For the Birds

By Susan Orr

Male northern cardinal eating serviceberries

Photo from

Until 8 years ago I had never gardened.  Today we have over 100 species of native plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard.  It has been an exciting adventure and begun for two reasons: first, to attract a greater variety of birds to our yard, second, to get rid of the forest of mature bush honeysuckle in our backyard.

To remove the bush honeysuckle, I initially cut, shredded, and spread it on pathways.  More recently I’ve just created tall brush piles.  Many of our plants have been grown from collected seed.  I either get great results or none at all. Some of the forbs that were easy to grow from seed were golden asters, wild Senna, Monardas, Bush’s poppy mallow, jewelweed, goldenrods, Liatris, Coreopsis and Silphiums.  If a plant doesn’t do well in one area I move it to another.

Birds are happy with all the seeds these new plants produce but berrying plants are taking TOO LONG to begin berrying!  In this category are an eight year old cherry tree, a serviceberry and several types of Viburnums and sumacs.  I am discouraged but hopeful.

My native garden has become a passion and would not have been possible without the knowledge I have gained from the Shaw Nature Reserve Plant School and Wild Ones.