Creating a Garden for Wildlife – In the beginning
It was illness and a fallen tree that began it all.
Initially all I could do was rest, looking out onto a flowering creeper. I’d watch a pair of wattlebirds feed and call out noisily. Occasionally, a spinebill would make an appearance, braving its bossy companions.
Then our only significant tree came down, during a storm. Suddenly the rainbow lorikeet ‘magnet’ was no more.
By this time, I had graduated to sitting outside on a stool, following the sun, watching the patterns and how they changed over the seasons. With the big tree gone, the vista was different and our garden was very quiet.
We grew vegetables but the invasive kikuyu marched vigorously through our efforts. It had to go! We had decided on no sprays, so we solarised it — a gentle if not quick solution, involving sheets of plastic to bake what is underneath.
As we reclaimed weed free patches, we laid down our compost, to build up the sandy soil. Slowly paths emerged – cardboard covered with locally sourced bark chips and edged with the sticks, we picked up on our walks.
On my various scribbled garden design sketches, one slender area was dedicated to natives.This changed when I read about Victorian native wildflower grasslands. They were beautiful! I joined enthusiastic native groups and my interest bloomed.
Battling our growing conditions constantly, trying to bend them to our will didn’t appeal. Being sick had taught me to let go. So discovering what would grow in our local area and attract the wildlife we wanted, but hadn’t factored into our garden plans, was a revelation.
Now the focus has shifted. When we plant trees, we add in layers too – grasses, groundcovers, shrubs. We think more broadly and include stones for lizard basking and water for summer relief.
Being forced to slow down and the death of a tree has resulted in a beautiful beginning.
[Goldie Wattle is the pseudonym of a Gardens for Wildlife volunteer. She shares her garden evolution on the facebook page, The Garden of Earthly Delights.]