Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Birds, Blooms and Berries

Serviceberry spring blossoms in our yard

When planning trees for a small backyard, there are few that can top the serviceberry. Whether purchased in tree form or a multi-stemmed shrub, this plant has year-round interest. In spring, about the time early daffodils are blooming serviceberries are billowing with white or pinkish blossoms.
Native to North America, serviceberry is a member of the Amelanchier family which includes many varieties. It is also known as downy serviceberry, Saskatoon, Juneberry, shadbush or shadblow. The last name relates to the bloom time occurring when the Atlantic shad fish start to migrate along the Atlantic coast.
The flowers evolve into small blueberry-type berries that then bring the birds. It is not unusual to see American goldfinches, blue jays, chickadees, cardinals, robins, cedar waxwings and other visitors jostling to feast on the fruit. Native Americans and early settlers ate the blueberry-tasting berries too and if the birds don’t get them all, they are delicious in jellies, pies and baked goods.
Serviceberries are hardy to zone 3 and need very little attention; pruning consists of merely cutting out dead or crossing branches. They grow well in full sun to partial shade and prefer a moist soil that drains well but will adapt to drought.  (adapted from my gardening column in The Scope this week)

Cedar waxwings love the berries

All of the photos are from our apple serviceberry called ‘Autumn Brilliance’ which turns this fiery red in fall.

The cultivated varieties have been bred for increased flowering, fall foliage colour and disease resistance.
Amelanchier x gradiflora (apple serviceberry) is a naturally occurring cross between A. arborea and A. laevis with characteristics of both. A small tree of 6-9 m, the new leaves have a purple tinge to them and become a spectacular orange or red in fall.


  1. Fabulous post...great would love to try that jelly or jam..interesting! And it is always lovely to hear about trees for small spaces..wonderful..and very helpful, insightful post!Oh..and BEAUTIUL bird photo of the CW..gorgeous!

  2. My serviceberries are still little for berries and they only have a few flowers. But, I would love the tree you have. Beautiful fall color, where did you buy it?

  3. The picture of the waxwing is perfect! Joan @Americana By Candlelight

  4. Hi Judith.. I have a service berry it is a very lovely tree! We rarely have cedar wax wing though, and that is a lovely photo of one!

  5. Hi: I think every yard should have a serviceberry in it. Spectacular tree right through the season. Valerie

  6. I have heard that serviceberry really attracts the birds. Wonderful photos, love the Waxwing shot.

  7. I will have to look for one of those as it a great all season tree. We have lots of wild ones growing in our field that are pretty and hedgerow that are pretty too.
    I love the photo of the cedar waxwing.

  8. Hi Again.. Your comments sre too kind! Thanks so much!
    The guest towels... No one touches them... even if you want them to! I find the same thing with cloth dinner napkins.. my husband is just to scared to use them :-) I offer regular hand towels, and use these just for show.. or mostly I lay them around under dishes in the hutches:-)

  9. What a beautiful picture of the Cedar Waxwing. We don't see Waxwings here - they are gorgeous birds.


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