Bird Flu
        and You

                                                   Keep birds free of bird flu by feeding them naturally

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Keep birds free of bird flu by feeding them naturally

B Hirst

Interesting, isn't it? In the rest of this article, you'll discover even more insider stuff about the topic - and it is simple and easy to follow. Prevention of the spread of Bird Flu is the responsibility of everyone. It is known that bird feeders are a source of transmission of avian flu viruses and related diseases. Many communities have zoning laws which are meant to prevent people from feeding pigeons and seagulls. Bird droppings, when massed in open areas close to pedestrian walkways and windows provide ideal pathways for pathogens to spread not only from bird to bird, but from bird to humans. We therefore suggest that if you want to feed birds and provide for there needs you consider planting shrubs and trees that provide birds with sources of food that more mimics the natural environment. Plants such as viburnums are an excellent choice. They not only provide seeds that are available in the late winter, but also shelter.

In Hong Kong, the government has already started to prevent the spread of bird flu by telling citizens that wild pigeon droppings may help spread harmful germs, and that avoiding feeding them is the best way to minimize their congregation. Therefore any wild bird feeders in common areas at public rental housing estates and markets will be served a fine without any prior warnings. Thus we recommend that bird lover stop feedind birds from bird boxes and begin to plant shrubs that feed birds. This will provide the birds with feed and not concentrate them in one area. One of the best bird plants is the viburnum.

Viburnums are plant that I can't imagine a landscpe being without. If I had to eliminate all varieties from my gardens except for one I would be hard pressed to decide which to keep. All varieties of viburnums are attractive, versatile, adaptable shrubs for any landscape. They can be used as hedges or screens and in mixed perennial/shrub borders. They can also stand alone as specimen plants. They usually take the form of shrubs, but some species can become small ornamental trees. They range in size from the Dwarf American Cranberrybush at 2 feet tall by 2 feet wide, to the Siebold at over 15 feet tall.

Viburnums are plants with year round interest. Viburnums have white to pink flowers in the spring. They have large, attractive and often textured leaves. Some viburnums have wonderfully fragrant flowers that are produced in snowball shaped clusters in April. Their flower clusters can consist of pink buds, which develop into white flowers. Some fruits are red and turn black with age. Leaves are glossy, dark green and turn a burgundy color in the fall. Midsummer berries are an important food source for birds. Viburnums have colorful red to purple leaves. Some viburnums can become medium-size trees, especially if they are pruned. Viburnums excel as specimen plants or as anchors in mixed borders. You won't find a more versatile group of shrubs for hedges or for massing in groups, since viburnums hold their own in every season. Some viburnums, such as Prague viburnum 'Pragense', are evergreen. Others, such as leatherleaf viburnum, are semi-evergreen in colder climates, losing their leaves when temperatures dip below 10 degrees.

We like Viburnums because of their adaptability and durability. While they would prefer full sun and moderately watered, well-drained rich soils, they grow very well in part shade in alkaline, clay soils. Diseases and pests are not common for viburnums. We have more trouble from my kids running over them with brush hogs. They claim they were testing their durability. Yet all the viburnums they chopped to the ground survived. In fact, we sold these plants for a premium as they produced better numbers of desireable stems. Their fibrous root system makes them transplant and propagate easily. (We do have more difficulty with the Korean Spice rooted cuttings.)

If you are shopping for a sharp hardy shrub consider one of the many cultivars of the Viburnum family. In fact select a couple of them. You will be rewarded with shrubs with all season interest.

Viburnums have long been popular garden plants, celebrated for their white, often fragrant spring flowers and their fall color. But it's the Asian viburnums that have so far ruled the roost. Perhaps the most widely appreciated viburnums are the Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii), and the Korean spice viburnum (V. carlesii), both of which fill the air with a pleasant odorin mid-spring. Also popular is the doublefile viburnum (V. plicatum f. tomentosum), valued for its layered habit, fall foliage, and clusters of red fruits. Viburnum acerifolium (Maple-leafed viburnum) Although I wouldn't garden without any of these, I have a special fondness for several of our very gardenworthy native viburnums. They may not provide the enticing flower fragrance of their Asian cousins, but I love them not only for their rich fall foliage color but also for their fruit displays, which attract wildlife to my garden in the fall and durring the bleak winter months. In addition, several are useful to today's waterwise gardeners or for urban conditions. They require only corrective pruning, and none commonly suffer from pests or diseases. I would be hardpressed to say which viburnum I would choose if I could only have one.

Viburnums are moist woodland plants. In nature they are found along steam banks from Long Island to Florida. When you come to our 5275 West Swamp Rd. location ask us to show some in their native habitat that we found along our stream bank. These plants perform well under normal landscape conditions. I especially like the floral display in the spring and these viburnums that bear fruit in the fall. Winterthur has great red leaves and abundant fruit in the fall. This cultivar needs a cross pollinator such as viburnum nudum.

Native Americans used Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum) for arrow shafts. There stems are long and strait. This plant will grow in places many plants struggle. So if you have had trouble with plants in a harsh location try this cultivar. Viburnums We raise over 10 types of Viburnums on our farms from seedlings to 5' shrubs. If you have poor soils due to compacting from construction, try viburnums. Being rugged and hardy, they perform where other plants fail. American Cranberry Bush KoreanSpice Blackhaw ArrowwoodViburnum Chicago Luster (we have 500 3-6' that must be sold by Sept 28 2005) Dawn Summer Snowflake Shasta Winterthur Blue Muffin Burkwood Erie Tea Judd Korean Spice Praque Siebold

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