As many of my regular readers know, I really enjoy discovering wildlife in my garden, and I have often featured the interesting birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles and marsupials that I have encountered.
Towards the end of 2020, a chance viewing of an online Gardening Australia video caught my attention. The video featured a wildlife friendly Tasmania garden that has been awarded “Garden for Wildlife” status. The “Garden for Wildlife” initiative, started by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, encourages and recognises gardens of less than an acre in size that are environmentally friendly and sustainable and that encourage wildlife. This description encapsulates what I am trying to achieve in my garden. I did a little more research and discovered that despite not living in Tasmania, my garden could still be recognised as a “Garden for Wildlife”.
1. It turns out that the ‘Garden for Wildlife’ initiative has spread beyond Tasmania’s borders, and a local landcare group, Barung Landcare, provides support for and recognises wildlife friendly gardens and environmentally friendly practices. I signed up, paid the small fee, was assessed and approved and received my sign, plus a lot of additional information and advice.
2. Throughout the development of the front garden over the past four years the emphasis has been to encourage bees, birds and pollinators. This involved removing the lawn and replacing it with borders and pathways, planting plants that attracted pollinators and beneficial insects, and trying to create various micro habitats that would attract creatures to the garden. I realised though that I could improve things even more by including more native plants in the mix, which would be more supportive of pollinators and wildlife. During the past six months I have been slowly planting out more natives plants (primarily as tubestock) in the garden.
3. An important requirement for a wildlife friendly garden is to ensure that water was always available. I now have five birdbaths, at varying heights, and a small pond. The Noisy Miners are thoroughly enjoying bathing, not only in the birdbaths, but also in the deep pond! There is a downside to having a pond in the garden though, as it can also attract the poisonous and invasive cane toads!
4. Providing shelter for wildlife is another factor to consider. I have therefore included some denser growing shrubs in the southern hedge border which should encourage the smaller shy birds to visit the garden. Many of these shrubs are natives. I have also placed some old logs in a pile to create a ‘dead wood’ habitat which should attract invertebrates, skinks, water dragons, frogs and saprophytic fungi. The current prediction is that the coming summer will be wet, so I am looking forward to seeing the varieties of fungi which should grow on the decaying logs.
5. With all the mention made of growing native plants you might wonder whether exotic plants have a place in this garden? The answer is Yes, they do! Apart from the enjoyment of growing my favourite plants, I will continue growing those plants that have encouraged a diversity of pollinators and birds to the garden. To give you a few examples, these include Salvia flowers are loved by the noisy miners, native stingless bees and solitary bees; Gaura whose seeds are devoured by the Eastern Rosella/Pale Faces; roses for the spiny leaf insects; Dombeya flowers for the native stingless bees, honey bees, solitary bees and spiders which lie in wait for a juicy insect.
6. The ‘Garden for Wildlife’ program allows for even the smallest contribution to encouraging wildlife to a urban garden. It is also a great way to encourage awareness for nature, and provide for it in the small garden environment. I’m hoping that my efforts will continue to attract the diversity of wildlife to the garden, and maybe even some of the local smaller forest dwelling birds. No doubt these will be featured in future Six on Saturday posts. Speaking of which, why not pop over to the Propagator’s blog and spend your afternoon browsing through posts by other Six’s across the globe.