For the Birds

Cedar Waxwing enjoying winterberry and juniper berries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cedar Waxwing enjoying winterberry and juniper berries (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

No matter the animal, I love to feed them. Just look at my chubby horses, plump kitties and rubenesque dogs. And there’s no exception when it comes to my avian friends, either.  Although there are mixed messages about feeding during the summer months, I never miss a day year-round. But along with seeds, our native birds also need protein and fat to thrive. By planting berry producing trees and shrubs, we can provide additional sustenance for our feathered friends through the long winter months. I consulted the experts in my library, Stephen Kress (The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds) and Douglas Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home), to offer some of their recommended plantings as well as a few of my own favorites. [Read more…]

Leaves of Three

Poison Ivy & Virginia creeper mingle in a tree trunk in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Poison Ivy & Virginia creeper mingle on a tree trunk (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

. . . Let it be! But don’t be afraid of leaves of five, otherwise known as Parthenocissus quinquefolia or Virginia creeper, which is the polar opposite of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). Poison ivy is easily distinguished from Virginia creeper by its three leaf pattern and smooth, glossy surface, while Virginia creeper has five leaflets with a serrated edge and wrinkled appearance. Further, when skin makes contact with the leaf (or vine) of poison ivy, the result for those that are allergic to its sap (7 out of 10 people are) is a blistering rash that causes at the minimum an annoying, persistent itch, and at its worst, swelling and pain that could require medical attention. It is possible for some individuals to get minor skin irritation from the leaves and sap of Virginia creeper, but considering that Virginia creeper and poison ivy very often grow together, it’s equally plausible that the contamination is from the poison ivy. [Read more…]

A Garden for All