Dark-eyed Junco, (Junco hyemalis)
Last week when snowshoeing through the forest, I was amused by a small group of chickadees bouncing from branch to branch in a hemlock stand. With so few sounds in the woodland at this time of year, the chirping birds really stood out and made me laugh. I try not to anthropomorphize – but they really did sound like they were having a passinate debate about something very important. And who knows, maybe they were.
I love watching birds in my garden and in the forest surrounding my home, so I tend to plant trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals with birds in mind. Come autumn, instead of cutting my garden back, I always leave my perennials and annuals, particularly those with seed-heads, standing for the overwintering birds. Safe backyard-havens with conifer shelters, (such as hemlock and spruce), winter fruit, and seeds are very attractive to birds. The western side of my home is buffered by a hemlock stand, where birds congregate, protected from the wind. I have also noticed juncos and sparrows crouching beneath the ornamental juniper along my walkway. Sometimes a group of of little birds will surprise me when they take flight from the shrubs in the entry garden, reminding me that they are making use of the space even when I am not.
In addition to the many cultivars of winterberry, (ilex verticillata), viburnum, cotoneaster, and other fruiting shrubs in my yard, I have also planted native perennials for seed. Beautiful gold and purple finches are always attracted to coneflower, (Echinacea), black-eyed susan, (Rudbeckia), ornamental mint, (Nepeta), and bee-balm, (Monarda). Standing sunflower heads and other annuals left overwinter in the vegetable garden attract both small and large birds, and of course the occasional squirrel.
As winter drags on, supplemental feeders with seed are useful if you want to continue providing for, (and watching), birds in your backyard. Below I have linked some excellent resources for gardeners interested in birds, (including books and recommended feeders). If you are planning to hang feeders or scatter seed in your yard, please be sure to keep cats indoors, and protect visiting birds from neighborhood felines by siting feeders away from potential ambush spots, (cats like to lurk in shrubs or beneath porch hide-outs). Woo (my overweight, senior bird-watcher), is mainly an indoor cat. Although I allow her supervised time outdoors in summer, I don’t let her out when birds come here to feed in winter, (it’s safer for her indoors anyway). Also, be sure to keep all feeders clean, (wash at least twice a year), to prevent mold and spread of disease. Remember too that birds need access to fresh water year round. I have natural brooks and ponds on my property, but if you don’t there are plenty of water-bowl options. My father has a heated bird-bath for winter, and I have noticed birds visiting it regularly.
Of course, not everyone visiting this site lives in a wintery climate. If your are lucky enough to be enjoying mild temperatures at this time of year, then chances are good you will have hummingbirds, as well as other local and migratory birds, in your garden. There are a few hummingbird and songbird resources here as well, and there will be more to come.
Over the next few weeks I will be passing along more information on how to attract and support birds in the garden. But for now, one of the most important and trusted resources for birders is, of course, the Aububon society. The Audubon website is a great place to visit if you are interested in learning more about our feathered friends. There is a wealth of information on bird feeding and bird watching for everyone from amateurs to seasoned ornithologists.
Are you seeing birds in your garden right now? A reader, (who wishes to remain anonymous), sent in the photos of Black-eyed Junco and the Cardinal you see here. If you have taken some great bird photos, consider sending them in to be featured on The Gardener’s Eden, (with credit of course), over the coming weeks. And please feel free to share your bird-sightings in the comments here. I’d love to hear about the winged visitors to your backyard havens…
Northern Cardinal, (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Dark-eyed Junco, (Junco hyemalis)
The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher: Birdfeeders and Bird Gardens
The Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible: The A-to-Z Guide To Feeders, Seed Mixes, Projects, And Treats (Rodale Organic Gardening Book)
Projects for the Birder’s Garden: Over 100 Easy Things That You can Make to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Bird-Friendly Haven
Smith and Hawken for Target Bird Feeder
Teardrop Roosting Pocket
Avant Garden Berkshire Lodge Feeder
Bird Quest SBF5Y 36
Acorn Roosting Pocket
Hummingbird Gardens: Turning Your Yard Into Hummingbird Heaven (21st-Century Gardening Series)
Etched Hummingbird Feeder
Bird Brain, Crackle Hummingbird Feeder, Yellow
Plastic Oriole Feeder
Article copyright 2010, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden
All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without express written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…
The lovely and welcoming Red Bee Apiary in Weston, Connecticut
Marina Marchese: beekeeping farmer, author and founder of Red Bee Apiary Photograph by Jeff Becker
The subject of this weeks ‘Art Inspired by Nature’ on The Gardener’s Eden, is a lovely and talented woman living the life of many a discontented, city-dweller’s dreams. Not only is this beekeeper a successful boutique farmer and maker of artisan honey, she is also an accomplished author, illustrator and designer. And to top it all off, the founder and owner of Red Bee Apiary and Rossape, all-natural health and skin care products, began her amazing agricultural life when she stumbled upon her dream in a neighbor’s backyard. Meet Marina Marchese, the accidental beekeeper. So how exactly does one find the courage to up and quit the “rat-race”, becoming a beekeeper, boutique farmer and creator of artisan honey in the process? Well, the story of Red Bee and Marina’s delightful gourmet honey all begins with her visit to a small apiary and subsequent love affair with one of earth’s most precious creatures – the honeybee…
A honeybee on crocus at Red Bee Apiary
Nearly a decade ago, Marina was leading a hectic, urban professional’s life; working in the city and traveling between New York City and China. Then, one day in the spring of 2000, this busy and successful illustrator and designer visited a neighbor’s apiary and made an life-altering discovery. There amongst the hives, surrounded by gardens and bees, Marina found herself filled with a calm, comforting sense of peace. Allowing the honeybees to crawl freely upon her hands proved to be a transformative experience for Marina. Soon she was setting up her own hive, learning about beekeeping, artisanal honey and farm life. The story of Marina’s life-altering relationship with the honeybee is compelling, and a great inspiration to anyone longing to make the leap and follow a dream. I find this woman fascinating, and I am not alone in my admiration. In fact, just this year Marina published her first book, Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper, chronicling her fascinating life’s journey, (you may read reviews and excerpts, or buy Marina’s book by clicking on the links here and below)…
Marina Marchese’s book:
Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper
Over the past ten years, with hard work and devotion to the bees and her artisanal process, Marina has grown a great deal both personally and professionally. A second generation Italian-American, it seems only natural that Marina studied wine making as part of her educational process. Studying how wines are tasted and evaluated helped Marina to develop the exquisite, artisan honey she creates at Red Bee Apiary. Running a farm based business of any kind is a challenge, so it is particularly impressive to encounter Marina’s creative style, enthusiasm, drive and success. This beekeeper is a hands-on entrepreneur; involved in every detail of her business from garden to beehive to harvest. In addition, all of the Red Bee products are beautifully packaged with labels designed by Marina, (it looks like her education at The School of Visual Arts in NYC, and years of work as an illustrator and designer came in handy when creating her company’s signature style)…
The “accidental beekeeper” holding a bee frame…
Here, Marina demonstrates the uncapping of a frame from a bee hive…
Harvesting honey from uncapped frames in the spinner – and below the end result of this collaborative effort between Marina and her bees…
A market table filled with Marina’s artisan honey and Red Bee products…
Red Bee Apiary and Gardens is based out of Marina’s private residence in Weston, Connecticut. All of the beautiful, sustainable products featured here are handmade and sold under Marina’s Red Bee and Rossape trademark labels. Her delightful honey, health and skin care products and candles may all be purchased directly from her farm through the Red Bee Website linked here.
Pictured below are just a few of the delicious and lovely, handmade offerings from Red Bee. If you are looking for special, inexpensive homemade gifts this year, I encourage you to support Red Bee, and other small artisans and farmers. Thank you Marina, for sharing your story, and giving us both inspiration and a peek into your beautiful world.
Red Bee has developed an extensive selection of artisan honey to tantalize your taste-buds. Honey may be purchased in sampler gift-packs, in beautifully labeled bottles, or in its all-natural state – the honeycomb….
Artisan honey gift set from Red Bee
Red Bee offers a wide selection of artisan honey including raspberry, blueberry, tupelo, clover and many other exquisite varieties. Pictured above is Marina’s signature wildflower honey.
Red Bee honeycombs, or as Marina calls them, the “Jewel of the Beehive”, are very popular. This delicious treat is harvested and sold in its all-natural state. Try some with soft cheese and warm bread for a special holiday appetizer, or use it as natural sweetener on your morning toast.
Marina’s all-natural health and skin care products, sold under her Rossape label, are a natural way to pamper yourself or someone you love. Bee pollen and honey is well known for its health benefits. Pictured here are but a few of Marina’s beautiful and popular products. The Gardener’s Care Gift set really caught my eye. I am eager to sample this alluring collection…
Gardener’s Care Gift Set from Red Bee’s Rosape skin care collection
Red Bee’s Creamy Honey Facial Scrub is an all natural way to clean up after a day spent in the garden, or even more to the point, after a day spent in a grimy city !
And for moisturizing.. Marina has created many potions, including a delightful Honeybee Butter Balm…
One of the many beautifully packaged skin care sets for face and body from Rosape by Red Bee. See the Red Bee website for a wide selection…
This little vial of honey necklace really caught my eye. And what a great stocking stuffer at only $6-
Marina also creates beautiful beeswax candles. These candles are currently available in very limited in supply due to their seasonal popularity. If you like long, clean-burning candles, without cloying, artificial fragrance or smoke, then old-fashioned, beeswax candles are an excellent choice. Beeswax candles are naturally aromatic, long-lasting and drip-less. Marina’s Red Bee website has a lovely selection of styles to choose from, including classic tapers as well as more decorative honeycomb and molded creations. Here are a couple of my favorites…
Molded asparagus candles, (an unusual gift for a cook or gardener)
Beautiful beeswax candles, shaped into pine cones, (my favorite !)
All photography in this editorial feature, (with the noted exception of Marina’s portrait), is courtesy of and copyright Red Bee ® These images were used with the consent of Marina Marchese. Please contact her before using or reproducing any of these images. Thank you for your cooperation!
A poetic, pastoral scene at Red Bee Apiary and Gardens
For further informations about Marina Marchese and Red Bee ®, visit:
Would you, or someone you know, like to learn more about bees and beekeeping? Here are some excellent, critically acclaimed books and online resources:
Alison Benjamin’s popular book: Keeping Bees And Making Honey
Bee Culture Magzine Online – A great resource for apiaries
Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum’s most recent book on beekeeping:
The Backyard Beekeeper’s Honey Handbook: A Guide to Creating, Harvesting, and Cooking with Natural Honeys
Apiary Richard Bonney’s well respected beekeeping book:
Hive Management: A Seasonal Guide for Beekeepers
For More Online Resources and Bee Related Organizations, Please Visit :
The Honeybee Conservancy Website and Blog
Article copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced for any purpose without express, written permission. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…
All articles and reviews on The Gardener’s Eden are purely editorial in nature. As a matter of personal integrity, no payment of any kind, (monetary or product gift), is ever received as compensation for mention here. However The Gardener’s Eden is an Amazon.com affiliate, and any purchases you make at Amazon.com at their online store when visiting through the links here will help to support The Gardener’s Eden, (at no additional cost to you), by netting this site a small percentage of the sale. Thank you for your support !