Rolling out a wildlife
A few changes in the garden can bring native creatures to
Take a stroll through a national park and if you’re lucky — and quiet — you may be able to spot native creatures. While finding such critters in your own garden in the city may not seem possible, it turns out that’s not necessarily the case. In her new book Habitat, horticulturist AB Bishop (pictured, bottom) has created a practical guide to help people develop a wildlife-friendly garden. AB says the key to any successful habitat garden is having water available to attract little creatures, in bird baths or in bowls on the ground as hydration stations. Leave them around and lizards, frogs and, in some areas, even echidnas are among the animals that may start to appear. “If you’ve got a hydration station on the ground a lizard will come and lap up water,” she says. “If you’re close to bushland or parkland there’s potential for bandicoots, depending on what area you’re in. “Also, antechinus (native marsupials), the tiny little mice-like creatures with pointy noses and they’re so cheeky and adorable.” AB says other interesting animals around Sydney are the eastern water dragon, which is often found around Manly, the long-nosed bandicoot, the green and golden bell frog, the spotted tail quoll, feathertail gliders and short-eared brushtail possums.
AB says the more hydration stations you have, the more likely you are to attract native birds as well.
“You should use bowls of varying sizes and depths as little birds will not go into a deep bird bath,” she says. “If you put in a shallow bird bath — for example one that’s 10cm deep — they will come down and have a little bath.
“Common bronze wing pigeon or magpies or rosellas will have a deeper bird bath and they’ll splash around in that.
“Bigger birds like cockatoos and kookaburras need a slightly deeper bath.”
Get to know the locals
In addition to providing sources of water, AB recommends introducing indigenous plants to create a habitat garden.
Information about plants that are indigenous to a particular area can often be found through local councils, who may even sell plants to residents at a council nursery.
“Indigenous plants will attract indigenous insects, then the birds will come,” AB says.
However, AB doesn’t believe in completely excluding exotic plants or far native plants, which are indigenous plants from other areas of Australia.
“Have a high proportion of indigenous plants and some near native plants which might be (from) within a 20km radius of your place and far native plants because all eastcoasters love West Australian plants,” she says.
“There are a lot of West Australian plants that will grow well in Sydney, such as Geraldton wax, quite a few of the hakeas and even west coast banksias which are really quite unique, various grevilleas and of course exotic plants.”
A layered garden will provide habitat to a variety of birds, marsupials, lizards and other animals.AB Bishop’s book is packed with practical advice for gardeners. Cover pictures AB Bishop, Georgina Steytler and Heather ThorningThe New Holland honeyeater doesn’t mind feeding on native or exotic p plants, such as this wisteria.