Friday, January 30, 2015

Planting for the Birds

by Edna 'Ladybug' Gaston

Ah, ‘tis the season to dream!  Gardening catalogs galore are magically appearing in my mailbox. So build a nice fire, grab a cup of hot chocolate and let’s plan our gardens.

One of my favorite birds is the Cedar Waxwing. Growing up they would appear in a large flock, usually on a cloudy winter day, and devour the berries in the bushes surrounding my backyard. What a treat to watch these birds. They are so beautiful - they remind me of Oriental figurines. So this morning I opened an email from Birds & Blooms. To my delight there is a picture of a waxwing devouring a bright, red berry. The article lists plants to attract this and other berry loving birds. So here it is!

Strawberry, Fragaria – this is our good, old yummy jam plant. Perfect as a ground cover or in a container or hanging basket. I have plants but rarely get to eat them. My feathered friends are quicker than I. HOWEVER, some of my plants are wintering over in the greenhouse and I now have small green strawberries!

Winterberry, Ilex verticillata – great plant for the landscape. So versatile and attractive.

Juniper, Juniperus – another multi-use plant. Good ground cover, nice color for the winter, perfect habitat for bird winter protection. It’s fun to see birds going into our plants at dusk.

Serviceberry, Amelanchier – as the article states, this is a four season plant – flowers, fruit, fall color and attractive bark in winter.

Hawthorn, Crataegus – another plant with spectacular red berries and great as a border plant.

Crabapple, Malus – another plant from my childhood yard, I enjoyed climbing it during the summer and the birds liked it in the winter.

Madrone, Arbutus menziesii – this one is unfamiliar to me. But the article says “berry clusters may include red, orange and yellow fruit at the same time.”

Elderberry, Sambucus – an all-time southern favorite.

Raspberry, Rubus – another fruit that has landscape uses along with being absolutely delicious. Some for us and some for the birds! [Note from the Agent: Traditional red varieties are challenging to grow in Piedmont NC, but the adventurous can find more information here:


Have fun planning! And happy birdwatching!

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