Birds add color to a winter garden. If you've never encouraged birds to visit your home and garden, consider adding plants next spring that shelter and feed them.
Natural habitat is the best way to attract birds. A yard with native plantings that appeal to the birds can also be very effective landscaping. Some of the best-loved trees and shrubs for color and form are also favorite sources of berries, seeds and fruits. Ornamental crabapples add lovely blossoms in the spring and usually hold fruit until winter.
Hollies, viburnums, dogwoods, bittersweet, honeysuckles, coned evergreens and others provide food, besides serving as beautiful foundation plantings, hedges, trees, vines and windbreaks. While providing natural foods all through the year, mixed plantings provide cover during bitter weather. A vine-covered arbor provides nesting spots, while dense under-story plantings protect from predators.
Providing foods in a feeder brings the birds up close for viewing, but plenty of birds can be attracted without erecting feeders. The more diverse the garden plantings, the more variety of birds attracted. Flower gardens can be planned to feature plants that have tough seed heads that hang on through winter. Roses have nutrient-rich hips and thorny places to nest. A natural source of water, or a heated birdbath, also attracts birds.
Adding rustic bird houses amid the plantings increases the appeal to the birds, but requires some maintenance, just as the birdbaths do. An aerated water garden can supply water year-round, but also needs attention on a regular schedule. Roger Tory Peterson's "Field Guide to the Birds" and "Birds of North America" are two good books to consult. "Song Birds in Your Garden" by John K. Terres is another good book on attracting birds. Look for them in your favorite bookstore or library.
Ohio Department of Natural Resources Publication 37(R394), Attracting Birds in Ohio, and A Field Checklist, Birds of Ohio, Publication 363 (899) are free and excellent pamphlets available from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife. Request them by writing to 1840 Belcher Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43224-1329 or calling (800) WILDLIFE.
At the November Master Gardener meeting, intern Ken Trost reviewed how to hook up projectors and laptop computers to present a Power Point program. Once Trost had the program running, the group learned more about pruning, using the Power Point program prepared by Jane Martin from the OSU Extension office in Franklin County. If you have an interest in this pruning presentation or any other specific topic for your group, contact Rose Perry at (419) 465-2698. The Master Gardeners can present an interesting gardening-related talk for your next meeting.
The magazine Fine Gardening is now available through the Huron County Master Gardener Web site at http://huron.osu.edu/hcmga/. By subscribing to this magazine through Huron County Master Gardeners, volunteer groups benefit throughout the state.
Huron County Master Gardeners have a telephone hot line to answer questions about gardening. The number to call is (419) 577-7101 or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Master Gardeners of Huron County present training to area gardeners who volunteer as garden teachers or garden speakers. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener volunteer, contact training coordinators Lee and Carol Stephens at (419) 668-3528 to put your name on the new waiting list.
Peggy Case is a free-lance writer from New London. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Here are some upcoming garden-activities, some of which are free and some that require a fee (those interested are encouraged to call ahead to find location, supplies needed and costs):
Kingwood Center Winter Visiting Hours; Gardens - 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Greenhouse - 8 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. daily, except holidays.
Kingwood Hall - Tuesday - Saturday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays; 1 to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and holidays.
Cornucopia Centerpiece; 1:30 to 3 p.m. Nov. 2; Mansfield; (419) 522-0211.
Fall Basket Workshop; 1:30 to 3 p.m. Nov. 8; Mansfield; (419) 522-0211.
OAGC Regional Garden Meeting and Flower Show; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 3; Oberlin; (440) 774-1051.
Fall Centerpiece; 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 12; Willard; (419) 933-4701.
Kingwood Christmas Display; Weekdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1 to 30; Sundays; 1 to 5 p.m. Mansfield; (419) 522-0211.
Kingwood Christmas Evenings; 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 5, 12, 14; Mansfield; (419) 522-0211.