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Birds and Blooms ExtraBirds and Blooms Extra

Birds and Blooms Extra January 2019

Even more of what you love from North America's #1 bird and garden magazine, celebrating the beauty in your own backyard.  Published on the months in between the Birds and Blooms magazine, Extra features vivid photographs, useful tips and expert advice to inform, inspire, and connect enthusiasts who share a passion for backyard birds and gardening.

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7 Numéros


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from the editor

I have a brown thumb when it comes to houseplants. The one lucky bamboo stalk I proudly displayed on the desk in my college dorm room had a solid run—I think it lasted three years before it turned yellow and shriveled up. Fifteen years later, I have yet to keep a succulent alive for more than a few months. I know my plants need more natural light, but after reading Grow an Indoor Oasis on page 38, I learned that I’m a classic overwaterer. Tovah Martin, author and plant pro, says many gardeners include “water the plants” on their weekly to-do list. But that’s far too frequent. Turns out, you should check the moisture level of your soil daily, Tovah says, but only water when the plant actually needs it. If you’re…

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this month

THINK SPRING Cheryl Bertou of Rochester, New York, hosts a seed party every February. Guests trade seeds, share gardening tips and dream of spring over desserts and drinks. Make Fill an old watering can with greenery and berries from your backyard. It’s an easy way to add color and winter cheer to your indoor space. Feed Be on the lookout for a hand-feeding hot spot in your area! Jen Corso of Amherst, Ohio, went to the Brecksville Nature Center and hand-fed a titmouse and other birds. GET AWAY The Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival is Jan. 23-28 in Titusville, Florida. Head to scbwf.org for details, including how to join one of dozens of land and water field trips. CELEBRATE Do something for the birds on Jan. 5—it’s National Bird Day!…

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blazing red

Red Twig Dogwood Cornus sericea, Zones 2 to 7 Once white berries disappear and autumn foliage drops, vivid red twigs make this dogwood a must-have colorful cool-season showstopper. Broad-spreading and fast-growing, this shrub is low maintenance and requires moist soil to thrive. Attracts: Light needs: Best grown in full sun to partial shade. Size: 7 to 8 feet tall and around 10 feet wide. Grown for: Structure and color during cold months. Foliage: Glossy green leaves turn purplish red in autumn. Cultivars to try: Arctic Fire is compact with darker stems and Ruby boasts wine-red fall leaves. BIRD BENEFITS This multistemmed plant forms thickets, ideal for birds that nest in shrubbery, and produces white flowers and berries that attract birds and butterflies.…

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keep bird food fresh

The more birds that find and return to your feeders, the more often you need to fill them. To keep up with demand, it makes sense to buy birdseed in bulk! Stocking up during a sale saves you money, plus it cuts down your trips to the store, which saves you time. It’s a win for you and the birds, but it’s important to keep excess food fresh and free of rodent and insect infestations. Luckily, it’s easy to manage your bulk food with these simple tips. Inspect for Dust It begins at the store. When you’re shopping for seeds, avoid picking up dusty bags. The food has likely been sitting there for a while, and it could be close to expiring. Go for Hulls Buy seeds with hulls, like black oil sunflower seeds.…

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the feed

HUMMINGBIRD HINTS To extend the life of sugar water, boil it first. Store a batch in the refrigerator to keep it cool, and change the mix in your feeders every couple of days. SUET SECRETS Store your excess cakes in the freezer for up to a year. Avoid feeding suet during the summer months—it spoils quickly in hot weather. “I store bags of birdseed in small galvanized garbage cans with handles that secure the lid for a tight fit.”Pat Northington AUSTIN, TEXAS STEVE COLLENDER/SHUTTERSTOCK; CHIYACAT/ISTOCK; BEHRENSMFG.COM…

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top 10 colorful winter plants

1 Hellebore HELLEBORUS, ZONES 4 TO 9 Cold-weather gardens welcome hellebore’s cup-shaped blossoms. With numerous colors, and heights ranging from 1 to 2 feet, this lovely and distinctive bloomer is sure to enhance most any landscape. Hellebore is a perennial that loves moisture and shade, and you’ll probably wish it bloomed all year-round. Why we love it: It’s easy to grow and one of the first flowers to emerge in late winter or early spring. 2 Rugosa rose ROSA RUGOSA, ZONES 2 TO 7 Large, low-maintenance shrubs grow to 6 feet high and wide. The plant’s secret winter weapon is its large, tomato-shaped red hips, which show up after it blooms. Wait to prune until early spring and avoid planting in wet soil. It is considered invasive in some areas, so research before planting. Why we love…