June 10, 2009

The Best Bird Feeder for Your Garden

This bird feeder is inexpensive and the squirrels won't raid it. The deer and rabbits won't congregate around it. You don't have to ask someone to refill your bird feeder when you're on vacation.

You may be tired of reading my stories about verbena bonariensis, but the American Goldfinches persuaded me to write about it again. The finches graciously posed for photos to give the verbena that added WOW factor. If you'd rather see butterflies on your verbena, then the finches suggest you take a look at my recent photos of a Monarch butterfly.

I've generously accommodated the wishes of the finches by providing mass plantings of verbena around the garden. In case you need some design ideas, it's an easy purple plant to use. It's everywhere - in the butterfly garden it is mixed with achillea 'Coronation Gold' and nepeta 'Walker's Low'. In the front deer resistant garden, it squeezes in between salvias and agastache.

Verbena bonariensis is a perennial in zones 7a through 10b. Colder areas can save the seeds and treat this verbena as an annual. It grows to around 3-4 feet in height and likes full sun and well-drained soil. I lost a few of my original plants during our cold winter when the temperatures dropped around 10°F, but there were enough seedlings available (it reseeds if you allow it) to carry on.

I have an ample supply of verbena by the front porch in the cottage garden, planted closely with agastache 'Purple Haze', echinacea 'Prairie Splendor', monarda 'Raspberry Wine'. There are also other perennials and annuals, such as poppies (now finished), larkspur, cosmos and zinnias sown in the same garden.

Today, there were four males and four females dining on the same clump of verbena by the porch. Goldfinches nest in June and July, so I can only assume these even pairs are matched up.

Since they are strictly vegetarian, Goldfinches rely upon seeds for their food year-round and need the flowers from our gardens.

Story and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; June 2009
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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