Photo Friday: looking for weeds in all the wrong places

For the past two years I have been searching for wild plants to put in my garden.   They are weeds to the locals, and are often bushhogged or just simply tilled under.  Yet I find them attractive and have scouted for accessible sources to bring them home to my gardens…

The tornado storms of April 11, brought some of them to me, but I continued to look for one.  Goldenrod!  I think it is the most beautiful thing to see in fall, and so do my bees!  They drink its nectar to make stinky (think dirty rotten socks) smelling honey, and bring home it’s pollen to feast on over the winter.

So imagine my surprise when my chicken yard exploded in great yellow, plumes of the stuff!

In the photo below you will see several “WEEDS”  That my neighbors would surely not appreciate if growing in their yards.

However we,

the chickens,

wild bees,

my bees,

and butterflies do.   And, for all our sake, I certainly do.

And then there is the Eupatorium capillifolium…

The common name is Dog fennel, and it is sold as a background foliage plant in Europe under the name of Elegant Feather

I am sorry, but mine is anything but elegant at the moment.  All spring and summer it is upright and a lovely green, looking quite a bit like asparagus, or culinary fennel.

Usually, by this time of the year it has been cut back down to the ground.  This year things got in the way, and feel I let it get out of hand.  Or did I?

For the past week I have been in search of the lovely perfume in the chicken yard, which is never a place to be confused with “lovely perfume.”  This morning the scent was unmistakably coming from here.  Then I noticed the hum, and realized it was a bee magnet!

Buddy was busy sniffing at something in the bush, and found that out the hard way.  Poor Buddy.

Here is a closeup of the Dog Fennel blooms,

and others!

Goldenrod

Hm, I have forgotten her name. 

Do you know it?

UPDATE:  Thanks to my Facebook friend Jodi, I was able to locate and identify my ‘salvia’ as Scarlet Sage.  You can find out more about this beautiful flower HERE.     Thank you Jodi!

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42 thoughts on “Photo Friday: looking for weeds in all the wrong places

    • pixilated2 says:

      My lawn is mostly weeds, Julie. In the early spring I have huge sections that don’t get mowed, because of the daffodils and the violets! Some of the other bloomers like the little bluets are very low to the ground and the mower misses them. 😉

  1. ceciliag says:

    What a lovely post .. I love that you find such glory in your weeds but a weed is only a plant in the wrong place so i guess yours are called a garden.. lovely.. c

    • pixilated2 says:

      Thank you Celi! Ha, there are so many of them, that I figure if they have a lovely flower or are a benefit to my bees and chickens, then its just one less I have to pull. 😉

  2. pattisj says:

    Natural plants are the way to go, are well-suited to their environment–therefore not requiring much attention. I like that in a plant! I’ve had a few crazy things pop up in the butterfly garden this year. I let them go to see what they have to offer. Some get pulled up, others have something for birds, bees, butterflies, or are pleasing to the eye and get to stay. I noticed goldenrod in the natural areas around here when I was out and about today. Had to smile at the title–reminded me of a song. 🙂

    • pixilated2 says:

      Patti that is so true! I had my whole front yard planted in natives when I lived in California. Once they were established I rarely had to water them. Everyone was skeptical when I tore out the lawn and azaleas to plant my natives, but after it was established I caught people stopping by to admire it. I went for a visit about a year after we moved and there were native front yards all over Claremont! 😀

    • pixilated2 says:

      Thank you Annie, that is my purpose, and it does keep the bees happy! Although I must admit…

      I was a bit apprehensive about finding two hornets in there.
      !!! 😐 !!!

  3. tootlepedal says:

    A weed is fine until it takes over the world and strangles everything else. Weeds are therefore like bankers. Some are admirable but all are dangerous in the long run.

    • pixilated2 says:

      Well said Tom! However not so dangerous in the chicken yard. At the end of the season it is all pulled, cut, and mowed down for winter. Meanwhile, the chickens eat many the seeds left behind by the mulching of the mowers blades, and whatever is left will come back anew in spring.

  4. shoreacres says:

    Some people use “weed” to refer to anything that doesn’t come from a garden shop with a price tag attached. In fact, wildflowers, aka “native plants” are the way to go. They’re hardier, and suited to the conditions.

    The weeds that get out of hand often are invasives – from Europe or elsewhere. I’ve become much more attuned to this in the past years – I think the first time I realized how much harm an invasive could do was when the hydrilla started taking over our waterways. Then, of course, there’s our beloved kudzu…. 😉

    • pixilated2 says:

      Linda, When in California I ripped out the lawn, azaleas, and camellias to plant natives. Throughout this process the neighbors who had known my Mother-in-law, and saw her in her gardens almost daily, would stop and place their hands on their hips and shake their heads. They looked angry! They had no vision, no imagination, no understanding of what I was trying to accomplish. (A 40% water rate hike was my motivation) Then things grew and filled in, very quickly I might add, and when spring came I found them stopping to look. This time they were pointing and smiling and talking cheerfully to each other. And yes, I hardly ever had to water after things got established!

      A year later, I had the occasion to go back to Claremont when we finally sold our home. I found that on almost every street at least one, if not more, had converted to native plantings! 😉

  5. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    LOL! Good thing that Goldenrod honey doesn’t taste like it smells when the bees are collecting it, eh? To me, those first shots show the perfect fall pairing of Goldenrod and Aster. Do you have any of the darker purple/mauve asters as well? For some reason, White Aster honey can be kind of hard on the bees’ guts come Spring and they’ll usually leave it alone until forced to use it. Absolutely LOVE your Dog Fennel! What an amazing amount of blooms on one stem!! Are they always so loaded, or is this year an aberration, like so many others with the extra early spring we had? Up here we call your Salvia “Cardinal Flower”. Here’s a link from one of my favourite databases:
    http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lobelia+cardinalis

    • pixilated2 says:

      Hi Deb, thank you for the links! The http://www.pfaf.org site is amazing! I have seen the purple asters here, but the big winds only sent me the white ones. I had never seen the Dog Fennel bloom until this year because usually I had cut it down to the ground by now. However, I suspect that this plant is always this full. I don’t know this, but surmise that it is a strategy for success. If your flowers are only an eighth of an inch long, then you’d better have A LOT of them if you want to be noticed! 😉 Our salvias are very similar, but the one in my yard is an annual and comes back from seed. Also, it only has two well rounded lobes on the lower portion, whereas yours has three lance shaped ones. I have purchased the seed for the Cardinal flower, I know it does grow here, but have so far not had success getting it to grow for me. I am thinking of trying to “winter sow” it and a few others to see if I have success that way.

    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Well, I’m not sure where (thought) I saw the antibiotic bit, but this plant definitely is… Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the plant that’s been vilified as an invasive species since it was first discovered (here in Ontario, at least) Purple Loosestrife! (Another very important nectar plant too, I might ad; )
      http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Lythrum+salicaria
      Oh, and my missing comment with the (original) Goldenrod link was about “weeds”… Have you found it anywhere, by chance?
      I’m paraphrasing here but it said that “A “weed” is a plant that’s growing where it’s not wanted… and I defy anyone to find a truly useless plant…”

  6. KatyDaly says:

    We have no shortage of goldenrod here in upstate NY, I’d be happy to ship some to you! In fact most of our land is covered with it, but I am not one of those who regularly bushhogs it down. I agree that weeds are simply misunderstood plants, and we do our best to encourage their growth in our fields. You can get some idea from these photos on my blog just how much goldenrod we have. It looks wonderful until those 5-ft.-tall plants all turn brown with the frost. In the past few days it has started looking pretty dreary here…

    http://lestersflat.blogspot.com/2011/09/lesters-flat-survives-irene-and-lee.html

    http://lestersflat.blogspot.com/2009/08/rising-above-goldenrod.html

    • pixilated2 says:

      Welcome Katy! Yes, I imagine fields full would look awesome… for a while. 😉 Do the birds eat the seeds? Thank you for sharing your photographs with me! ~L

    • pixilated2 says:

      Thank you, Sawsan! I try to see the beauty in all of creation, though I am not always successful. In those instances I have to go with understanding its purpose.

  7. Cindy Kilpatrick says:

    I have a very large yard and I’ve been ‘naturalizing’ a very large portion of it (i.e. ignoring other than to plant every native weed and shrub I come across), however the lawn grass is still putting up a vigorous fight against my attempts. Where we mow, the non-native clover and dandelions have nearly overtaken the lawn, but in my gardens and the natural area the dang stuff is totally invasive. I really think we should declare lawn grass a noxious weed and do away with it! 🙂

    • pixilated2 says:

      Cindy, I am encouraged that you are trying to naturalize your garden space. I wish everyone would! I have found that the best defense against the noxious weeds is to mulch. The weeds will still come, but they will come out very easily! I also agree that lawns should be outlawed.

      The change in your flora to natives will increase your visits from bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife. The awesome realization of all this is in knowing they were always there, but never felt invited to visit!

  8. Promenade Claire says:

    I’m late to the party but definitely a Salvia – I love them !!
    “And a weed by any other name” – your weeds are my kind of weeds, good to look at, and great for the environment be it your chickens or bees !!

  9. Bill says:

    Love your photos. I wish our bees were being so well fed by nature right now. We’ve had to start feeding them to make sure they’ll have enough honey to get them through the winter. Also pleased to see the Scarlet Sage identification. We have that here but I didn’t know what it’s called.
    Great post!

  10. happyflowerwordzoo002 says:

    I so enjoyed reading this entry to try and populate with local ‘weeds’. All plants have a usefulness and your efforts seem so kindly inclusive. Thanks for not overlooking the beautiful and helping me to see it.

  11. littlesundog says:

    Lynda, I am weed-friendly too! I think it really hit home the first year we lived here and I realized the birds winter off of the weed seeds. Five years later, I have observed Daisy deer eating some of the ugliest and most unattractive weeds… so, they will remain! I am also very familiar with the goldenrod plant. It is the Nebraska State flower!! Nice post!

    • pixilated2 says:

      Lori, I know what you mean about the birds. Sometimes I think that my flower beds would look nicer with the seed heads removed, and then I see the cardinals working them over and decide they look quite attractive! 😉 I do make exceptions for the Poke weed. It scares me, and although I know the birds love them, and there many who cultivate it in their gardens, I pull them all. Is it weird to be afraid of a weed?

  12. Loret says:

    Your garden sounds like a place I would love to walk around to enjoy the wildlife diversity! Dogfennel and Goldenrod are two staples at my place! Didn’t realize the honey would have a different smell. thanks for teaching me something new today!

    • pixilated2 says:

      Loret, the smell from that honey at the end of summer is a shocker. The first time I smelled it I thought my bees were sick.

      I look forward to learning more from you as well. Thank you for visiting me today!

    • Lynda says:

      Mary, I don’t usually let them get up close to the house, but this year, being unable to get out and do my gardening chores, they have sprouted up! How lovely it is to watch their comings and goings from the dinning room window. There are bees, wasps, praying mantids, Monarchs, humming birds and more, all to delight me this summer!

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