BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Monday, September 3, 2012

Open today (mon) 3-5.30; 10 FAQs; S van Houttei

We are open this afternoon (Labor day) 3-5.30, to all-comers. Please no bell ringing today.  Activity is still low (though we did see some 3-hummer chases yesterday, and 2 hummer chases this morning), and I suspect the season is ending early.

While we do not charge entry or even accept donations (except garden chairs and plants),  if you want to contribute to knowledge and welfare of eastern hummingbirds, consider, and its associate Hilton Pond is a private sanctuary in South Carolina (absolutely no connection to us), and Operation Rubythroat is based there and focusses on the ruby-throated hummingbird (research, education etc). Buy one of their splendid tee-shirts. Their newsletter is very well done and this week presents the 10 most commonly asked hummingbird questions, with clear and reliable answers.

Today's photo, by Sandra Jantzen, features the wonderful Salvia splendens "van Houttei".
S. splendens is a Brazilian shrub that is the progenitor of all the common showy miniature red annual salvias that decorate garage forecourts etc. The common feature is that the bracts surrounding the flower base and the flower itself are the same color - in the case of the species and most of its cultivars, red. But intense selection has resulted in nectarless, compact and highly floriferous descendants. van Houttei was an early dutch horticulturalist who made a very early selection, which still has lots of nectar, and has been rediscovered (so many of the older varieties are superior to the newer, commercialized, ones). The flowers and bracts are both burgundy-purple. Of course this causes confusion for inexperienced hummingbirds, who struggle to learn that only the long protruded flower-tube (see photo) has nectar - lots of it!
I find it does best in semishaded areas with richer soil, where I plant it with its red cousin S. splendens "Louie's Delight". It does take time to start flowering properly, after an initial early bloom, but is rather gorgeous. I get both from Beds and Borders.

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