Birds, Bees and Butterflies
Pete Goodlet provides some handy advice for getting it on in your garden.
In Noosa, our summer gardens are full of life, colour and subtropical splendour. The air is thick with luscious scents and a whole lot of critters are, as Marvin Gaye would sing,
getting it on. From microscopic soil makers to the birds, bees and butterflies there’s a whole lot of lovin’ going on. If we offer up the renowned Noosa hospitality to our fine friends, we will find they pay us back by working away with a happy buzz on!
Let’s start with the little fellas working behind the scenes in our soil. Each teaspoon of soil contains millions of microscopic fauna that break down the soil and organic matter to provide food and minerals for our plants. Worms are munching away converting matter to droppings and aerating the soil as we go.
Be generous with the mulch and seaweed/fish emulsion fertilizer and these little helpers will multiply with gay abandon and give you a bountiful garden brimming with growth.
Wafting about without a care in the world are our spectacular, colourful butterflies. Jenny Kee would struggle to create the beauty and pattern that is woven into a butterfly’s wing. A recent visitor to my garden was the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly, a creature of such exquisite beauty that I wanted more.
A little research indicated that both the butterfly and the vines its caterpillars feed on are listed as vulnerable.
The Birdwing Butterfly Vine Pararistolochia praevenosa is available at local native nurseries and being a lover of critters, I raced out and planted four. My hills will be alive with the flutter
of Birdwings. On a side note, the much-planted Dutchman’s Pipe is related to the native vine but is poison to the Birdwing caterpillars, so out it must come!
Fill your garden with colour and nectar rich flowers and the visitors will come.
You might even train a climber up a fence extension just to stop Beryl next door busting a garter trying to catch an eyeful of all the action in your garden. Butterflies love blues and purples so consider plants such as Buddleia [commonly known as the butterfly bush] Tibouchina, Lavender and ramblers such as the Purple Coral Pea Hardenbergia Violcea.
The native violet Viola hederacea makes a great lawn alternative for a shady moist area and our cheeky little pollinators love them too. If the space carries traffic, you can plant this violet around some beautiful cut stone pavers for a fabulous organic look. There’s nothing quite like playing tiptoe through the violets!
Consider creating a wild section of your garden, with some rocks and logs, grasses such as Lomandra longnifolia, which provides nectar as well as a matted area for birds and lizards to nest.
Pop in some Prickly Moses, worth it for its name alone, but also an excellent nesting site for small birds. This is also the spot to include some vines and foliage plants to feed the caterpillars,
for you can’t have butterflies stealing the limelight without caterpillars doing the hard yards.
Water is an essential element for our little critters, moist mulch will be banging with life, a little bowl with pebbles and sticks will provide drinking water for our insect and feathered friends.
Outside a window you could place a large birdbath, preferably with a small fountain to keep the mosquitoes from getting their buzz on.
Try and include a little beach area to prevent accidental drownings. Big birdbaths can make a truly stunning garden feature, just don’t make it so big that Beryl leaps the fence and splashes about like a bird gone wild!
Making your garden critter friendly is rewarding in so many ways and there are many benefits to getting a little wild! There is colour movement and knowing you are doing good for the planet.
To create the perfect haven for you, the birds, bees and butterflies, visit your local garden centre for expert advice.