Create a Wonderful Winter Haven for Birds

Birds can play a vital role in the garden’s ecosystem, from natural pest controllers to simply bringing joy and life to the garden. By choosing the right plants, you can produce both food and cover for garden birds all year round. There are lots of ways to give bird populations a boost, from creating nesting shelters to planting shrubs rich in berries.

In this week’s blog, we have listed the top bird-friendly shrubs to provide bird food and shelter to handy and simple crafts and tips to attract these wild visitors to the garden.

Top Bird-Friendly Shrubs

Holly Blue Angel

A classic winter wonder. Holly Blue Angel produces shiny evergreen foliage with an unusual blue tinge on the leaves and masses of red berries in the winter. When birds need a source of food in the winter, Holly berries are the perfect snack.

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Holly Hedging (Ilex aquifolium)

A brilliant evergreen hedging plant. It is slow growing, low maintenance and acts as a deterrent with its dense prickly barrier. With bright red and orange berries in winter, this native plant is a great source of food and shelter for birds.

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Pyracantha Victory

A robust Pyracantha. Producing masses of red berries in summer and clusters of white blossoms in summer, this decorative shrub adds plenty of interest for wildlife as a spot for nesting birds and they contain an abundance of pollen for bees.

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Pyracantha Golden Charmer

A beautiful and useful shrub. With sprinklings of white June blossoms followed by masses of golden berries, this multi-tasking plant is a great climbing, specimen or screening plant and is also well-loved by birds in the winter.

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Quickthorn/Hawthorn Hedging

This popular British Native hedge can withstand harsh winds and temperatures and the thick and thorny branches make an excellent barrier. Red berries appear during the autumn months to tempt hungry birds to the garden.

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Crataegus Pauls Scarlet

This robust little shrub blooms with beautiful pink spring blossoms amongst bright green foliage. Even in the winter, the stout, interweaving branches and their red berries act as a nesting sight and food source for birds.

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Virginia Creeper

This climbing vine is perfect for adding autumn colour to the garden. At different times of the year, this vigorous creeper provides fruit, caterpillars and nesting material for birds. Its dense leafy cover also makes great shelter.

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Boston Ivy

You won’t find a more dramatic sight in autumn than a Boston Ivy. Their leaves change from a summer green to a bright crimson in the autumn. This variety produces clusters of dark blue berries that are a perfect food source for hungry birds.

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Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’

This winter-flowering Honeysuckle produces masses of fragrant, creamy-white flowers. In autumn, it provides berries and shelter for birds and in summer, the scented flowers attract insects; a great food source for birds.

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Lonicera Kamtschatica (Honeyberry)

When ripened in late-spring to early summer, Honeyberry fruit is a treat that shouldn’t be missed. This hardy, edible Honeysuckle is loved by birds and other wildlife for their delicious berries.

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Bird Gardening Tips

It’s easy to attract birds to the garden, here are some bird-friendly gardening tips that you can do in any outdoor space, big or small.

DIY Bird feeders/boxes

Turn your garden into a desirable home for birds from winter through to spring with a cosy nestbox. You can even make your own  mini nature reserve for them if you’re handy. The best weatherproof and secure material for constructing your own is wood.

Install feeders

Garden birds benefit  from feeding all year round. Place feeders high off the ground. Use wire mesh feeders for peanuts and seed feeders for other seed. Where cats are a problem, use a bird table where cats cannot reach. You can even make your own by simply using sticking bird seed to a toilet paper roll using peanut butter and using string to hang them from a branch.

Bird baths

Many birds will use bird baths and ponds for bathing, so urge birds to seek out your garden as their one-stop shop for their daily routines. Keep an eye on your bird bath over winter to ensure they don’t freeze over in the cold temperatures.

Pollinators Month – Top 10 Wildlife Shrubs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#NationalPollinatorsMonth in June encourages the planting pollinator-friendly gardens with pollen and nectar-producing plants. When these gardens bloom, they attract bees, birds, bats, and other natural pollinators.

Woody shrubs provide food, shelter and breeding spaces for our wildlife. Nesting birds and hibernating insects make their homes in them and insects like butterflies use them as natural windbreaks. We have some great recommendations for shrubs that can make great habitats for wildlife in your garden.

Pyracantha

Pyracantha Orange Glow

Winning the RHS Garden Merit Award, Orange Glow is a sturdy evergreen shrub that produces spring blossoms and bright orange berries in the summer. This shrub provides nesting for birds and an abundant source of pollen and food for bees.

 

Viburnum

Viburnum Opulus Roseum (Snowball Tree)

This vigorous deciduous shrub is smothered with large, fragrant, pompom-like clusters of white or pale green tinted flowers every May and June. Purple foliage appears autumn when vibrant red berries, which provide an excellent food source for the birds.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle Belgica

A true ‘wildlife hotel’. Bring a profusion of vibrant colour to the summer garden with the Honeysuckle plant. The sweet, heady scent carried on a warm summer breeze is one of the most delightful experiences of the season, and the scent is strongest at night, which attracts pollinating moths.

Buddleia

Buddleia Empire Blue

A must for wildlife lovers. Also known as the ‘Butterfly Bush’, this Buddleia’s beautiful cool violet-blue blooms produce a lovely honey fragrance that is guaranteed to attract masses of butterflies and bees.

Weigela

Weigela Pink Poppet

Awarded the RHS ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ Award, this fantastic dwarf-growing shrub is certainly a wildlife haven. Weigela Pink Poppet is a long flowering variety that will attract a range of pollinators, from bees, butterflies and other nectar loving insects.

Sarcococca

Sarcococca hookeriana humilis

This variety produces small white flowers renowned for their vanilla aroma. After flowering, this compact and hardy shrub will also yield an abundance of shiny black berries that birds love, making it the perfect plant for a winter wildlife garden.

Erysimum

Erysimum Constant Cheer

As the name ‘Constant Cheer’ suggests, this exquisite hardy perennial produces long lasting prolific orange red flowers that mature to purple. This creates an amazing multi-coloured flowering feature plant that is highly attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects.

 

Clethra

Clethra Ruby Spice

Winner of the RHS Garden Merit Award for their reliable performance, stability of colour and form and good resistance to pests and diseases. This fantastic shrub is perfect for attracting bees into the garden, through their heady fragrance.

Syringa

Syringa meyeri Palibin

This upright deciduous shrub produces dense clusters of sweetly fragrant, light pink and white panicles over attractive heart-shaped foliage from late spring into early summer. When in bloom, the gorgeous flowers will bring butterflies to your garden.

Gaura

Gaura Whirling Butterflies

The ideal border perennial with an abundance of star shaped flowers. Gaura Whirling Butterflies pretty free-flowering white flower spikes, which resemble a fluttering butterfly, and also are handy for attracting beneficial insects to the garden, such as bees.

 

Video Tutorials

Buddleia:

  • When planting for nectar, avoid double flowers or sterile varieties that limit the feeding opportunities for insects.
  • Select suitable plants for your garden’s conditions.

12 Days of Christmas In The Garden

Winter is coming and to celebrate the season and the upcoming festivities filled with mulled drinks, festive foods and presents, we’ve selected our 12 favourite Christmas themes flowers to bring an extra hint of magic and sparkle to your homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Amaryllis Christmas Gift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaryllis is a perfect festive plant because it naturally flowers in both spring and winter. This striking Amaryllis, Amaryllis Christmas Gift, is named after it’s stunning snow-like blooms that are guaranteed to add character to your household in winter.

  • The amaryllis was quite revered in Victorian times and carries strong associations of pride. During the Victorian era proud women were thought to be beautiful so this was certainly a compliment to the amaryllis.

2. Crocus chrysanthus Prince Claus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These stunning goblet shaped flowers bring one of the first bursts of colour to the garden in spring, and Crocus chrysanthus Prince Claus blooms beautiful white flowers with purple cores rising from the centre. Crocus are sometimes referred to as the ‘snow crocus’ and are viewed as the herald of spring.

  • Crocus have a natural insulation. Crocus plants can cope with the cold weather and occasional frosts as their leaves and petals are covered by a waxy cuticle.

3. Dahlia Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fun and festive Dahlia is the Dahlia Santa Claus; a stunning bi-coloured Dinner Plate Dahlia, the largest of all the varieties, with red and white striped blooms. A wonderful summer plant that suits all garden borders and patio pots, as well as making perfect cut flowers.

  • These colourful spiky flowers bloom from midsummer to first frost, when many other plants are past their best.

4. Crocus Chrysanthus Snowbunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starch white golblet shaped flowers with an orange throat. The RHS have given the Crocus ‘Snowbunting’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit. This beautiful crocus variety is perfect for creating a blanket of snow in rockeries or containers.

  • Saffron-based pigments have been found in the prehistoric paints used to depict beasts in 50,000-year-old cave art in what is today Iraq. Later, the Sumerians used saffron as an ingredient in their remedies and magical potions.

5. Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (Honeysuckle)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lonicera purpusii Winter Beauty (also known as the winter flowering Honeysuckle) produces masses of creamy-white fragrant flowers in midwinter. This plant flowers reliably by Christmas year after year, with flowers lasting until early spring. Sprigs of this honeysuckle are perfect for those festive winter flower arrangements!

  • During Victorian era, Englishmen often planted honeysuckle in front of their houses to keep evil spirits and witches on the safe distance.

6. Holly Blue Angel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do as the classic Christmas Carols says and “deck the halls with boughs of Holly”. A classic winter wonder, Holly Blue Angel. This shrubs shiny evergreen, blue tinted foliage producing masses of red berries in winter is a staple of Christmas plants.

  • The idea of decorating your home with holly for Christmas dates back to ancient Druids. They believed that the protective qualities of the plant would safe guard them against bad luck and evil spirits.

7. Phlox Peppermint Twist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just like cinnamon and ginger, peppermint is a staple theme of the Christmas festivities. This unique Phlox Peppermint Twist is not dissimilar from the stripes of those well-loved Christmas treats candy canes, with their prolific pink flowers with distinctive white stripes.

  • Phlox make great plants for wildlife, and tend to attract hummingbirds in bird gardens.

8. Rose Hot Chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who doesn’t love some hot chocolate in the winter time? Rose Hot Chocolate is a beautifully unique coloured Rose that produces blooms of rusty orange with velvety smoked chocolate brown, reminiscent of a delicious winter sweet treat.

  •  Ancient Romans used roses as room decorations, and sometimes wore the flower as a necklace. It was also believed in Roman circles that anything said “under the rose” was deemed to be top secret.

9. Tulip Peppermint Stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tulip ‘Peppermint Stick has striking candy cane colours of red and white, which make ideal candidates for a christmas bouquet. As the season progresses, the flowers slowly open to produce colourful star shapes and then almost a complete white star when they fully open.

  • The Tulip is a classic flower of love, although it was considered more of a symbol for charity by the Victorians.

10. Snowdrops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the first flowers of the new year, the snowdrop is one our most endearing flowers. The much loved traditional Snowdrops produce honey scented nodding flower heads with pure white outer petals surround small inner petals with green tips.

  • Snowdrops were named after earrings not drops of snow. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries women often wore dangly, white drop-shaped earrings known as ‘eardrops’ thus inspiring the flowers name. Some other common names of snowdrops are: Candlemas Bells,  White Ladies and Little Sister of the Snows.

11. Tulip Christmas Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulip Christmas Orange is a flaming orange colour with a broad cherry flame. These flowers are also in demand for forcing around Christmas time for festive displays of colour.

  • Because tulips are one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring, they can mean rebirth.

12. Petunia Chameletunia Cinnamon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for something warm up your garden like the tasty cinnamon treats at Christmas time. Our Petunia Chameletunia Cinnamon has a beautiful profusion of orange-red flowers adding that perfect amount of sweet spice to your summer gardens.

  • All types of petunia can be divided in 4 major groups: grandiflora, hedgiflora, multiflora and milliflora.

Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year!