Monday, October 26, 2009

Berries + Birds = Beauty

Last week I was in my office and looked out at a stand of Mountain Ash trees that is in the corner of the lawn. The trees were moving, but not in the way the wind would cause them to move. On closer examination, I realized that they were filled with cedar waxwings gorging themselves on the berries. A few hours later I noticed that migrating robins had joined the feast. Within a day, all the berries were gone.
I love the huge clusters of red berries on the Mountain Ash (botanical name, Sorbus) but I really love seeing the birds on them. I certainly don’t begrudge them their meal. In fact, front and center in the garden outside my office is a large pine tree that has been loosing it’s battle with pine borers. I know that I will eventually have to take it down. So when two Mountain Ash trees sprouted under it, I left them, hoping they would get a little size on them before I took the pine out. They are now 10-12 feet tall and had their own berries this year to feed the wildlife. They also have lovely white flowers in the spring – an added bonus.
I heartily recommend this tree to anyone who wants a medium sized tree in their garden. I would caution not to locate it over a patio or sidewalk since the berries and the birds can make a bit of a mess. You will also have to weed out a few stray tree seedlings from areas where you don’t want them. Mountain Ash may not be the most exotic or unusual tree on the market, but it is worth having for it’s beauty and it’s place in the bird food chain. There are many different varieties of Sorbus available, but I don’t think the birds find much different about them. So ask your nurseryman about their favorite and see what you think.

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