Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Birdscaping My Garden

Yesterday, I mentioned in a post that I would be using the tips from Beautiful Wildlife Garden's post on 7 Steps to Birdscaping Your Wildlife Garden when I start to design the garden in my middle-yard. It's a garden off my back deck that I had to relocate when construction started on a home addition this winter. The area needed to be freshened up anyway, so it was a good excuse to dismantle and move the plants to other areas of the property.

Because it will be near the house and deck, and because so many habitats are lost to birds, I've decided to birdscape the area. I will select mostly plants that are native to our area and attract birds.
How my birding garden looks today.

My first selection for the spot is the native Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda Dogwood). This small deciduous ornamental tree tree has four seasons of interest, with it's spring flowers, summer berries, fall color, and lateral branching habit, bringing interest to the winter garden. Cornus alternifolia also attracts over 90 species of birds, including flycatchers, woodpeckers, catbirds and thrashers. With my row of Thuja (Arborvitae) and three native Amelanchier (Serviceberry) trees nearby, I'll br providing lots of food and shelter for birds.

Cornus alternifolia, Pagoda Dogwood (photo credit)
Because the Cornus alternifolia is has a lateral branching habit, meaning that the branches reach more sideways than upwards, there will only be room for one tree. But that doesn't mean I can't include more plants that birds go gaga over. Now, the shrub layer.

The fruit of Myrica pensylvanica, Northern Bayberry 
A few months ago, I highlighted berry-producing shrubs that attract birds and do well in zone 5. One of my favorites from that list is Myrica pensylvanica (Northern Bayberry). I love the shape of the leaves, and it smells incredible. The berry-like drupes are a favorite of birds, and are just stunning to look at. Because it is a small area, and a straight species Bayberry can reach upwards of 10 feet, I will select Myrica pensylvanica 'Morton' (Silver Sprite Bayberry), a more compact variety. I'll have to also be sure to plant a 'Morton Male' as a pollinator lest there be no fruit production.

A smaller shrub that I will include is the native Ceonothus americanus (New Jersey Tea). It's small size makes it perfect for the space and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. It also has a nice yellow twig color for winter interest. I'll also add the native Aronia melanocarpa 'Iriquois Beauty' (Black Chokeberry). Birds love the berries, and I love the fall color!

I haven't planned out the perennials yet. Did I mention all of my landscaping plans need to be complete by June 16? My garden is one of six that has been selected for the Bridge Communities Garden Walk in Glen Ellyn to benefit our area's homeless population. Eeek! I've got a lot of work to do!


  1. Very nice...I wish I had a larger yard, would love to fit some of these in...that winter rooting is so important (and so often overlooked).

  2. Good point, Scott. Thanks for visiting!