Friday, October 26th, 2018
While many people put out seed and fill bird baths in the spring and summer, caring for birds tends to be largely forgotten when the leaves turn and the snow flies – a shame, because at this time of year it is actually more important than ever to look out for the birds. The tough birds that stick around for our cold and snowy months have many ways of coping, like growing extra feathers or huddling together for warmth.
Here are some ways to support and encourage bird activity in your backyard over the fall and winter:
As you can imagine, finding adequate food sources is a lot trickier for birds over winter than during the summer, so keeping your feeders full is a big help. Some birds actually store food for the winter, while others adapt by changing from a diet of insects to one of seeds, nuts, and berries.
In order to attract the widest variety of birds, place several feeders with different types of seed around your yard. A mixture containing a good percentage of sunflower or safflower seeds (or both!) is a good place to start.
Birds need grit – small, hard objects such as small pebbles, eggshells, and coarse sand – in order to digest their food, and in winter, snow tends to cover natural sources of grit, making it harder to find. You can help out by ensuring that the seed mixture you provide includes this, or by adding an extra-fine grit to your seed mix in the winter.
Birds that winter in Manitoba include:
In addition to stocking feeders, you can also help out by planting shrubs and trees that provide berries for birds during their migration in fall, as well as for those who stay throughout the winter.
Trees and shrubs for fall and winter berries:
- mountain ash
Whether natural or artificial, providing areas of shelter and protection will entice birds to turn your yard into their winter home. Including evergreen trees and shrubs in your landscaping will provide great year-round shelter. If your yard allows, leave a dead tree standing to attract woodpeckers and owls over the winter, or pile deadfall together with some brush to provide another place for birds to hide.
Birdhouses can be used over the winter as well. Mount birdhouses on a tree if possible, facing the entry away from the most bitter winds – in Manitoba, it’s best to face the entry toward the south or southwest. Make sure there is a clear flight path to the entry. As part of your fall yard work, clean out old nesting material and plug ventilation holes to insulate the house over winter.
Outdoor water fixtures normally get shut down for the winter, but a dripping water source is still the number one way to attract birds, even during the coldest months. Pick up a birdbath water heater to keep your birdbath free of ice.
Find more tips for fall and winter yard prep on our blog like planting fall bulbs and fall pruning 101, and be sure to check out our printable fall gardening checklist.
Monday, October 1st, 2018
Be a friend to birds this winter!
Don’t put away your gardening gloves just yet – this time of year when the leaves are turning and the temperature is cooling happens to be the right time to plant bulbs that will bring your garden to life with that first burst of colour in the spring. To get you inspired, here’s a look at some of our favourite fall bulbs:
Onions, shallots, and garlic are members of the allium family, but there are many ornamental alliums that will add beautiful variety to your perennial garden. They come in a range of colours and heights, and they don’t need a lot of space to do well.
Planting guide: 6” deep if near a heated building; 6-8” deep if away from buildings
Crocuses will pop up even when there’s still a little snow on the ground, making them a must-have if you really long for spring each year. You can plant crocuses around your yard or even in your lawn to add interest – they’ll finish blooming by the time you need to cut the grass, and the leaves should be left to die back naturally in order to replenish the bulb’s nutrients.
Planting guide: 6” deep regardless of placement
There are few things in life as cheery as a daffodil. Daffodils are hardy and easy to grow, which probably accounts for their ubiquitousness come springtime.
Planting guide: 8-10” deep, near a heated building
Fragrances are a big part of spring’s appeal, and hyacinths are one of the most fragrant options available. Because these bulbs won’t survive outdoors in our climate, you’ll need to force them indoors. Head over to this post to see a simple breakdown of this process.
Planting guide: Force indoors
Beautiful and showy irises are versatile, dependable, and easy to grow. They like a sunny location best, so take a little care in finding the perfect spot.
Planting guide: 4” deep if near a heated building; 4-5” deep if away from buildings
To say tulips are popular is an understatement. There are literally thousands of varieties and new ones are cultivated every year, so take some time to see what’s out there!
Planting guide: 6-8” deep if near a heated building; 8-10” deep if away from buildings
The options mentioned here are just a few of the most popular fall bulbs, and you can always visit our garden centre to see more varieties that are available. Experimenting with new bulbs each fall gives you a little something special to look forward to in the spring!
See our printable Fall Gardening Checklist for some tips on how to take care of your garden, yard, and lawn this fall.
Monday, October 1st, 2018
Embrace fall planting, and see the payoff next spring!
Autumn is a beautiful season when we get to enjoy many colours that don’t show up throughout the rest of the year. And while summer usually gets all of the glory in this department, fall is actually a great time for gardening! The ground is still warm, which plants love, and the air is not as hot, which is more comfortable for us while working outdoors.
The pigment that causes the vibrant colours we see in fall is actually present in the leaves of your favourite trees and shrubs throughout the year, we just can’t see it until chlorophyll production slows and eventually stops in the fall. Fall colours can vary from plant to plant and even from year to year, and taking advantage of the changing colours is the best way to extend your gardening season and enjoy your yard for as long as possible! Below are some suggestions for trees and shrubs that will add vibrancy to your autumn view, with links to our Plant Finder so that you can take a closer look at your favourites.
Shrubs for Fall Colour
A rounded plant with arching branches that develop outstanding fall colour, barberry is an ideal shrub to use as an accent plant.
We love the fine-branched, compact, and rounded form of amur maple for borders, hedges, or foundation planting. We also love the beautiful orange-red fall colours it produces!
In addition to pretty white flowers in spring and delicious berries in summer, this mounded shrub turns a range of stunning yellow-orange to red colours in the fall, even when growing in shade.
There’s a reason for the name of this shrub – the brilliant red fall colour is gorgeous, and in the winter the corky bark will add some interest to your yard as well.
Who doesn’t love a hydrangea?! This showy landscape shrub will flower right up until the first frost, and will change colour as the weather cools.
All sumacs display beautiful, red fall colour. The mature size can vary greatly depending on the variety, so you’ll find lots of flexibility with this shrub.
The spirea is a wonderful all-season plant with something to appreciate year-round: showy flowers, beautiful summer foliage, and crimson fall colour.
Most cranberry shrubs prefer a part-shade location and moist soil, and if you find the right spot you’ll get to see its beautiful crimson fall leaves.
Trees for Fall Colour:
There are many varieties of maple, and all have outstanding fall colours.
Paper Birch are native to parts of Manitoba, which makes them a great choice to include in your yard. The birch has beautiful exfoliating bark and a bright gold fall colour.
Dogwood is a lovely ornamental tree that flowers in the spring and produces berries in the fall that last through winter. The fall leaves are a reddish purple colour.
The beautiful lacy foliage of a honeylocust turns a pretty medium-yellow in the fall.
Pin Oaks are especially good for fall colour, with pyramid-shaped crowns that have a yellow to copper red colour. As a bonus, the leaves may actually hang on through winter rather than falling off completely.
Linden or Basswood
The bright green heart-shaped leaves of linden or basswood trees turn a pretty yellow in the fall. These are great trees for boulevards and shade.
Whether you’re brimming with ideas or are looking for a little advice, visit our outdoor sales yard to get what you need to fill your yard with fall colours! There’s still plenty of time to get outdoors and enjoy your outdoor space. While you’re out there, here are some tips for fall pruning.
Welcome here, autumn!