While the Gardener is Away…

This is now my ninth garden season, which is hard to believe.  It has been the most challenging thus far because of the health woes mentioned in an earlier post.  In early April, I spent a lot of money on plants, mulch, and manure, and I found myself unable to plant a single flower or put down a bag of mulch.  My garden languished as I looked on…

This year has been scorching, and the rain has come in a deluge or nothing at all, which is very bad when one has clay soil.  I had to watch as my plans for the summer color show fell through.  Also, I missed the annual daylily blooms, which last only about three weeks.  Such is life.  However, with all that has happened, the garden still managed to give me an amusing surprise.  

As you may know, coneflowers are one of my favorite flowers, and they are the first I selected when I started gardening.  That first year, I planted a lot of fancy hybrids, and all of them—every single one—died.  The following year, I had a few of the original cultivars (Echinacea purpura) return.  Unfortunately, maybe three years ago, all of those died but two.  I ordered three more and divided those to form a total of seven for the entire garden—then I waited.  The next season they took off and produced plants so full of blooms that I had to use stakes to keep them from falling over.   And this year, they had another surprise in store!

No, I did not plant black-eyed Susans right next to the Daisies! (All image Canon Powershot S95)
Tickseed and coneflower on a long way from home.
Coneflowers visiting scarlet verbena

I had read about coneflowers spreading, but it happened only once in the first eight years.  A plant I’m fairly certain I did not put in the ground showed up in front of the birdbath.  However, since that is where the other cornflowers are, I was never confident it was not my doing.  Well, this year, I am sure.  

 Over the last two years, goldfinches and house finches have made the yard a hangout.  They love coneflower and black-eyed Susan seeds, so they show up from July until the end of the season.  I suspect the finches have a lot to do with the fact that I have black-eyed Susans and coneflowers growing EVERYWHERE.   They are in the strip adjacent to the street, close to the driveway, and everywhere in between.  The amazing thing is they have done this with no watering and no help from me!!!  Even in this heat, with me having watered not once since last season, they are thriving!  Not to be outdone, tickseed has joined in, and of course, the lantana that I ripped out of the ground is back too!

After laboring for eight years to have a lush garden full of beautiful flowers, I find that the finches do a pretty good job of decorating without me, AND they use much less water.  

To borrow a proverb…When the gardener is away, the finches will play.  But just to be clear, I’m happy and grateful for the help.  I have a brand new bag of bird seed, so breakfast, lunch, and dinner are on me!  

To the birds, with gratitude and many thanks!

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