If you plant plenty of hummingbird favorites, including Salvias, great photo opportunities will come. That's the advice of Ohioan Bud Hensley for nature shutterbugs.
Hensley regularly contributes photos of hummingbirds and other nature topics to the Everything Salvias Blog on our Flowers by the Sea website. His work also appears in our weekly Salvia Guru curated content newsletter.
Since Hensley adds a lot of whiz-bang whir to our publications, here is some buzz about the gardener behind the lens.
Photography Leads to Wildlife Gardening
It was a passion for nature photography -- not gardening -- that caused Hensley to begin stripping his yard of grass in 2004 to make room for Salvias and companion plants popular with hummingbirds and insects, including butterflies.
In a Birds & Blooms magazine article titled Hummingbird Photography Secrets, Hensley recalled a childhood spent looking for "night crawlers, pill bugs and all sorts of other tiny critters" as his mother gardened.
Hensley told Everything Salvias that it was his father's gift of a Pentax ME Super camera in 1979 that also helped plant the seed of his future "obsession."
Hensley wrote at Birds & Blooms that hummingbirds later became a source of fascination due to his admiration for their speed, aerobatics, fierceness and color. To record the fast-moving action, he returned to photography after a decades-long hiatus.
Hensley's article offers a number of tips for hummingbird photographers, including how to attract them into your yard. For example, he strips foliage from horizontal shrub branches to create perches. He does this in locations where lighting is good for taking pictures. Another strategy he suggests is to place sprinklers or misters near a perching spots.
Favorite Sages for Wildlife Gardening
Regarding his garden choices, Hensley told us that he selects plants based on what he knows will attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds -- the kind that frequent Ohio -- and a variety of butterflies, including Monarchs and Swallowtails. We'll share some of his butterfly and insect photos in a future post.
Our slideshow of Hensley's Ruby-throated Hummingbird photos includes 11 of the many Salvias and companion plants he grows. We've organized them alphabetically based on their scientific names. They are:
Orange Cigar Plant (Cuphea schumannii)
David Verity Cigar Plant (Cuphea x 'David Verity')
Royal Purple Arbol de Brujo (Iochroma cyaneum 'Royal Purple')
Lion's Ear or Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus)
Queen Victoria Cardinal Flower (Lobelia fulgida 'Queen Victoria')
Lady in Red Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea 'Lady in Red')
Black & Blue Anise-Scented Sage (Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue')
Van Remsen's Anise-Scented Sage (Salvia guaranitica 'Van Remsen')
Mulberry Jam Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrata 'Mulberry Jam')
Misty Mountain Sage (Salvia miniata)
Giant Brazilian Sage (Salvia subrotunda)
Other hummingbird sages he has found successful include Chiapas Sage (S.chiapensis), Scarlet Rooster Sage (S. dichlamys), Sapphire Blue Anise-Scented Sage (S. guaranitica 'Sapphire Blue') and Fuzzy Bolivian Sage (S. oxyphora).
Hensley emphasizes that nature photography is his avocation and something he does for relaxation, not money. His career for the past 29 years has been in the consumer packaged goods industry.
However, you can find some of his work for sale at Fine Arts America and also follow him on his Bud's Photography Page at Facebook. Finally, here is a video of his 2014 presentation at The Hummingbird Society's Sedona Hummingbird Festival.
Buzzing with Questions?
Finding hummingbird plants for your US Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone and local growing conditions is easy at the FBTS online catalog. Just click on the Hummingbird Plants category in our product menu, which is the thick green band at the top of each page. Please also feel free to call or email us with any questions about our plants. If you have questions about wildlife photography for Bud Hensley, please buzz him via private message on Facebook.