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When walking through the woods I sometimes forget how important shrubs are. Here at Norcross our woods are open – you can see as far as the topography will let you. Although we have lots of trees, our shrub layer is limited. In some of our meadow areas, shrubs grow up but in order to maintain the open grassy area, we periodically cut down the shrubs. These woody plants are a favorite food for many wildlife species.

The variety of shrubs that grow in New England is large and each has characteristics important for our animal populations – even if it is only shelter or cover. The dense tangle of branches allows young animals to hide out of sight. Mice scurry up and down the branches – snakes may follow these mice and hide in the foliage. Birds build nests in shrubs and find food in the form of insects visiting flowers and feed on berries primarily in the fall. Butterflies like certain shrubs that have broad, flat clusters of flowers which allow them to stand and feed for longer periods of time. Bees visit the flowers, too, but are less discriminate about the type of flower. Shrubs are an integral part of our forest landscape and provide so many benefits to the wildlife.

Shrubs provide garden interest to us as well. Species bloom in spring, summer or fall; many produce showy berries that sometimes persist through part of the winter. Certain shrubs tolerate full sun while others are content in full shade. To find out more about how shrubs can enhance your garden and attract more wildlife you may be interested in our lecture: Two Birds in a Bush on Saturday, February 27 at 1:30 pm. For reservations you may email or call 413 267-9654.

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