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Trees, shrubs and perennials that attract winter wildlife

During the winter months, wildlife passing through your landscape can be a beautiful sight that saves you through the last of winter. The dreary grays of January can make even the shortest days feel endless, and catching a glimpse of a cardinal or deer fluttering or jumping through your yard can be the godsend needed to get you through the day, reminding you of the thawing of spring. It may be getting too late in the year now to consider planting things that wildlife likes to eat in the winter, but if you have any of the plants listed below in your landscape, then it may be worth considering holding off on cutting them back during your fall cleanup.

“Usually deer can comfortably survive the winter by eating their usual diet of twigs, stems, grasses, and other plants wherever they typically would find them, as well as by supplementing with higher-calorie foods such as nuts, fruits, and even mushrooms,” explains Tufts University.

For birds, you’ll need to consider shelter as well as food sources. Alaska Department of Fish and Game explains, “spruce and hemlock trees provide excellent cover; birch, willow, and alder provide natural seed sources, and some berry-producing plants attract birds that rarely come to feeders. A brush pile also can provide cover for some birds.”

Plant life to consider incorporating into your landscape or saving from your fall cleanup, as explained by our Garden Center Manager and Horticulturalist, Sean Ducey:

Trees and Shrubs: Beautyberry, Black and Red Chokeberry, Hawthorns, Winterberry Holly, Large Sumac, Dogwood, Viburnums, Junipers and Crabapples.

Perennials: Echinacea, Coreopsis, Penstemon, Sedum and ornamental grasses. To attract birds to your gardens during the winter, it would be recommended to cut these perennials back in the springtime.

Take stock of your landscape at this time to consider if you can add in some of the plant life listed above next growing season. By observing how your landscape looks in winter and planning for winter earlier in the season, you’ll be maximizing your chance to have a winter wonderland of your very own, right in your back yard.

Whispering Hills Garden and Landscape Center is a full service landscape center and nursery located in Cary, Illinois. Stop in today for our full selection of deciduous trees and shrubs, now 50% off. (Updated: 11/5/21)

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