Melissa King, Horticulturalist and Northcote Pottery Ambassador shares top tips to create a wildlife-friendly garden
With increased urban sprawl and nearly three billion animals displaced by Australia’s devastating 2019-2020 bushfires, it is more important than ever to care for our native species, particularly during the hottest season of the year. Here, Melissa King, Horticulturalist and Northcote Pottery Ambassador shares simple tips to attract native animals by creating a wildlife-friendly oasis at home.
Flourish with the right plants
Grow nectar-rich plants that flower in different seasons, so your garden is a feast for the birds year-round. Try growing Callistemons or Kangaroo Paws in summer and spring and Correas through the cooler months. If space is limited, plant the compact growing Banksia ‘Birthday Candles’ in decorative pots and watch the birds flock to your patio or balcony.
Encourage feathered friends with flowering beauties
Beyond nectar-rich plants, try growing a colourful assortment of flowering beauties. You’ll not only attract insects but insect-eating birds like Wrens, Willie Wagtails, and Thornbills. Remember to throw in a few plants with edible seeds or berries too to keep seed-eating birds happy. She-oaks and Blueberry Ash trees are ideal.
Provide safety and shelter
Plants with thorns or prickly foliage provide a good hiding place for smaller birds. They can find refuge in the spiny canopy, keeping them safe from cats and other predators. Small birds also often build nests in prickly plants.
Try planting Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) with dense prickly branches and masses of pretty white flowers during summer or Prickly Moses (Acacia verticillata) with cheery yellow flower balls in winter and spring. Hakea verrucosa is another winter beauty with red flowers and needle-like foliage which provides much-needed protection for small birds.
Construct a hollow
Birds like kookaburras, owls and rosellas like to nest in tree hollows. Not many gardens have natural hollows, so consider buying or constructing a nesting box that can be mounted or tied to a tree in the backyard. Ensure it is placed up high and away from predators.
Help quench thirst
Water is important for drinking and bathing, so be sure to include a Bird Bath in your bird-friendly garden.
Alternatively, Water Bowls placed on outdoor table tops or ledges will keep birds, reptiles, small mammals and even insects hydrated through the hot Australian summer. Remember to top the water up regularly.