Tag Archive for holly berries

It’s berry time in bluebird land.

With a bit of advanced planning, snow cover, and fortuitous timing, you may be able to catch sight of berry time in bluebird land.

Bluebirds love juniper berries … something I learned quite by accident many years ago after I had gathered berry-laden juniper branches to decorate a winter wreath hanging on my front door. The door, near my office window, attracted a lot of bird activity on a  snowy-covered February day much like today. When I investigated I found bluebirds visiting the wreath for a mid-winter snack.

Since then I’ve tried to collect berry-laden juniper branches for each winter’s outdoor decorations. It’s a delight when a flock of bluebirds brighten a winter landscape.

Some of the most common plants are those most valuable to native wildlife.  Juniperus virginiana, more commonly known as Eastern Red Cedar, in tree and spreading forms, as well as creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) are three extremely valuable North American natives growing in Connecticut. Ellen Sousa, author of The Green Garden, a great how-to book for creating wildlife habitat in New England gardens  (I reviewed it two years ago), shares more on the benefits of junipers in this post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden.

But, beyond juniper berries, bluebirds will feast on holly berries at this time of year.

This afternoon was berry feasting time around my house and I managed to catch a couple of bluebirds in photos. They are not good photos – taken through a screen from an inside window without using a tripod. I apologize for the fuzziness. I had to catch these active bluebirds while I could. Bluebirds are not likely to sit still for a photo shoot and, once spooked, do not return until they are good and ready.

So, in fuzzy images, I present some of my bluebird visitors.


They pulled at the holly berries until it was their turn at the winter-decoration juniper berries in nearby basket. (There was no way for my camera to catch any bluebirds at the juniper berries.)

The photos do not do justice to the wonderful sight of a bright bluebird against the pure white of newly-fallen snow but, hopefully you get the mental picture.


I hope these mediocre photos will entice you to plant shrubs that bluebirds love. I’ve actually transplanted some small Eastern Red Cedars from the inconvenient places they self-sowed to more favorable spots, hoping they will eventually produce their own crop of berries to keep the local bluebirds fed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But I also have a few hollies growing in a deer-protected location. If you plant hollies be sure to include at least one male plant in the Ilex family to pollinate any female berry-producing Ilex in your yard. I have just one male that pollinates four different female Ilex shrubs, including two winterberries on the opposite side of the house.

You’ll be happy you included junipers and hollies in your landscape when you get to witness berry feasting time in bluebird land.

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In Connecticut, Frosted with Icy Fog–January 2014 Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

This morning’s light revealed an icy fog and frost-kissed plants. No outdoor blooms for the January 2014 Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, but interesting light and contrasts nonetheless.

Color on such a hazy winter morning can be striking on close inspection.


Small blueberry shrubs add a red tinge to the landscape.



The seed heads of tall sedum add a brownish-red hue.



And holly berries shine in the winter landscape, even when winter rains have replaced winter snow during our southern New England January thaw.


Reds add warmth to my winter view, in stark contrast to the chilly shade of a blue spruce branch against a foggy backdrop.



But as the sun rose higher in the sky, slowly chasing the fog away, the depth and subtle colors of the surrounding woodlands was my eye candy.



Inside, the morning light reflects off the amaryllis bud still hiding within.



But jasmine provides the only bloom.


It’s sweet scent hints of the aromas of spring.

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day. Head to her site to delight in the sights from other gardens.

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Burned out – A Gardening Oops

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Welcome to the first day of a new month, the day I share a Gardening Oops that I’ve witnessed or committed myself.  While pondering possible subjects for this month’s Gardening Oops – GOOPs for short – I kept running into garden blogger’s block. No topic felt right. Nothing came to mind that worked as an interesting GOOPs subject … NOTHING. This writer’s block reflected the general hum-drum feeling I’ve had of late about gardening. After a very busy May and June designing, planting, coaching, and gardening for clients and the extremely uncomfortable heat July brought to Connecticut, my energy for gardening and garden blogging came to a screeching stop. Like these hosta leaves, tired and burned from too much heat and sun, I was burned out on gardening.

I’ve been gardening for well over 30 years and blogging about gardening at least weekly since February 2009. Gardening keeps me sane, it is part of who I am, and writing about my passion, my vocation, my hobby, has always been fulfilling. Yet, through the month of August, the thought of planting the potted shrubs still sitting on my front porch … never mind the thought of writing about gardening … forced me toward other tasks. Being burned out on gardening is a BIG GOOPs in my book and actually caused me to consider terminating this GOOPs meme.

Then yesterday morning  two hummingbirds came to my rescue.  It was damp and overcast … not weather that entices one outside … when the hummingbirds, bantering over the few still-blooming pansy flowers in a basket hanging just outside my window, caught my attention. I watched as they zoomed to and fro and decided to head outside, with a fresh mug of coffee in hand, to listen to the sounds of the morning. The hummingbirds continued their antics around other blossoms. A hawk lit high in a nearby oak tree. Finches chirped as they flew from tree branch to tree branch.

I sat a while, sipped my coffee, and listened as the sounds of birds, a few tree frogs, and insects cleared my mind. I became aware of the blooms and color combinations in the beds I planted during late spring.


I took close-up notice of hibiscus blooms previously only seen from a distance.


I took stock maturing peppers knowing they will soon be ready to can for later use.


I admired the roses that are getting a second wind,


and late-blooming sedum that are starting to show a pinkish tinge.


Red holly berries blush in contrast to lustrous dark-green leaves,


and yellow-orange nasturtium blossoms glow above a few dainty lobelia blooms.


Two hummingbirds, simply doing what hummingbirds do, drew me outside, away from the long, self-imposed to-do list sitting on my kitchen counter. Two hummingbirds enticed me to re-open my senses to the beauty and wonder of the great outdoors. Two hummingbirds helped break my writer’s block and see my GOOPs … that I had spent too much time working gardens and not enough time enjoying gardens. Two hummingbirds marked the end of my burn-out and gave me back my enthusiasm for gardening.

Do you have a gardening burn-out tale or a different type of Gardening Oops story? Share it in a comment below or leave a comment that links to your GOOPs tale on your own blog. I’ll read and comment on your tales when I come back in from gardening and as September wanes to October I’m sure to come up with many more GOOPs tales to add to GOOPs previously shared.

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