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.
WHERE TO FIND SHELTERS
Shelters have been set up for people and their pets at the following locations:
— Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building is accepting evacuees and small pets.
— Finley Center in Santa Rosa is accepting evacuees and small pets, but may be full at this time.
— The Sonoma County Fairgrounds is accepting people and pets.
— Petaluma VFW Post 1929 (pets allowed), 1094 Petaluma Blvd. South, Petaluma
Large animals are being accepted at the following:
— Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road
— Sonoma Valley High School FFA, 20000 Broadway, Sonoma
— Sonoma Ukiah Fairgrounds, 1055 N. State St., Ukiah
In all cases, people must remain with their pets.
The Sonoma Humane Society’s shelters in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg have some resources available for pet owners who have been displaced by the fires: crates, food and pet supplies. They are open to take in strays and injured animals. They are not able to board animals at this time. Sheltering space must be reserved for animals displaced by the fire.
LOST, FOUND AND INJURED ANIMALS
Sonoma County Animal Services is open and onsite 24/7 until further notice at 1247 Century Court, (off of Airport Boulevard) in Santa Rosa, accepting lost/found animals. Large animals/livestock should go to Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Found animals are being posted on their Facebook page. Additionally, they are offering no-cost veterinary services for medical treatment for animals affected by the fires.
A mobile unit is also onsite at the evacuation center located at Veterans Hall in Santa Rosa.
Animal services is greatly in need of the following donations:
Water bowls (any size), disposable lasagna pans (for cat/kitten litter), animal food, including: sweet mix for horses or goats, egg layer for chickens, pig feed, dog and cat food (wet or dry — any brand) and grass hay for all, grain buckets, baby/wet wipes. Donations can be dropped off at 1247 Century Court (off of Airport Boulevard) in Santa Rosa.
For more information about available services and donations call 707-565-4406.