gardenphyllisophyBy Phyllis Galowitz

Without any help from me, the garden is growing. It’s beautiful! We’ve been having wonderful salads picked just before dinner and nothing is better! I guess all the good additives to the soil have, after eight years, made a perfect environment for whatever is planted.

I had never given much thought to gardening to attract birds and butterflies. I took it for granted that whatever birds come to this area naturally will continue to come, and when they do, I’ll be ready to welcome them with water, food and hiding places to protect them from predators. I don’t fill the feeders with seeds from April through November, because bears are attracted to them. However, the sugar-water that the hummingbirds crave is out from May through October without bears bothering it.

Recently, Cara, our daughter, brought me a beautiful magazine called, “Gardening For Birds and Butterflies”, with gorgeous illustrations and hints on how to attract these amazing visitors who keep us constantly entertained throughout the year. It answers questions about the problems of protecting the hummingbird feeders from pests like bees and ants, also enticed by the nectar. I never thought of tying a bright red ribbon to the feeder to draw attention to it. Of course, it would have to be waterproof. I didn’t know either that there are such things as ant guards to keep these pests from getting to the feeders, or some other simple solutions such as:

v Hang the feeder with monofilament fishing line. It’s too slippery for ants to scale.

v Rub cooking oil around feeding ports each time they’re cleaned, to keep wasps away.

v Cut an “X” in the center of a plastic or aluminum angel food cake pan. Slide it down the feeder pole and fill it with water. The moat stops ants and bugs.

v A plastic funnel, affixed to the pole about halfway up, with plumber putty, and filled with water, will create an ant barrier.

v The aroma of used coffee grounds in small fabric bags, hung near feeders, will keep ants away.


Did you know that you should clean hummingbird feeders every four days? Use hot water and a couple of drops of vinegar to keep mold from the feeding ports, scrubbing them with a baby bottle brush and rinsing thoroughly.

To keep aphids away from rosebushes without chemicals, hang a hummingbird feeder above them. The birds will eat the aphids before moving on to the feeder.

A clear solution of four parts water to one part sugar, boiled for one minute and then cooled, is all that is needed to feed hummingbirds. Food coloring is not necessary. Hummingbirds are attracted to all kinds of flowers, although red ones, trumpet-shaped, are their favorite, and a hanging basket, hung on the same pole as the feeder, will be a special treat for them, as well as your entertainment.

This magazine has taught me so much. I’ve concentrated on hummingbirds because they’re so fascinating to watch, but it has advice on attracting all kinds of birds and butterflies. I must admit to having been a caterpillar-killer until I found out how beneficial some of them are. I suppose it’s important to recognize the good guys and hand-pick the bad ones that eat your cabbage and broccoli and destroy them. Some will become beautiful butterflies! (I’m not convinced that they won’t devour my lettuce, though.) One doesn’t have to do very much to make the garden friendly to birds and butterflies. Just find a comfortable chair, sit back and enjoy them! ~