Birds Have Their Say
In the garden, I never know how small surprises will change me in big ways. This past year, the birds had their influence, and this is how it all started, last spring.
At first, the song of mourning doves woke me up early each morning. Their haunting tune, which my musician husband Tom says is C followed by F sharp, is a lot more calming than the screech of scrub jays.
Out in the garden, I followed the sound of the mourning doves to see if I could find their nest. Sure enough, it was in the gutter just behind the white lilac in full bloom, right above our bedroom window. I could see a baby bird’s head peeking over the gutter, waiting for worms. No wonder we could hear their morning serenade so clearly! I made a mental note to postpone the gutter cleaning 'til after nesting season.
Mourning doves delight me in many ways. I enjoy their stately walk along the driveway where they hunt for bugs and seeds. I love the flutter of their wings when they take off, and their pretty gray and tan colors. Bird life adds so much pleasure of the garden.
The largest gathering of birds is at the furthest end of the garden where old hawthorn trees reach from the neighbor’s yard and weave together with my own Portuguese laurel, witch hazel, Cornelian cherry dogwood, and mock orange, to form a dense hedgerow. Safely ensconced in this twiggy habitat, birds sing their hearts out at dawn and again at dusk, praising the day at both ends. The melodic cry of chickadees, the staccato twitter of bush tits, the sawing buzz of hummingbirds thrills me.
The joy of listening to this natural choir helps me appreciate the gifts of the less manicured part of the garden. I no longer need to apologize for this rather shaggy, naturalistic area, where I’ve let things go, and surrendered to the wild and woolly origins of this site. Now I see it as an homage to the original elderly homeowner who grew only fruit trees and let the grasses grow thigh high. I dedicate the south end of the property to Mr. Berg, to the birds and Mother Nature.
Now I plant all my new treasures closer to the house, where I can keep an eye on them, and protect them from slugs, weeds and cutworms. This is where the soil has been amended repeatedly, and many of the beds have been raised to provide better drainage. I have finally drawn some boundaries between the cultivated garden and the native wetland, and there is great comfort in knowing where to focus my energy.