What do gardeners do in the winter? With our vegetable gardens and flower beds put to rest, there is no better time to care for and enjoy birds than winter. The bare trees and snow-covered surroundings provide very little camouflage, which makes bird activities more visible. Winter is a very fragile time for wild birds so they rely upon us for care and protection.

There are no insects flying around for birds to eat in the winter months. Seeds, weeds, fruits, and nuts are often used up or covered in snow. Some birds prepare for the food-scarce months of winter by collecting food in the summer and fall months and hiding it away for later use in winter. Birds return to this stash when natural food sources run scarce. The caveat is that sometimes other birds or animals find the food, too.

Some birds eat dormant insects they find in the crevices of tree bark. They also eat berries of winter-hardy species, such as bayberry and juniper. Other birds flock together to find reliable feeders. The ironic part is that though they work together to find these food sources, they are often very competitive with each other once they find it. We can help by stocking feeders with a good source of wild bird seed all winter long.

Water is also crucial and scarce in winter. Fewer non-frozen sources of water exist. Though birds can eat snow, it takes much more precious energy for a bird to eat snow and warm it to body temperature. Wintering birds have done quite well in order to survive the coldest months.

They’ve also learned to rely heavily upon us for food, water, and roosting spots. The more we chip in and help, the better their chances of survival. This topic was presented at the Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) by Gary Cartlidge from Armstrong Milling at our November program night.

We have an exciting line-up of interesting topics for our 2017 program nights including: Heirloom Seeds, Pruning Trees and Shrubs, The Art of Bonsai, Vegetable Gardening in Raised Beds, Growing a Healthy Lawn, Bees & Trees, and Floral Design.

Our monthly programs are free and open to everyone, members and non-members alike. Join us at the Optimist Hall, 101 Main St. W., Dunnville from 7-9pm on January, 19, 2017 for “Gardening Questions, Answers and Tips” with our own Master Gardeners and host, Deb Zynomirski. This evening is always a favourite program night as we discover how much knowledge we have in our very own group! Come with your questions, gardening challenges, and horticultural dilemmas.

As we wrap up this very successful year, we wish to thank all of our very generous Business Partners and Community Sponsors. Please visit our website for a complete listing of these individuals and local businesses. www.dunnvillehortandgardenclub.org

Merry Christmas from our DHS Executive: Debbie Thomas-President, Deb Zynomirski-Vice President, Kim Christoff-Treasurer, Sandi Marr-Secretary and Board of Directors: Betty Ballanger, Gloria Hunter, Mary Lou Johnston, Marilyn Stavinga, Margaret Bottrell, Wray McLean, Robert  Marr, Denise Richardson, Petra Kruis-Daly.

-written by Sandi Marr, DHS Secretary

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