ORC Week 6: Cursing the Queen and Hailing the Halo

Jarrod looked over while I was typing this, saw the post title, and said “Are you writing Harry Potter fan fiction?” This is a quick post about one magical addition to our yard and one difficult eradication.

In 2016, our landscaper installed an assortment of native plants in our backyard.


In the mix were three plants that have since proven to be far too aggressive for our small garden plot: sneezeweed, goldenrod, and queen of the prairie. Those are the tall plants you can see in the back of this 2017 photo.

Garden 2017

These plants started taking over the bed, crowding out the variety of other plants, and toppling over from their own weight.

Navite Garden

For scale, here’s Jarrod standing behind the goldenrod in 2018: he’s 6’2″.

Goldenrod vs Jarrod

Early this spring, I decided it was time to rein it in. I started by digging up the huge patches of queen of the prairie.

Backyard Garden Early Spring

Then, when the goldenrod came in, I tore that up as well. You can see that in the back. I also upgraded our birdbath with a new one from Wayfair.

Goldenrod 2

It was a bummer to lose this several-year investment in plant growth, but… it had to go. I offered up the queen of the prairie on my neighborhood gardener Facebook group – no takers. They all probably know better!


The queen of the prairie is not letting her reign end easily. The root system is intense. I’ve been digging up new starts nearly every day for the past month and continually pulling out previously undiscovered roots.

Digging Up Queen of the Prairie

Today I threw some mulch down on the razed area. This season I will continue to keep the aggressive plants at bay and hope the other plants fill in the bald spot. I added some common bluestar, which I’m excited about – it’s not native to this region, but it is native to the US and the specs sound like a good fit for this plot.

Native Garden 2

Speaking of backyard aggressors: our bird feeder was getting ransacked by house sparrows, starlings, and red wing blackbirds. They’d empty out the feeder in a day. The house finches and gold finches never stood a chance. A friend told me she had great luck with the Magic Halo, so decided to give it a shot with a new Squirrel Buster finch feeder.

Two Goldfinch

It looks a little tin-foil-hattish, but it blends in well enough and it’s worth the slight visual clutter for how effective it is! The combination of the wires and sun bouncing off the nuts repels the house sparrows like, well, magic. Here’s a house sparrow getting totally flummoxed by the Magic Halo while a house finch dines.

Magic Halo

I have a suet feeder elsewhere in the yard for the other birds, and this is now a VIP lounge for finches. I’ll share more on the rest of our yard in another post – here are a few shots in the meantime!

Native Plant

Native Plant 2

A bee flew in when I photographing the shooting star plant.


You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.

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