Merry berries


The garden is covered by a blanket of snow, but today the sun is shining and birds are darting to and fro. Our bird feeder has long been abandoned, a victim of relentless tree rats. No doubt there are feeders resistant to tree rats (okay, squirrels), but I’ve become satisfied to provide natural feed and shelter for our bird neighbors, and in this garden there’s plenty of both.

The large hollies are thickly branched and full of red berries (above and below) that will be plucked before winter is gone. There are ten or more varieties, some with prolific numbers of berries, and others less.

More preferred by the birds are the small, grape-like fruits of ‘Winter Sun’ mahonia (in bloom in December, below) that will follow as the bright yellow blooms fade in the next week or two. The fruits are consumed so quickly in January that I have never seen one ripened on the bush. I am determined to visit daily through the next weeks to confirm that they truly exist.

The spring blooming Mahonia beali (below) produces larger and more abundant fruits, but at a time when food is more readily available. Still, birds strip it bare in short order.

Each year the large nandinas (Nandina domestica, below) have plentiful clusters of berries, so many that the tall stems weep from their weight. They are greatly attractive, but birds do not find the berries irresistable, and often most are wasted, falling to the ground in spring.

Perhaps there is such an abundant supply of berries that birds can afford to be picky eaters.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Mildred Damico says:

    I really enjoyed all the helpful news and it inspired me to make a few changes and additions to my spring garden. Especially liked the shady garden advice.

    Thanks so much and I’ll see you in the spring.

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