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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finches and Flowers

Sometimes you learn things the hard way, and sometimes that's okay. I planted an anise hyssop and a German chamomile for making herb teas, more correctly known as tisanes.  While I knew that it's the flowers on the chamomile that you want to harvest for tea, what I didn't know was that they freely reseed themselves.  It's a good thing that in addition to being good for tea, they're pretty, so at this writing they're welcome to join the many weeds in the backyard.

What I also didn't know was that for the anise hyssop, you want to harvest before they flower, which I didn't do.  Didn't know.  So for the better part of the summer, I've at least enjoyed the purple spikes on the anise hyssop.  So did the bees, until some unknown (to me, anyway) species of bee aggressively chased them off, but even that was okay because there were basil flowers right next door.  I should have been on top of those too, or I would still have basil to harvest. As it was, the bees had more fodder.

Do you see six goldfinches?
At any rate, the pretty purple hyssop flowers came and went, and before I really started thinking about what happens with flowers once they're spent and the ensuing seeds they're likely to spread everywhere, I was treated to the pretty sight of around ten goldfinches breakfasting on the anise hyssop seeds.  I counted at least nine anyway.  They were hard to count because they wouldn't hold still.  Even harder to photograph.

So next year, the anise hyssop gets harvested before it flowers, and the basil gets pinched regularly so that it keeps making leaves.

And I move on to learning something else the hard way.  Bound to.

Note: I'll have a post on the solar PV in a few days. It's getting installed this week.


Toni aka irishlas said...

It's good to see when somethings don't go quite as planned that something good still comes from it. Those finches were loving life. One of the reasons I don't dead-head anything in the fall is that the birds will feast on what they can over the winter. It may not be pretty or pristine to look at, but, it's serving a purpose.

Just a side note - the hurricane that came through wiped out the remainder of our gardens. Had to count it as a loss and just prep the beds for winter. The greenhouse endured just fine, however!

jules said...

My mom in SW MI said her gold finches were gone, so I'm looking forward to getting them down here in LA (Lower Alabama).

Jennifer Montero said...

Don't you love happy accidents? Great goldfinch picture too.

Paula said...

Sorry about your garden Toni. I'm just glad it didn't blow you all to kingdom come!

It's kind of neat how you can expect some birds to come and go, and be able to see them twice a year. I like it when I hear the Canadian geese honking on their way south or north, depending on the season, and I like to see the robins twice a year. Not so much the starlings, though....

Yes, Jennifer, I do love happy accidents, and this was definitely one. Thanks for the compliment. Do you miss American birds? I miss the cardinals and titmice from when I lived in the south....especially the cardinals.

Anonymous said...

That's what I love about gardening. There's always something to learn, either from experience or through the knowledge of other gardener's. Love the picture- however those aren't goldfinches, they look like greenfinches.

Paula said...

No- those are goldfinches alright- part of what's making them hard to ID is the fact that I take lousy pictures. I also had the impression that they were juveniles, which would explain why they weren't quite so bright yet. And then finally, a little research indicates that we don't have greenfinches here in the Americas.