A Wildlife Garden in Melbourne

Photo by Diana Wolfe

Dear readers, 

We’re sure you’ll enjoy these pictures and tips from Diana, who tends a wildlife garden in the heart of our capital city, Melbourne.  Her advice will be valuable for many wildlife gardens in Victoria. Your council/shire should have more specific information about the ecologies of locally native plants and wildlife where you live. They may also be involved or know of wildlife gardening programmes in your area so be sure to check their website or contact them.

A Wildlife Garden in Melbourne

By Diana Wolfe

It’s wonderful to see so many people embracing nature and joining the growing movement towards wildlife-friendly gardens in our cities. If you’re new to this joyous pastime, and keen to get started, a useful resource is A Wildlife Garden—An introduction to attracting wildlife to urban Melbourne gardens. This 6-page booklet (available as a PDF digital document here) outlines five key elements to creating a wildlife-friendly urban garden: shelter, food, water, protection, and patience/privacy.

Insect Hotel – by Diana Wolfe

It provides a starting point for creating a backyard, balcony, or small area of habitat to help you enjoy the daily comings and goings of a host of local critters including butterflies, native bees, and dragonflies; birds (e.g. honey-eaters, wattle birds, magpies, parrots, rosellas, finches); frogs and reptiles such as lizards and geckos; and even marsupials and mammals (e.g. possums, microbats).

Creating your own wildlife garden may take some time, but you’ll be rewarded with fascinating and beautiful visitors that will bring you and your family great joy as they feed, bathe, drink, nest, and make themselves at home in your backyard.

Photo by Diana Wolfe

Celebrating our community

Blueprint, 2016

In late 2016 we launched Gardens for Wildlife Victoria. Now over 2 years later our participants, who are planning or running gardens for wildlife programs, number almost 200. Within those programs, hundreds more Victorians are gardening for wildlife.

This short video of our experiences and reflections highlights the importance of networking, sharing our challenges and celebrating our successes. Join us!

Our backyard frontier

Photo by Luis Mata

The wild world in our own backyards was profiled this Saturday 6 June 2019, by Megan Backhouse in The Age. Megan explains how wildlife gardeners can help our locally native species to survive. She profiles the work of several Frankston Gardens for Wildlife garden guides, outlining how Gardens for Wildlife Victoria is making biodiversity conservation a backyard movement.

You can read the article here. We thank all our Gardens for Wildlife Victoria participants and everyone else involved in caring for our precious natural world.

‘Habitat’ – A new Wildlife Gardening Book

In her new book, Habitat, AB Bishop discusses reasons for creating a habitat garden: it is a relatively easy way for gardeners to support the local and global environment; it benefits our health and wellbeing in so many ways; it is less work than a traditional ‘tidy’ garden; and it increases biodiversity, which is always a good thing.

AB explains that habitat gardens can be any size, style or shape – and even people with courtyard gardens or balconies can create a garden that will support native wildlife. She gives reasons why she believes that although indigenous plants are best, near and far natives and introduced plants have a place – it is not an either-or situation.

Discussing how all aspects of the backyard ecosystem interlink to create effective habitat, the book includes sections on plants (with an extensive plant directory), earthworms, insects, frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals – and the shelter, water and food requirements of each. There is a section on tips and tricks for designing a habitat garden. There is a feature on small space gardens. A section called ‘what else can I do?’ discusses pets, chemicals, citizen science and environmental groups and practical ways to build fauna boxes, a frog pond, and an insect hotel.

The book features 9 case studies, including the wildlife garden of one of our network members, Pam Yarra (shown in the photo above). The book will be launched at Kuranga Native Nursery, York Road, Mt. Evelyn Victoria on Saturday December 1st at 3.30 pm.

Wildlife gardening: Bellarine and beyond

Kangaroo grass in Geelong garden visit.        Photo by Lachlan Forbes

On September 5, Gardens for Wildlife Victoria co-hosted a workshop with the Bellarine Catchment Network at Geelong Botanic Gardens. The Bellarine network includes government groups as well as environmental volunteers ranging from ‘Friends Of’ to Landcare and Coastcare groups. Our Bellarine colleagues described wildlife gardening programs in Ocean Grove and Queenscliff, fascinating in tackling the rich environments bordering sea, wetland and woodland.

The Ocean Grove program focuses on key residential areas that abut both coastal and inland woodland reserves managed by various organisations. By wildlife gardening, residents can help provide linkages between these precious habitats and the community, working together to support locally native biodiversity.

The Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale program is a collaboration between Swan Bay Environment Association and Bellarine Catchment Network, with benefits for residents and the Ramsar listed wetland, Swan Bay, and its adjoining Moonah woodlands.

The day also included presentations about Gardens for Wildlife Victoria, the fundamentals of wildlife gardening, development of the Whitehorse Gardens for Wildlife program, and tips and field practice on being a garden guide. Garden guides visit residents in their gardens, introducing them to wildlife gardening and the contribution they can make.

Twenty six community volunteers and council staff attended from diverse areas including Hobson’s Bay, Wyndham, Stonnington, Moorabool, Colac-Otway, Ballarat, Ocean Grove, Queenscliff, Pt Lonsdale, and Geelong. Energy and enthusiasm was generated in the sharing of diverse skills and experience. Many attendees left keen to plan or develop local wildlife gardening programs.

Celebrations and a Green Thumbs Up!

Gardens for Wildlife Victoria launch photo
Pictured (left to right): Laura Mumaw, RMIT University, Nadine Gaskell, Knox City Council, John Mortimore, Mayor Knox City Council, Erica Peters, Knox Environment Society, Kelly Crosthwaite, Regional Director Victoria Department of Environment (DELWP) and Melinda Bowen, DELWP.

On August 1, Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) hosted a celebration of Gardens For Wildlife Victoria. DELWP has contributed $50,000 funding this year to help us grow, and the Department’s regional Port Phillip office is a member of Knox Gardens for Wildlife.

DELWP Regional Director Kelly Crosthwaite noted, “The Gardens for Wildlife Victoria partnership of community groups, councils, and researchers brings nature stewardship into our cities and towns. DELWP is proud to support the growth of this initiative.”

RMIT University researcher Dr Laura Mumaw conveyed RMIT’s support for the network. Her research fellowship, funded by RMIT, is looking into how ‘valuing nature’ can develop into biodiversity stewardship, how community-council wildlife gardening partnerships can be fostered, and what social and ecological benefits follow.

Many of the 115 Gardens for Wildlife Victoria participants attended the celebration, sharing achievements and enjoying networking with stakeholders from various state and local authorities. Knox Mayor Cr John Mortimore enthusiastically conveyed Knox City Council’s delight that its award-winning Gardens for Wildlife program is being held up as a role model for how community-council partnerships can support our native flora and fauna.

Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity

Boroondara residents living close to waterways and wildlife corridors can learn to wildlife garden in this program. Over eight weeks participants attend practical workshops, wildlife walks, a community planting and visit an indigenous nursery.

Volunteers and landscape designers provide a personal wildlife garden assessment. Participants can take part in ongoing ‘Backyard Biodiversity alumni’ activities to gain further knowledge and experience.

The project is delivered in partnership with community volunteers, Victorian Indigenous Nurseries Cooperative (VINC), Greenlink Nursery, BirdLife Australia and Boroondara’s Friends Groups.

Read more here: Boroondara Backyard Biodiversity

New Whitehorse Gardens for Wildlife program

Whitehorse has recently trialled a new Gardens for Wildlife program that involves the City of Whitehorse, Whitehorse’s six parkland advisory committees, two indigenous nurseries, and its tree preservation/education group. Amongst the innovations of the Whitehorse program are:

  • A native bee hotel as a gift made by the local Men’s Shed for early members of the program.
  • A decentralised booking system for garden assessments, with garden guides managing their own visits. The designated report writer takes responsibility for organising the visit, which creates a helpful rapport with the resident before guides show up.
  • A simple Health and Safety online survey sent via email to the resident with confirmation of the appointment.
  • Taking pictures of gardens (front/back/side) with owner’s approval, to illustrate follow-up reports of the visit for advice and support.


Sharing stories of wildlife gardening

How can wildlife gardening bring pleasure to you and your family, enrich your kid’s school, or revive a local park?

How have people brought their garden to life with local native birds and bees, butterflies and even frogs?

What are some of the wildlife gardening programs around that you can join?

These are just some of the questions we will answer as we share stories of wildlife gardens and gardening around Victoria.