Birds, Bugs and Bees
I’m not afraid to say that bird watching has become a hot hobby in our house! Kookaburras, rosellas, lorikeets, black cockatoos, they’re all there and every time a new feathered friend drops into the garden there’s a scramble for the binoculars and fits of laughter, we are total nature dorks and happy for it!
Besides being able to bring a green canvas to life, there are great benefits to having feathered friends frequent your garden. They are essential contributors to cross pollination as they flit from bloom to bloom, they help manage troublesome insects and their symphony of sound is a sure way to combat stress. But it’s not just about what birds can do for us, they need our help too as their natural habitats shrink and they look for refuge in suburban gardens.
Flowers are the first step.
The good news is there is no single best combination for birds and bees. They love a smorgasbord of blossoms that include natives and exotics, herbs and vegetables and a large variety of colours and shapes. Native plants like Grevillea have nectar rich and showy flowers that are excellent for attracting large bird species. Westringia (Coastal rosemary) is a good hardy shrub that bees love with small flowers on show for almost all of the year. Its branches are also dense and prickly, providing a perfect hidey hole for smaller birds.
If you build it they will come.
Creating vertical layers with plants of different sizes can determine what wildlife visits your garden or stays to call it home. Tall trees are good resting spots for migrant birds and their cracks and crevices make excellent shelter for insects, a natural food source for carnivores like owls and currawongs. Established shrubs with dense foliage like Syzygium also play an important role in screening nests and their fruit is a favourite for birds during summer and autumn. It can be difficult to build all of this into a small urban garden so if you have the latter, consider the proportion of planted up spaces to paving or manicured lawns. Native grasses like Dianella caerulea and Lomandra longifolia do a great job in attracting seed eating birds as well as enticing insects with their heavy scented nectar.
Give Mother Nature a hand.
Your garden can be a sanctuary in the greater environment that will go a long way to helping birds, bees and bugs survive and thrive. Make sure you do your homework on modern plant hybrids which can be bred for commercial fruit and specific flower traits like size. Often these varieties lack the nectar or scent that’s essential to pollinators. By providing food and shelter in your garden you’ll be contributing to a landscape jigsaw puzzle and doing your small bit for biodiversity.
Words by Kelly-Jean Saffy