By Eric D’Aleo, Naturalist
Who gardens in the winter? Not many people do, unless they have
a heated greenhouse or live in a tropical zone. Most of us garden
vicariously over the winter by thumbing through plant and seed
catalogs and thinking about next spring. Although winter may not
be the best time for flowers to bloom, this season can be a fine
time to enjoy your garden, particularly if you did some planning
and work during the past year.
Perennial flowers such as purple coneflower, aster, blackeyed
susan, and goldenrod will provide a source of seeds for
Goldfinches, Juncos, Tree Sparrows, and other small song
birds. Shrubs and small trees like high bush cranberry, winterberry
holly, chokecherry, and hawthorns may provide food for
Waxwings, Robins, Blue Jays, Cardinals, and Sparrows during
the late winter months. Conifers like balsam fir, white spruce,
white pine, and hemlock may provide food for Chickadees, Nuthatches,
Pine Siskins, and the occasional Crossbills. Evergreens
also provide shelter for birds and other wildlife from the harsh
winter weather and the eyes of hungry predators.
As you page through catalogs and plan your garden look for
plants that are a native winter food source for birds. It may require
a bit more effort, but when you spot a flock of Waxwings
gorging on the high bush cranberries you planted, the time spent
will definitely be worth it.