Designing for Birds!

It is remarkable what a difference it makes when you design a garden with birds in mind! The birds are going nuts around here this week. They really do come to the plants that are known to attract them: yesterday I watched from the kitchen window as goldfinches hopped and flitted, craning their necks to reach upside down, pulling and munching seeds out of the coneflower heads I’d planted specifically for them. Juncos made funny little leaps up from the ground to reach their dangling delicacy– seedheads hanging from the undersides of little bluestem and goldenrod. Earlier today, four brightly plumed bluebirds were wolfing down the small red berries of the spicebush at the corner near my dining room windows. What a show!

Just when you’d think the garden was pretty well quieted down for the season, the birds rush in like kids to a playground… rustling around in fallen leaves to stir up a few remaining insects. Yes, there have been birds all along, but the energy is different now. They have banded together in flocks, as though, freed from the duties of parenthood, they are now all going to frolic.

When you design for birds you quickly find you’re designing an interesting, all-season garden. Colorfully blooming perennials with seedheads later on, grasses and shrubs that provide cover for nesting, small trees that sport colorful berries in winter,