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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Plant a Wax Myrtle to have a "bird magnet"

Wax Myrtle

North Texas' underplanted, “ideal for warblers” evergreen shrub

When garden or birding magazines suggest planting a “winterberry”, what they’re really recommending for north Texas is a Wax Myrtle. It's an evergreen that’s native to this area, unlike the winterberry – which is likely to die here. What’s more, the Yellow-rumped Warbler (common in north Texas) is the only warbler species that can digest the waxy, blue-black berries. these berries (only found on the female plants)  give the shrub its name. When seed, from plants or from feeders, is unavailable to birds they can exist off the berries alone, especially when they have water (a birdbath?) nearby.

Left to its own in nature, Wax Myrtle can grow to 20' tall. Typically, however, the evergreen shrub is kept to 6 or 7 feet in most residential landscapes.  It grows in almost any decent, loose soil, requiring very little water.

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? :    (I first wrote this after hearing of the tragedy in Connecticut. Then, fearing I would put too much emotion into it and not enough reason, I re-wrote it the next day.)

  After we grieve for the victims and their families of the latest school shooting, let’s collectively do something about our country’s rabid gun mentality. That’s the proper memorial and legacy.

I don’t advocate making target-shooting or hunting illegal, nor do I want to restrict reasonable self-protection. So let’s start with a logical step of making guns less available – especially to all the felons, mentally ill and the irresponsible among us. Then let’s ban the sale of weapons that have no logical role in our civilization except to kill other humans.

Someday, we’ll admit to ourselves that “a well-regulated militia” in 2012 means Police Departments and the National Guard, not an informal conglomeration of unorganized citizens. Maybe the Supreme Court will agree, but probably not in my lifetime.

If you have children or grandchildren, you’ll probably agree right now. If someone out there wants to gun me down for what I think, go for it.  I’m in the phonebook.





  1. Completely agree about the wax myrtle, but I suggest planting several if you aren't in east texas because they are short lived our soil. I was actually very sad last year when mine did not put out any berries, because I did not get to enjoy the abundance of yellow-rumped warblers that visited every winter. The tree (we trimmed it up) was about 11 years old and close to our dining room window which has solar screens, so I could spy on them up close. It began to decline a couple years ago and was removed this fall. I will miss those warblers, but I hope I can plant another one in the yard soon.

    1. Correct - WMs are "short-lived" in residential use; around 10 years which is short-lived for a woody plant. That's why (as you suggest) I use a mass of them in my designs. Of varying ages. That way you'll likely get one of each sex, and when one dies, a nearby WM is coming along.