AN INCOMING FLOCK OF ROBINS LAST WEEK and another of cedar waxwings just after remind me why I grow big masses of fruit-bearing plants, particularly shrubs and small trees like crabapples (above). The fact that all the leaves just fell here reminded me of the other reason—the selfish one: because I get to look at the fruits, and the birds, when all else is pretty monochrome. Seemed like a good week to do a quick roundup of some favorite plants for attaining this cheerful effect (well, except this one little drawback):
Yup. All the paving here is littered with “slightly used” aralia fruit. It’s raining purple drops; the stains won’t be gone until a good rain washes it all down. Hilarious. A recap of some of my favorite plants, as promised:
These prolific late-fruiting woody and herbaceous plants, some native and others not, are an annual magnet for thrushes (including robins) and their relatives, as well as waxwings here. I grow the perennials Aralia cordata and Aralia racemosa, and Aralia spinosa (the latter a large shrub/small tree).
I couldn’t make a garden, or a bird garden, without these prolific beauties, as you have heard me say repeatedly. From the small gold fruit of ‘Bob White’ (top photo) to the giant near-apple ones on ‘Ralph Shay,’ I love them, and so do many birds.
Winterberries lead the way here from fall into winter, both for me and the birds, and I have every color (from yellow to red, above, and all shades between) and size (several feet high to near-trees). What are you waiting for?
Some of the Viburnums here fruit early, and were gobbled up in summer, but yellow ‘Michael Dodge’ and Viburnum setigerum and others are just in their prime now. It was a fruitful year for my viburnums.
In case you missed it:
“I Know What Birds Like,” a primer on making a bird garden.
Fall slideshow: some of my favorites, shot last autumn.