A Winter Garden for Hummingbirds
Bring beautiful color to your winter garden and provide nutrition for hardworking hummingbirds with landscape plants that bloom in our dreariest months. Anna’s hummingbirds are the only species of hummer to live in our area year round. As you can imagine, their nectar sources are minimal in the winter. These little powerhouses have become dependent on our generous use of hummingbird feeders and will come back year after year to feed at the same location. While sugar water is an important source of energy, hummingbirds also need nourishment that can only come from plant nectar. The Anna’s hummingbird starts nesting and brooding as early as December. Intentional planting in your garden will support future generations of birds. Observing these quick, petite birds zip through the skies is captivating too!
The following are some Squak Mt. team favorites to nourish our hummingbird friends:
Mahonia ‘Winter Sun’
Tall Mahonia’s are related to our native Oregon Grape shrub. They produce dramatic, architectural evergreen foliage with early to mid-winter yellow flowers (illustrated here). Winter blooming varieties include ‘Winter Sun’ (grows 7’ tall) and ‘Charity’ (to 10’ tall). They are adaptable to sun or shade locations, are easy to grow and drought tolerant. Siting them in deep shade will limit their flower production. Flowers will produce clusters of black berries the following summer, or other bird species enjoyment.
Pink Dawn is a tall, vase-like shrub featuring small pink blooms that appear on cinnamon colored stems before the leaves emerge. This drought tolerant shrub is very cold-hardy (to -20F). Branches can be cut and forced indoors in winter bouquets, bringing both color and wonderful fragrance.
Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ Sasanqua camellias are a stunning evergreen shrub that offer a rare floral treat in early and mid-winter months. The single flowered varieties with bright yellow stamens provide the best nectar source for the Anna’s Hummingbird. Sasanqua camellia’s perform best in a bright location where the sun helps to set flowers each year. Direct morning sun is ideal, but shield camellias from hot afternoon sun. ‘Yuletide’ is famous for its intense red flowers and golden centers that are blooming on Christmas Day. You will also discover other ideal varieties for winter blooms at Squak Mt. including ‘Pink-a-boo’ and ‘Setsugekka’ (white). Arbutus unedo ‘Compacta’.
Attractive in all seasons, the compact strawberry tree is a small evergreen tree or large shrub, with beautiful cinnamon colored exfoliating bark. It will produce small urn-shaped pale pink flowers from October to December. It gets its name from the strawberry shaped fruits that ripen from orange to red and are enjoyed by other birds. Arbutus grows well in full sun to open shade and tolerates most soils, provided they have good drainage.
Hammamellis x intermedia
Witch Hazels provide a burst of color when our gray days are the gloomiest. Blooms appear in January and remain until early March. These large shrubs (to 12’ tall) produce fragrant, strappy flowers on bare branches in red, yellow or orange, lighting up the winter garden. Witch Hazels can thrive in full sun to open shade locations.
Helleborus (often call Lenten rose or Christmas rose) are tough, drought
tolerant, evergreen, winter flowering perennials that will thrive anywhere in the garden. Once thought of primarily as a shade perennial, hybridizers have developed hellebrous for sun or shade, and bloom colors in white, pink, red, black, apricot and all shades in between. Our resident Anna’s Hummingbirds here at Squak Mt. Nursery rely on the buffet of helleborus we feature throughout the winter.