Category Archives: In The Nursery

Bring Birds to Your Backyard

It’s amazing how many birds you can attract to your garden if you invite them with the right plants and shelter to meet their survival needs. But wild birds are more than just pretty feathered friends to attract – they bring beautiful songs and efficient pest control to your garden as well! This makes attracting birds a win-win situation for any gardener. But how can you fine tune your garden to be a backyard bird sanctuary?

Bring Birds with Berries

 Many birds eat a variety of berries, and often rely on juicy berries during fall migration and in winter when other foods may be scarce. Berry bushes can be fine ornamental plants, beautiful borders and even container favorites. Bring birds to the backyard by planting as many of these berry-producing shrubs as possible:

  • Barberry (Berberis)
  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos)
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa)
  • Chokeberry (Aronica)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha)
  • Holly (Ilex)
  • Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia)
  • Privet (Ligustrum)
  • Rose (Rosa)
  • Crabapple (Malus)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum)

When you have these tasty treats in your yard, birds such as robins, thrushes, waxwings, thrashers and grouse will enjoy the berry bounty.

Seduce Birds with Seeds

Many birds positively adore seeds, and seeds are the perfect autumn food. Many flowers will even drop their seeds and naturally grow more plants for an even bigger seed harvest the next year. Seduce seed-loving birds by filling your garden with their favorites:

  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Columbine (Aquilegia)
  • Foxglove (Digitalis)
  • Globe Thistle (Echinops)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
  • Sunflower (Helianthus)
  • Tickseed (Coreopsis)

The top seed-seekers in your backyard will include sparrows, finches, quail and doves, and many other types of birds may also take a nibble at different seeds.

Finding a Spot for Your Feeders

While birds will enjoy the natural foods they find in your backyard, they will also readily take to feeders. When birds visit feeders, you can see them up close, take great photos and learn even more about what species are visiting. To better attract many different birds with feeders:

  • Use different feeders and scatter them throughout your garden. Different birds have different feeding preferences, so choose different feeder types and sizes to attract more bird species.
  • Place feeders in a protected area away from strong winds. Most birds will prefer a sunny location with better visibility as they watch for any threats. Be sure feeders are hung securely so they do not tip, swing or fall.
  • Birds have many predators, including your cat. Place your feeder within 5-10 feet of protective cover so birds can seek shelter if needed, and keep cats indoors or supervise them when outside so birds are not at risk.
  • Don’t forget to add a bird bath for drinking and bathing, as well as a bird house or two to tempt nesting birds to raise their families nearby.

With just a little work to plan your landscaping for birds as well as offering the best possible foods and feeders, you can easily attract new and exciting birds to your garden.

Clay in the Garden

Clay soil is problematic. It is sticky, heavy, wet and stinky, making it tough to work with. It is slow to drain after a storm, slow to warm in the spring and difficult for plant roots to penetrate.

When gardening in a site with clay soil you will need to decide whether to accept the soil as it is or try to change it. It is possible to change clay soil with a rigorous program of aeration, working in organic material and monitoring the pH, but even with this massive undertaking, over time, clay soil will revert back to its original state without ongoing maintenance and care. It is always best, and easiest, to select plants that thrive in the type of soil in which you are planting rather than changing your soil to suit the plant.

Plants for Clay Soil

No matter what type of landscaping you hope to do, there are trees, shrubs and flowers that can thrive even in dense clay. Consider these lists of clay-friendly plants when planning your landscape.


  • Bald Cypress (Taxodium distchum)
  • Crabapple (Malus)
  • Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
  • Hawthorns (Crataegus)
  • Hornbeams (Carpinus)
  • Pin Oak (Quercus paulstris)
  • River Birch (Betula nigra)
  • Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana)
  • Spruce (Picea)
  • Linden (Tillia)
  • Upright English Oak (Quercus robur fastigiata)
  • Willow (Salix)


  • Aucuba (Aucuba japonica)
  • Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
  • Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)
  • Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea abies)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia intermedia)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
  • Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
  • Korean Boxwood (Buxus microphylla)
  • Lilac (Syringa)
  • Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquifolium)
  • Plume Cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera)
  • Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa)
  • Smokebush (Cotinus coggygria)
  • Twig Dogwoods (Cornus)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum)
  • Weigela (Weigela florida)
  • Willow (Salix)


  • Aster (Aster)
  • Bee Balm (Mondarda didyma)
  • Berginia (Berginia cordifolia)
  • Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Daylilies (Hemerocallis)
  • Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis scoriodes)
  • Gooseneck Loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides)
  • Helen’s Flower (Helenium)
  • Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium)
  • Japanese Anemone (Anemone japonica)
  • Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
  • Ligularia (Ligularia)
  • Mayapple (Podophyllum)
  • Monkshood (Aconitum)


  • Checkered Lily (Fritillaria meleagris)
  • Small Camas (Camassia quamash)
  • Snowdrops (Galanthus)
  • Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum)
  • Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Despite the difficulty of working in clay soil, there are many beautiful plants that can thrive. Be sure to nurture the plants appropriately with the proscribed watering, fertilizing and other care, and your clay-based landscape can be just as lush and attractive as any other type of soil.

Shrubs for the Fall Landscape

Fall is an excellent time for gardening, not only for your own comfort, but for the comfort of your plants as well. Summer vacations are complete, nights are cool, days are warm, there is morning and evening dew for suitable moisture and the soil is warm to stimulate roots. This is the perfect recipe for successful planting. This time of year there are many quality shrubs available that sport the fantastic colors of fall, and if you add a few of these to your yard you can enjoy their autumn beauty immediately.

Top Shrubs for a Stunning Fall Landscape

There are many beautiful shrubs that can enhance your autumn landscape. The most popular and easiest to grow options include…

  • Dwarf Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’) – This shrub truly lives up to its name. With brilliant red fall coloring and a compact form, this choice is excellent for hedge and specimen use.
    Height: 8-10’, Spread: 8-10’
  • Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) – This unique shrub has brilliant yellow, orange and scarlet fall coloration, often all on the same leaf for a vibrant display.
    Height: 2-3’, Spread: 2-4’
  • Enkianthus (Enkianthus companulatus) – This shade-loving shrub prefers an acidic soil. Foliage is clustered in a rosette at the tips of the branches. Foliage is often an exceptional yellow/orange/red combination.
    Height: 6-12’, Spread: 4-6’
  • Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) – Choose from many varieties that reveal colors ranging from orange to fiery red to burgundy. Upright cane-like stems add interest throughout the year and can be used as a screen.
    Height: 6-8′, Spread: 3′
  • Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) – This plant boasts large, coarse, deep green foliage that turns a stunning scarlet shade in the fall. Upright panicles of white flowers appear in late June. Tolerates partial shade.
    Height: 5-6’, Spread: 6-7’
  • Purple Beautyberry (Callicarpa diochotoma) – Incredible electric purple berries from September through the end of October. Leaves turn yellow in the fall and fruit persists beyond leaf drop. An easy to grow shrub!
    Height: 2-4’, Spread: 3-5’
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) – Serviceberry is an attractive low-spreading shrub or small tree. The young branches and buds are reddish brown and smooth while the older twigs are gray. White flowers are plentiful, fragrant, and grouped in showy white clusters of 3-20 flowers. The fall berries are initially red, later ripening to dark purple.
    Height: varies, Spread: varies
  • Viburnum (Viburnum) – This genus of shrubs and small trees is a valued food source for birds and other wildlife. Most plants in this group are tolerant of wet soil and partial shade, and are useful as specimens or for informal hedge and screen plantings. For fruit production, it is best to set out two or more plants of a species and plant in a sunny location. ‘Highbush Cranberry’ is a popular upright shrub with maple-like leaves bearing showy clusters of white flowers in late spring, followed by bright red berries in fall. The berries often persist through much of the winter.
    Height: varies; Spread: varies
  • Virginia Sweetspire (Itea virginica) – An underused landscape plant, this shrub blooms white flowers in June, followed by a superb fall show of brilliant reddish-purple leaves. Loves moist areas and is perfect for massing and naturalizing.
    Height: 3-4’, Spread: 5-6’
  • Winter Berry Holly (Ilex verticillata) – Persistent red berries make this plant a standout for the winter landscape. Several selections like ‘Sparkleberry’ have an upright, tree-like form. Some tolerate wet feet and all selections are excellent for attracting birds to the landscape.
    Height: 3-14′; Spread: 4-8′

With so many beautiful shrubs to choose from, your autumn landscape can be a riot of amazing seasonal color.