Written by Jordan Calame, Horticulturist at The Inn at Honey Run
During winter, one of my favorite Honey Run traditions is putting up the beloved Birding Tree that rests on Tarragon’s terrace. The tree is visited each year by countless numbers of our feathered residents who indulge in the feed that covers handmade ornaments. Most have seen us use halved grapefruit or pinecones slathered in seeded peanut butter as tantalizing feeders, but this year, I have decided to change things up.
Bark Suet Holder
Curled tree bark gathered from our grounds makes for the perfect, unique suet holders. To make these, I simply molded suet into the bark’s interior, crescent-shaped cavity and used floral wire to hold it in place. I then packed the exposed areas with a wild birdseed mix to add a finished look . Small eye hooks were threaded into the exterior bark and twine created the hanging loops. Depending on the size of the bark and the heft of the suet, these can weigh quite a bit so choose only the sturdiest branches for display. Though I have seen many types enjoy these special treats, the downy woodpeckers frequent them most.
These ornaments took a little more work than the bark holders, but turned out to be my favorites and definitely worth the effort. First, I explored our diverse property and found a dead branch that had shed its bark and that was roughly 6 feet in length with a steady 2 inch diameter. I made sure that the full branch was completely dry then sanded some of the rough spots with a medium grit sandpaper until smooth. With a hand saw, I split the branch into varying lengths and sanded the cut edges. A ¼ inch drill bit was used to dot the sections with holes roughly 1 inch deep. I whitewashed the braches with a diluted, non-toxic paint then left them overnight to fully dry. The next day, I attached an eye hook and twine to the tops of the branches for the hanger then filled the holes with a combination of chunky peanut butter and wild birdseed. A knife can be used to fill the holes but I found that a pastry bag with a round tip works much better. To add some color, you can attach holly sprigs with berries using floral wire.
It’s always fun to try and come up with new ornaments that use found materials for the birding tree. Hopefully, you can use these to add to your winter displays!