A reader called to ask about hummingbirds. What are the best things to plant to draw them to your garden? Anyone who's been blessed with a visit from these exquisite creatures knows that this is one of the most special things about having a diverse garden. It's quite easy to lure them and I'm happy to oblige.

Hummingbirds are constantly on the go but you won't find them hanging out much. They dash from flower to flower with unnerving energy and speed, much faster and flightier than the butterflies you also want to visit. Hummingbirds, believe it or not, can fly not just the normal way, but sideways and even backwards! And they've been called "glittering garments of the rainbow" for their irridiscent and colorful beauty.

So you definitely want these guys in your garden. And here's the neat thing: Hummingbirds and butterflies like many of the same plants. So if you plant wisely, your garden will be literally humming with activity.

OK. Not to sound like a broken record, but native plants are your best choice for giving hummingbirds the nectar they seek. The blossoms should be tubular and red, especially red, with orange or pink a distant second. And be sure to plant not just one, but a patch.

Hummingbirds like fuzzy plants for nest-building materials. Stuff like cinnamon fern. And they enjoy a bath as much as the next guy.  

In my garden, trumpet vine is a favorite with hummers. Trumpet vine can be a real pain - more on this later - but one of its redeeming qualities is the number of hummingbirds (and other birds) it reliably draws. Columbine is another favorite, along with butterfly weed, coral bells, cardinal flower (big time), bee balm (big time times 10), Solomon seal, scarlet sage, nasturtium, zinnia and anise hyssop.

I have most of those things in my garden and can testify that these plants really do bring the hummingbirds in to visit. One night, as we sat with guests outside eating dinner, two popped in just a few feet from us. Conversation stopped. Everyone smiled.

The word "awesome" is so overused as to drain the word of its true meaning, but this moment truly was.