Rumba in the Primavera Sun

Rumba in the Primavera Sun: Crocus in Spring, Courtesy Pixabay, Alicja from Poland, PhotographerSpring dreams have already started to thaw within my winter mind. Though I know it is still time until the snow turns to mud, and longer until the mud settles to soil, I can’t help but look forward to my time in the garden, tilling earth, planting seeds, and lazing in the fragrant primavera sun. Ooooo yeah. Sun. Spring. Celia Cruz Cuban rumba, big dumb straw hats, and onyx rich loamy soil. Is there anything better?

When I’m in one season, I generally try not to think about whether I should be thinking about the next, though it’s hard not to think about what you should or should not think about, especially when such thoughts are bound by fond memories and anticipation as sweet as a perfect mango. There is a certain unripe lime of guilt I hold, that I should lean into every season with full and open heart and that I’m acting unappreciative to the winter season by dreaming ahead. I think this thinking is perhaps a remnant of an older, younger me, one who strove to be in every moment in every moment, and, ironically, often fit the puzzle pieces according to order rather than taking that which caught my eye in that moment. I think with years I’ve learned that there is no harm in a dream of piña colada spring days during rye whisky winter, especially when that dream comes with at least a bit of action. I’d be one thing to wish for planting season and not ravenously browse my Johnny’s catalog, check on my seed stores from last year’s harvest, and make sure there’s enough coconut milk. It’s another thing that I do.

Regardless, as I dream of spring and the chlorophyll which shall abound like a shoot from that onion you forgot about in the back of the pantry, I find eager joy in the challenges I am to face as much as the possibilities in their being overcome. This year’s drip irrigation can be more efficient. This year’s compost amendments can be richer. This year’s tomato pruning can tame my nightshade jungle. This year’s harvest can be tastier. And this year I’ll finally build that tiki bar. I look forward to taking the lessons learned through past mistakes. Whether those learnings came by exposures of hubris, faith, incompetence, or all three shaken together with rocks, it is important, at least to me, that joyous dreams of labor are sought equally with joyous dreams of abundance. Abundance without labor may be Eden, but Eden after all wasn’t fit for humankind. I’d rather be in my natural state than contending with high stakes iterative bureaucracy.

So, I return to my winter landscape before me, for I cannot stay in this spring space forever, mixing my mind’s sagebrush mojito with flavors both near and far. Outside, snow continues to fall; the sun continues to wake; greenery continues to wait. And now the dream of the future is a memory of fond past, having met at that synaptic crossroads where remembrance and hope meet to garden. I both recall and divine the entrancing rich black soil, the snap of fresh muddled lemon mint, and the echo of rumba in the primavera sun.

I’m Patrick Kelly, and I’m Wild About Utah.
Images: Courtesy Pixabay, Alicja Polski (from Poland), Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver
Includes: “Madre Rumba” by Celia Cruz/Humberto Juama.
Text:    Patrick Kelly, Director of Education, Stokes Nature Center,
Included Links: Patrick Kelly & Lyle Bingham, Webmaster,

Additional Reading

Wild About Utah, Posts by Patrick Kelly

Stokes Nature Center in Logan Canyon,

Gardening for Hummingbirds

Gardening for Hummingbirds

Gardening for Hummingbirds: Heuchera, hummingbird host. Courtesy and copyright Jim Cane, Photographer
Courtesy & © Jim Cane, Photographer

Gardening for Hummingbirds: Penstemon hummingbird host Courtesy & © Jim Cane, PhotographerPenstemon eatonii
Courtesy & © Jim Cane, Photographer

At long last, summer has returned as have the hummingbirds who zip around my garden, visiting flowers and chasing off intruders. (Kevin Colver: Songbirds of Rocky Mountain Foothills. Broad-tailed Hummingbird) Hummingbirds are a delight in the yard and so we plant flowers specifically to attract and feed them. In general, hummingbirds prefer long tubular flowers especially those that are red, orange or violet. But not all these flowers are created equally.Gardening for Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds visit flowers for their nectar which fuels their flight. Their long tongue reaches well beyond the tip of their needle like bill when they lap up nectar; capillary action then draws the sweet liquid up tiny grooves along the length of the tongue.

Floral nectar evolved to attract potential pollinators. The floral nectary is generally found inside the flower, at the base. When probing for nectar, floral visitors brush by the reproductive structures. Pollen adheres to parts of their body and then at the next flower of the same species, some pollen sticks to the female stigma. This transfer is pollination.

Many nectar-rich flowers grow well in Utah gardens. In the xeric garden, Penstemons are a good choice, as are Red Hot Pokers and Zauschneria, sometimes called Hummingbird Trumpet. In more moist sites, red flowered Heuchera is popular. Some red flowered cacti and Trumpet Creeper are good choices, as are Agastache and many Salvias.

Watch which flowers hummers visit. They will check out many blooms, but the ones they routinely return to are the ones yielding generous nectar. Many flowers produce little or no nectar, including some that look to us like good hummingbird flowers. Also, many horticultural hybrids and doubled flowers produce paltry amounts of nectar.

To encourage hummingbirds to remain in your garden, you can grow trees and shrubs for cover. Nectar is only part of their diet. For protein, they regularly eat insects and spiders small enough for their tiny bill so a garden free of insects is not desirable. They also appreciate a place to perch where they can digest, wait for a tasty insect to fly by and keep an eye out for potential rivals. So grab your trowel and lets feed those hummers.(Kevin Cover: Songbirds of Rocky Mountain Foothills. Broad-tailed Hummingbird)

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.


Images: Courtesy and Copyright Jim Cane, Photographer
Theme: Courtesy & Copyright Don Anderson as performed by Leaping Lulu
Text & Voice: Linda Kervin, Bridgerland Audubon Society

Additional Reading:

Linda Kervin’s pieces on Wild About Utah

Hummingbirds and How to Attract Them, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife,

Hummingbirds 101, The Hummingbird Society,

Coro Arizmendi Arriaga, Maria del, Hummingbirds of
Mexico and North America, In Spanish and English, CONABIO, 2014,

Gardening for Hummingbirds
Gardening for Hummingbirds
Gardening for Hummingbirds

Xeric Gardening with Native Plants

Fire Chalice or Zauschneria latifolia
Courtesy: Intermountain Native Plant
Growers Association,

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.

As the days lengthen and gardeners dream of the planting season to come, I urge you to consider plants adapted to our desert climate. Perhaps there are dry corners where your irrigation does not reach. Or you tire of watching the rivulets of water that run down the gutter from trying to grow grass in the strip between sidewalk and road. These are ideal areas to experiment with drought tolerant plants.

As more of us have become aware of the need to conserve water, the availability of gardening resources has increased. Many local and mail order nurseries now have a good selection of drought tolerant or xeriscape plants.

Maple Mallow, Illiamna_rivularis
Copyright 2008 Jim Cane

The Intermountain Plant Growers Association labels nursery plants with a special tag as Utah’s Choice. Utah’s Choice plants are well adapted to the climate of the intermountain west and are a good starting point for choosing plants.

One of my favorite Utah’s Choice plants is Fire Chalice or Zauschneria latifolia. It is a spreading perennial plant that is covered in fiery red tubular flowers from midsummer til frost. Hummingbirds avidly visit this carefree, drought-tolerant plant.

Globe Mallow Flower
Sphaeralcea ambigua
Copyright 2006-2008 Jim Cane

Maple Mallow or Illiamna rivularis is another favorite perennial. This bushy, waist-high resident of the higher mountains does well in my garden here in Logan. It is in partial sun and gets weekly watering. It is covered in large, pale pink flowers through much of the summer.

Globe mallows, genus Sphaeralcea, are another useful xeric perennial. They require bright sunshine and tolerate heavy soils. Among our natives, they are unusual for their profusion of orange-colored flowers.

These are just a few examples of the wealth of possibilities. By choosing plants adapted to your environment, you take the garden path of less resistance. When you consider the rainfall, soil and sun exposure of your yard and choose plants adapted for those conditions, you struggle less and enjoy your garden more.

Globe Mallow Plant
Sphaeralcea ambigua
Copyright 2006-2008 Jim Cane

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.


Photos: Courtesy & Copyright © 2008 Intermountain Native Plant Growers Association,

Also Courtesy & Copyright © 2008 Jim Cane

Text: Linda Kervin & Jim Cane

Additional Reading:

Xeriscape Bloom
Copyright 2008 Jim Cane

INPGA: Intermountain Native Plant Growers Association, formerly at

Wildland Nursery, Joseph, UT, formerly at