We all want to have a garden that is bird friendly and now is a good time to plan ahead for this. All the Autumn berries will have gone by now, but the ones that last longest are those that do not go red. They do not look ripe so are left alone. The mountain ash trees (sorbus) have berries in yellow, pink and white as well as red. Sorbus Pink Pagoda is a tall growing tree with blue green leaves while for a small tree try sorbus vilmorinii with pink berries turning white. You have the purple callicarpa berries. A shrub that I saw growing wild in Florida, but it does as well here. You can get yellow berried holly too. Most skimmias are red berried but I have seen a white form. Another source of food are the fallen apples, so don’t be too much in a hurry to rake them up.
If any of you have ivy that has passed its rampant juvenile stage and started flowering you will find the black berries ripening from November onwards, so a very useful winter food. If you hunt on the web you can find adult ivies to buy. They make an attractive small shrub especially in the coloured forms. You could of course grow you own from cuttings. If you use the flowering part of the plant these cuttings will produce the adult form you want.
Planning for summer means looking for plants that produce lots of seeds especially early in the season. Not being too eager to get rid of caterpillars and aphids and being willing to share some of your soft fruit. If you get annuals going early they will go to seed early and perhaps you could learn to love dandelions. We are always dead-heading to give another flush of flowers but you could always leave the odd stems to go to seed. Your winter borders are a great source of seeds so if you can bear a bit of untidiness and leave the cutting down till spring this will help.
There is plenty of advice about on bought bird food and how to keep the feeding area clean but do not forget to provide a source of water.
[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]