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Desert Garden for Birds

I’ve just about given up trying to cultivate in the alkaline soil of the Utah desert where I live. What will grow in these dry and windy conditions? I’d especially like to plant fruit- or nut-bearing trees that will attract birds.

Start with a visit to your local nature center or state park. Look at the plants that are growing and thriving there with little or no help from people. Many of these facilities provide lists of suitable plants for your area, their attributes (including bird appeal) and local sources. Here are just a few drought tolerant garden plants that also attract birds. Several shrub roses, firethorn (Pyracantha), cotoneaster, New Mexican privet (Forestiera noemexicana), rubber rabbitbush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) are a few shrubs to consider. Don’t forget to add annuals and perennials. Many have flowers that attract hummingbirds and seeds that attract other types of birds. Cosmos (a self seeding annual), hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria arizonica), beardtongue (Penstemon), gayfeather (Liatris), and yucca can add colorful blooms to the garden and food for the birds. For more information on plants for your area visit the Utah Native Plant Society website www.unps.org or the Utah Heritage Garden website www.wasatchgardens.org


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