Goldfinches love catnip flowers and zinnias

by CynthiaYockey on July 21, 2010

A few mornings ago when I looked down from my bedroom window I saw two male goldfinches clinging to the spikes of tiny, pale lavender flowers in the catnip patch below, daintily pecking at the blossoms. I grew the catnip plants from seed last year and they got a couple of feet tall. This year they are almost four feet tall and when their flowers blossomed they became one of the busiest parts of the garden for bumblebees and butterflies.

This evening I went out to check on the patty pans squashes, which are next to my flower patch where I planted zinnias I grew from seed this year. A little golden flash darted up from a purple blossom to perch on a forsythia branch. Then I saw his friend — life partner? — another male goldfinch clinging to the blossom of a Burpee Purple Prince zinnia. I don’t have close-ups of these flowers because none of them have looked good enough to bother photographing, since they were missing petals. And then, as the goldfinch hung onto the zinnia stalk and worked over the blossom, I was delighted to see why my flowers look so tattered — he was pulling off the petals! I couldn’t tell whether he was eating them or flushing out bugs for his dinner. After awhile he spotted me and then he and his friend darted off to a hickory tree in the backyard.

As for the patty pans squashes, their broad leaves droop a bit when the sun is bright and hot but they perked up as the sun was setting.

Most of the heirloom tomato plants are doing well and I picked some of the first ripe cherry tomatoes this morning from Wild Cherry and Galina’s Yellow Cherry. Berkeley Tie-Dye is not going to make it — I think tomorrow I will replace it with a pot of marigolds that have been looking for a home. Dr. Wyche, one of the Galina’s and Virginia Sweets all have suffered chompage from the deer. When it rains and the ground gets soft, I’ll be able to drive the stakes in my deer fence more firmly into the ground and then I can make the tape taut again, the way it’s supposed to be. Until then, I’ll have to use anti-deer spray.

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  • Texan99

    We’re so far south that all the things you’re describing in your garden burned up in our a month or more ago. It’s nice to hear about them, though.

    Besides waist-high catnip this year, we had an astounding field of passion-flower vine, which led to more Gulf fritillaries than we’d ever seen before, dozens of them everywhere you turn. Their caterpillars ate up a lot of vine, which was a relief, because that stuff turns out to be incredibly aggressive here.

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