Betula! November 04, 2007
Every once in a while I have an "Oh, duh," moment. You know, when the blatantly obvious becomes clear, to even me.
This weekend it was all about the birch. Betula is a genius of trees common in the far north. Ohio has a couple of native species: gray, river, yellow, and black birch. White paper birch is a tree that was commonly planted (read: tortured) in landscapes in the 70's. How they struggled in the middle of hot, dry, sunny Ohio lawns, doomed to a short and desperate life. No wonder I never wanted to focus on these poor creatures.
But now I see, there is life for the birch family- if treated with a little consideration. Try a native species, a little shade and water, and you might be startled with the pleasant results. Better yet, you might be startled with the pleasant by-products: fantastic winter birds!
Red-breasted Nuthatches love the exfoliating bark. Redpolls covet the catkins. Canadian bird species will flock to these familiar trees in the off years, when Canada's mast crop has been poor. Hold on to your "Sibley's" and get ready for a great winter! 2008 will be the year I plant birches.
PS: Thanks to the folks in Bluffton with the great habitat yard, and the Rufous Hummingbird, for the "wake up" call! Weedpicker Cheryl