Year of Grace, Day 136. Wu wei or just-in-time gardening

My rather laid-back style of gardening —  which I call “wild or naturalistic gardening,” as I prefer to help, rather than master, nature and try to intervene as little as possible in nature’s way of doing things  —  is apparently just the very thing for finches. And I’m so glad that NABU – the German nature conservancy – states in its website that the “do-nothing” gardening style – I fancifully call it “wu wei gardening” – ensures that bullfinches and other predominantly vegetarian birds are well nourished throughout the year. If you want these birds to visit your garden and make it their home, NABU recommends not cutting flowers as soon as they wilt and not pruning stems hard back just before winter. They like nothing better than to nibble on tender young leaf buds and other nutritious spring greens and much later on the seeds that develop from the flowers.  Even insect lovers will often find feasts lurking inside dried flowers that have remained over winter. I leave my hydrangea flowers (not all of course, as I do snip a few for the house) to dry naturally on the bushes to protect them from freezing, and only after all risk of frost is over (after the Ice Saints’ Days, Eisheiligen, or mid-May) do I trim their natural cold insulation.

Speaking of love (yet again!) in the garden, I spied a brilliantly feathered bullfinch yesterday. Ruddy chest – at first I mistook it for a robin – but unlike robins, it had a black cap and striking blue underfeathers. A tawny brown bird came to perch on a nearby branch, and interestingly, our fashionista dandy immediately flew close – exceedingly close – to the modestly dressed newcomer. And he must have whispered sweet nothings in her ear (I realized then that it was a she-finch, though she was nowhere as brilliantly clothed as he), as for a while they were engaged in a melodious tête-a-tête. However, she might not have appreciated his suit (sartorial and otherwise) and brushed him off, because he flew off after a few minutes, not too far though, still gazing back at her longingly from time to time, chirping piteously from a nearby branch. Ah, spurned love!

Bullfinch. Photo: NABU

Bullfinch. Photo: NABU

Strong gusty winds this morning – spring gales – and if this were in the Philippines, I would’ve said there’s a typhoon brewing. Although I keep the back garden rather on the wild side for the wildlife, I am rather glad I tidied up the long stems of the Westerland rose yesterday and tied them firmly to a supporting pole. I’m trying to train it to climb up against the wall. In this morning’s gales, the stems would have been whipped about mercilessly. We had a brief spell of hail – the size of maize kernels – around noon yesterday and again, I was fortunate to have moved the blooming blue crocuses closer to the back door, under shelter of the roof (the better to be appreciated as one passes through, I thought). Had I not done so in the nick of time, the young silky petals might have been shredded. So, yes, occasionally, I do manage my wild-ish garden the Japanese industrial way – that is, JIT (just in time). However, I wasn’t just in time for a planter that was knocked off from upstairs by the stormy gales. Luckily, there was nobody below. These spring gales are quite something!

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