The Birds and the Bees

Bee on Tithonia_DBG_LAH_7606

There we were, a gaggle of pre-adolescent girls approaching puberty, giggling as we shared the details of the recent talks we’d each had with our mothers. Apparently, the parents had gotten together and decided to synchronize their lectures about the birds and the bees. That was smart on behalf of the parents—armed with the facts, we wouldn’t be sharing misinformation.

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Feeding Hummers

broad-tailed-hummingbird_redrocksranch-hwy115-co_lah_3795Right on schedule, I hear the shrill whistle of a Broad-tailed Hummingbird’s wings. I’m writing this on May 1, and I just had my first tiny visitor of the season—on the exact same date as last year. I’d hung the feeder a few days ago, just in case, but not one bird stopped by until today. Amazing.

I’ve had a feeder outside my kitchen window every summer for about eight years now. One year, May 1 brought a heavy snowfall, with temperatures in the 20s and the wind whistling about the eaves. Surely the birds were snuggled somewhere safe and warm, I thought. Maybe most birds were, but at least one Broad-tail braved the storm to get to my feeder. If the hummingbirds are that eager (desperate?) to have a sugar water snack, the least I can do is offer what they expect.

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What are your flowers up to?

sex-in-your-gardenSex in your Garden, by Angela Overy

“In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.” —Sam Llewelyn

With the accuracy of a botanist and the flair of a Madison Avenue advertising agency, Angela Overy (yes, that’s her real name) has produced an exceptional guide to plants and sex. Lest you think this is a dull subject, let me assure you that you will be fascinated by her lurid descriptions of the myriad ways plants manage to achieve pollination.

As living things that can’t get up and pursue a mate, you would think plants are at a disadvantage when it comes to reproduction. Reading this book will dispel any such notions. Colors and scents are just the beginning. Some plants go to great lengths to please a pollinator, others actually eat those who try to help them. Bats, beetles, birds and, amazingly, possums join the ranks of those who do the plants’ dirty work. Even people get into the act.

I particularly love the way Overy juxtaposes photographs of flowers with pictures of models, largely taken from advertising. It seems that life is largely about selling, and we’re all going about it in the same way. Tantalizing forms, bright colors, offers of rewards … isn’t that how we make things attractive?

Enjoy this book and I promise—you’ll never again consider flowers in quite the same light.