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It's that time of year again.  The swooping and chattering is rampant in the back yard since a hummingbird (maybe a broadtail?) has staked his territory at my zauchsneria and the other hummingbirds are busy trying to horn in on the sweet orange goodness.   I had inherited tons of garden space when we bought this old house, and this one raised bed was full of vinca, which is soooo boring.  So I ripped it all out and put a bunch of other stuff in.  That year, the zauchsneria garretti was a Plant Select for sale at the local garden shop, and I didn't realize at the time that it spreads.  The nice thing is, it grows out of all the cracks it can find but it's not destructive nor is it so thick that it chokes out other stuff.  Then in August it blooms profusely with those gorgeous flame-orange trumpets, and the hummers go wild. It's still one of my favorite garden plants.  (The second picture is rather blurry - it was taken at extreme far range and my poor camera did its best)  
More favorites after the swirl....

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Usually I hate being stuck in a rut, but when it comes to plants for the garden, I tend to stick with the same things.  Lately, though, I've been planting stuff I never thought I would like, and I have found that they are a nice compliment to other things I already like.  I never thought I would like hollyhocks, but I have a nice old-fashioned garden by the lilacs that have some very pretty tall heirloom-type varieties. I like them!  They belong here - after all, the house we live in is at least 100 years old (and sometimes, it shows when things start to fall apart).  I like petunias these days, they smell so wonderful!  I have some yarrow a friend gave me, but it's getting out of control so I ripped a bunch of it out and plan to replace it with some Shasta daisies that my girlfriend brought me the other day.  I think they will make wonderful cut flowers to accompany the black-eyed Susans that seed wherever they feel comfortable.  My absolute all time favorite flower, however, is the penstemons.  I even like the Husker Red, which is misleading - the flower is white but the leaves and stems are a deep wine red.  I had a Desert Beardtongue last summer, (below) for a few years.  Alas, it died along with many other plants last fall when we had an unseasonably early freeze at Thanksgiving, but not before it managed to sow some seeds.  I am happy to report the babies are thriving and hopefully will give me more of the deep fuschia pink flowers that are also beloved by the hummingbirds.
I know we probably had hummingbirds on the Front Range of Colorado in Denver, but maybe as kids we never noticed them or didn't have the right habitat.  After moving to the Western Slope, they became the first harbinger of spring and a delight to me all summer.  I don't put out hummingbird feeders because I worry about the bears, and I prefer to give them a natural way of finding nectar, which is also great because I love my zauchsneria garretti just as much.
That's what is going on in my garden these dog days of summer.  What's going on in yours?

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Originally posted to Saturday Morning Garden Blogging on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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