Plottings: Your Garden Now

Is your garden bird-ready?

For bird-friendly planting a great starting point is Gardeners' World's Top 10 Plants for Birds. 
Here's what they recommend, and you can't go wrong with plenty of these in your garden:

Holly, Ivy, Hawthorn, Rowan, Honeysuckle, Teasel, Cotoneaster, Sunflower (leave the seed heads on), Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus), and shrub roses such as Rosa Rugusa, dog rose and any roses that you will leave to form hips after flowering - so ramblers are great if you have the space. 

To this list of birdwatchers' must-grow, we would add crab apples. Some varieties keep their fruit on through to February-March, and look gorgeous as well as providing late winter food for blackbirds.  Liz's tip for feeding blackbirds: if you grow cooking/eating apples, and have plenty, keep back some 'seconds' stored in your shed or garage for the birds. Then when it snows you can dig them out and throw them on top of the snow, and your blackbirds will definitely thank you.

Our second addition is Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion' or Beauty Berry.  This is a stunning garden shrub, tolerating all sorts of soils and situations, and rightly has the RHS AGM. It's purple berries really stand out in winter - did you know you will get a much better crop of berries if you plant several, for cross-pollination?

Third addition to the list is Gaultheria procumbens or Checkerberry. Another RHS AGM plant, it likes acid or acid-to-neutral soil so a good one for this area, especially if you have difficult shady areas which need brightening up in October-December. The large red edible berries are great for wildlife, and the plants make for excellent ground cover, their thick leaf cover allowing no space for weeds. Nice for edging a path.

Birds also love the berries of Hawthorn, which you may have in your lanes and hedges - but hedge-cutting removes the berries! An attractive tree which looks stunning in blossom is Cratageus Paul's Scarlet.  A couple of good-sized specimens may be found in the Plant Centre's bargain tree stand, if you're quick!

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