Gardening with Nature

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Food Gardening for the Birds

The best feeding programme for birds is to plant shrubs and trees which offer nature’s menu.  Aloes, watsonias, leonotis (lion’s ear), Cape honeysuckle and red-hot pokers will attract nectar feeding birds such as the sunbird.  Seed eating birds are attracted to the seed heads of grasses and grains.  Plant patches of mixed bird seed and you’ll be fascinated to see the response from local birds.  Seed eaters also thrive on the seeds of ordinary daisies (such as the euryops daisy).  Leave the dried out dead heads of daisies for as long as you can to give the birds time to take off most of the seeds at the end of summer.  To attract fruit eating birds such as the loeries (go away bird) to your garden, plant fruit producing plants.  Try the tree fuchsia, nandina domestica, duranta or white stinkwood.  Did you know that the local weavers, sparrows, loeries, sunbirds and even crested barbets will flock to your garden if you discover how to plant up bird-friendly plants or install a nesting box/log, bird feeder or bird bath in your garden?

Ornamental grasses are in their prime now and are a must for sunny, low maintenance gardens. Growing in sun and shade, they act as a ground cover and being perennials they can last a few years. Birds love grass because they use it to line their nests and the seeds providing much needed food. 

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It doesn't matter how large or small your garden is - if you follow a few simple guidelines you will soon be rewarded with the delightful sound of birdsong, and the fleeting beauty of a flitting butterfly or busy bee. Because of the continual expansion of our urban areas into the natural environment, city gardens, parks and open areas have become vital in sustaining wildlife and it is possible - with a bit of planning - to create both a beautiful and sustainable sanctuary for birds and other wildlife in your suburban gardens.

An insect hotel offers free accommodation to its occupants. In return, when it's time to check out they'll be right on site to go about their pollination and pest predation – a beautifully symbiotic relationship. Invertebrates aren't fussy as long as they have got somewhere to bed down and lay their eggs. The placement of your insect hotel has to be in prime position. Set your hotel up in a sheltered area of the garden away from the prevailing wind. Most insects prefer slightly damp conditions but solitary bees demand the sunniest aspect possible to help them get out and about on a cold day. Your hotel will become fully occupied quicker if it is located close to an existing insect hotspot: a hedge, bank of nectar-rich flowers or a pond, for example.

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A reminder from last month – have you implemented a new ‘bee friendly tip’ in your garden yet? Remember that according to Albert Einstein - "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live?"