Pendleton Bird Club Projects
In the early spring of 2009 several Bird Club members expressed a desire to donate their time building a hummingbird garden in Pendleton. A suitable site was sought with an excellent location found only a short distance from the Umatilla River at the Bishop Funeral Chapel on Byers Avenue in Pendleton (adjacent to the East Oregonian Newspaper). Permission was asked (and granted by the Chapel Directors) to build the garden at this location. Shortly afterward, in March, the Bird Club contacted Dee St. Romaine of the Pendleton Garden Club. Dee was an excellent resource to ask advice on layout, design and planting of the many varieties of plants needed to attract and sustain a hummingbird population.
From Dee's suggestions and Club member's personal experience planting flower varieties attractive to hummingbirds, Aaron Skirvin soon ordered transplants from a reliable source, High country Gardens in Santa Fe, New Mexico (www.highcountrygardens.com). High Country Gardens has an extensive selection of hummingbird attractive plant species, including several varieties of Agastache and Penstemon, two local hummingbird favorites in the Pendleton area. Armed with his catalogue, Aaron ordered dozens of young transplants which arrived in early April. However, you may recall that the spring of 2009 was unseasonably cold so planting was delayed several weeks to prevent the young plants from being exposed to cold, frosty morning temperatures.
In the meantime, Club members organized a "weed pulling party" to remove young grass and broadleaf weeds established between the rocks in the garden (see "All Hands On Deck", below). The garden itself was in a perfect location to grow plants with a south-facing exposure and diffused shade from a large walnut tree on the east end. Watering was available by automatic sprinkler irrigation and the inclined slope would provide excellent drainage. This was beginning to look like the proverbial "Garden of Eden" for hummingbirds!
In early May, Bird Club members met with Pendleton Garden Club members to layout and plant the dozens of transplants which now included such local favorites as columbine, Coral Bell, petunia, day lily, red hot poker, bee balm and alyssum. What a smorgasbord (or so we thought). By the end of May we had out first penstemon in bloom and the petunias and alyssum were now putting out new flowers daily (see "Coming To Life in May", below). Not to be outdone, the columbine, lupine and coral bells were filling out the spaces between the large rocks in the garden.
As the months passed from early-to-mid-to-late summer, our garden took off and covered the dirt that had been home to weeds only months before. With careful maintenance and loving care, the garden was a sight to behold ¾ but apparently not to hummingbirds! Though June and Duane Whitten had purchased and hung a hummingbird feeder in early May (which the local squirrel found and presumably destroyed requiring a replacement) no hummingbirds were ever seen in the garden in 2009 despite our best efforts.
However, Club members are determined to change that dubious track record in 2010. We will once again plant and care for flowering plants that hummers just love to feed on. We know that there are several species of hummingbirds that are frequently seen in Pendleton including Calliope (early migrant), Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. One species, Black-chinned, is known to nest in riparian habitat locally so we are anxious to see if one adopts our garden as a nectar source.
If you would like to volunteer your time to help care and maintain our hummingbird garden, feel to contact us ¾ we're an equal opportunity slave driver!
All Hands on Deck...(Click here to visit images in this gallery.)
Coming to Life in May...(Click here to visit images in this gallery.)
Standing Tall in June...(Click here to visit images in this gallery.)
Full Bloom in July...(Click here to visit images in this gallery.)