Photo courtesy FlickrAn unanticipated benefit of shifting the garden to native plants has been the return of the state bird, the willow goldfinch. I learned to call goldfinches “wild canaries” as a child, and they do have the mellifluous song of the cage birds. As much as their song, I enjoy wild canaries’ erratic, swooping flight, their apparent joy in life, and especially I enjoy associating with an animal that’s not a prisoner.
Part of gardening for native effect is backing away from some maintenance routines. There are gigantic lilacs on this lot and the one next door-they extend two stories up. A few years after we moved in, I learned that lilac seeds feed birds, so I happily forgot about deadheading in favor of watching the fluttering, noisy feast that happens when the seeds ripen late in summer.
I”m fond of the hybrid rhododendron that came with the house: it seems to be the model for the fake ones that used to decorate Frederick and Nelson’s tea room. Every time the rhodie blooms, I think about ladies’ lunches. To enhance the native effect, I stopped deadheading the rhodie as well as the lilacs. I want it to grow leggy, like the wild shrubs that fill the understory in the woods. It’s a pleasure to ignore withered blossoms knowing that I’m working with the forces of growth rather than against them.
-30- More after the jump.