The choice of trees and shrubs at a garden centre or nursery can be rather daunting, but do try to include some native types in your garden as these will support many more of the insects that provide an important food source for garden birds. The availability of berries in our gardens in winter is also vital for flocks of hungry, foraging birds, so make sure that you include these too. On dark winter days you will be rewarded with the spectacle of both the glowing berries and busy, feasting birds, including colourful winter visitors such as waxwings joining local thrushes and finches.
Here are some of the best native trees and shrubs valuable for garden birds:
|Crab apple (Malus sylvestris)
|Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
|Whitebeam (Sorbus aria)
|Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)
|Ivy Hedera helix)
|Spindle (Euonymus europaeus)
|Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
|Silver birch (Betula pendula)
|Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
|Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
|Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)
|Wild cherry (Prunus avium)
Some non-native trees and shrubs that are still useful for birds include garden varieties of the trees and shrubs listed above. However, please remember to check that they are not double-flowering cultivars which usually don’t set fruit. Examples of these include the hawthorn Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’, and the white, double-flowering cherry Prunus avium ‘Plena’. Non-native trees and shrubs that offer winter berries are also worth planting for your garden birds, including Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, and Berberis.
When to plant trees and shrubs?
The best time is in the autumn and winter, as long as conditions are mild, so that they can begin to establish themselves while soil conditions are moist and when deciduous species are dormant. Native trees and shrubs can be supplied as cheaper bare-rooted stock at this time of year but always try to source British-grown plants to help minimise the risk of importing yet more of the pathogens that are devastating our woodlands, landscape trees, and indeed garden trees and shrubs.
Recommended sources of British-grown trees and shrubs include the Woodland Trust www.woodlandtrust.org.uk, Botanica www.botanicaplantnursery.co.uk; some British-grown shrubs are also available at Felthorpe Forest Nursery www.felthorpenursery.co.uk
How to plant trees and shrubs?
Here are a couple of useful links for this: