Bringing Birds To the Garden

September through December proves the best time of year for planting new trees and shrubs in our area. Woodies planted now have the chance to develop strong root systems through the autumn and winter. They are more likely to survive when planted in fall than in the spring.

My ‘to do’ list for the next few weeks includes moving various shrubs and small trees out of their pots and into the ground. And I am always most interested in those woody plants which also attract and support birds in our garden.

This post contains a revised list of  more than 30 woody plants which attract and support a wide variety of birds.  These are native or naturalized in our region of the United States.  Adding a few of these beautiful trees and shrubs guarantees more birds visiting your garden, too.

Read on for specific tips to increase the number of  wildlife species, especially birds, which visit your garden throughout the year.


Forest Garden

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Do you feed the birds?  Most of us gardeners do.  Unless you are protecting a crop of blueberries or blackberries, you probably enjoy the energy and joy birds bring to the garden with their antics and songs.  Birds also vacuum up thousands of flying, crawling, and burrowing insects.  Even hummingbirds eat an enormous number of insects as they fly around from blossom to blossom seeking sweet nectar.  Birds are an important part of a balanced garden community.

We have everything from owls and red tailed hawks to hummingbirds visiting our garden, and we enjoy the occasional brood of chicks raised in shrubs near the house. There is an extended family of red “Guard-inals” who keep a vigilant watch on our coming and goings and all of the activities of the garden.  There are tufted titmice who pull apart the coco liners in the hanging baskets to build their…

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Butterfly Magnets: Mimosa Tree


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“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh


This beautiful tree, which I learned to call “Mimosa” as a small child, is also known as “Persian Silk Tree” because of the silky texture of its flowers.

Native to areas of Asia, the Mimosa, or Albizia Julibrissin, was brought to Europe in the mid-Eighteenth Century, and eventually to North America.

It now grows across the entire United States, especially in the southern half of the country.


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This is one of the first trees I learned to identify as a child because it is found so commonly on roadsides in Virginia.

It would always catch my eye, and I would admire it on family trips.


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Its soft pink blossoms are also fragrant, and limbs with blossoms provide many hours of make-believe fun for little ones.

Introduced as an ornamental tree, it blooms here from June until September.


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Seeds grow in long pods, much like the seeds of a Redbud tree, and also provide food for wildlife.

Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love this tree.

Planting one in your garden guarantees hours of enjoyment watching the traffic of nectar loving creatures dining from it each day during its long period of bloom.


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This beautiful non- native naturalizes easily, and despite its beauty, is considered an invasive species in some areas.

It is considered invasive because it self-seeds so easily.  A high percentage of all seeds produced are viable.  This is the species, not a cultivar; so all seedlings have the potential to grow into beautiful trees just like the parent.


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New trees crop up on any bare ground, and grow rapidly.

When we came to this garden, a huge mature Mimosa tree grew near our property line, ornamenting that part of the garden.  We could watch the many visiting butterflies from our deck.

Sadly, it was one of the trees lost in a recent hurricane when oaks fell on it, taking it to the ground.  We have missed that tree tremendously, but are happy that it is coming back from the roots.

This Mimosa, in another part of the garden, is blooming for the first time this season.  We are thrilled that new Mimosas have grown up to replace the one we have missed so much.

One of the difficulties in growing Mimosa in our garden is its attractiveness to deer.  Our herd has grazed the recovering tree each year, and all new trees, slowing their growth.

If the Mimosa can survive to outgrow the deer’s reach, then they can mature into their full potential.


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A member of the pea family, Mimosa has very tender (and most likely tasty) deciduous leaves.

The leaves, which grow much like the fronds of ferns, will close up at night, and may close during heavy rain.  They don’t give much fall color, but do help to build the soil as they decay.


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This is another plant which will look after itself.  Other than watering a new tree during drought, little else is needed from the gardener.  Pruning lower branches may become necessary depending on where the tree grows.

Some may look at this tree as “weedy,” especially when it self-sows in areas where it isn’t needed.

I happen to love the beauty of its pink flowers each summer, and still find its appearance in June one of the joys of early summer.


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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

“Only the present moment contains life.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh,

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