28 September 2015

Lemon Rod

This is the year of the great move. Several plants were languishing in their original locations, so I thought a move would do them good. One of them was a gift plant of Goldenrod (solidago) Little Lemon. I read the tag. I trusted it: Full sun to partial shade. So partial shade is where it went last spring. I never asked it where it wanted to go, but just placed it there. It got full sun in the morning, but Little Lemon was turning out to be a big lemon. A few flower spikes and only about 9 inches tall (30 cm) was all it could muster.

Early spring, and a new set of hollies replacing the overgrown ones out front left a lot of space to fill in. I moved Little Lemon to a sunnier spot there, and she took off running. Many stems and many blooms later, I find some of the results of the first year are traits of this cultivar, and traits that I do not care for.

The height is about 10-inches (25 cm) which is normal for this patented cultivar, but that's fine by me. Flowers are bushy and full. Their color is not the deep rich gold of the species, but a lemon yellow that gets lighter as a bloom matures. That adds richness and variation, but the blossoms are blooming at different times, giving a look that is not uniform. The flower heads remind me of Sideshow Bob's (of The Simpsons cartoon) hair.

Rudbeckia grows anywhere it wants to like in
the middle of solidago.
Finally, the plant does not stand up. This is the most annoying characteristic. Being so short and with the species tall and sturdy, I did not expect this. I wonder if the plant would be better by getting fuller and using itself for support.

So, after researching information about Little Lemon for this post, I read that it really prefers full sun. No kidding. Don't trust the tags

For The Record:
  • Loose clay soil with organic amendments and mulch
  • Good drainage
  • Full sun
  • No fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease

07 September 2015

Goldfinches: Messy Little Piggies

Burpee'e Elf sunflowers were planted for the second year, using up leftover seed. These dwarf sunflowers were placed near the front steps leading to the house -- a happy accident I will describe later. I find that Elf blooms earlier than Sunspot [posted 22.08.2015] -- and are more appetizing to the goldfinches.

Elf produced one main bloom, and numerous side blooms on stems that were of a substantial size for cutting. The blooms had yellow petals with black seed cluster centers. As the seed clusters matured, the goldfinches discovered this tasty treat. And they told their friends, who told their friends. It was not uncommon to see a half dozen goldfinches fluttering in and out of the sunflowers for breakfast.

The little acrobats could balance on top of a bloom, and bend down 180 degrees to the seeds. If some seed dropped, so what. No problem that the seeds fell all over the lower leaves and walks. There was always more. Until they found these this year, only my echinacea seeds were their favorite food source in the yard.

The plants were a maximum of 4-feet tall (1.2 m), although the seed packet states that these are the shortest dwarfs reaching only 30-inches (75 cm). My experience proves otherwise, but they were planted on the west side of the house, so the only sunlight was from noon on. Planting them next to the front steps was right. They all face west toward the front yard and the street, as opposed to the others on the side garden that face my neighbor's yard instead of mine. And being so close to the front door made for some easy bird watching.

Now, after the seeds are picked out and the heads are left, the plants are producing even more blooms, although small and without stems. They are only about 3-inches in diameter (5 cm), but are popping out between the side shoots and the main stalk.

I would highly recommend these as one of the best dwarf sunflowers, for their habit of producing many side shoots worthy of cutting themselves, for their uniformity, for their proportion of seed head to petals, for their reblooming, and for their ability to attract the messy little piggies.
"Let me rip one of these off to get to the seeds easily. Sorry for the mess."
"Did I do that?"
For The Record:
  • Heavy clay soil with gypsum & organic amendments
  • Mostly sun, west side of house
  • Small amount of fertilizer
  • No serious pests/disease