Giving Goldfinch Grief

August 6, 2010

The mystery plant in the pin oak bed has revealed itself! It’s acorn squash and there are two sitting like twins (or breasts if you are so minded) in the dirt, green and round. I am very pleasantly surprised. This vine is the result of an acorn squash tossed from the back door last fall, then covered with that new black dirt and rotting throughout the winter. Just like the potatoes we enjoyed last week, it’s an unexpected plant in an unexpected place, showing how well the earth works to rejuvenate itself and feed its inhabitants.

Acorn squash is a vegetable that I enjoy and no one else, rather like peas. While I can understand that acorn squash might be an acquired taste, I can’t understand my family’s rejection of peas. It seems such a unobjectionable vegetable, rather like the world’s green corn. I make a lonely handful for myself every now and then and am unsure why I am compelled to put them in a serving bowl on the table instead of just on my own plate. That would save everyone pea angst and save Tony from washing another bowl.

The sweet potato vine has pulled a complete coupe over the containers. There is virtually no sign of other annuals save for one struggling, pathetic dried out attempt at a geranium blossom. And you have to really search to find that. This is a case of being careful what you wish for, as when I noticed these in containers last year, I had sweet potato vine envy. I will carefully reconsider using these again next year. I think it comes down to the fact that I just can’t seem to do containers. My mom’s are lush and full and colorful, with all the plants complementing each other in size and shape. Mine were planted with geraniums and impatiens and lobelia and spikes and sweet potato vine. I now only have the vine. I think I need to admit container defeat, or just embrace the chartreuse majesty and let the geranium sorrow go.

After the total cut back that I gave the oregano weeks ago, it is blooming again, making those bees and butterflies so very happy and full. The sedum is about to burst into bloom as the coneflower revs up for its second, somewhat smaller coming. The stems are shorter, the flowers are smaller, everything is more petite and pint sized. The butterfly bush needed to be deadheaded again and that’s a tricky one. It grows with the flowers in ever-repeating tridents, with the center flower the biggest and first to bloom, first to die. Those spikes must be carefully cut out of the middle to preserve the buds on either side – again and again and again. It is one of the more tedious jobs in the garden, but well worth it with each rebloom.

The trumpet vine keeps insisting on growing right on the bricks, behind the lattice where it cannot be seen. I keep pulling it back out and am trying to think of ways to keep it where it belongs – or where I want it to belong. Perhaps I need to slide a sheet of wood behind the trellis to eliminate the space. Or maybe the vine just needs to be moved to a better spot and another clematis planted there. Unfortunately, I can’t think of a better spot. Maybe in front of the porch, winding up the pillars?

Jacob Marley the watermelon is troubling now. The front is smooth and beautiful but deceiving. The back is marked with scratches and has several splits. I  hope they are healing from the inside and we can still enjoy this come fall. Danny will be disappointed – and so will I – if it’s ruined.

I sat on the groovy flower bench during prime feeding time for the goldfinch, about 6 feet away from the feeder. My goal was to sit very quietly and still and when they landed on the feeder, make plenty of beautiful photographs. They were on to me. I heard plenty of finch calls and saw much dipping and flipping of wings as they prepared to land. Then I saw them scutter in mid-air when they saw me. They wheeled back up, flew in a wide circle around the feeder and would land in the pin oak above me, beeping their distress. Not one was brave enough to land on the feeder. When I realized they weren’t giving in, I did. I hated to ruin their dinner.

I know they’ll fly in when I’m on the patio, a good 15 feet away – wimps.


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