Gardening for the birds
I’ve met many bird watchers in Bluff Country. I will admit that I now own several pair of binoculars. Although I am quite a novice at this hobby, it is very enjoyable! We have a tiny bird family, some sort of wren, that has a lovely song. We have named them: Randy, Rhonda, Ryan and Renee. I can’t tell any of them apart yet, as they seem to be an extra nervous family and fly off if I make any movements. This bird family does bring us joy!
A friend of ours feeds the finches. He has several feeders and fills them daily. Sitting on the patio, the feeders rise above his Hosta collection. The finches absolutely light up the sky with their sunshine-yellow feathers. It is captivating, and I find myself unable to participate in conversation when the birds have taken over the feeders.
This got me thinking: why don’t I start to plant gardens that specifically attract birds? After a little research, I have found plants that will provide food, shelter, and even water. Many are native to this region, and all will help our feathered friends. Resist the urge to cut back the garden in winter and watch the birds appear.
Coneflower (Echinacea) – The straight stems and long bloom time add color to our summer gardens. Planting in larger clusters will help attract birds, as they can see the seed heads easier in winter. Stick with the native varieties for attracting birds, some of the newer reds and double-petal varieties are sterile and will not produce seed.
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) – This tall, easy to grow native will end up reseeding itself, so give it ample space in the garden. Not only will small birds feast on the seeds, but they will use the fluffy bits to build nests.
Coreopsis – The bright yellow flowers will bring sunshine to your garden all summer, as well as attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. In winter, chickadees, sparrows, goldfinch, and other birds will feast on the tiny seeds left in the blackened seed heads
Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum) – Another native perennial, this plant has yellow daisy-like flowers that tower above the garden. The leaves attach to the stem in such a fashion that they form a “cup” and collect rain water. This becomes a natural drinking fountain for birds. The seeds are exceptionally nutrient-dense and feed the birds all winter long.
The Plant Lady is a regional horticulturalist with the goal of making Bluff Country more beautiful – one garden at a time. Follow her on Facebook @PlantLadyMn for helpful tips and tricks, or via email at ThePlantLadyMN@gmail.com.