Two Bur Oaks and a Crawdad

A group of swamp white oaks Healthy soil is important, but for whom?  In the Garden  The young bur oak would not be kept down. Yet again it revealed itself among the standing dead stalks of a large patch of purple bee balm, a good three feet tall and leafing out. In spring, a bur oak’s leaves look like sharp-edged, glossy cutouts. They are not green, but shade delicately among soft corals, tans and pinks. The green comes a bit later, like a slow-motion wave gently pervading each leathery leaf. The question, as it had been for several years, was what to do with this young newcomer to the garden.  About ten feet away and across the walk from house to garage stands a second bur oak that I’d started from an acorn some twelve years ago. I’ve enjoyed watching it grow its first sets of true leaves, become large enough to attract birds and then mature enough to bear acorns. This winter I limbed it up three feet from the ground, mainly to give the sedges and wild geraniums growing underneath a

American Goldfinches, Right on Schedule

When the purple coneflowers bloom, the goldfinches show up. They're cool that way.

The last couple of days I've been wondering when they'd appear. This morning when I finished my writing stint, I went out on the back porch to drink a cup of coffee and indulge in what I call thinking and my beloved family calls "there's mom, staring at the plants again"--and there they were, a male and female sitting on the coneflowers, eating the seeds. They also like sunflowers, milkweed, native thistles, and bee balm. They'll come to a feeder to eat nyger and sunflower seeds. A bird at a feeder is good, but a bird on a flower is excellent. It means the garden is bioregion-appropriate.

The males turn bright yellow during mating season. The females are a dull yellow year round and the males revert in October. They are fairly common and live in the Chicago area all year, but somehow I don't notice them until they make their flashy presence known in late June.

The Cornell Ornithology Lab Website All About Birds, where I got the photo, is a great place to learn more.

Comments

ginny said…
I love goldfinches but haven't seen them in my garden. I have purple coneflowers, a nyger seed feeder, and a feeder full of black oil sunflower seed. I also have bee balm. Maybe one day they'll show up - meanwhile I enjoy the house finches, nuthatches, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, wrens, doves, and others. I agree - a bird on a plant is much better than one at the feeder!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the goldfinch thoughts.
How big a pot does it take to grow coneflowers or bee balm?
Mom