Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Value of Tiny Seeds and First Frost

My kitchen has two windows, one above the sink facing east providing a view of my platform bird feeder, and the other in front of my kitchen table facing west looking out over a small patch of garden that is shaded by a huge flowering cherry tree except during the last few hours of the day in the summer.  The garden patch is planted with a variety of native and non-native species including astilbes (Astilbe spp.), hostas (Hosta spp.) (whose flower stalks are routinely removed by the deer), great blue lobelias (Lobelia siphilitica), and wreath (or bluestem) goldenrod (Solidago caesia).

As the garden gets "tired" at the end of the season--as do I--white-snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) volunteers usually overwhelm the intentional plantings and remain in place until I get disgusted looking at their dry, gray, dissipated flower heads and I pull them up and toss them onto the compost pile. In the process of removing the plants, their fluffy seeds billow up into my face and cascade onto the newly created seedbed that I unintentionally prepared for them by uprooting their parents.

A weevil larva makes distinctive tunnels through the leaves when the plant is actively growing, and so I am reluctant to remove the plants.  As a result, I'm left with my perennial snakeroot "garden" at the end of the growing season.  I'd assumed that the weevils were the only critters that benefited from the ubiquitous plant.  But, having breakfast at my window on Sunday morning, I noticed three White-throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis)--winter visitors--clinging to the none-too-sturdy stems of  the snakeroot plants and picking off the minuscule seeds.  I couldn't believe their dedication and acrobatics to obtain, what seemed to me, a seed far too small to bother about, especially given the relatively mild weather we're still enjoying.  But, then, I guess I'm judging from  my human perspective, and not the sparrows'.

I'm still going to pull out the plants, but I guess that I'll wait a bit longer.

We had a out first frost last night.  I took these images this morning in the native grassland near my house as the sun crept up over a ridge, melting the frost as it rose. 


Gail said...


great pictures and lovey area in which you live. I alsolove how you describe the view from various windows. All so peaceful. We view deep woods, ponds and a brook all around us. All my pictures on my blog from the header to the sidebar are all around our home. I am so grateful to live in such natural beauty.
Thanks for following my blog.

Love to you

Scott said...

Thank you, Gail. I am blessed to live in such natural splendor--even though I'm only 10 minutes from a large, regional shopping mall. The best (sort of) of both worlds, though you can imagine to which I gravitate!