Put down roots to at­tract birds

Kapiti Observer - - MOTORING -

En­cour­age birds to visit your gar­den by plant­ing trees and flow­ers that will pro­vide them with food, writes

The sun is warm. Your lawn is im­mac­u­late. The air is heavy with jas­mine scent. You grab the book you’re halfway through, an over­sized cush­ion and a glass of wa­ter, and set­tle down for the af­ter­noon un­der the big oak tree that your kids love to climb. As the sun fil­ters through the leaves, bounc­ing light off the pages of your book, you sud­denly re­alise you’re sur­rounded by si­lence. While it’s re­lax­ing, you’re also sad that you’ve got no one to share the beauty of your gar­den with.

Gar­dens do a great job at mak­ing hu­mans happy. But they also keep an abun­dance of birdlife happy – and sus­tained – too. Birds add a beau­ti­ful el­e­ment to any gar­den that pretty flow­ers just can’t. Their cheerful chirps, joy­ful tweets and al­most flirty in­ter­ac­tions cre­ate a pleas­ant at­mos­phere that per­fectly ac­com­pa­nies the most beau­ti­ful of gar­den spa­ces.

But how do you en­cour­age birds to visit your gar­den and, most im­por­tantly, to keep com­ing back? NZ Gar­dener ed­i­tor Jo McCar­roll says it all comes down to their ap­petites.

‘‘Peo­ple like see­ing birds in the gar­den so they of­ten put bread out,’’ she says. ‘‘But if you want to have birds in the gar­den and sup­port them all year round, the best thing you can do is plant for birds.’’

So what plant­ing ap­peals most to a bird’s stom­ach?

‘‘Dif­fer­ent birds eat dif­fer­ent things, so plants that pro­duce nec­tar, seeds, berries or in­sects will help bring lots of va­ri­eties into the gar­den,’’ says McCar­roll. ‘‘You want to plant a range of veg­e­ta­tion that flow­ers and pro­duces fruit at dif­fer­ent times of the year, so there’s some­thing for the birds to eat all year round. A jum­ble of things is bet­ter than fo­cus­ing on just one plant type.’’

The po¯hutukawa is a per­fect all-rounder that en­cour­ages na­tives like ka¯ka¯, tui, bell­birds, stitch­birds and ka¯ka¯riki to flock to your gar­den. Of course, they do grow quite big, so the smaller bot­tle­brush, although not na­tive, is a great al­ter­na­tive – you might even see lots of monarch but­ter­flies too.

Kawakawa bears fruit in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary and is great for tui and bell­birds, while the berries of the pu¯riri are a big hit with kereru¯.

Of course, you’re not lim­ited to na­tive plant­ing; ap­ples and crab ap­ples of­fer nec­tar, blos­som and of course fruit, while the yu­lan mag­no­lia flow­ers and there­fore pro­vides nec­tar and in­sects dur­ing win­ter, a time when birds need ex­tra sup­port.

Not sure if you’ve got enough space? Don’t let small sec­tions put you off plant­ing with birds in mind. If ev­ery­one on your street did some­thing to sup­port bird life, your neigh­bour­hood would quickly be­come a bird hotspot. En­cour­age your com­mu­nity to plant bird-friendly plants in their gar­dens via Neigh­bourly.

‘‘There are no down­sides to plant­ing your gar­den with birds in mind,’’ says McCar­roll. ‘‘You can have plants that are beau­ti­ful, colour­ful and fra­grant, and cre­ate an ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful gar­den that’s lovely for you, lovely for your neigh­bour­hood, and lovely for the birds.’’


The po¯hutukawa is a per­fect all-rounder to plant be­cause it en­cour­ages na­tives like this tui to flock to your gar­den.

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