As a gardener I haven’t been too successful at growing food for humans — I might get up the energy to plant some lettuce or something, then I always forget and it bolts or dies — but I’ve got a great record at feeding insects and birds. All I need for that is some tough-ass native plants neglect just can’t kill, especially ones with flowers and fruits that come out especially early or late. Case in point: Ribes sanguineum, or red flowering currant.
It is absolutely the first sign of spring around my property, with the leaf buds sometimes starting to break in late December — adding an atmosphere of hope to a most dismal time for the weather. Then the spring brings huge collections of bright pink flowers, and those bring hummingbirds, especially Anna’s, right to my kitchen window.
Just don’t try to bring that magic inside by making cut flowers. Leave these stalks in a vase in a closed room and you’ll discover what your grandmother, in discount perfume, would have smelled like if she lived in a high school locker room for two months. The hummingbirds don’t mind, it seems, or maybe they do — those Anna’s are pretty testy.