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Originally published Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 5:00 AM

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Don’t forget the birds this winter with a clean birdbath

Ciscoe suggests ways to make the birds in your area happy and healthy.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Winter is hard on some kinds of birdbaths, I've had several damaged by the harsh... MORE
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In the Garden

One of the best ways to attract birds to your garden is to provide water. A clean water supply is just as important in winter as it is in summer.

Birds are able to get water during freezing weather by eating snow, insects or berries, but when you see them lining up for their turn in the birdbath, you won’t have any doubt about how much they appreciate an unfrozen water source in icy conditions.

As long as there is electricity available, self-heating birdbaths are the way to go. A less costly option that still requires electricity is a heating element that you put in the water supply. If electricity isn’t available, the birds will love it if you bring them out shallow bowls of water frequently.

It’s also important to clean the birdbath in winter, even though it doesn’t need to be done as frequently as in the summer. Blast out the old water with a powerful spray from a hose before refilling the birdbath.

The problem is that most of us have stored our garden hoses for the winter. Consider buying an XHOSE for this purpose. It’s a superlight, expandable hose that never kinks and rolls back up into an easily manageable bundle. All that will be required is to easily remove the bib cover, attach the hose and blast away.

Don’t forget, however, to remove it and store the XHOSE in the garage the minute you’re finished. The plastic fittings are anything but substantial and won’t last long if they are left outdoors exposed to freezing winter weather.

A blue glow for your winter garden

Evergreen Sedums play a major role in the winter landscape. The succulent plants are practically indestructible as long as they receive plenty of sunshine and are planted in well-drained soil.

Sedums come in many colors, with leaves ranging from lime green to orange to red. In the past, it’s been almost impossible to find any with blue leaves and stems. Now, however, a variety with aqua-blue foliage is increasingly available.

Hailing from the mountains of Spain, and hardy to about minus 20 degrees, Sedum reflexum (blue pine-leaved Sedum) is an 8-inch-tall gem featuring aqua-blue leaves. It looks great in any landscape, but its trailing habit is extremely attractive weeping over a wall or spilling over the sides in containers.

Like most Sedums, this sun-lover is extremely drought-tolerant. Although it is a relatively vigorous spreader, if you want to speed up its growth, give it an occasional drink in hot dry periods and it will form a sparkling carpet of blue in no time. Look for it at plant sales or order it online at

Ciscoe Morris: “Gardening With Ciscoe” airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on KING-TV.

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About Ciscoe Morris

Ciscoe Morris' column runs Thursdays. His show "Gardening with Ciscoe" airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays on King 5.


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