Many exotic garden plants hardly provide food for insects and birds. You can help the gardeners with local shrubs in autumn and winter. These shrubs also look great in your yard in summer.
Those who like to watch birds in their garden can do more than put up a bird feeder in winter and hang up tit balls. Because birds love gardens in which they have plenty of hiding places in winter – and which offer them enough to snack on all year round. So spiders, insects, their caterpillars and larvae – and berries.
With the trend towards more exotic plants or – even worse – sterile gravel gardens, it is important for biodiversity to rely on the right plants and shrubs.
To get straight to the point: With native shrubs, i.e. plants that also occur naturally in the open landscape, you are almost always right. They are perfectly adapted to the climate and soil conditions of a region – and provide the animals in the same region with coveted feed.
Two examples: The red fruits of the hawthorn, which is widespread in Germany, eat 32 different species of birds. Its North American relative, the scarlet thorn, on the other hand, only feeds two bird species native to us. And the beguiling scented summer lilac, originally from China, is flown to by numerous butterflies and other insects. But its leaves are of no interest to caterpillars. Or the popular forsythia: it does not provide food for insects or birds.
Rowan and black elder, on the other hand, offer more than 60 species of birds and even some mammals a welcome change and enrichment of the menu in autumn and winter. And many local plants are also beautiful: for example the ephemeris with its pink-orange fruits.
In contrast to some exotic species, native shrubs offer “an almost inexhaustible food supply for numerous insects in all stages of development”. And they are also undemanding in terms of care.
The best domestic feed suppliers among the bushes
NABU has put together a comprehensive list of the best bird-friendly shrubs for your own garden and their requirements. These include:
- Mountain ash
- Sea buckthorn
- Blackthorn (sloe)
- Cornelian cherry
- Rock pear
Instead of distributing individual shrubs in the garden, it can make sense to arrange them in a hedge. This not only provides privacy, but also provides shelter for birds and insects, food, nesting sites and more. A hedge made of sloes, rock pears, cornel cherries and ephemera is a feast for the bird world – and a feast for the eyes for lovers of the natural garden. The most suitable times for planting are autumn and early spring.