Meet Mark Cullen

Canada's best known gardening personality, Mark Cullen believes that Canadians of all ages need to play more - preferably in the dirt. A best-selling author with over 400,000 books in print, Mark reaches over one million Canadians every week through various media outlets. He is Home Hardware's horticultural spokesperson and regularly contributes to various magazines, gardening shows and newsletters. With a familiar style that people can relate to, he delivers a message that is compelling, fun, informative and inspirational - all based on his organic approach to gardening. In his spare time Mark enjoys driving his Ford Model A - and of course he loves to garden.

Feeding Feathered Friends

~ January 18, 2012

As I peer out the window of our kitchen this time of year I am grateful for the birds that visit the seed heads of the ornamental grasses that I let stand over the winter. I am so glad that I resisted the temptation to cut them down in the autumn.

The ‘winter garden’ is more interesting than ever; I took more time to consider the appearance of my garden in the ‘off season’ when planting this past year. The evergreens and Blue Holly look so much more interesting than a flat yard of snow. And the bright red crabapples that remain on my Malus ‘Red Jade’ look fantastic. Soon the birds will find these appealing too.

This is the perfect time to attract song sparrows, chickadees and overwintering Blue Jays and Cardinals with a ‘song bird seed mix’. Or just use straight black oil sunflower seeds. To prevent the mess associated with sunflowers use the hulled variety – more expensive but all ‘meat’ and no waste or mess to clean up.

Winter feeding birds need the carbohydrates contained in suet. I always hang several out for the winter. That way, if I don’t replace one of them after it is finished the birds always have another to feed on.

As for the myth that feeding the birds creates a dependency on your feeding station that is not healthy for them – hogwash. If they are disappointed by the selection of seed in your yard they go hunting for available seed in the wild. In most cases, they have the option to go next door or down the street to the home of another generous gardener come bird feeder.