Rolling out a wildlife

A few changes in the gar­den can bring na­tive crea­tures to

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - GARDENING -

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.

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