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A strange new weed turned up in the Wildflower Field. It is quite tall - at least four feet - but slender, soft and rangy. It reminds me of a clover. It has long, white, sweet-smelling composite blooms which hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees all seem to like (which is why I haven't pulled it up).

The Wildflower Field is the grassy center of the south half of the yard. When we first moved in, it was the Volleyball Court, and we had enough volleyball-playing friends to be able to muster a game on even the hottest summer weekends.

The trees were smaller then, and there was no pond and not much of a center bed, so there was room for a regulation-size court. The team facing the sun wore sunglasses, and they were the Shades. When you switched sides, the sunglasses and the team's name switched sides, too.

Mexican HatAs we grew somewhat more sedate, and the trees and pond and flower beds encroached, the Volleyball Court became the Badminton Court, then dwindled to the Croquet Course, which we never set up in the formal pattern prescribed by the rules, but rather laid out all over the yard like a golf course.

Soon, that open place in the south half of the yard was just a patch of grassy lawn. Boring. I don't like to mow and refuse to water grass. So about three years ago, when Norma told me about Wildseed Farms west of here, I got on line and ordered some wildflower seeds.

Not bluebonnets. But poppies and cornflowers, fivespot, Indian blanket and Mexican Hat (below left). The first year I seeded very heavily and had a wealth of flowers. We mowed in the fall and did not add new wildflower seeds the second year. Most came back, some stronger than others, but interestingly, new wildflowers that I had not seeded showed up, too. They were horsemint, green thread, and a penstemon that I had to look up in a book: gerardia. A little Red Oak tree volunteered.

Mexican HatThat second year, I did throw seeds, not for wildflowers, but herbs: parsley, cilantro and dill. The dill didn't do well, but there was a good stand of cilantro and a bit of parsley. This year, again I did not seed wildflowers, and no herbs except dill. A few little dill plants ventured to come up on the outskirts. There was a huge stand of cilantro (just now going to seed, pictured below) and a nice bit of parsley.

And now there is this mysterious tall clover. In the midst of the Bird Project last winter I put out quite a bit of birdseed. I thought perhaps this newcomer had sprouted from scattered birdseed, but from everything I can find (on labels of birdseed mixes and ingredient lists from on-line catalogs) it appears the small light-colored round seeds are, as I always thought, millet.

Mexican HatFound it. From an online Misouri Wildflower Guide, melilotus alba:

"Tall and straggly, White Sweet Clover is not especially attractive, but it has a subtle, sweet scent while blooming. It is much branched, with a loose, open growth habit, swaying easily in the breeze.

"A favorite of bees and other insects, it is sometimes planted near domestic hives for honey production, and is also used as a hay and pasture crop or as green manure, enriching the soil due to its nitrogen-fixing properties. Its genus name is from meli, a Greek word that means "honey". It is also of value for game birds, which eat its seeds."

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