A very berry Christmas to your garden birds

Wildlife is as much an attraction in the garden as the greenhouse, the flowers and the vegetables and, as any good ecologist will tell you, it is part of the delicate eco-system that will support natural biodiversity in your garden and beyond.

So remember to refill your bird-feeder regularly and top up bird-baths, placing these in the sun if possible to thaw out during frosts.

A natural way of feeding the birds in your garden is to ensure you have berried plants for the winter.  Not only do they look wintery, especially at Christmas and with a touch of frost, but they add bright colour and support the wildlife.

When birds feed on the berries they help to propagate further plants in your own garden and beyond.

For some plants the berries are the most attractive feature as the small and relatively inconsequential flowers turn to luscious, bright balloons of red or orange.  You can get greater variation with plants whose berries turn to white or even black and yellow.

Pernettya and snowberry are two shrubs that are good examples of this, and trees that offer autumn and winter berries include the mountain ash and whitebeam.

If you have a cotoneaster this also provides abundant berries for the birds in winter and its intricate pattern of branches can also present a great nesting site in spring.  When trained well, it can also add attractive greenery to your garden or house wall.

If you have not made jam from your crab apples, by leaving them on the tree you provide delicious, fruity breakfasts for the birds.

If you go for the true Christmas touch, why not grow both holly and ivy?  They make beautiful indoor decorations too.  If you grow holly bushes, do make sure you have a male and a female variety for pollination.  You need one male to approximately every four female trees.  Ivy’s berries often ripen towards the end of winter and so provide for the birds once other berries are gone.

At Gabriel Ash we believe a winter garden full of berries and birds is a great enhancement to your natural looking red cedar Gabriel Ash greenhouse – now that would make a lovely picture for next year’s Christmas card.

For an article on attracting birds to your garden with berries, read: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/gardening/carol-klein-give-birds-a-berry-1479371