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Sounds like a good excuse to me!

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 20 Nov 2009 at 02:44 PM

The slabs in the courtyard have gaps between them and those gaps have become home to a variety of self sown plants. We have the usual tufts of grass coming up, but there are also chives, pansies, a mat-forming Sedum, which I believe is Sedum acre and, of course, dandelions.

I’d been thinking about the growth between those gaps and reckoned that it was probably time for a bit of selective weeding. I can’t bring myself to pull it all out because if there are flowers, then some species will be using them for food, so I pick and choose. Cut the grassy bits back, leave the pansies and chives to flower, cut back the dandelions before they go to seed and pull out that invasive Oxalis corniculata before it tries to take over the world.

At least that’s how it’s supposed to go; at the moment, the dandelions have gone to seed, but it may be that it’s just as well they haven’t been cut back yet, because the other day I saw something that gave me pause for thought about my weeding practices.

Looking out of the window the other morning, I spotted a flash of red and gold amongst the soon to be cut growth and stopped to see what it was. There was a little goldfinch going to each dandelion, quickly and delicately pulling out the seeds and eating them. It went to every plant and had all but cleaned out every seed before it was startled by something and flew off.

Being generally quite careful about removing the seed heads of dandelions, I had never noticed that they attract goldfinches. They are well known for taking the seeds from teasel (Dipsacus fullonum), but it was a surprise and a real pleasure to see this little bird taking advantage of the dandelion seeds. From now on, I shall leave a few to set seed and put up with a few weeds. It will be worth the bother of any extra weeding made necessary by the self-sown plants to see these pretty little birds hopping from plant to plant. 


BB said:

I love to see plants self-seeding around the place Miranda. Even better when they attract such beautiful birds.

on 20 Nov 2009 at 03:54 PM

sue1002 said:

That's a lovely looking pansy there Miranda, and very much like ones I had in hanging baskets a couple of years ago - the seed must have travelled a long distance :-)

on 20 Nov 2009 at 03:56 PM

EvaInNL said:

A great excuse indeed Miranda! :o)

on 20 Nov 2009 at 04:02 PM

miranda said:

I don't know how the seeds got here, Sue, but the plants popped up all over the place this summer.

Let's keep a watch for goldfinches on our dandelions, shall we!

on 20 Nov 2009 at 04:38 PM

yvonne said:

I love our self seeded plants - we have a firethorn wqhich knocks on the bedroom windows... the birds neatly sowed it midway between our house and next door

on 20 Nov 2009 at 08:06 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

That was nice of them, Yvonne. 'Our' birds sowed Anemone nemorosa along the fence line, which I was pleased to see.

on 21 Nov 2009 at 12:21 PM

pushkin said:

How observant you are Miranda, your articles are so informative.  I love the picture of the goldfinch.  In your honour I'll let the dandelions re-seed, well some of them anyway!

on 21 Nov 2009 at 01:29 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Or maybe it's sheer nosiness, pushkin? I didn't know you had dandelions in your part of the world - will have to look it up.

on 22 Nov 2009 at 03:43 PM