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Pink Chicory, and Musings on E-Etiquette

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Such a glorious summer for wildflowers. It's green right up to the road margin, something you don't often see in August in Ohio. I take my camera everywhere I go. On our bluebird box route, the kids begged to take their bicycles along. I couldn't take both bikes in my car, so they settled for razor scooters. I saw them scooting along that lovely road and dropped to my knees to get the Queen Anne's lace in the action, too.


Their outfits were perfect reverses of each other. The spots of red brought the hazy summer landscape alive.


Like Queen Anne's lace, chicory survives our best efforts to rub it out. It grows in the worst compacted gravel it can find, right up to the roadside. It's probably salt tolerant, given the winter treatment of the roads. And it has the best blue, bar none, of any wildflower, in my opinion; a clear, periwinkle blue that makes my heart sing. I don't care if chicory, like Queen Anne's lace, is an exotic from Europe. I love it unreservedly, not least because it grows where no other flower will. (It's also used to flavor Luzianne coffee; it was used in the Civil War as a coffee substitute, and people got used to the taste).

I once bought a budgie because he had a breast that color. His name was Bing. My German grandmother loved Der Bingel (Bing Crosby), and decades earlier, she had named her parakeet Bing, too. If I ever get another parakeet, he will be Bing. It is a fabulous name for a parakeet. You may use it. I won't mind.

But once in awhile we find chicory that isn't blue. This is a wonderful year for pink chicory. We have five plants along our road near our mailbox. We see them every year, leading me to think that chicory is a perennial.


I don't know if you'd get pink flowers true from seed. Someone emailed me once about getting some pink chicory seed from me, but I lost the email in a crash. People email me about a lot of things, thanks to the Google image search, thanks to this blog, thanks to the Tubes of the Interwebs. I answer the urgent appeals for advice on baby bird care, but sometimes I get tired of the constant dribble of people needing things. They always want something, and they almost never properly identify themselves, state their name or location, use a proper salutation ("Hey Julie" is the usual) or say thank you once they've gotten it. The ones that do are lovely, but they are vastly outnumbered by people who think the operaters are standing by to take their call. I don't think I'm being cranky here. If you're asking someone you don't know for a favor, you need to write a formal letter. I try to indicate as much in my replies:


Thank you for your inquiry. I cannot tell you how to become a freelance writer and artist in an email. It's just something you have to do over and over until you get it right.

Ever at your service.

Julie Zickefoose.

Oh. Where was I?

I wonder why you'd want to propagate pink chicory. It's unusual, but it's about 1/10 as beautiful as regular old blue chicory.


People are funny, Mether. They propagate all kinds of unusual things. Look at me. Am I more beautiful than a wolf? I thought you would say yes.


Chicory! So that's what that blue flower that I see all the time down here in NC next to to the ditch daisies. I tried Googling the intertubes but could never come up with the correct answer.

Mucho gracias and vielen Danke from Greensboro!

Dear Chet Baker, Puppeh Extraordinaire,

You are much more beautiful than a wolf.

Your birdy friend,

Dearest Julie,
How funny that you should mention budgies today of all days...we are soon to be receiving a pair. They are being evicted from the zoo aviary for their own good: too fond of people, they clamber all over folks' shirts and heads and pocketbooks and have to be restrained from investigating the interiors of ladies' blouses. One is already named Pocket. Would Phoebe like to help us name the other? She came up with such an endearing and original name for her hamster. I'll let you know what color/sex Budgie #2 is as soon as I find out.
Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your family with us here. You have never been anything but generous to me with your advice and identifications, and I always am so grateful for you.
p.s. Tuberoses have been in bud FOREVER. I'm hanging over the poor dears, whispering "bloom, will ya? Please bloom!"

Aw, y'all don't have to write your comments in formal style! I'm grinning here.
Wendi, you have buds? Flowers won't be far behind! When they point straight out they're getting ready. Just snap off one open flower at a time and bring it inside to perfume your bedside. We are drowning in them now!

Dear Julie,

I am Oh-so-guilty. I recently send your husband a note starting out with "Hey there Mr. Bill o' the Birds"

Sincerely repentant,

Connie Kogler, Loveland, Co. Newbie Blogger

Enjoyable as usual. And amusing also.

To Whom It May Concern,

...nah, just kidding.

Love the down low in the photos and on email etiquette.

Some of the questions are odd and ... well, downright pushy.

I had an email from a stranger today that was one question after another including, "Who are you?"

Wouldn't I use my real name on the blog if I wanted folks to ID me?
Pretty nervy.

Kindest Regards,


The last thing I want is for my adored readers to think I'm talking to YOU in this little whinefest. I'm talking about people coming completely out of left field, grabbing away for help, information, attention or whatever they happen to want in that agrammatical, salutation-free, etiquette-free e-way, then vanishing again without so much as a how-de-do. I would like to catch them all and spank them. Failing that, I thought I'd complain a little here.

Dear Ms. Zickefoose,

Our Queen Anne's Lace is worn out but the Chickory looks fresh, but pink? I don't think so...

I forgot to mention you don't know me but I got a favor to ask if you have a few hours to spare.


I hope I never did that.

Best regards,

Mare, who is leaving here with a smile.

Dear Julie,
How does one NOT leave a message at this point, and a proper one at that!
I took several pictures today of our beautiful ditches and then promptly dropped the camera in the river. For which there is no cure no matter how politely I asked it to work, and then not so politely. One of the shots was of pink chicory..which I always thought was a fading, older plant, like forget-me-nots, which also turn pink. Ah well. I look forward to further correspondence from you regarding your postmistress.
Yours sincerely,
Susan Ellis
Short one camera, Canada

My dad was told (by his doctor) to forego coffee. Frankly, if the doctor told me that, I'd tell her (yes, my doctor is a woman), to forget it.
Anyway, my dad is very dutiful. Maybe that explains his having just turned 90--whatever the doctor says...
Anyway, I just bought him some caffeine free coffee (with no coffee either). It has roasted malts and chickory.
I confess, I didn't know that chickory--for flavor--came from those lovely blue flowers I see everywhere.

There are a lot of wise-acres who read your blog, Julie.

I got an email recently from a complete stranger, asking (no, make that DEMANDING) that I tell her how to rid her house of "mites". She thinks that "some sort of sparrow" is living under her eaves and how should she go about killing them? And the cause of all of her "sores" (eeww) MUST be mites, just like the ones I've shown on my blog.

She went as far as to ask if she should "exhume the dead rat" that she buried in her yard, because rats carry nasty things, too, right?
I asked her to describe the birds, told her that a buried rat wouldn't cause her "sores" (eeww) and where did she live, etc.

She ignored all of that and said that she has seen "countless" doctors and NO ONE could fix her....I finally had enough and told her I wasn't a doctor and told her to check her mattress for bedbugs. She got huffy and DEMANDED I help her by telling her how to kill "these DAMNED birds". I gave up after that.
I mean, JEEZ. And I'm just a nobody!
I don't have a magic wand, for chrissakes.

Chicory, Queen Anne's Lace and Black-eyed Susans are absolutely high summer to me. They line the roadsides on the way to the camp we spent every summer in as kids on Lake Champlain and they are still a joy to see when I get a chance to get home again in July and August.

I too, never knew that was chickory growing beside the road, but I do know that when I was in NO and got some Cafe Du Monde Chickory coffee, I had no clue what that would taste like, and well... I am not a chickory girl, that's for sure! LOL!

I am a frequent "Hey Julie" girl, and so appreciate your wonderful wisdom and help, and hope I've been appropriately thankful! ;c)

Chicory! Lovely to look at...don't think I've ever tasted it, although it instantly makes me think of cowboys. I love a good cup of strong coffee. My family lovingly calls it sludge - as in the Birdcage.

Add me to the list of occasionally and slightly panicked "Hey Julie" e-mailers! I know your complaints weren't directed at your readers, but're entitled to complain. There really is something odd about the lack of boundaries that seems to exist when you're a blogger. I hope you all get a nice break from those pesky ones, and maybe a laugh or two as well.

Thanks for the great glimpses of your life as always - whining and all :)

Yo, jz, don't needs nutin cept a baker fix once in a while.
da rondeau guy.

Hi Julie -

We live in Southeast Ohio and this year we've had some pink borage flowers.

The blooms are on the same plants that have the normal blue flowers. I think what we are seeing with the pink borage is that this year's rains are leaching the blue out of the petals leaving behind the more colorfast undertone pink pigmentation. Or it could be possible that the acidity of rain in coal country causes the color shift.

Not sure, but that might be what's going on with the chicory.


Julie, as one of the multitudes who have contacted you looking for advice on becoming a freelance writer and artist, I have to express my gratitude that you even make yourself available to your fans at all. There are many people who seem to have missed out on etiquette during their upbringing, but I'm glad you haven't become so jaded as to no longer offer your help or advice to others. I can't say what a difference your emails made to me. I hope that if I ever become so well known and loved by fans as you that I can offer my time as generously as you do. Thanks for everything.

As much as I am a bit of a native plant purist, I do love Queen Anne's lace and chicory, too. Great decorators of abandoned warehouse lots and train track ditches.

Moment of panic there over the e-etiquette but I checked my first e-mail to you and could breathe again. Only two infractions - I did indeed want something, I admit, and my greeting was a little too casual. But I'm sure I quickly made up for it with my charm, wit and proper groveling (<- see, there's that wit!).

The problem is that the truly annoying, clueless ones will continue to be annoying and clueless, while those who try to do things with respect to others will question themselves and worry that they've done something wrong. Thanks (again) for all you do. You have the patience of a saint.


Dear Anonymous,

Wow. You ask a lot of questions.

1. Put your computer in the dishwasher, and set to Hi Temp Wash. When it dries back out it will be good as new.

2.To do a blog, go to Blogger. com. It will walk you through all the steps. I'll be happy to link to your blog once it's up and running. You'll get thousands of readers in practically no time at all. It's like magic!

3. I have been looking for just the right children's book project, just the right author with whom to team up. I'm thrilled you had the idea for a children's book, and thought of me to be your illustrator. I have a special admiration for cats, especially when kept in large concentrations. Trust you are letting them outside to exercise their natural instincts and play with the birds and small mammals! That's the only way they can truly be happy.

Now, you write back ASAP!!! I want to get cracking on this book about Patoonyas!!!!!! :-) :-) :-)

I have not see any wildflowers..please let me know where can i get these pictures??Nice post..

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Dear Julie,
I am one of those who would love seed of your pink chicory. I have the blue, lavender and pure white flowers. If you would like seed of them, I would be glad to send some. Seed is beginning to ripen now and I am collecting it. I would like to have a round bed with white in the middle, pink around it and finally a blue border. It would be nice to have this blooming for the fourth of July. I live in central Missouri in the middle of the woods with my 6 cats, all rescues or ex ferals.

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