A bird-friendly garden needs good shrubs
When you want birds in your bushes, make sure you choose the right shrubs.
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In my part of the country, our native Oregon grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium) has many outstanding characteristics that extend beyond the birds' bounty of purple clustered fruit. At three to six feet tall, this evergreen shrub -- which has glossy, prickly foliage and bright yellow fragrant flowers -- is happiest in shade to part shade.Skip to next paragraph
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Mahonia went to Europe for hybridizing, and came home with amazingly showy flowers, such as those on M. ‘Arthur Menzies’. In smaller gardens, you could use M. a. ‘Compacta’ which grows only three feet tall.
The currant family (Ribes) has plenty to offer you and the birds. Group together a male and female alpine currant (Ribes alpinum) for bright red fruits in June and July. If you plant buffalo currant (Ribes odoratum), a six- to eight-foot -tall shrub, you will get the added pleasure of fragrant clove-scented yellow flowers in spring followed by black fruit.
Next post, I’ll talk about choosing perennials around water that make us — and the birds — feel happy and at home.
Until then, here are other articles in this series about attracting birds to your garden:
Mary-Kate Mackey, co-author of “Sunset’s Secret Gardens — 153 Design Tips from the Pros” and contributor to the “Sunset Western Garden Book,” writes a monthly column for the Hartley Greenhouse webpage and numerous articles for Fine Gardening, Sunset, and other magazines. She teaches at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism & Communication. She writes about water in the garden for Diggin’ It.
Editor’s note: To read more by Mary-Kate, see our blog archive. The Monitor’s main gardening page offers articles on many gardening topics. See also our RSS feed. You may want to visit Gardening With the Monitor on Flickr. Take part in the discussions and get answers to your gardening questions. If you join the group (it’s free), you can upload your garden photos and enter our next contest.