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Walking out my front door right now I am greeted with a wonderful color display in the most vibrant pink EVER! Now you may be thinking I overdid it with the Impatiens or perhaps I have a few too many potted Geraniums, but no…these are Hydrangeas!

Now I know when I talk to my clients about Hydrangeas their minds immediately flash back to their mother’s and their grandmother’s gardens and bushes over run with white flowers that would flop over the minute a drop of rain fell on them.

Well I am here to say, that Hydrangeas have come a long way baby!

Cityline Hydrangea in Bloom

My current Hydrangea obsession is the Cityline Hydrangeas from Proven Winners. Now I had been warned that planting them “this far north” probably was a “bad idea” but I did it anyways! These compact little Hydrangeas (about 2’x2′) make for a great show in the front bed of the house and are just covered with lipstick pink blooms! The foliage is nice and lush and has an almost waxy appearance. Cutting off the dead blooms encourages reblooming and the blooms make a great cut flower! I have paired the Hydrangeas up with ornamental grasses under a Dawyck Beech and have included a miniture Hosta and the effect is quite nice. I love the color blocked appearance the Hydrangeas give to the garden! Not to mention I am not freaking out with each heavy rainstorm!

Cityline Hydrangeas in garden

Yes, there are other Hydrangeas throughout the garden – QuickFire with its early white blooms turning a nice pink-red, Limelight Hydrangeas with their limegreen blooms in late August as well as a gigantic Standard PeeGee Hydrangea. Its almost like there is a new Hydrangea bloom every month!

And here is a tip – did you know the pink or blue color of a Hydrangea is determined by the acidity of your soil? Blue flowers appears when your soil is acidic and pink blooms appear when your soil is alkaline. You can alter your soil pH and therefore change the color of your flowers. To change your Hydrangeas to blue add ‘Aluminum Sulphate’, to make your Hydrangeas pink try adding ‘Dolomitic Lime’.

Now that spring is here I am noticing all our feathered friends are back. The Blue Jays are out flying in the trees (and playing a mean game of baseball!). The Chickadees love sitting in the Beech tree we planted last fall. And our old friend the Cardinal is making his daily appearance pecking at the window every morning at7am!

As I sat watching all this excitement the other day it dawned on me that we really should have a birdfeeder. This is the perfect place to attract birds – next to a woodlot, seconds from the lake…and there are already lots of birds who pay a visit, so off to Lowes in search of birdseed.

Now anyone who has bought birdseed knows that half of the birdseed out there sounds and looks like trailmix you might take on your next hike, so we settled on some that was designed for the type of birds mentioned above. Now, not looking at the birdfeeder that was currently taking up residence on a shelf in the basement, off we went without thinking twice. Of course, you know where this story goes – wrong seed for the feeder and now the pursuit for the “perfect” birdfeeder is underway.

So with birdfeeders constantly on my mind, and one of the questions I am always asking my clients is whether or not they want to attract birds to their garden, I thought I would add some quick tips about bird gardening.

1)      If you feed the birds, feed them year round. Just like your kids, the birds are hungry in all seasons. You wouldn’t just feed your kids in the winter and leave them scrounging for food in the summer would you?

2)      Don’t feed the birds bread! Unlike the nutritional value bread gives us it does not do the same for birds. Bread also swells up in the bellies of our feathered and can make them very sick. Instead of feeding the birds your leftover bread – feed your greenbox!

3)      If you are going to make a point of bringing birds to your garden, provide water. This can be done by way of a birdbath or fountain. Just remember to not to leave standing water as this can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

4)      Plant clusters or groups (rather than just “one of”) of trees, shrubs and flowers that will bring birds into your garden. Using native species will help encourage birds to come into your garden as these are plants that would normally be found in the wild.

5)      Examples of plants to plant in your garden

  1. Berryproducing shrubs such as Viburnum, Dogwood, Holly, Serviceberry
  2. Seed producing perennials such as Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower, Asters and various Ornamental Grasses
  3. Sunflowers can also be ideal in a bird garden and fun to grow every year (especially with children). Although, if you grow Sunflowers one year, be prepared to see them the next year from the seeds being dropped by your feathered friends!

This is by no means a complete list of plants that you can include in a bird garden but should help set you in the right direction. Watching the birds as they visit your garden can be enjoyable and educational. Just remember to keep your feeders and birdhouses out of reach of any predators!

For help with planning your bird garden, email me to book a landscape consultation!