The Ripening Fruits of August
It seems a melancholy thing that summer is slipping away into fall. I especially regret seeing the daylight hours slowly shortening with each sunset.
On the other hands, there are compensations for us and for the suburban wildlife around us. For people, there are plentiful peaches and tomatoes, cooler temperatures, fewer mosquitos (or at least slower ones that are easier to slap).
For the birds and other wildlife, there is the promise of a great bounty of berries and other fruits. These may not be ripe just yet, but the signs of ripeness are there to be seen. These are the ripening fruits in our garden right now.
Like apples, crabapples have years of alternating light and heavy yield. This is year of heavy yield, and the branches of the ‘Donald Wyman’ crab are weighed down with fruit. They are ripening, not yet ripe, and will be eaten through the fall and into the winter by many birds.
The huge clusters of Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis) are turning from green to black. They are another favorite with many birds. An unruly suckering plant, we keep ours in the corner of the back garden, behind the Siberian Elm (Ulmus pumila).
Cranberrybush Viburnum (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) berries are gradually turning bright red. These are eaten by Cedar Waxwings and other birds, especially after a hard frost.
Grey Dogwood (Cornus racemosa) berries, high in calories, are a highly valued fruit for migrating birds. Most are still green, but you can see the first ripe white ones, though they quickly disappear. I was dismayed to see a squirrel gorging on the berries, both green and white, over the weekend. He ignored me when I said they were not for him.
Wild Currant (Ribes americanum) ripens slowly throughout the summer. They are edible for people, but I let the Robins and Cardinals take the lion’s share.
Do you grow fruiting plants for the birds?