Shrubs with berries – nice for us & the birdsAlison Marsden
Winter is a time when gardeners can do a lot to support wildlife, including providing a great source of food, especially for birds. Birds remain active all through the winter and in the UK we have many migrant species that arrive here from colder countries in search of food. As a wildlife gardener I am often asked about bird feeders and there is no shortage of choice of apparatus and food, from fat balls to different seed types.
There is definitely a place for supplementary feeding for garden birds in a hard winter and many people like to see close up the birds that share the garden. But I also encourage you to include some natural food sources in your garden and shrubs that bear berries in autumn and winter are ideal. Not only do they feed the birds but offer perches and shelter all year round. A growing concern with bird feeders is the spread of diseases such as avian pox where birds cluster together to feed. Advice is not to leave old uneaten food in feeder and disinfect them regularly.
It is not a surprise that many of the best shrubs and small trees for wildlife are native to the UK; plants and animals evolving together to create an ecosystem. But there are also a few ornamental species that provide a good crop of autumn berries. Here are a few of my suggestions:
- Hawthorn can be grown as a hedge as well as allowed to grow as a small tree. The native form has white blossom and there is a pink form too,
- Holly, choose a female species to get berries and a variegated form for additional decorative value.
- Pyracantha, very thorny so place it carefully but superb crop of red, orange or yellow berries.
- Rowan, Sorbus aucuparia, a small tree again with white flowers followed by berries, usually red but yellow or pink on some ornamental varieties.
- Viburnum opulus, the Guelder Roes, for white flowers followed by translucent red berries and purple autumn foliage.
So you get an extended display of colour into the winter and the birds have a long term source of food and shelter. What could be better?
Happy Gardening from Alison
If you enjoyed reading this blog why not receive my monthly newsletter direct to your email inbox with blogs, video tips and seasonal articles to inspire and inform. Sign up HERE.