grow 8 feet tall and the dwarf ones which may get just a couple of feet high. Gingers come in all sorts of colors. Although they can handle full sun, if their roots are shaded, gingers much prefer some light shade, especially from the afternoon sun. Gingers are tropicals and north of our zone 7A/8B they may not survive a harsh winter. Some gingers are less hardy in our climate zone. It is best to do a little research on the growing habits of a particular ginger before you add it to your garden. It is possible also to plant them in large pots but they will need additional winter protection if you do. Cut back the long stem at the first frost and mulch the roots well. The following summer the gingers will emerge from the ground soon again delighting your senses of smell and sight. Not only will they draw in the humans in the household, but the hummingbirds and the butterflies will also start visiting them.
A ginger in bloom reminds me of a trip to some far away tropical paradise; if you can’t make the trip in person, a ginger in your garden can still take you there.
YOU’RE INVITED TO LUNCH & LEARN - A series of free gardening programs sponsored by Calhoun County Master Gardeners & Calhoun County Commission. Held the 4th Wednesday of each month at the Cane Creek Community Garden at McClellan. Noon-1pm ~ bring your own lunch!
Sept 26th –
Hayes Jackson, ACES
Dates/speakers subject to change. Calhoun Co. Extension Office 256-237-1621.
There is a battle raging under our kitchen window. A small group of hummingbirds seem to be waging a war to have dibs on the feeder. I have read that hummingbirds are a bit territorial and can be aggressive with each other when it comes to sharing the feeder. For many years for that very reason we had multiple hummingbird feeders. This year we did not; therefore, each day we watch the world’s tiniest birds jockey to be first in line. The yard, of course, is full of other feeding stops for this marvelous little creature; porter weed, ginger lily, penta, and butterfly bush are some favorites. To encourage visits to the garden there are just a few things to remember. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to flowers with tubular blossoms. Although they may be partial to red or orange, they are not particular and will visit just about any flower. Be careful with chemicals in the garden and use them very sparingly if at all. Place a hummingbird feeder in your yard. Keep it filled with a solution of four parts water to one part sugar. Simply mix white sugar (not honey or brown sugar) and water; bring the mixture to a boil (but don’t boil it until it becomes a syrup)and store in the refrigerator. Keep the feeder clean and change it every couple of days in summer’s heat. My husband washes ours each time we change the liquid, every couple of days. Our feeder is outside the front kitchen window so we can watch the birds closely–what a treat while you are washing the dishes. I don’t use any red food dye to color the water, although I see products sold in the stores that turn red when you mix the syrup. A red mixture does not necessarily attract the hummingbird. I have actually read that red food dye is not good for the hummingbirds. If ants invade the feeder try coating the stake which holds the feeder with Vaseline. A feeder with a small moat filled with water (to keep the ants from climbing into the holes where the hummingbirds drink the sugar/water mixture) can be helpful in the efforts to keep the ants out. We put our feeder out around the end of April and leave it out until almost Thanksgiving so that hummingbirds making the trip South can stop for a little nourishment.
Our hummingbirds have become so used to me in the garden that they come right past me to eat. Attracting hummingbirds to your garden is very simple; the rewards are great.