Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Tribute to Berries - Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

When trees and other garden blooms begin to go dormant this time of year, other plants begin to peak in color. I try to be creative in my own garden and constantly work to add color throughout the year. One of my favorite ways to do this is with berries. Berries add an extra dimension to the garden. Berries of every color enhance the backdrop for the upcoming winter months; and as a bonus, they attract and provide food for many birds.

Winter holly has to top the list. This time of year they drop their leaves and leave a massive amount of red berries. This particular variety is 'Sparkleberry'.


I purchased several of these last fall, and as you can see, they are doing very well.


Another winter deciduous holly in my garden is 'Winter Gold'. These berries start out bright orange and slowly turn to yellow as the season progresses.


Next is my coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). They are not normally known for their berries but it's hard not to notice. Coral honeysuckle berries begin to appear in late summer and serve as a juicy food source for birds and other wildlife.


Here's a new shrub (small tree) I planted this summer - Harlequin Glorybower (Clerodendron trichotomum). This large deciduous shrub offers a late-summer display of jasmine-like white flowers encased in red tepals . Bright blue berries in fall are accented by bright, pinkish-red calyxes.


Nandina 'compacta' is another heavy berry producer. These berries will be bright red by Thanksgiving. They're great to use in a holiday decorations.


This is a favorite in the landscape at the moment - 'Winter King Hawthorne' (Crataegus viridis). Winter king is a small deciduous tree that features white flowers in spring that turn reddish in fall. Small, crabapple-like fruits mature in fall to a bright red and persist throughout the winter, or until the birds get to them.



Last but not least is the American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana). It's known for its vibrant purple berries that form in tight clusters up and down its branches. The one I have (below) has become a victim of bird food; but if you look closely you can see a few berries still holding on.


Now that I've covered the berries in my garden here's a few of the other blooms still around.

Coreopsis - I believe this is 'Moonbeam'. This is a very tough plant that re-seeds itself in my garden each year.


Russian Sage is another tough, drought tolerant plant.


Hyssop, 'Blue Fortune' - a favorite of the butterflies and bees.


A mix of Lantana - 'Miss Huff' and 'New Gold'. These provide long lasting blooms.


A few blooms still on my Kaleidoscope abelias.


Be sure to check out more flowers in bloom over at May Dreams Gardens blog - there's lots of good stuff to to see there!

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Birding Trail Near You

I just love being outside this time of year. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, just being out and enjoying the fresh, cool fall air is all it that’s needed to help relax me after a long day at the office.

One of the things I enjoy this time of year, and hope to accomplish this fall, is visiting one of the areas birding trails. These trails offer opportunities for people to get out and find birds - or just take a leisurely hike. In my state (VA) alone, there are many trails to choose from. Some may require a little distant driving while others are more local. Many of the trails loop and connect with one another. Here’s a snapshot of my region:

Virginia Coastal trail map

I’m also excited about a new book I just ordered titled “Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail”. This book features detailed maps of the states trails and includes contact information and descriptions for each site. I’m sure each state offers a similar publication.

In the mean time, check out this four part series on birding trails put out on the web by Audubon Magazine. The series is broken up by region (West, South, East, and Midwest) and each guide outlines the top birding trails along with a little info about each, including who to contact for more information on each area. Each guide is written by Kenn Kaufman and can be downloaded (via .pdf) and saved or printed for reference.

Here is the East guide - click the thumbnail image to download the pdf:

Also, be sure to check out for more up-to-date information on birding trails. This site is also broken up by region and state.

With thousands of stops and trails throughout the US, chances are there’s a birding trail near you. So grab your binoculars and get out there!