Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Plant multi-season shrubs that welcome wildlife

Judith Adam

What to plant to provide a sustainable habitat for neighbourhood critters

Most of the shrubs below are commonly available.

‘Vancouver Jade’ bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Vancouver Jade’)
Zone 4, 30 cm high x 1.25 m
Broadleaf evergreen with red stems; spreading groundcover with fragrant, pink flowers in early spring; red fruit in autumn. Year-round cover on slopes for birds, rabbits and chipmunks; berries are a winter food source for small mammals and birds.

‘Brilliantissima’ Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’)
Zone 5, 2 m high x 1.5 m   
Fragrant, white flowers in spring; long-lasting red berries; scarlet red
fall foliage. Flowers supply nectar for butterflies and other pollinators; twiggy canes provide nesting for small birds; berries are a food source for ruffed grouse and many other birds.

‘Winter Beauty’ dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Winter Beauty’)
Zone 5, 1 m high x 1 m   
Dark green foliage turns blood-red in autumn; yellow-orange canes and purple-black berries in winter. Twigs provide shelter for finches and juncos; fruit is a winter food source for birds.

Cranberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus)
Zone 5, 1 m high x 1.25 m   
Mounded groundcover with pink flowers in spring; burgundy foliage and red berries in autumn. Provides year-round cover for rabbits, chipmunks and birds; fruit is a winter food source for birds.

Silverberry (Elaeagnus commutata)
Zone 2, 1.75 m high x 2 m   
Silver-grey leaves and fragrant yellow flowers in spring followed by grey berries. Twiggy growth provides nesting and cover; fruit is a food source for waxwings and wild ducks.

Winged burning bush (Euonymus alatus)
Zone 4, 2.5 m high x 2 m   
Corky, winged bark; small, yellow flowers in spring followed by orange-red fruit; green foliage turns brilliant red in autumn. Branches are nesting sites for birds; flowers attract pollinators; fruit capsules (the colourful case that surrounds the seeds) are a food source for juncos and other small birds.

Weeping forsythia (Forsythia suspensa)
Zone 6, 1.2 m high x 2 m   
Trailing and arching branches create dense covering on slopes; yellow flowers in spring. Excellent year-round cover for ground-nesting sparrows and small animals.

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Zone 5, 10 cm high x 30 cm   
Broadleaf evergreen groundcover; light pink flowers in spring followed by prominent red berries. Good cover for beneficial ground beetles and spiders; fruit is a food source for birds.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)
Zone 4, 2 m high x 2 m   
Deciduous, native holly with scarlet autumn foliage; bright red winter berries. Spreading twiggy growth for bird perching sites and winter cover; fruit is a food source for cardinals and blue jays.

‘Fairview’ juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Fairview’)
Zone 5, 3 m high x 1 m   
vergreen, narrow pyramidal form; dusty blue berries present in all seasons. Summer perching site; abundant fruit for songbirds, grosbeaks and waxwings.

Clavey’s Dwarf honeysuckle (Lonicera x xylosteoides ‘Claveyi’)
Zone 4, 2 m high x 1.5 m   
Rounded form with grey-green leaves and creamy white flowers; red berries in fall. Flowers provide nectar for early pollinators; fine, twiggy cover for songbirds; fruit is a food source for rabbits, quail and robins.

Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)
Zone 2, 2 m high x 2 m   
Lustrous, narrow, green leaves; silver-grey berries in autumn (need both male and female plants to produce berries). Fruit is a food source for songbirds, ducks, pheasants and quail.

Yukon Belle firethorn (Pyracantha angustifolia ‘Monon’)
Zone 5, 1.8 m high x 1.8 m   
Upright, broadleaf evergreen; white flowers in spring; orange berries in autumn and winter. Provides cover and nesting for finches and sparrows; fruit is a food source for small birds.

Catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense)
Zone 5, 1.25 m high x 2 m
Broadleaf evergreen; veined, green leaves and large, lilac-purple flower trusses in spring; dark brown fruit capsules in autumn.Flowers provide nectar for pollinators; fruit is a food source for birds; all-season cover for small animals; mature bark attracts woodpeckers. Available at Scott's Nursery Ltd. and Willowbrook Nurseries.

Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa)
Zone 2, 2 m high x 2 m   
Many hybrids available; single and semi-double flowers throughout summer; red hips in fall. Dense, twiggy growth provides nesting and perching sites for birds and cover for small animals; prominent hips are a rich winter food source for ring-necked pheasants and other birds.

Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata)
Zone 5, 2.5 m high x 2 m   
Upright, spreading branches with clusters of flat, dark green needles    Dense branches can be left unsheared for hedging; excellent nesting and winter cover for robins and blue jays.

Emerald cedar (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’)
Zone 5, 4 m high x 1 m   
Narrow, pyramidal form; dark green foliage. Dense branching provides nesting sites; seed-bearing cones are winter food for cardinals and waxwings.

‘Mohican’ viburnum (Viburnum lantana ‘Mohican’)
Zone 4, 1.75 m high x 2.5 m   
Textured, green foliage with flat clusters of cream flowers in spring; orange-red berries in summer; foliage turns purple-bronze in fall. Perching and food source for birds; winter cover for small animals.

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