Plant­ing na­tives will at­tract na­tives


Ev­ery­body loves see­ing tui and kereru in their garden but both birds are just a frac­tion of the na­tive wildlife you can at­tract with a lit­tle ef­fort.

Con­ser­va­tion De­part­ment of­fi­cer Lyn Adams is pro­mot­ing a style of gar­den­ing she calls wildlife gar­dens.

It will not only bring na­tive birds to a garden but na­tive lizards, but­ter­flies and in­sects.

Tra­di­tion­ally New Zealand gar­den­ers have copied English, par­tic­u­larly cot­tage style, gar­dens. Of­ten peo­ple go as far as us­ing English books, which rec­om­mend English plants.

The prob­lem with that is that plants used in Eng­land to at­tract wildlife are very of­ten weeds here. A clas­sic ex­am­ple is bud­dleia, which na­tive but­ter­flies love.

In New Zealand bud­dleia is a nasty weed that chokes river val­leys and com­petes against na­tive plants.

If you want na­tive but­ter­flies, you need to plant net­tles, hebes and muehlen­beckia. Plant­ing muehlen­beckia has an­other big ad­van­tage – lizards use it for shel­ter.

The pop­u­lar tree lucerne is an­other no no. Kereru flock to it but in New Zealand it is a weed that spreads quickly and over­grows na­tives. Although there is a short-term ben­e­fit in at­tract­ing kereru, if lucerne is not con­trolled it kills the na­tive bush our na­tive birds and in­sects rely on.

As well as plant­ing na­tives, there are a num­ber of other things you can do to make your garden more at­trac­tive to na­tive wildlife.

Rat traps. Ev­ery garden has rats and if ev­ery house­hold in ev­ery street trapped, there would be a lot more wildlife. Rats eat lizards and na­tive in­sects, com­pete with birds for food and eat birds on the nest. For in­for­ma­tion on how to trap rats go to www.preda­tor­traps . com/ down­loads/ ratkill­sys­tem1 .pdf

Con­trol­ling you cat: Cats catch birds, lizards and in­sects. Keep­ing your cat in at night is a chal­lenge but she says if you own a cat, you have a mo­ral obli­ga­tion to sup­port na­tive wildlife. You can do that by plant­ing your garden in na­tives.

Think na­tive. Plants like kowhai, kak­abeak, hebes, cab­bage trees, manuka and na­tive flaxes are a good start. Also plant na­tive flow­ers like Chatham Is­land for­get-me-nots, New Zealand iris and New Zealand blue­bell so you have flow­ers in your garden all year round. With kowhai there are va­ri­eties that flower at dif­fer­ent times, which cre­ate a bet­ter chance of at­tract­ing tui.

Think about in­sects: We­tas, pray­ing man­tis and stick in­sects are not as glam­orous as tuis but they are na­tive and need en­cour­age­ment. Hebes are pop­u­lar with pray­ing man­tis and stick in­sects, and can add colour to a garden. In­sects like mulch and ar­eas to hide in like rot­ting logs. Or you can make a stick stack. Just throw lots of sticks to­gether on a stack and in­sects will soon call it home.

Be care­ful with chem­i­cal sprays: New Zealand gar­den­ers use her­bi­cides to con­trol weeds and in­sects. Use poi­sons care­fully and once you have con­trol over such nas­ties as gorse or black­berry, try other meth­ods. If you have a na­tive garden with plenty of in­sects, in­sects like pray­ing man­tis will thrive and chomp through many of the pests you want to get rid of.

Ms Adams says the re­cent in­crease in tui and kereru num­bers across the re­gion has been well re­ceived. By fol­low­ing her sim­ple rules, birds like bell­birds, kaka, stitch­birds, white­head and kakariki could all be­come com­mon.

Lovely: Kak­abeak has a beau­ti­ful flower that na­tive birds love.

Stone the crows: If you want a real tui in your garden the best way is to build a na­tive wild garden.

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