Thursday, April 8, 2010

Finches mean the garden is just right

It's 9:00 a.m. and raining the steady, warm, gentle rain we've had for the last two days. Over 3 cm of rain collected in the big tub I'd emptied down by the vegetable bed. During all of March we'd had less than 4 cm, so I'd been worrying as I always do about adequate rainfall.

Beautiful rain. Everything in the gardens is bigger and greener and so ready to go it's almost unbelievable ... except that it happens every year so I have to believe it, and I consider myself lucky to be able to care for this space.

I had glanced out the window a little while ago, thinking to myself: 'I should tell Chris that over the next few days as we go out, if each of us cuts down a few of the leftover plant stalks out front, the passersby will know we're tidying up'.

Then I went right up to the window and looked down to see a male and a lady finch plucking seeds from the heads of brown-eyed susans. Well, that answers the question of whether there were still actually seeds in the heads! They seem to take turns watching and eating, both do not have their heads down at the same time. And to mention the good disguise that the female has, she blends in so beautifully with the grey/brown tones of wintered plants around her that I didn't see her for almost a minute, and when I did I realized that her shape is quite like a dried milkweed pod. What a great fit she is with her early spring foraging environment.

I'll trim down obedient plant, rue, oregano stalks and grasses, but will leave the purple coneflower and susan heads. Most of the stalks I'll break into pieces and scatter around the new-growing plants. Some I'll trench in, giving in to the pressure I still put upon myself to keep the front looking 'tidy' for the passersby and neighbours ... and the garden rules buried deep in my memory about how to 'clean up' in the spring. On a practical side, I'm aware of gardeners' vulnerability to neighbour's complaints if they don't like the looks of something (of if you p... er, annoy them).

My reward for deciding to not tidy up the front too much? I went to the back windows and spotted a pair of mallards scouting out the yard. They've been in the neighbourhood for two weeks and we're really hoping they'll choose a spot in our yard to nest. She seems to be really interested in a spot under the apple tree, and that would be good because we could keep an eye on them and it's not on the raccoon's direct path as it cuts through to Doug's place.

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