Winter solitude –

in a world of one color

the sound of wind.

                                         -(Matsuo Basho, 1644-1694)

You guessed it – it’s still snowing here.  But it’s not quite a “world of one color”:


Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)


Peking cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lucidus)


European cranberry, guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)

I love the persistence of berries during winter!  Not only are they amazing pops of colour in the landscape, but some of them provide sustenance for fruit-eating birds during these cold, dark days.  I’ve been worrying a bit about the chickadees that have been huddling together in the lilacs in the yard – the property management company doesn’t encourage the use of feeders, so they’re not getting any sort of nut-seed mix from anyone in the complex.  I wonder if I could get away with buying a block of suet and placing it somewhere deep in the shrubs?

Of course, a covert operation such as this will require significant stealth tactics and a pre-dawn launch.  I’ve got the early morning part down pat, but I’m utterly hopeless at sneaky – I’m guaranteed to get caught!   Oh well, it’s all for a good cause….  😉

Do you feed wild birds during the wintertime (or year-round)?  And what are your favourite shrubs and trees for winter interest?


  1. I don’t feed much in summer, mainly in a somewhat vain attempt to keep the chipmunk population under control. Do feed in winter–love watching the birds. Today there was a flock of dark-eyed juncos out my back door scratching in the gravel. Have no idea what they were looking for, and the feeders were full. Now I’m wondering if any of the backyard birds would be interested in the fresh leftover cranberries sitting on my kitchen counter…

      • I did put the cranberries out, and they’re still out there. I suspect they froze hard before any of the critters discovered them! At least they’ll be preserved until the next thaw…

  2. I love all the winter colors. Especially when the dark grayness really settles in. I love my Sargent Crabapple and the grasses I leave up. I just got back to feeding the birds this winter. We have such a problem with sparrows, house finches and grackles that it spoils it for the more interesting birds. I’ll see how it goes.

  3. What an effective post! The text and the photography send a strong message. But I do have to admit there is an awful lot of the white stuff here. If we get any more I have no idea where we will shovel it next.

    • I think feeding the birds is discouraged around here because of the mess – the management company doesn’t want seeds and nuts ending up on the lawns and walkways. Also they don’t want to encourage pest birds such as magpies and crows (which hang around anyway) or critters such as squirrels. It may not hurt for me to ask, however, and see if there is a way we could put up a squirrel-proof feeder or two in an area that doesn’t have high traffic (the birds need the privacy anyway).
      I’m not sure why the chickadees aren’t eating the berries (quite frankly, I’m terrible with bird knowledge, and I don’t know if they even eat berries or if they’re strictly on a nut and seed diet) – the only birds I’ve seen munching on fruit are the magpies that take the leftover chokecherries.

      • Not to sure what birds eat berries or not either. I know that in our compost food we put out for the birds that the orange peels get pulled away and munched on. And the mess they make can be raked away so no one knows and think of all the life they bring, plus the seeds fall into the grasses anyway. good luck

  4. Love the look of the different berries against the snow. Do you take comfort from the fact that your current scene is so well expressed by words from the 1600s? You are part of the rhythm of nature 🙂 I do feed the birds if it is very cold but, of course, we don’t ever get the type of cold that you do.

  5. I’ve just started to feed them, it’s about pampering them a little because around here the winters are pretty mild, but I love to watch them up close. I’m mad about berries too, especially Sorbus, Malus (crab apple), Cotoneaster, Symphoricarpos, rose hips, Callicarpa…all would grow in your area too. 🙂

    • Many of the ornamental crabapple pomes have persisted on the trees around here…I find them interesting when their colour darkens and they get wrinkled in the cold. I always love the rose hips, too – we had a bumper crop of them this year and they weren’t all stripped off the plants in the fall. So pretty, especially against the snow.
      Have a fantastic weekend! 🙂

  6. Talking about magical photos: yours are gorgeous!!!! And than my favorite seabuck. And the quote is of the kind that makes me quiet for a moment ( very unusual;0)) Thank you, my dear, it is all lovely.
    And yes, yes, be rebellious and feed the poor chickadees. A few suet blocks in the middle of the shrub won’t hurt a soul. My advise, walk boldly through the garden as if to check the shrubs, no one will notice. Although, I like the image of you tip toe-ing in the middle of the night in the cold winter garden;0) ♥ Johanna

    ps my cactus does indeed flower faithfully once a year in spring.

    • Thank you, Johanna – you are always so sweet! And yes, I think I will be so bold and feed the chickadees in the daylight – it might save me tripping in the dark and falling into a snowbank! 😉

      Have an absolutely delightful weekend!

  7. I’m glad you asked that question Sheryl – we don’ have much winter interest near the house at all, which I must remedy! Maybe a Virburnum – love those berries! We have a few Cotoneasters out the front, but one has dropped all its berries before the birds got interested… no idea why.

    • That’s interesting about your cotoneaster – I’ve never noticed the shrubs in our hedge do that. I wonder why it would? The sparrows and chickadees love the cotoneasters, they zip in and out of them but I don’t really see them eating the berries much. Maybe later in the winter? You might really like a viburnum, they’re quite lovely and don’t get massive and unruly.

  8. Great images. The Sea buckthorn berries are a fantastic color. Will have to look up that plant. I enjoy watching the birds at our two feeders year-round. The bird activity has picked up the last few days. Susie

    • I love the sea buckthorn, too – the berries are so beautiful (and delicious!). I’m glad you’re getting plenty of birds at your feeders – they’re so fun to watch and it’s really rewarding to feed them.

  9. I like the way the snow settles on the berries. If you place some suet in the shrubs, a squirrel may thank you 🙂 Annie

    • I’m surprised to have seen a few squirrels still hanging out despite all of our cold weather – I usually don’t notice them at this time of year but they’ve been running around on the balconies of the buildings in the complex, looking for food. I bet they would just LOVE the suet! 🙂

  10. Awesome photo’s Sheryl ! I’ve been wondering what the red berries are around here, they stand out like crazy. I fed the birds at the lake, and the squirrels too and a number of Blue Jays 😀 I actually vacuumed my lawn around the feeder in the spring because they dropped sooooo many seeds and shells. Freaked the neighbour right out, but he always thought I was anal about the yard (his was a disaster), It was just the easiest way to pick them up…LOL I tried it here downtown last winter but all that arrived were a number of crows and magpies.. I know they need to eat too but they’re so noisy. I decided not to attract them this winter. Good luck with the early morning covert op…LOL. I’d like to see that on film 😀

    • LOL that’s great about vacuuming the leavings from the feeders – it sounds like a good idea to me! The whole thing can get really messy. You’re right about not wanting to attract the magpies and crows – we have so many around here because of the common garbage bins; they make quite the racket in the morning and drive everyone crazy.

    • I’m surprised more people don’t use the viburnums in the landscape here – they really can provide year ’round interest if the birds don’t get to all the berries. I didn’t photograph them for the post (although there is a pic from last year in the header), but mountain ash berries are amazing against all this snow, I’m seeing a lot of them on the boulevards and in yards.

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