My Garden is ‘for the birds’!

Beautiful Cedar Waxwings love the berries from trees and shrubs

Beautiful Cedar Waxwings love the berries from trees and shrubs

Not sure why that phrase ‘for the birds’ denotes a negative connotation; I absolutely love the birds that come to visit my garden.  For that reason, I have bird feeders and bird baths at various locations throughout my garden and I make sure to plant things that will bring them in. Year before last, I was lucky to be visited during Spring migration by a huge flock of Cedar Waxwings — probably 50-60 of them were sitting in one of the Silver Maple trees in my front lawn and flying back and forth to visit the Mountain Ash tree across the street. The birds would fly back and forth, gathering and eating the berries that had been fermenting all winter. How amazingly funny to watch them getting tipsy as they gorged themselves on the berries (dropping them all over my driveway in the process)! A wonderfully enjoyable day where I got nothing done but watching the birds!

If, like me, you want to bring in the birds, you might want to consider planting some of the following:

  • Winterberry – not only will the birds love it, you’ll get lovely branches to combine with evergreens for winter containers
  • Juniper – remember: juniper berries are a basic ingredient in gin. No wonder the birds love them!
  • Serviceberry – berries are edible for people, too
  • Hawthorn – thornless varieties are available to protect both yourself and children
  • Crabapple – almost an endless array of choices in size, style, and color
  • Mountain Ash – requires a little care, but it’s such a favorite of birds
  • Elderberry – the flowers add a lovely aroma to your garden, while the berries are delicious for both birds and people. Elderberry jam or wine is absolutely delicious.

Better to avoid planting these wildly aggressive invasive plants if you can:

  • Bayberry – I have two of these (one purple / one yellow) in my garden, but recent studies question whether these shrubs are a threat to public health.  20 states have named the Japanese Barberry as an invasive species and a restricted plant in Wisconsin by the DNR. If you have these shrubs, as I do, it’s important to keep them contained. The branches have thorns, making it a perfect hiding place for small birds, and the berries provide sustenance in the winter but, unfortunately, allow the spread of the seeds of this aggressive shrub. The smart thing is to eventually replace them with something more environmentally friendly.
  • Buckthorn
  • European cranberry bush vibernum
  • Mulberry
  • Smooth sumac

Want some additional ideas to help our feathered friends, the environment, and your garden? Visit this article at EcoSystem Gardening to learn more:

Posted by Vicki

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