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February and March are still very unsettled from a weather perspective. In fact, it may still feel much like winter to us except for the occasional brilliant, sunny and warm day.

Here in Northern California however, the early spring hummingbird migration is underway. While Anna’s hummingbirds reside in our area year-round, Allen’s, Costa’s, Rufous and Calliope hummingbirds overwinter in Mexico and Central America and migrate north to the U.S. and Canada in February and March.

Hummingbirds feed on small insects for protein, but also feed extensively on nectar from plants. Many people put out feeders to aid the migrating species on their travels north in spring and south in fall. Feeders also serve the Anna’s hummingbirds year-round, and provide a stage for the entertaining aerial antics of these tiny creatures.

If you’re interested in following them, there is a good citizen scientist website that tracks migrations of everything from whales and robins to hummingbirds and monarchs at Learner.org (https://www.learner.org/jnorth/maps/).

To provide for your little avian visitors there are a number of Grevilleas that are beautiful, long-blooming and very garden-worthy early spring hummingbird plants.

Some grevilleas bloom in summer, while others bloom in spring. The best cultivars bloom almost year-round. Grevilleas are from Australia, and most grow very easily in well-drained and not overly fertile soil.

Australian soils do not have phosphates and therefore many Australian plants are best in soils with low levels. Generally this is not an issue in our area, but very occasionally a grevillea will display yellowing of the leaves that is indicative of phosphate intolerance.

They generally thrive in the same well-drained, infertile soils that many of our native plants need. Most are very drought tolerant. They grow well both in cool coastal areas and hot, inland conditions. Some species or cultivars are frost tolerant and others are killed in temperatures below 25 degrees. Grevilleas are deer-resistant.

One of the most spectacular and easy to grow is Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penola.’

It is hardy to 20 degrees and has bright gray, dense, wooly foliage much like lavender. It grows eventually to 4 feet tall, and about 6 feet wide.

The growth habit is more spreading than tall, and has a dense, arching shape that is excellent for spilling over a rock wall or down a bank.

Make sure to site it where the morning or afternoon light highlights the blooms. In bud they are a deep, glowing red that is really showy against the bright gray foliage.

As they open, the flowers turn a deep salmon that is exceptional against the gray leaves. The blooms are dense, and the effect is spectacular. Hummingbirds avidly visit the blooms.

Grevillea lanigera ‘Coastal Gem’ blooms late winter into spring. It is a low-growing, compact 1-foot tall to 4-foot wide evergreen that is extremely drought tolerant.

The leaves are densely packed, very soft and gray/green, and the flowers are pinkish-red. Its low stature and arching form makes it a good border, rock garden or ground cover plant. It can take light shade in our climate. G. lanigera ‘Mt. Tamboritha’ is also compact and has clusters of rosy pink and cream colored flowers in late winter.

All About Quakes

5 Things to Do When The Shaking Starts

- Duck, cover, hold: Duck or drop down on the floor, take cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on. Be prepared to move with it.

- If indoors, stay there: At least, until the shaking stops. If you’re outside, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees and power lines and drop to the ground. If you’re in a car, slow down and drive to a clear place.

- After the shaking stops: Get to a safe place outdoors if you think the structure you’re in is in danger of collapsing. Provide first aid for anyone slightly injured and seek medical attention for anyone seriously injured.

- Assume there will be aftershocks: Secure anything heavy that could fall, and eliminate fire hazards.

- Gas and water: Listen to the radio for instructions regarding turning off gas and water. If you smell gas, or think it is leaking, shut it off. Only a professional should turn it back on.

_____

6 Things To Now To Prepare For A Disaster

- Contacting loved ones: Create a plan for how you will contact one another after the quake, such as establishing an out-of-area contact who can help coordinate the locations of family members and other information should you become separated. Make sure children learn these phone numbers and addresses and know the emergency plans.

- Important papers: Keep copies of important documents at the house of your out-of-area contact or keep important documents and valuables in a fireproof storage box or safe deposit box.

- Disaster supplies kit: Keep a smaller version in your vehicle. Families with children should have each child create their own personal pack.

- Know evacuation routes: Establish several different routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed.

- Plan for pets: Animals are typically not allowed in places where food is served, so you will need to have a place to take your pets if you have to go to a shelter.

- Don’t run out of gas: Always run on the top half of the tank, not on the bottom half.

Things To Remember

Water may be in short supply.

Natural gas and electric power may be out for days or weeks.

Garbage and sewage services may be interrupted.

Telephone, Internet, cell phone, and wireless communications may be overloaded or unavailable.

Mail service may be disrupted or delayed.

Gasoline may be in short supply, and rationing may be necessary.

Bank operations may be disrupted, limiting access to cash, ATMs, or online banking.

Grocery, drug, and other retail stores may be closed or unable to restock shelves. Businesses may sustain damage and disruption—many small businesses require a long time to reopen or do not survive disasters.

Your income may be affected — payroll checks or direct deposits may be delayed.

For more information, go here

Source: County of Sonoma

Blooms are dense in late winter and sporadic the rest of the summer. Both of these cultivars make good groundcovers and are attractive in large pots. They are hardy to 25 degrees.

Two very frost hardy, long-blooming, long-lived larger cultivars are Grevillea ‘Ruby Clusters’ and Grevillea victoriae ‘Marshall Olbrich.’ ‘Ruby Clusters’ is one of the longest blooming grevilleas, growing from 6-8 feet tall and 9 feet wide, though it can be kept smaller by pruning.

It is tolerant of poorly drained soil, and is noted as one of the best grevilleas for hummingbirds as the bloom season may be almost year-round in frost-free climates. It has dark green, sharply pointed leaves and brilliant red, spider-like flowers.

Grevillea victoriae ‘Marshall Olbrich’ is a locally selected, cold-hardy selection from Western Hills Nursery in Occidental and is named for the nursery’s co-founder.

The plant has narrow, pointed greenish gray leaves somewhat like an olive tree, and is 6 feet high and 8 feet wide at maturity.

It also blooms almost year-round, and has pendulous, bright orange flowers that are highly attractive to hummingbirds.

Tolerant of drought, heat and cold, it is a tough shrub for difficult conditions.

It may be hard to find in some nurseries, but is available from Digging Dog Nursery in Albioin (http://www.diggingdog.com/pages2/catalog.php), and other nurseries online. Both cultivars would make great hummingbird-friendly, evergreen hedges.

Kate Frey’s column appears every other week in Sonoma Home. Contact Kate at: katebfrey@gmail.com, freygardens.com or on Twitter @katebfrey

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