Garden Photo of the Day

Cheryl’s Party for the Birds

Creative ways to enjoy the outdoors during winter

party for birds

We’re visiting with Cheryl Joslin today, who is sharing how she gets through the long New England winter.

Our growing season here in central Vermont (Zone 4) is really short. We have an 8×14 greenhouse to aid in extending our season, but we don’t heat it through the winter. In late October to early December I repurpose my greenhouse to become a workshop to make wreaths, garlands, and winter arrangements. Once that wraps up, I turn the greenhouse over to making birdseed ornaments to put out for the birds. I use the Christmas tree and whatever I find to put some color back into my winter gardens. This January, COVID has given me more time to be creative because of mandatory quarantines and because I can’t watch my daughter play ice hockey. Spring is just around the corner and this will keep me busy till I start laying out seeds and begin the process of making my gardens colorful again. In the meantime, the pretty things I make keep it colorful around here.

A wreath hanging on a wooden wallA beautiful homemade wreath

Berry-covered branches sitting on a greenhouse benchIn the winter, the greenhouse gets turned into a workshop, with lots of cut branches loaded with berries ready to be added to wreaths.

A small greenhouseThe greenhouse/workshop from the outside, with cut branches filling the planter boxes outside.

ornaments made out of birdseedThese beautiful birdseed ornaments are as tasty to birds are they are attractive. Here’s the recipe Cheryl uses to make them:

3 cups of birdseed

1/2 cup of hot water

1 packet of Knox gelatin

1/2 cup flour

3 Tbs. corn syrup

Spray cookie cutters, a cupcake pan, or whatever you’re using with cooking spray. Set on a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Add seed to bowl. In a separate container, dissolve the gelatin, then add corn syrup, followed by the flour. Stir it all together, and add it to the seeds.

The mix lasts about 30 minutes before it starts to become stiff.

A birdhouse covered with birdseedCheryl uses this same mix as “glue” to adhere birdseed and other treats for the birds to simple wooden birdhouses.

Treats for birds shaped like cupcakesTo make these birdseed cupcakes, Cheryl used a mix of seeds on the bottom, added a layer of peanut butter, and then placed raw sunflower seeds on the top. Each one is garnished with a crabapple from the garden.

A table set in the snow with various treats for birds set on itSince she is not allowed to host humans for a gathering at this time, Cheryl decided to throw a party for the birds!

Closer view of a table set in the snow with various treats for birds set on itHere’s a close-up of the various offerings out for the birds to gather and enjoy!

Seeds, fruits, and other bird food hanging from the branches of a treeAnd a final creative and colorful way to feed the birds and add interest to the winter garden.


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View Comments


  1. Carolyn3134 01/22/2021

    Absolutely wonderful!! I have been feeding our local birds, squirrels, and raccoons(!!) too -- but not nearly as creatively as Cheryl!!

  2. Rebeccazone7 01/22/2021

    Ok, I'm officially totally jealous of the green house. I do a lot of the same things, but lack of space and light is an issue. For me, it is extremely important to stay busy. I'm mulling over trying your recipe. Thanks for letting us share in your creativity.

  3. PattyLouise 01/22/2021

    Love this! You are helping mother nature!

  4. User avater
    JanetInCwood 01/22/2021

    Absolutely wonderful. I can only imagine the birds that visit. You have a wonderful place. Thank you.

  5. mainer59 01/22/2021

    Please post some pictures of the birds enjoying their treats!

  6. coastalgardener 01/22/2021

    You are so wonderfully creative. I, too, try to feed all the critters who occupy my garden during the winter, but I don't nearly come close to your unique style.

  7. blondie3 01/22/2021

    Thank you for your post, very nice, can’t wait to try your recipe, also loved reading how you keep busy during the winter months, I have a insulated, heated she shed, I need to put it to use! It is usually wintering over plants...

  8. daisy8 01/22/2021

    I loved seeing your bright red winterberries & all your creations. You are so lucky to have your own greenhouse. I usually volunteer at this time of the year to help kindergartners make the same birdseed ornaments in hearts & different shapes using cookie cutters. Then we go outside & hang them in our Kinder Gardens created when I used to teach there. The kids love the activity & made extras to take home. Due to Covid, we can’t do it this year, but you have inspired me to make them myself. Thanks for sharing!

  9. btucker9675 01/22/2021

    I would come to that party!

    1. User avater
      simplesue 01/22/2021

      me too!

  10. User avater
    simplesue 01/22/2021

    Artisitic, creative and compassionate! You've taken feeding the birds to a a level Martha Stewart would've made it an art form!
    Me? Ha!.. I just throw it on the ground or fill a crummy feeder LOL! And my profession before retirement was graphic artist LOL!
    Seriously... you have made a beautiful art out feeding the birds and are an inspiration!

  11. User avater
    treasuresmom 01/22/2021

    Love those birdseed cupcakes.

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