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The glory of colour PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW FEARMAN Steady parade of blooms is good for you and nature A ll winter, our world was a sea of white. In spring, it turned to muddy brown with occasional splashes of green. But now it’s beginning to erupt into a sea of glorious colour. And if you think you’re happy to see it, just imagine how delighted the wildlife is. “We find delight in the colourful blooms. Birds and insects find food in them. And pollinators help the plants thrive,” says Karen Tolton, owner of Water’s Edge Landscaping. “It’s win- win-win.” Planning for food Ensuring that your colourful landscape also benefits the birds, bees and butterflies can involve a bit of a juggling act, Karen explains. “It’s not just a matter of planting a bunch of pretty flowers and watching the birds thrive,” she says. “You need to think about what species you’d like to attract, and what they need.” Hummingbirds are a great example. Most hummingbird feeders are painted red, because the colour is known to attract the birds. But colour is only part of it. What really matters to hummingbirds is the shape of the f lower and the quantity of nectar it provides. “Hummingbirds need deep- pocketed blooms that suit their long beaks,” says Karen. “And they need to be able to sip from the blooms while they’re flying.” The flowers also need to provide a lot of nectar – a hummingbird burns around 12,000 calories a day, so it feeds deeply and constantly. Bee balms, columbines, hollyhocks, day lilies and foxgloves are all excellent choices for hummingbirds, regardless of the colour. To attract hummingbirds, you can also set out some feeders and offer them some water – a splashing fountain or misting feature is something they love. Butterfly garden Butterflies are also heavy nectar feeders, so many of the flowers that attract hummingbirds will also delight some species of butterflies. However, butterflies also benefit from plants with multiple small blooms, particularly if they offer some structure where they can land. Lilacs, phlox, yarrow and Queen Anne’s lace are all popular with butterflies. Some species have particular plant needs. Monarchs, and the closely-related Viceroy butterflies, do best if they have access to Asclepius 54 M1 2017.indb 54 2017-05-23 11:28 AM