In 2016, I began planting native shrubs around the perimeter of our yard to provide food and shelter for birds. Although most of the shrubs are small, they still put on a spectacular show each autumn. Their bright colours are a beacon to birds signalling where they’ll find ripe berries, seeds, and nuts to eat.
For most of my gardening life, I never planted native shrubs. I don’t even remember seeing them in nurseries. While I eventually planted them for birds, I was pleasantly surprised by their stunning berries and autumn leaves. Why aren’t they more widely available in nurseries, and used more in our yards? I wish I had discovered them earlier.
Two of the most common shrubs that are planted for fall colour are Burning Bush and Japanese Barberry — both of which are invasive in Ontario. For more information, visit the Ontario Invading Species Awareness Program pages for Winged Euonymus (Burning Bush) and Japanese Barberry. Native Highbush Blueberries and Chokeberry shrubs, both pictured above, are frequently recommended as alternatives.
Visit my page Buying Native Plants in Ottawa for a list of nurseries where you purchase native shrubs for your yard. You can also try other local nurseries, but their selection is hit-or-miss.
Sadly, the kaleidoscope of autumn leaf colours doesn’t last long. I even missed my chance to take photos of some of them. So, I decided to permanently capture these lovely colours by knitting a shawl. I gathered an assortment of leaves from around the yard, and chose matching yarns for my project.