I think one of the hardest lessons for me to learn has been... sometimes when you just leave things alone, beauty happens. Thankfully, my garden reinforces this concept to me often enough that my thick-headedness never gets too out of control before I see it evidenced again and remember, "Oh yeah! Just calm down. You don't have to control everything. Leave things alone and beauty happens."
During the winter, I put out seeds for the birds that are wintering over here because the bugs aren't as numerous as in warmer months. After much trial and error, I've finally concluded that the only seeds I need to put out are simple black sunflower seeds. Even the smallest birds prefer them to other seed. I will also put out some suet cakes for the chickadees and woodpeckers that like to forage differently than the others.
Everyone gets fed, and I get an added bonus...
I get sunflowers!
Birds are messy eaters and inevitably stray sunflower seeds end up on the ground under and around the feeders. I don't have any lawn to mow in our garden so the seeds can stay where they fall. The winter and spring rain waters them, and I end up with at least half a dozen or more volunteers that sprout and bloom.
When this sunflower's petals of sunshine are spent, I'll leave the stalk standing and let the seeds ripen in the hot summer sun. The birds will come along and feed from it like a natural bird-feeder. And some seeds will fall to the ground and become volunteers for possibly some autumnal sunflowers (having them bloom in October is the best treat). Some may even winter over and produce blooms for next spring once the winter rain hits them.
Such a beautiful natural cycle repeats over and over... if I simply leave things alone.