November 27, 2013

Dinner Menu

Here is what is on the menu for Thanksgiving in my garden:

Winterberries (Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite')
Everyone says the birds like these, but in my garden it is the deer who strip the berries off before I can enjoy seeing their festive red against the snow. They'll be gone by Christmas, but they make a fine Thanksgiving treat right now.


Chokeberries (Aronia arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima')
These are on offer for Thanksgiving, but nobody really likes them. The birds will not touch them until late winter, either because there is nothing else left then, or because it takes that long for these fruits to mellow and become tasty. They are not a favorite but they are on the menu. 



Viburnum berries (Viburnum prunifolium)
There are only a few of these navy blue fruits. This young viburnum only had a few flowers last spring, the first year it bloomed. This picture was taken in late October when the leaves were still on. Now, with all the leaves down, there are actually only a few raisin-like berries left, so this will be a rare Thanksgiving treat for just a few birds.



Holly berries (Ilex x meserveae hybrid 'Blue Princess')
Several years ago I planted four blue holly shrubs and they were supposed to be a mix of male and female. But all four have dense crops of red berries, so all four are females. They are being pollinated by another type of holly nearby, either the winterberries in my garden, which seems unlikely, or some other holly in the neighborhood. Thanksgiving is a family holiday, so we won't fuss about paternity right now. 


American holly berries (Ilex opaca)
This is a newly planted female holly tree, and I am thrilled to see berries. I did plant a companion male Ilex opaca nearby, but the little sapling had just three or flour blooms this June. But that was enough. This Thanksgiving a small quantity of American holly berries are on the menu.


Dogwood fruit (Cornus florida)
They look yummy and there are plenty for this holiday. This dogwood is a pink flowering variety and it has stunning fall color that starts out mahogany purple and becomes fiery red, so it's a visual treat in many seasons. The leaves are down now, but there are still some berries left for Thanksgiving.


Eastern Red Cedar berries (Juniperus virginiana)
The tiny blue fruits are so pretty, and quite blue when photographed in shade. The junipers grow at the far end of the meadow, out back where I can't see them easily, so I don't know if cedar waxwings have found them. I have not seen waxwings, but that doesn't mean they haven't been there. I hope so. They are invited guests for Thanksgiving.


Bayberry (Myrica pennsylvanica)
I did not realize bayberry is dioecious, like hollies. You need a male to pollinate the female shrub to set fruit. Apparently my bayberry is a male, because there have never been any waxy, aromatic gray berries. Alas. But I make up for it with another winterberry holly with delicious red berries right next to it. No one will starve. Although there will be no traditional handmade bayberry candles to decorate the Thanksgiving table.

No one will starve indeed. In addition to all the juicy berries, there are so many seedheads, with plenty of good things to eat on the black eyed Susans and many other perennials still standing. 

Rose hips are plump and red, especially the hips on the redleaf rose, Rosa glauca, which are huge. 

Cotoneaster has red berries and deep purple foliage. It is down at ground level, tucked in below a big spruce that offers protection for skittish feeders.

Two corneliancherry trees (Cornus mas) grow in my garden, but they are young and have not fruited yet. They are supposed to have big red berries that make a great jam, and I am eagerly waiting for that some year. 

And I have three young native persimmons (Diospyros virginiana), which will someday produce orange globes that only a hard freeze will make edible. How I long to see those some year.

That would be excessive, wouldn't it? Already I have too much on the menu for a holiday feast for birds and rodents and deer and people. 

How grateful I am for the utter abundance of my garden and the grace in my life.
 

41 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Lisa, and a very happy Thanksgiving to you!

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  2. This is quite a feast! Such wonderful selections of berry producing species in your garden friend! And how very cool are those orange globes! I would love to see those...they are spectacular!!! A very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Laurrie!!

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    1. Nicole, it's pretty amazing what an abundance of berries there are right now. Enjoy this holiday with all your family!

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  3. What is the golden tree behind the 'Blue Princess' holly?

    You certainly have a rich display of fruiting plants. I always hear the high wispy flute-like calls of Cedar Waxwings before I see them, but they haven't arrived here yet.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Sweetbay, the golden foliage behind the holly are Norway maples in the distance. They always color up bright yellow. It's a problem (invasive) tree around here, but a pretty one in fall. I'll have to learn the call of the cedar waxwings so I'll be able to recognize them.

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  4. What a lovely collection of fruits and berries you have! Larry

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    1. Larry - thanks! It's a smorgasbord out there : )

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  5. That's quite the array of berries...the birds must LOVE your garden!

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    1. Scott, even though it is bitterly cold and blustery outside today, the birds are feasting, zipping around in the wind and having a grand time.

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  6. Laurrie, fabulous abundance for your critters and you!! Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. Donna, thanks. My critters do seem happy!

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  7. Indeed, quite a feast!

    I'm growing a couple of chokeberries myself - two black and one red. I tried a black berry for the first time in mid-summer --- and spit it out. Yech! WAY too astringent.

    Well, I heard that frost improves the flavor and we've certainly had our share of freezing nights already this November, so the other day I nervously sampled a berry off the red chokeberry.

    This time I could choke it down (ergo the name), but still - YECH.

    Yep, they're supposed to be super nutritious ounce for ounce, but I'm guessing you'd need to add an excessive amount of sugar to make them palatable.

    Still, the red ones are very pretty and the chokeberries do have lovely spring flowers and fall foliage. I wish the berries were more appealing - either for us or the birds!

    Your birds are very lucky to have such a considerate gardener looking out for them. All the berries on the hollies and viburnum look beautiful!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

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    1. Aaron, I have never tasted the chokeberries. You are brave to experiment and try some, but as you found out, there is a good reason it is called chokeberry! I agree with you that it is a lovely plant and that's why I grow it.

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    2. Well, I didn't just experiment willy-nilly! I did some research first. Cause everything on the Internet is accurate, right? ;-)

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  8. That cotoneaster is gorgeous! Do you remember which one it is? I hope you are enjoying a nice cup of coffee in your beautiful sun porch and watching the birds enjoy the feast you provided. Happy thanksgiving!

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    1. Heather, I don't know the variety of cotoneaster. It was one of the few plants the builder put in before I started a garden here. How I wish I could be on my sunporch -- but with temps in the mid 30s now it's really not seasonable out there. So I stayed inside and ate too much turkey : )

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  9. You have lots and lots of lovely berries. I bet the birds and other critters are very grateful for your garden.

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    1. Alison, it surprises me how fruitful everything is, and this has been an especially good year for anything with berries. The conditions were just right for heavy fruit set.

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  10. This is such a cute post concept, really clever. Berries never last long around here. I wish the migrating birds here would leave some for those that over-winter. I was out photographing berries a few weeks ago in the parks, now the plants are stripped. I took out my six cotoneaster shrubs because they became too aggressive in the garden, but they were wonderful as you say for the ground feeders.

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    1. Donna, I won't see many berries left by Christmas, although the chokeberries hang on. My cotoneaster plants may have to come out as yours did. Between its aggressive spread and the big white fir above wanting to spread out mightily, there is no room.

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  11. Have a Happy Thanksgiving Laurrie

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  12. Your garden is very rich having such harvest so animals and people have to be thankful to all fruit!
    By the way I love persimmons and often in fall I buy them very soft and juicy.
    Laurrie, happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Nadezda, I have never eaten a persimmon. I know they are sold in markets around here, so I am going to have to try one since it will be a long time before my trees produce. You say they are soft and juicy -- I'm going to try one!

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  13. What a fantastic post! It's nice to appreciate the gifts of the garden, even at the end of November. This is also a great reference for me about the abundance of berry-producing bushes and trees out there (should I ever have the space for them, that is). Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Kathryn, it is pretty amazing how many varieties of berries and fruits grow in our gardens. Food for all!

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  14. You're berried up deliciously, Laurrie. As time goes by, watch for birds flying recklessly, high on ripe juniper berries, a prime ingredient in gin. Cheers!

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    1. Lee, I might try making up a batch of gin from the juniper berries, now that you mention it : )

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  15. How generous of you to arrange a Thanksgiving feast for birds and animals in your garden! A feast for the eyes of humans, too.

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  16. I too am a berry fanatic and try to have as many as I can in my yard. But no matter how many I plant, they disappear almost before the winter gets started. My winterberry hollies never make it into November, and even my pyracantha is being picked clean by squirrels this year. I have to keep reminding myself that that is the point - or half the point - of berry plants: to feed the creatures.

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    1. Sarah, so true -- it's rewarding to feed the wildlife so well, but it doesn't leave much to look at in the garden after the critters eat everything.

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  17. I am sure your birds and all their relations had quite a Thanksgiving feast, with plenty of leftovers! You may be gardening for he birds, but your garden is all the more beautiful for it. May all your holidays be berry wonderful!

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    1. Deb, the holidays have indeed been berry berry nice: )

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  18. Oh my, what a wonderful feast for all your "wild" friends! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Laurrie!

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    1. Rose, and I hope you had a good Thanksgiving too -- it went by too fast!

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  19. Happy Belated Thanksgiving, Laurrie! By the look of things, it was berry berry good.

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    1. Sue, thanks! Everyone, birds and beasts included, ate well and were thankful. Happy late Thanksgiving to you too.

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  20. A great idea for a Thanksgiving post, Laurrie. I'm surprized you have any leaves on your winterberry sprite. Deer in my neighborhood browse all the reachable leaves on my taller winterberry but, now that they are taller, the deer cannot get all the berries. Multiple birds will take care of the berries sometime during winter. My barberry berries only lasted about a month ... multiple birds took care of them. Bluebirds love juniper berries. I try to include berry-bearing juniper in my front porch holiday decorations so I can catch glimpses of that vibrant blue flying to and from to collect a meal.
    I'm so happy you have berries on your Ilex opaca. Mine are still too small to produce berries ... if any are, in fact, female.

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    1. Joene, the winterberry bushes have no leaves now, but are still sporting red berries. I get a kick out of you waiting anxiously, like a new parent to be, to see if your ilex opaca seedlings are boys or girls : )

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