Let's Talk about the Birds and the Bees
Every day I make a personal goal to immerse myself deeper in my natural environment. Digging deep into warm, moist soil, sprouting seeds, harvesting my herbs, and tending to my fruits and vegetables are just a few aspects of this. An often forgotten part of living naturally is establishing a relationship with local wildlife. I’ve got to hand it to them – without them, my farm would not be here today. It’s easy to swat a bee away from your shoulder and forget that it is actually critical part of the ecosystem that allows your plants to grow! That bee is a key player in the system that feeds and nourishes you.
I’ve been mulling over this interconnectedness for a long time now, so I’d like to share with you why it is so important that you roll out the welcome mat for the wildlife in your area.
• Scare off predators. By attracting the right sort of helpful characters to your garden you can limit the populations of predatory insects and animals.
• Boost pollinator benefits. With the ongoing vanishing honeybee crisis happening worldwide due to the mysterious colony collapse disorder, we have all become aware of the importance of pollinators. We need them to grow! By bringing more pollinators onto the scene you can speed up grow times and boost plant health and productivity.
• Enjoy their presence. Nothing beats the charm of a fluttering butterfly or a hyperactive honeyeater or rainbow lorikeet zipping up, down and all around seeking its next flower-meal.
So, what do you want to attract and how can you get started?
Pollinators, such as bees, honeybees, butterflies and lorikeets, love to visit places where there’s lots of clover, herbs, and flowers. Try planting up part of your backyard with these guys, or decorate your porch and windowsills with small herb and flower gardens. It stands to reason that native pollinators are evolutionarily adapted to prefer native plant species, so you should try to plant loads of native species around your garden – the longer their period of blooming, the better! On the other end of the spectrum, try to avoid planting hybrid flowers. They are often bred artificially to the point that they no longer possess pollen or nectar that is attractive to pollinators.
Not all birds are pollinators, but the sheer beauty and diversity of Australian native birds will bring your garden to life. Don’t put out feeders – those will cause local birds to become dependent on you to feed them. What happens if you go away travelling? Putting out a bird bath is far less dependence-building, and as long as you clean it regularly can be very beneficial to your avian neighbours. You can also establish a more natural habitat for them by planting dense shrubs and tall-growing trees (all native Australian species please and thank you) for shelter. Some great native selections to attract Australian birds are:
• Banksias – some varieties can flower year-round and attract local birds with the promise of seeds and nectar.
• Eucalypts – attract insect species and produce tons of sugary nectar that birds love.
• Grevillea – great as a source of nectar, nest-building materials and perches.
• Leptosperumum – these beautifully flowering ornamentals provide shelter, perches, and nectar to local birds.
Let’s talk more about the birds and the bees!