tough year for winterberry, but what about birds?
ONE OF THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS HERE EACH WINTER, from a bird’s-eye point of view, are the many winterberry hollies massed around the periphery of the garden in groups as large as 20 shrubs each. But the scene from above this fall isn’t the usual come-hither mass of reds and oranges (like ‘Winter Gold,’ above), after a droughty season caused so many of the plants to abort their fruit before it ripened.
In nature, Ilex verticillata or winterberry hollies inhabit the edge of the woods or even wetlands—not typically choosing to make their home where they’d suffer extra-dry conditions like the ones this year.
Even with the occasional off year, I would not be without winterberries (or at least not intentionally). I hope the birds can make do with a quarter-crop, feasting instead on a bumper lot of crabapples and many seed-bearing things, from grasses to conifers. Fingers crossed.