Observations in a Garden: Visitors and Residents

By: Richard G Turner Jr

Richard G Turner Jr is the editor emeritus of Pacific Horticulture. After receiving degrees in architecture and landscape architecture from…

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Few covers have generated as much interest—and delight—as the hummingbird on the cover of the January issue. Brilliantly captured by photographer Bob Wigand, the hummer was actively engaged in what hummers do best: hovering in mid-air as it collected nectar from a flower, while, simultaneously, providing pollination services for the flower.

The flower was actually Delostoma, not Penstemon as noted in the cover caption (our mistake). Regardless of the genus, the relationship between the pollinator and the pollinated represents one of the most intriguing and critical interactions between plant and animal.

Hummers are just one of the many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors to a garden. There are even more residents in the garden, the vast majority of which go about their daily lives unnoticed by the gardener. Most of these critters are invertebrates—insects, mullosks, arachnids, and other “lower” forms of life.

Countless words have been written in books and periodicals about the relatively few “lower” forms of life that create problems for us in the garden—that require some sort of action on our part to prevent them from adversely affecting the way our plants appear or perform. Sadly, the actions promoted for the last half-century or more have involved the introduction of toxins into our world, a situation with tremendous repercussions.

It seemed time to focus on the majority of lower life forms that actually benefit the garden, and by extension, our world. A new column, Garden Allies, premiered in the January issue and continues in this issue; the creative team, author Frédérique Lavoipierre and illustrator Craig Latker, have enough critters to write about and draw to fill the column for the next several years. We are delighted to bring this new series to you and hope that you will learn to welcome these special visitors and residents to your gardens.

Richard G Turner Jr, editor