A Bird Garden Grows

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spiney
spiney's picture
A Bird Garden Grows

Thought I would post a couple of pics from my garden sanctuary which is specifically designed for Australian bIrds and other local wildlife. It's been de-weeded and planted over a period of about 2 - 3 years so there are parts that are brand new and parts that are a few years old. As per my other posts it is attracting more and more local bird species with each passing year and is filled with colour throughout the year (you've got to love Australian Plants). I spend as much time out there as I can working and relaxing. It's a total pleasure and keeps me fit. There's a fair smattering of indigenous plants mixed in there too Woko!!

spiney
spiney's picture

... and some close-ups

timrp
timrp's picture

Wow, thats great spiney! It looks really nice and it looks like it woul'd attract a lot of birds and other wildlife.

Woko
Woko's picture

Good for you, Spiney. I'll post some photos of the garden around my house when I see my way clear. At the moment I'm battling a huge infestation of Cape Weed from a neighbour's paddock. Just gotta love those ferals. 

jason

Nice work spiney, and congradulations on the passion.  What part of Aus are you in.  Do you have any frogs in that pond.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

spiney
spiney's picture

I'm in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne Jason and I'm lucky enough to have lots of parkland around which helps with the birds!! Yes some Pobblebonks frequent the pond but they spend most of their time burrowed down under the mulch keeping cool and moist. The males are comical when they decide to emerge and call for a mate. They're a great addition to my wildlife garden although I have noticed the white-faced heron visiting from time to time recently so they'd better watch out!!!!

Woko
Woko's picture

It's great that the White-faced Heron finds the Pobblebonks so attractive! Bits & pieces of habitat like a pond for frogs or flat stones for lizards really improve a garden's biodiversity. Far better, in my opinion, than the sterility of gardens with introduced species.

You're  setting an excellent example for your neighbours to follow, spiney. 

timmo
timmo's picture

Nice work, Spiney.  That's gorgeous and a lovely mix of Grevilleas, Melaleucas, Acacias, grasses, water plants etc.

It has a very heathland feel - I imagine you get a great variety of honeyeaters in the spring months in particular.

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

spiney
spiney's picture

I don't think the Poblebonks would agree with you Woko but yes it's sensational to see such a large bird visiting my backyard, what a spectacle it is when he/she flies in, it certainly makes my heart race!!. Yes Timmo, the smaller honeyeaters visit mainly from autumn through spring and as the larger shrubs grow and provide more cover I'm hoping their visits will become more frequent. The Eastern Spinebills and New Hollands are beautiful and the odd white-plumed honeyeater has visited too but at the moment the Noisy Miners dominate a bit (hence my choice of smaller flowered grevilleas). Scarlet Honeyeaters have also been spotted in my vicinity this year which is very exciting as they are rare visitors to Melbourne. My garden's an experiment to see if the small birds can persist in the face of Noisy Miners if enough dense shrubby cover is provided. I ride to work and I'm lucky enough to travel down the Capital City Trail and through parts of Royal Park and in both places there have been siginificant efforts to revegetate areas with indigenous plants. It's only in those areas with thick shrubby cover that the smaller birds live and believe it or not they seem to live happily side by side with the Noisy Miners. I firmly believe that this is due to the dense cover / undergrowth in these areas. This gives me great hope for my own backyard!!

Woko
Woko's picture

I believe you're justified in thinking this way, spiney. Noisy Miners are advantaged by the clearance of understorey to produce, intentionally or unintentionally, open woodland with grassy understorey rather than a full suite of under, middle & upper storey. So planting shrubs should ensure habitat & protection from Noisy Miners for smaller birds.

Also, larger flowering Grevilleas, especially those colourful hybrids so beloved by nurseries, attract larger honeyeaters such as Red Wattle Birds which tend to dominate & exclude smaller bird species.

timmo
timmo's picture

I think you're spot on in relation to noisy miners, small birds and dense shrubby undergowth. All the research I have seen indicates a strong correlation between undergrowth density and small bird abundance as well as a negative correlation of dense undergrowth and noisy miner abundance.

Woko, I did hear (albeit second hand) that at least as far as noisy miners and go, it's the suitability of habitat style (i.e. mostly large trees and open spaces) rather than abundance of large flowering species that facilitates noisy miner abundance.

Anyway, good work spiney, and I hope you enjoy all the birds it brings you! 

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Hi spiney. I absolutely love you're garden. The flowering plants are amazing. The fact a White-faced Heron found your pond, I think, is a miracle in itself as it looks so small. Your garden looks way better than mine. Can I ask what species of birds have visited your garden? 

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

Yes it's great to understand these things Timmo and Woko as it can inform other important activities such as revegetation projects and / or parkland planting projects. I see a lot of revegetation / planting that is esentially trees only with no shrubby understory and what do we get? a proliferation of Noisy Miners, Magpies and Wattlebirds and no small birds!! 

I've been helping to revegetate the local creek over the past few years and we are making sure that there are stretches of thick shrubby understorey to favour the small birds and guess what? Last weekend I saw my first white-browed scrubwren along a part of the creek near my house that 3 years ago was just thick Kikuyu with no trees, no shrubs and definitely no birds. What a reward for all of that hard work, I'm stoked!! He scooted out from under a correa onto the path in front of me, looked up as if to say thankyou, and scooted off back under the shrubs chirping happily.

Keep going with your garden Hyperbirds - it's worth the effort!!! Ok, let's try and remember who's visited my garden. Obviously the birds I've mentioned so far e.g. white faced heron, eastern spinebill, new holland honeyeater, white plumed honeyeater, theres also a flock of crested pigeons that varies through the year from about 3 to as many as 18. They absolutely love eating the local groundcover saltbushes atriplex semibaccata, einadia nutans and enchylene tormentosa. The magpie larks wade around the edge of the pond all through the day, a pair of pied butcherbirds follow me around the garden and I throw them any grubs or worms I dig up when I plant, There's mapies and crows - one strange crow that just walks up and down the pathways, sometimes for an hour at a time, it's comical. Theres a sparrowhawk (several collared doves killed in my garden lately), a hobby, a black shouldered kite hovered over the front garden last year. I've had a wedge tailed eagle circling overhead (about a km up but I'm going to count him anyway!!). I've had silvereyes and brown thornbills, willie wagtails, grey fantails and even a rufous songlark looking dazed and confused so I'm guessing he was lost. I get Eastern Rosellas and red-rumped parrots, Galahs, Corella's, the odd sulphur crested cockatoo. There's also the usual suspects: noisy miners, wattlebirds, Indian Mynah's, starlings, blackbirds, Collared Doves and sparrows.

I'm bound to be forgetting a few there but with all of my work down the creek (which I'm about 400m away from) I'm hoping to be visited by Fairy wrens, White-browed scrubwrens, Bronzewings, Crimson Rosellas, Yellow Thornbills, Robins, Pardalotes and red-browed finches. I've seen all of these birds along the creek over the past few years!!! (rarely though as there are still significant stretches of thick kikuyu and nothing else). I can't wait for all of this birdlife to become more common as the habitat improves, it's all very exciting!

Woko
Woko's picture

I believe you're spot on, Timmo, about what most advantages Noisy Miners. 

That is really exciting, spiney, & has done my heart a power of good. The restoration of habitat along the creek makes for a wonderful wildlife corridor. There's no reason that I can see why such a concept can't be applied in urban & rural environments everywhere. 

spiney
spiney's picture

For sure Woko!! I tell you it doesn't take much effort either. In a suburb of tens of thousands of apathetic people it only takes a handful of dedicated and passionate types to completely transform large stretches of derelict and run-down kikuyu choked wasteland into a haven for birds, butterflies, amphibians, reptiles and even some of our stranger mammals. It's so rewarding!! There have been reports of platypus starting to return to stretches of the Merri Creek in Melbourne - how incredible is that!!!! and Ive witnessed the return of sacred kingfishers to the Yarra river just a few kilometres from Melbourne's CBD. Absolutely sensational stuff...

Woko
Woko's picture

Rrrrrrrrrripper!

jason

nice work spiney.  A credit to you and your mates. 

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Hi spiney. I've been looking at your garden photos in this thread for a while now and despite the fact you get lots of birds visiting it, and it brings you a lot of joy and pleasure, I've come up with some ideas to help attract more birds to your garden. Now, these ideas are from my own experience and studies of birds here in Tenterfield, NSW, of what they seem to prefer. Your birds may prefer something else altogether. So here goes....

Water feature: birds up here don't and won't go anywhere near large chunks of gravel. For them its awkward to walk on and probably hurts their feet. Only the bravest of big birds will walk on it but they soon get off it. I would actually remove the white gravel on two sides (left and bottom in the picture) and replace it with a grass species that doesn't need mowing, is green all year round and is non-invasive. I'd also put a smallish tree branch into the pond so some of it is sticking out of the pond. This way any small birds can easily get to the water.

Trees: Where are the trees in your back yard and how big will they grow? For the smaller birds, especially Superb Fairy Wrens and finches they'll breed in dense prickly tall bushes/trees. They also prefer to nest right next to water up here. Mind you, they also prefer a sheltered spot so against a fence or wall, or just a thick stand of prickly plants near water should suffice. And then grow a native vine or two in amongst it so it becomes denser in leaf foliage. The denser the better. But remember, it has to be raptor proof.

Decidous trees: Do you have any decidious trees or shrubs in your garden? If not, get some. I'd plant some sort of decidious plant near your pond for several reasons: To create shade for the water in summer; to introduce organic matter into the pond to help feed the water plants and fish; and a place for the birds to fly into to escape predators. 

Ground covering/mulch: I'm not having a go at you here, spiney, as I think you're garden is awesome. I think you've done a wonderful job, and I know the importance of mulching everything, to keep the moisture in and the weeds out. I do it too and I lay the bark chips and other stuff on really thick when available. However, as your garden is growing your plants are 2-3 years old and are going to be established soon. That means they won't need the mulch at all. So this is what I'd do to help toughen up your plants. Start by removing some of the mulch from the bigger plants and relocate it to newer plants that you've added to your garden. Create surplus mounds of mulch to change the lay of your land.

Garden paths: Birds seem to prefer dirt for many reasons up here, including its easier to find fallen seed; they can sunbake on it; they can have a dirt bath to help remove ticks/fleas especially in summer; and puddles of water can collect on the dirt. If you have access to or can obtain small to medium sizes rocks, add them as the path's edging. But also, having a garden path would make your job as a gardener much easier to access the garden and it'd be more enjoyable to walk amongst it all. Because your plants are still young you could easily relocate a few of them to make way for a meandering path. 

Future mulch requirements: It is expensive and never ending, so to save yourself a lot of money in the future, and all that hard work, make your garden self mulching. Have decidious plants scattered around your garden that will create a lot of mulch for you when their leaves and flowers drop. This will also create more organic matter for insects and bugs.

Vegies: Don't be scared to throw some vegies in there too. Lizards, birds and people absolutely love strawberries. Some birds will eat tomatoes too. Slugs and snails will be gobbled up by birds if you intentionally make your garden moist enough for them to breed.  

I know this sounds a bit unrealistic but it is doable actually. It doesn't have to happen overnight either. Nothing happens overnight in nature. I think you'd be surprised at how much interest the birds, that do visit your garden, will take with just a small alteration of your garden. Birds love gardening activities of humans, so it seems. And if you want more birds in your garden add more plants, small trees or large shrubs (less than 3 metres) - you can always prune them to create an upper canopy layer. 

As I've found, spiney, by attracting insects first the birds will come. You basically have to start from the ground up.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

Hey there Hyperbirds - thanks for all of the wonderful advice. The pics I posted are only a small part of the garden and believe it or not I'm already doing most of what you suggest so let me do my best here to explain what's going on in my little patch of paradise - I hope you'll be pleased to hear it:

Water Feature: The birds here don't seem to mind the gravel and I'm not sure if you can make it out in the pics but there are lots of large local volcanic rocks / boulders sunk into the edges of the pond like icebergs and the birds love perching on and drinking from those. Theres also an indigenous grouncover Goodenia humilis growing thickly between the gravel and the birds love wandering around on that (it's a good butterfly plant too!!) - probably hard to make out in the pics too!!

Trees: I have some wonderful trees in the garden but given that the garden is relatively new they are all only between 2m and 4m at the moment but will all grow to around 5m - 6m. I have: 4 x Eucalyptus Tucker Time Honey Pots, 6 x Eucalyptus gregsoniana, 3 x Acacia 'Lemon glow', 6 x Elaeocarpus reticulatus 'prima donna', 3 x Acmena Smithii 'nana' and 2 x Eucalyptus 'Euky Dwarf'

Dense Shrubs: I also have some wonderful dense shrubs - again fairly young so they're ranging from 1m to 2m at the moment. I have 5 x Syzigium australe 'Cinnamon twist', 5 x Leptospermum obovatum 'starry night', 3 x Callistemon sugar Candy, 2x Callistemon Pink Champagne, 5 x Correa 'Marians Marvel, 1 x Westringia 'Wynabbie gem', 4 x Callistemon 'candelabra', 3 x Syzigium australe 'winter lights', 8 x Westringia 'Edna Walling' and 1 x Correa reflexa 'tall form'

Deciduous Trees: It's predomnantly a native / indigenous garden and there are very few deciduous natives. I do have a fruit orchard behind the native gardens however and they are all deciduous. In there I have plums, avocados, peaches, apples, persimmon, loquat, lemon, lime, almonds and some grape vines. Oh and I'd better point out that planting trees near / over a pond is not a good idea for a couple of reasons. 1) The leaves fall in, break down, cause the Nitrogen levels to spike and you'll get nothing but algal blooms from the nutrient load - as the leaves break down they also destroy the oxygen levels in the water. Enough nutrient comes from the water plants growing , dying and breaking down, you don't need tree leaves as well 2)  Ponds need sun - about 6 hours minimum to function properly - this sounds strange but they also perform best when 2/3 of the surface is covered by marginals and plants with floating leaves - seems counterintuitive to say that they need sun and 2/3 covered by water plants but that's what all of the pond advice I've ever read seems to say?!?. This pond and my previous ones over the years, seems to maintain a lovely balance following that principle

Mulch: Yeh - completely agree Hyperbirds - as the plants grow and spread my need for the mulch will greatly lessen - It's hard work mulching my garden Hyperbirds - I barrow it all in from the front driveway - last year I think  I used 25 cubic metres!!!! Keeps me fit though!!

Paths: Again, really hard to see in the pics but I have 2 x winding pathways through the native beds so that I can get right in amongst it. It's so funny but the birds really use them too which always amuses me!! On the pathways I have a really soft / fine pine bark mulch - very different to the coarse tree prunings I use on the garden. The mulch is working miracles on my clay soil too as it breaks down. Only 3 years in and when I dig anywhere now you won't believe the number of worms there are in the soil profile!!! Oh and you hit the nail on the head again - one of my next projects is to edge the beds with some rock - it should really set them off and provide habitat for the local skinks!!

Vegies: Again, not in the pics I posted but behind the native beds and in front of the fruit orchard I have 8 x organic vegie beds brimming with greens, snow peas and strawberries - almost time for the tomatoes and cucumbers to go in - my favourite crops!! so rewarding!!

I so agree with you re: the insects - my garden is brimming with insects as most of it is full of brachyscomes, scaevolas, Xerochrysums, Wahlenbergias, Pimeleas, Dysphyma and Lythrum, all those wonderful flowering natives / indigenous wildflowers in addition to the shrubs and trees that all flower prolifically (even though they're only a couple of years old) mean that the garden hums and flutters with flies, native bees, and loads of butterflies (I also have nearly all of the indigenous foodplants for all of my local butteflies so my garden is alive in the warmer months.

Anyway, I hope you're pleased to hear the above - I should post a few more pics shouldn't I?!? Thankyou for the lovely feedback and for taking the time to share your experience it's definitely my favourite aspect of this forum. I love hearing what you're up to in Tenterfield I think you're doing such an amazing job despite all the setbacks you've been experiencing. Keep it up Hyperbirds!!

jason

Gee spiney...why didn't you just say all that before.  awesome.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

There's more garden space than this? Are you holding out on us or what? HA HA HA. 

Hey, you're welcome for the advice, spiney. I think we'd all love to see more photos of your native garden and non-native garden just so we can drool all over them and say "Awesome". I know I would. So, yes, please add more pics when you can. Some ground level photos would be nice too; bird's eye views. Sorry for the unintentional pun. Have fun with different angles - make us jealous of your garden!!!

I had a suspicion the larger rocks at your pond were not ordinary rocks and might've been volcanic but ruled it out of my mind as being so. You're very inventive, aren't you?

Oh my, that is a lot of mulch, spiney, or it would be if I knew my math. Any chance you could ask the electricity company to shred and dump their tree debris (in your driveway) when they go around trimming tree branches from power lines? Up here they're happy to do that for free because it means they don't have to take it to the dump. You can do the same if you want dirt too, by asking the council or road workers if they could dump the excess dirt in your driveway. Beats the heck out of buying it.

I don't have the luxury of having privacy here which is why (the main reason actually) I'm growing a garden in the first place. Well, there's many reasons why I'm growing a garden. My neighbours are just weird and they're sticky beaks. I get paranoid just going out the front sometimes as I feel eyes on me, from across the road and next door. I've had to change some habits, like not sitting on my front doorstep in the morning, as another neighbour will come outside and starts talking to me. Its bad enough when my brother does that but I like to wake up properly in the mornings before talking to anyone. So watering the garden is not something I do alot of these days, so I mulch heavily and water deeply, literally drowning them in water. The last time I watered I think I created some minature sinkholes. I just shoved the hose into the ground and kept pushing it down. I got the hose down almost 4 feet. All that achieved was relocating the soil from the bottom to the topsoil. I suppose that's one way of creating holes to put organic matter into the subsoil when you're too lazy to dig a hole and do it manually.

Spiney, what's the purpose of your native garden? I mean, do you have a native garden because you're trying to get birds to just visit and eat/drink, or you want them to breed in your garden? We understand your garden is still growing and none of the bigger plants are fully grown yet and it's all a working progress, and that more birds are attracted it it by each passing year. I'm just wondering what type of birds you're trying to attract to your garden, that's all. In time birds may nest in your native garden when your plants are big enough for them to nest in. 

re-your pond....just keep doing what you're doing, if it works in favour of balancing the pond's ecosystem. Glad you've found that balance, so keep it up. I'm not an expert of anything, know nothing about nitrogen vs water vs leaf litter vs algae blooms. All I know about algae outbreaks is from seeing stagnant, non-flowing water just sit in the hot sun with no shade on it in summer, and bam, next thing algae grows enmasse. It happens in the Tenterfield creek every summer now. I don't go down to the creek anymore because of my sticky beak neighbours across the road. I hate being stared at.

I've a thread entitled "I'm only gardening for the birds" in the bird friendly section where I'm adding my gardening updates to. My current gardening endeavours consist of trying to figure out what to do with 2 x Richmond Birdwing vines; 1 x Pear tree seedling; and where the heck am I going to put 1 x Koda tree; a Fringed Wattle; 4 Cabbage palms; and some other trees that should arrive in the next day or two. The Richmond Birdwing vines and pear tree seedling I already have potted up. The pear tree I grew from seed myself. 

What I really want to do in the garden I'll probably never get away with it and be forced to pull it all down. I have to think long and hard before planting anything that grows over 2 metres tall, or will outlast a human being. My garden may sit for weeks or months before I do anything to it further as I'm reluctant to plant a tree in it only for it's fate to be killed and chopped down by a new owner of these flats. But one thing I have learnt, which you might find valuable, is if you have a plum tree and you let it grow to it's full height, don't try chopping it's head off, or cut it back to ground level, as it will begin to send out suckers at least 6 feet from it's trunk. It'll run amock in your garden. That's what happened to the plum tree that was originally planted on the front lawn more than 30 years ago. And when that happens problems occur with the mother plum tree and it'll begin to rot in places. It begins to die and I'm sure you don't want that. 

There's really nothing else to add here except I'd love to learn more about your garden and any additions you add to it, etc, and what the birds get up to in your garden. Yes, gardens are hard work and no-one values the effort, time and manual labour we put into them except other gardeners who are doing the exact same thing. All my good plants I'm going to be growing in pots so if the garden is destroyed I won't lose them even if my landlords don't like all my potted plants. To heck with them.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

Hey Hyperbirds - Yes the purpose of my native garden is definitely to attract and feed birds and in time for them to stay and breed, hence all of the dense shrubbery. I'm going to put a parrot nest box up on an old Leylandii trunk I've left up in the back of the garden for that very purpose but have probably missed the boat this year so will do that little project ready for next years breeding season. The red rump parrots were searching for a nest site a few weeks ago and the Eastern Rosellas have also visited and snooped around.

I'm so glad to hear that you're planting vines for the Richmond Birdwing. What an incredible Australian Butterfly that is and it's struggling to survive. I made a donation to Wildlife Qld last year who had a project to plant and care for 2000 new vines - what a fantastic initiative. They raised more money than they needed which means more vines for the butterfly and hopefully more beautiful butterflies. A great news story!!!

Hey I wouldn't be reluctant to plant some small trees if I were you. If they're planted away from your building you never know they may just be left alone. I know you don't think so but give it a go!!! There are some incredible small Eucalypts around these days: Eucalyptus 'Tucker Time Honey Pots', Eucalyptus Gregsoniana, Eucalyptus 'Winter Lights', Corymbia ficifolia 'wildfire', Eucalyptus 'Euky Dwarf'. Your local nursery / hardware store will be able to order them in for you and the birds absolutely love them.

Before I bought my house 4 years ago all I had was a 5m x 5m portion of a shared concrete driveway in front of my unit and I filled that whole space with pots and beautiful native plants. My neighbours would all come and visit to look at the plants and watch the birds and butterflies - they were amazed by the life that could exist in such a small space. The local paper wrote an article on my garden in an effort to encourage others to do the same. I have some photos but the size is over the limit to post on this forum so I'm trying to figure out how to shrink them. If I  do I'll post them to show you and hopefully encourage you to continue and expand your pot garden... It's a fantastic thing to do Hyperbirds!!

Woko
Woko's picture

Spiney, I use Paint which came with Windows 7.

Load Paint > Click on icon with down arrow head in left top corner > Open > Select file > Resize > Choose Percentage or Pixels. I choose Pixels > Type 900 or similar in both Horizontal & Verticle boxes > OK > Click on icon with down arrow head in left top corner > Save as...Be sure to give your resized file a different name from the original).

I hope that's clear. If not return here for further confusion!

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

spiney, I am reluctant to grow even a single tree because every time even a bush gets as tall as the roof, or taller, and the place sells and the new owners see the place every plant gets ripped out or the garden gets relocated and plants get ripped out and die in the process. Here's a pic of what my place looked like before the previous landlords came along and destroyed the garden. Some small silvereye birds, vagrants? from W.A., began nesting in 2 of the larger shrubs a few weeks before the destruction. The nest/eggs were destroyed too. The parents were devestated and heartbroken as much as I was witnessing the destruction. Everything was pulled out in less than 12 hours. All that anybody (and the birds) could do was watch on. The wattle trees I had planted myself as well as the smaller plants (grevilleas). In the following 4 days after all the plants were ripped out 80% of the birds left the area that were attracted to the front garden. King Parrots were eating the wattle seeds by this point as the wattle tree on the left was about the height of the roof if not taller. My garden hasn't been the same since nor has the interest of the birds been the same. 

I have been in these flats since about 1998, and have had 4 new landlords. Even just one tree on the perimetre is not guaranteed to survive. A wattle tree is far less likely to be chopped down, than say, a plum or gum tree. 

spiney, all I'm saying is you try planting stuff in a rented property and then watch it all being pulled down, time and time again, and then think about planting more plants in the garden knowing at some point it'll be chopped down again. It's a no-win situation. That's why I'm taking a risk just putting my potted plants and wattle tree into the ground as I have done. I can't guarantee how long they will stay there for. It might be for 3 years or it might be for 10 years. Anything annual will be fine because they have a short lifespan. 

At one point, in the last 2 years, I had an issue with someone who I think was the real estate, kept demanding I remove my potted plants because they were an eyesore and it was not continuous throughout the front of the flats. I confronted everyone, including the guy who mows the lawn because someone was trying to blame the lawn mower guy. I ended up bringing all my potted plants inside for 6 months until it all died down. 

But, spiney, I will never grow a plant that has the potential to become a nesting site for a bird unless it is growing in a pot. I'm not going to sit back and watch some little birds start nesting again only for their nest/eggs to be destroyed again. That's too heartbreaking to bear again. Landlords are worried about their precious "foundation" rather than the comfort of any occupant paying them rent. Landlords don't care if we swelter in summer, or even freeze to death in winter. I'm determined to grow shade trees here but I'm trying to figure out a way to grow the trees on top of the ground, so their roots don't go into the soil at all. There has to be a way! That's what it has resorted to, spiney!

About my Richmond Birdwine vines: they're not going to be planted into the ground, period. They live to be about 100+ years old, the same as my Pear trees. They'll be grown in pots and trained to grow up to be in a tree shape together with some encouragement by me. There are no Richmond Birdwing Butterflies where I live. I have them because they're a rare plant, and I wanted something challenging to grow in a pot, basically. They can grow in a pot quite well, and being slow growing to begin with, they then really take off when they're older. I'll have some years to figure out how to train them to become a small tree in one pot. Maybe some other butterflies will use them to breed on, who knows. Butterflies of any sort are becoming rarer in my area because of the ever changing climate.

My garden is something that I can't just grow something in and expect it to survive. I intentionally, sometimes, poison them and be cruel to them, in the hope that they will survive no matter what. I'm trying to even get plants to regrow from brutal pruning, and am going to be intentionally ripping some of them out but leaving some of their roots behind to see if they will grow back - because that will be the way they will be treated in the future. I also need to get them resistant to "Roundup" and other harsh poisons. My plants, if they are to survive everything mankind can throw at them to kill them, have to be indestructable if they are to survive and have that chance to be long lived despite their constant setbacks at growing. Currently I'm working on my orchids and exposing them to direct sunlight. It'll either kill them or make them adapt to the strong sunlight. The orchids have no choice because they're too sensitive and need toughening up from being inside. On the other hand they have only one choice - toughen up or become decomposed compost material.

P.S. I use Paintnet. Just click on File in top left tab/option, select "open", click on a picture (and select "open" if it doesn't add the image straight away), then click on the file option and select the "save as" option. Rename your image, and hit "save". Then adjust the "quality" button to just below 500kb and hit the "okay" button and you're done. Repeat for every image you want to add on this site. It's quick and easy. I use it because I'm lazy and not into technical applications, and in a few seconds you can resize an image to add to birds in backyards.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

Hyperbirds, I'm not convinced that your plants will evolve to cope with the conditions you plan to throw at them in the time you're giving them. If you had a few hundred thousand years of hammering to give them then you might see some evolution. Are you sure you're not taking out on your plants the anger you feel about the environmental insensitivity & destruction in Tenterfield?

I'm wondering, too, if the lack of butterflies in Tenterfield is due more to habitat loss than climate change although the latter may well be a factor.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Let me just say, Woko, that sometimes I do get frustrated and angry with the with way I feel about all the previous plants being ripped out of the garden, and sometimes I do take it out on my plants. In a moment of weakness I have been known to rip out plants and let them die on the ground. But that is extrememly rare, and I've stopped doing that.I worry too much about my plants. I want them to survive more than anything else, and I don't want anyone chopping them down. I'm over attached to my plants and over insensitive to the environment. I worry about my plants too much going on past experiences not just here but in S.A. too. Eventually, after I've planted trees or plants get tall enough someone else comes along and rips them all out. Its happened my entire adult life, and I feel like people are out to destroy everything I do. Its not just with plants/gardening either; my art career went down the toilet the exact same way; and so too my past friendships. I put it down to my karma.

I've found, however, that plants can adapt to certain conditions if they are strong and big enough to endure it, and if you give them time to adapt to it. Plants are more adaptive to things than us humans and that is why they have survived for so long on this planet. We humans underestimate their adaptive abilities. But what makes them adapt the most is being killed off by an invasive insect species killing them, or being overgrazed by mammals. Plants react to their environment and to everything that it encounters, whether good or bad. I'm just trying to use that to help my plants survive well into the future. I just don't know how to do it because I'm not a plant and I don't know how to interact with my environment like plants do.

But I have learnt that you can test a theory of adaptiveness out by affectively inducing something (in this case, applying roundup) to just half of the roots to one plant. That plant will them stress out and get sick but the neighbouring plants react to it's sick neighbour and starts stressing out too. Then wait for about a month or two, depending upon the size of the surrounding area you are experimenting on and how many plants there are. All the plants in this test must be in the ground and sharing root space. Then you roundup the entire original plant and not only does it not die but nor do the other plants nearby if you applied roundup to their roots. This has been tested on plants before with an introduced drought conditions and it works. So plants can adapt and it doesn't take them thousands of years to adapt, just weeks. Sure roundup is a plant killer to the max but just works differently to drought conditions - its a quicker form of death.

Honestly, experimenting with roundup would be easier to do than ripping a plant out of the ground and seeing if the plant will survive. In most cases the plant will not survive but it might be worth testing on an exotic plant in the near future.

The lack of butterflies here is probably due to their breeding/host plants being removed from the creek and reduced amount of rain and an increase in hotter weather. But I don't think that's really all the story. Even after the bigger butterflies disappeared the little purple; little yellow; and little lime green ones survived and I'd always see tem flittering about the grass under my feet as I'd walk into town. With each passing year as the grass slowly began to die from a lack of rain those butterflies would also decrease. I rarely see those butterflies now. Those buterflies were always in the area of where people would walk along grass footpaths and other high traffic grassed areas and rarely in unwalked on grassed areas just feet away. They were also, so it seemed, confined to a small area of just about 100-200 square feet before they were sighted in other areas. Those butterflies always made me feel happy. All butterflies make me feel happy. Nature's little miracles I call them. All what's left now are the odd cabbage moth and the odd Orchard Swallowtail and the species I get mixed up with the Monarch Butterfly (forgotten its name).

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

Yeh - I can't believe that they ripped all of those plants out Hyperbirds -  did they give you a reason? It certainly wouldn't be damage to the foundations?!? Those plants wouldn't have done any damage to the foundations at all...

Ok, I'll have a go at re-sizing the pics of my previous pot garden... Thanks for the advice you two!!

spiney
spiney's picture

Ok, this is the wildlife garden I built on a concrete driveway in my previous rental accomodation 4 years ago - it was all in 50cm pots - I left a one pot width pathway so I could navigate through the plants to my car... :)

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Yes, the previous landlords did give me a reason why they were ripping out the plants, spiney. They said "Its because the plants are too close too the foundations." Only one of the trees was actually causing problems with the foundations, and it was growing from a crack in the one foot wide concrete flush up against the building, outside my bedroom window. There was no need to kill everything off but they wouldn't listen to reason. Stupid (add lots of swear words here) landlords.

There is actual foundation damage to the flats but it has been caused by poor drainage out the back. The backyard often floods during extreme heavy rain. And their solution for the flooding problem is to dig up the carport dirt, put a layer of sand and cover it with the coarsest gravel possible. Out the back in other places, including one entire driveway, they dumped coarse gravel everywhere. Its almost painful to walk on barefoot. 

The previous landlords admitted to not knowing anything about gardening - I asked them. They were the ones who caused me a heap of trouble with my pot plants. Anyway, so far the new landlords are actually do stuff to the flats. I might get new carpet yet but probably not.

Did all of your potted plants survive and are now a part of your garden? You must be relieved to finally have a place to call your own and to add whatever the heck you want to add to your garden? I'm glad things have worked out well for you and your family. Love the photos by the way.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

All of the plants that I could transplant from the pots went into the new garden Hyperbirds - I also took loads of cuttings and collected seed from the ones that were too big to transplant so they all live on in one form or another!!! Yes I must admit it is very nice to be able to do what I want in the new garden. I can't wait until it all grows now and provides more cover for the small birds. I mustve been very lucky in my rental accomodation previously though as everyone was really supportive of my pot garden even though it took up the whole end of the driveway. It doesn't sound like you enjoy any support up there in Tenterfield so all I can do is encourage you from down here in Melbourne!! 

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

I really appreciate the support and encouragement, spiney. Some things just won't grow for me, like those Paper daisies yet they grow wild here but their numbers are declining in a 500 metre area from my place. If I could get the seed to germinate I'd grow them enmasse. I just love them. I also manage to kill lomandra grass but I guess I done it wrong. I'm going to be buying some native seeds online soon as I urgently need shrus and smaller plants and more herbs and grasses, etc, and Tree ferns. I want to try growing everything imagineable, within reason. I'm actually stoked right now because one of my Avocado seeds has developed roots. It took it 3 months to get a tiny little root and soon it will develope a shoot/stem. One more plant to add to my indoor collection. I don't have many indoor plants - just 5 now and they're all tiny.

Its a shame you couldn't transplant the bigger plants but I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. All those flowers in your garden just makes me jealous. The flowers I have, along with the plants they're attached to, are just so tiny. But they're bright and colourful and almost huge compared to the plant itself. 

spiney, what's the purple/pink flowers that are on tall stalks in your 3rd to last photo in this thread? They're on the centre right of the photo. They look so pretty even from a distance.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

That's Lythrum salicaria Hyperbirds - it's indigenous to large areas of Australia - maybe even your region!! It's a marginal or bog plant so that's actually growing in an above ground pond I had in my pot garden. It dies down in winter so I cut it back to a stump and then explodes with growth in spring and flowers all through summer and into Autumn. It should line all of our creeks and rivers here in Melbourne and put on a spectacular show en'masse but has been cleared over the years with all of the other riparian zone plants. On the positive side the extensive revegetation happening in Melbourne is starting to put pockets of this plant back where it belongs - it's a fantastic sight!!

Woko
Woko's picture

Good, heart-warming news, spiney.

And yes, I think Lythrum salicaria is local to you Hyperbirds. A good one to encourage in near your creek.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Thanks spiney, and you, too, Woko. Unfortunately I've tried looking for Lythrum salicaria plants and/or seeds for sale in Australia but none seem to be available yet. I read the flowers attract bees and butterflies. I wasn't thinking when I was weeding last as I pulled out a heap of weeds in flower that native bees were all over. There's not much in flower here at the moment, so I need to replace those weeds I pulled out for next year. Poor little bees. 

spiney, is there any chance I could get some seeds of your Lythrum salicaria plants when they're available? I'm happy to buy them off you and pay for the postage too. I just need more native plants to my area and that is one species I'll probably have trouble getting online.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

spiney, (and anyone else really), if you had 2 Richmond Birdwing vines and you were renting still, where would you put them? I'm still in two minds about where to put mine. I want to keep one for myself, in a pot, and put the other one in the ground - but as they're slow growing for the first few years......... I don't know what to do with them. I was even thinking of giving them away. I just don't know now.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

Where do they grow in the wild, Hyperbirds? That should give you some idea as to where you should grow them.

You might be interested in Bringing Back the Bush by Joan Bradley. She writes about the principles involved in restoring natural bushland. It might be difficult to buy a copy so ask the Tenterfield Library to get it in for you.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Woko wrote:

Where do they grow in the wild, Hyperbirds? That should give you some idea as to where you should grow them.

You might be interested in Bringing Back the Bush by Joan Bradley. She writes about the principles involved in restoring natural bushland. It might be difficult to buy a copy so ask the Tenterfield Library to get it in for you.

Up a tree, Woko, that's where they grow. Unfortunately I don't have any trees or rainforest to grow my two up or in. I'm trying to create something out of nothing. I haven't tested my Vines for frost hardiness yet because they're mine and they're still small and have barely grown since I bought the seedlings.  

But as they have thick trunks as they age I figure I could possibly get my two to twine around each other and form a new shape whilst supporting each other, in theory. Richmond Birdwing Butterflies are not native to my area. I'm growing the vines because I can.

I've heard of the book you mentioned.....because you've mentioned it before on this site. The only means I have to bring back the bush is by one tree at a time, for however long it takes before someone chops it down. Its like playing russian roulette but with chainsaws instead, and the victim are plants. I'm serious. There's no guaranteed future that any tree, shrub or wildflower will have a future here. If it's easy to get to it'll be mowed down, chainsawed down or vandalised. Even areas of National Parks around here are chopped down for firewood. Its depressing just thinking about it really. Firewood is a big business here in town and almost everyone uses it. I use an electric heater though. 

And what I'm doing with the garden is nothing compared to the destruction of the flora of this area. My garden seems pointless really, like a long lost hope of trying to restore an area of vegetation that may never fully mature or recover. If I had a choice I'd only grow extinct species of NSW in my garden and then tell the landlords if they even try and dig them up I'll do the same to them.

Unfortunately, most of Tenterfield is owned privately, and mostly just open and empty paddocks. No-one cares about revegetating any of it, maybe with a few exceptions here and there.

But surprisingly, now at Coles, they are selling mostly native plants, sometimes exotics. The plants sell quickly, in just a matter of days no matter the price. Exotics are not as popular as natives though but they do seem to sell. If only they'd sell indoor plants then I'd be happy. I've thought about doing the same but with local natives but have none to sell. I don't have any seeds of any local natives.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

spiney
spiney's picture

I'll have a search for you Hyperbirds - see if I can find a nursery that might post you some while they're in their dormant phase. If not, then they go to seed about May / June so will check whether posting you some is an option.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

spiney wrote:

I'll have a search for you Hyperbirds - see if I can find a nursery that might post you some while they're in their dormant phase. If not, then they go to seed about May / June so will check whether posting you some is an option.

Thanks in advance spiney. I really appreciate your help with finding a nursery that might have some of those plants. In my tiny little garden I have dwarf Chrysanthemums in flower, as well as Poached Egg flowers in flower. The native bees are swarming the Chrysanthemum flowers but not touching the Poached Egg flowers. Funny that, eh? My other flowers need a kick up the backside to put more growth out as they're growing too slowly, whereas my jasmine-like groundcover is growing like crazy now. 

Sorry about not getting back to you sooner but I've had a native plant emergency. Some of my natives (2 grevilleas and 3 Pink Champagne Callistemons) appear to be dieing from heat stroke or something. The soil is getting too hot. So I bought 10 bags of Potting mix (basically just compost really) and put 2 bags of that on top of one garden bed then a thick layer of bark chips on top of that, where the bulk of the young grevilleas are. Had to cut the 2 grevilleas back to ground level. I just hope they regrow. The soil is absolutely horribly in that garden bed, and I've lost too many plants because of it. Only 3 plants appear to be surviving the frosts and heat in that garden bed before the makeover: a Pacific Daisy of some sort; a Camelia and (I've forgotten most of my plants' names already) a fine light green leaved bush that has pretty pink flowers on it that native bees are attracted to as well. On the other hand, my callistemons (in 2 separate garden beds) have formed new growth tips and when they get older they turn silver and die. Just the tips turn silver not the rest of the plant. The rest of the plant looks really healthy, except on one bush where one branch was completely dead. That was not the case when I first put 2 of them in the ground and they flowered and grew a bit before winter set in properly. Hybrid plants are so tempermental. 

It seems some of my plants are tough as nails yet others are more fragile at any stage of their growth, whether tiny or big in size. It seems plants do better when the soil is not so clay looking and not as hard as clay when it dries out. I've lost too many plants from the frosts and now from the heat this month.The heat sets in suddenly, overnight as it did 3 days ago. 

The real trouble is getting the plants to initially establish with no form of shelter and being exposed to heavy frosts, really cold temperatures and the sudden onset of heat. Its like planting a garden out in the middle of a paddock with only grass (mostly dead) surrounding it. I've never had trouble with grevilleas before, until now. I'm now avoiding planting anything in the ground, except flowers which appear to be tougher than native plants. Go figure!

By the way, have you seen any introduced honey bees your way in your garden? I have yet to see a honey bee and the clover is flowering prolifically on the front lawn, even after being mowed recently. Plenty of those small native bees but no blue-banded bees yet or the honey bees.  

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

jason

Spiney, can you tell me what you used/did to make your pond bedding.  It looks so natural.  I assume being lower than ground level it may flood when it poors down. Or is it built in an elvated part of the yard even though it's below ground level.

My pond is functional but lack looks.  At the time I was concerned about cain toads eating frogs and the eggs.  Aparently they don't, but do compete for food. I'm still in two minds as to go natural and help the cain toad population.  Or build up and fern / grass around to keep them out.    

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

spiney
spiney's picture

Well, I didn't manage to find a nursery that posted Lythrum Hyperbirds but mine are rocketing up at the moment in this hot October and will have flower buds on them any day so I'll collect some seed in a few months when they've finished.

Not sure what you mean by pond bedding Jason but I put a layer of sand over the pond liner and planted directly into that. The drawback was that the sand slumped to the middle so I've lost about 30cm of water depth there. If I was doing it again I would cover the liner with pebbles only, plant into pond baskets and lay the planted pond baskets around the edge of the pond. You could use as many of them as you liked so as to create that wild look and it would be easier to manage. I hope that answers your question!! Good Luck!

jason

pond bedding: I see one can buy a plastic pond, bit like a shallow childrens pool.  That is what I was getting at I guess.  Some people dig a pool and concrete it, some use a plastic sheet, some this moulded plastic pond, I have used the lower the 1/3 off a swuare plastic water tank encased in a metal frame.  Just want somnething that desn't leak.  

not sure what these are worth, but it looks easy.

http://www.aquatecequipment.com/pondmax-ennerdale-preformed-poly-pond-432l-p-19.html 

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

spiney
spiney's picture

Ah I see... I used Butyl Rubber flexible Liner from an online supplier. It's about the best you can get but I got a great price. From memory it was only a couple of hundred dollars and my pond is quite large. It lasts a min of 25 years. If you wanted a smaller pond you wouldn't have to spend anywhere near that. I went for a flexible liner rather than a preformed liner as a flexible liner moulds to fit whatever hole you can be bothered digging and you can mould some of the edges to provide a shallow slope which is important so that wildlife can get out if it falls in. As you said, it looks completely natural and since I took that photo the pond looks even more natural as the plants are gowing. The birds, frogs and dragonflies love it!!

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Thought I'd add a comment and ask how your garden has been now that the stinking hot heat has ended? Did all your plants survive the heat? Has anything changed in your native garden? Are the frogs breeding in your pond? Any new bird species visiting your garden? I'm still working on my garden but I now get daily visits of Magpie Larks, and for a while there, Rufous Songlarks, Swallows and Willy Wagtails were visiting daily. The interesting part to my garden is I've discovered metallic coloured earthworms in one garden bed, and an owl is (probably daily) visiting the property hunting bugs, sparrows and probably Indian Mynahs. 

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

Thanks for asking, Shirley.

Our garden is looking increasingly like a natural bushland with some weeds appearing after rain but burning off during subsequent hot spells. Mosses are spreading after several rainfall event during summer. These are wonderful conditions for reducing my weed control work in winter.

We've had a pleasing increase in the number of Tawny Dragons & Eastern Striped Skinks which have both produced young. We had recent visits from a Diamond Firetail & an Australian Ringneck but only one or two visits from Red-browed Finches & Rainbow Bee Eaters during last winter & summer respectively. That I'm aware of, anyway.

Grey Fantails & Dusky Woodswallows have over summered & Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo numbers are up with twenty four being seen just a few hours ago before dusk. Spider numbers are way down & European Wasps failed to make it into summer here on the s.e. slopes of the Mt Lofty Ranges for which we're very grateful.

Bat numbers may be increasing. As this evening fell there were two under the verandah outside my window. And we had a visit from a Koala a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if I should be delighted or concerned about this because I have conflicting information about whether Koalas were ever indigenous to the Mt Lofty Ranges. Since there are serious attempts to send this animal into extinction in  a number of parts of Australia perhaps I should be pleased by the visit.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

I didn't know you were Spiney, Woko or are you just messing with me? Your garden/bushland sounds just wonderful to me, Woko. I have a question for you Woko. Is burning (to control weeds) the same as disturbing the ground? I'm well aware of how our native plants evolved to thrive on fire and how it helps to revegetate and even to crack open seed pods to germinate seed. I'm also aware that burning weed seeds kills them. I'm just curious about your opinion about burning off to control the weeds? Do these burn offs, when they happen, seem to alter the indigenous plants in any way? And, are there some plants (indigenous) that are not adapted to fire at all in your area? I'd love to see a before and after photo when you do a burn off. What plants reshoot first?

A koala? How wonderful. When I was living in Adelaide I was told koalas do indeed live in the foothills of Adelaide. I've forgotten my geography now, sorry, so not sure which is the Adelaide foothills and which is the Mt. Lofty Ranges. I'm sure there'd be koalas in there somewhere, and obviously there are because you saw one on your property. The koala was probably looking for new trees to feed from. The only thing I know about koalas' food sources is they only feed from 7 different species of Eucalypts. As I see it, Woko, if an animal is indigenous to an area it does not mean it is non-indigenous simply because it up and moves house. Animals have to adapt or they will die. They are driven to survive, against all odds, even if that means they have to travel long distances to find food. Humans are against nature in general, and that koala you saw just proves that statement. You can help the koalas, to relieve your concern for them, by planting gum trees they eat from, and make some sort of water hole for them to drink from in the lean times of summer. Hell, I would if I had acreage like you have. I'd be cramming my acreage with vegetation so that everything could live in it. I'd revegetate it myself for the most part then let the birds and animals contribute to the rest of the revegetating by seed dispersal. 

To let plants revegetate by themselves is one thing but helping nature along is something else entirely. Plants will always exist in some form or another with or without us humans. But if you take away the animals and insects, etc, what do you have? Plants that no longer can reproduce or be helped to fend off diseases. Plants would be force to adapt and become self pollinators and self defense mechanisms would rule their world. Creatures and plants coexist and need each other. Without plants we humans are also doomed. Without insects, specifically pollinators, we humans are doomed to all starve to death.

If seeing one koala or one new bird bothers you, it should. It should also make you appreciate the fragile connection that exists between plants, animals, and yourself. You can do something about it. You can partake in nature but just remember that humans have unbalanced that connection in nature. In your small part of the world you can rebalance things and bring nature back into harmony. I know weeds are a curse but if you gradually eliminate the weeds rather than burn them out of existence, you are providing food for some creature big or small until such time those weeds can be replaced with something indigenous. Even weeds have a purpose in nature, Woko. Plant root competition will eventually eliminate weeds and exotic grasses, if local plants are planted enmasse. That is just how nature works.

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

Sorry, Shirley, I thought you were throwing it out there for people generally to report on the development of their gardens, especially through the heat. I can see now you were asking Spiney specifically. 

On burning weeds: I was referring to the summer sun burning them off, not to my getting in the Country Fire Service or anything similar. In any case, burning off weeds wouldn't be classed as soil disturbance.

I'm not sure about controlling weeds by burning them. From my observations in several places burned weeds regenerate quickly, especially after rain. It seems their seeds survive fire, generally speaking. Perhaps some of these weeds are of the perennial tufty variety (e.g., Cocksfoot) & are adapted in their lands of origin to survive most fires to shoot again.

My weed control involves mowing, spraying or pulling before seed matures, usually in late spring or early summer where I live in SA. However, this year some weeds have germinated after several rain events but have subsequently been unable to survive subsequent hot spells. I'm hoping this will reduce my weed control efforts in winter & spring this year while providing larger areas into which native seed can spread.

Burn offs can influence the composition of plant communities. A lot depends on when the burn offs occur & how frequently. I fear that many burn offs (I hesitate to call them controlled burns because so many of them get out of control), especially if they're frequent, are destroying the seed of many native plants. In my opinion the burn off authorities still have a lot to learn about burning off in a way which mimics nature.

Yes, by cracking their hard seeds fire does promote germination of many native plant species. Wattles particularly are advantaged by fire. Where I live Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha is always the first species to germinate after a fire. Its role as a coloniser is to fix nitrogen in the soil & thereby pave the way for the germination of other native species.

I don't know enough about native seed germination to say if some native species are disadvantaged by fire. Given that the native plants here have evolved over millions of years they're all adapted to natural fire regimes. However, frequent, human-induced burn offs are likely to kill off some native plants before they get a chance to produce seed thus reducing the stock of seed in the soil & thereby pushing some native plants towards extinction. This is a real danger in many parts of Australia where authorities have allowed human development of bushland areas & then feel the need to protect them from fire through destructive burn offs of the native vegetation.

I was recently assured by a group of locals, including an ecologist, that Koalas were never indigenous to the Mt Lofty Ranges. If this is the case then we can expect that the Ranges will be facing the same situation as Kangaroo Island where released Koalas caused horrific damage to the island's vegetation. So on balance & inspite of the extinction facing the Koala in eastern parts of our great nation, I'm against Koalas being allowed to roam free through the Mt Lofty Ranges. Relocation to areas where they're indigenous & where there's sufficient habitat for them to survive is far preferable. However, I understand relocation can be a tricky business because there are subspecies of Koala so those in the Mt Lofty Ranges would need to be released among their own subspecies or where that subspecies once existed.

The Koalas in the Mt Lofty Ranges haven't naturally moved to find food. They were released by unthinking, perhaps unknowing authorities, from The Koala Farm in Adelaide when it made way for Adelaide University playing fields. I think there was another source of release, too, but I can't remember what it was. An indigenous animal is unlikely to seek food in an area where it is non-indigenous, I would have thought, but the Ranges' Koalas are certainly spreading, unfortunately. Rest assured, I won't be encouraging them where I live & if they seem to be establishing themselves I'll be asking the Department of Environment to do the shifting honours.

I'm wary about cramming my whole property with vegetation. Rather, I've left some areas open because there are some bird species, for example, which require open areas in for foraging. E.g, Superb Fairy-wrens. Native grasses, bulbs, herbs & mosses etc. also need open areas into which to germinate & spread. Habitat diversity is reduced if every square metre is occupied by a shrub or tree.

And I agree whole heartedly with you about the fragile connection between everything. Too bad those with more power than we have are yet to become aware of this.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Nah, Woko, I was asking spiney, but you're comments are always welcome. If I was asking everyone how their garden faired over last summer I would've started a new thread. What you wrote about weeds regrowing after fires is interesting to read about. You always do write interesting stuff, Woko.

Hmm.....maybe I should save the rest of my questions for you for another time (or just post them on another thread - one you've started) to not hijack spiney's thread. But I do understand where you are coming from in reference to the koalas and altering your native habitat by not overcrowding the area with plants. I will ask just one question, Woko. What type of habitat is supposed to be in your area/ or is in your garden/property?

I'm at Tenterfield, NSW. (Formerly known as "Hyperbirds".)

Woko
Woko's picture

There is very little left of the original vegetation of my area & historical records are few.. However, I recall talking many years ago with a very elderly lady who as a child lived about 5 km from my place. She said she remembered lots of Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) through the area. There are indeed a number of fallen, scorched large Drooping Sheoak trunks on both my property & neighbouring properties.

Along roadsides there are remnant Drooping Sheoaks as well as Black Peppermint Gums Eucalyptus odorata & Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha with an understorey of native grasses among the weeds. Occasionally, along roadsides, I've come across individual indigenous plants such as Twining Glycine Glycine clandestina & Australian Bind Weed Convolvulus erubescens. On my neighbour's extremely rocky hillside there is a small patch of Kangaroo Wattle Acacia paradoxa which has now died out. Being so rare in the neighbourhood such remnants are very precious indeed & need protection rather than spraying by council contractors or eaten out by stock. 

On the ridge tops as well as in a nearby gully there is a rather rare subspecies of River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis which is being allowed to regenerate by one property owner. More power to her/him.

Here & there are patches of mallee vegetation which seem to be natural rather than planted by humans.  

In rocky areas where the soil is shallow Iron Grasses Lomandra spp. are growing (& spreading naturally on my place).

I seem to recall someone telling me that, generally, the vegetation of the area was largely fairly open woodland. Our property was denuded of nearly all native trees & shrubs & "developed" with feral pasture grasses to allow for horse grazing. I suspect some timber was taken to feed into a copper mine about 4 km away. The previous owners of our place planted a few indigenous plants but many of the natives aren't local to the area. The non locals are slowly dying out.

While Ms Woko & I have stuck to what we've determined through research & advice to be indigenous species we've probably made the mistake of planting too thickly in many parts although we have left a number of areas open for native grasslands to regenerate. This seems to be working really well as introduced oats, cocksfoot & other weeds give way to native grasses, bulbs & other grassland plants. It's amazing how the native grassland reasserts itself once stock is removed.

It's interesting to observe that in one area which we left open a lot of Drooping Sheoaks are regenerating. Perhaps the natural vegetation structure of such an area is reasserting itself. That structure is even beginning to show in a second, very weedy area where I noticed recently that in spite of the current dry conditions three Drooping Sheoaks have regenerated. So I wonder if in future even the closely planted areas will reassert themselves to more open woodland.

oconnore51
oconnore51's picture

Thanks for this Woko, it is fascinating to hear how the native vegetation regenerates so well when left to recover.

Elizabeth

elizabeth

Woko
Woko's picture

It certainly does, Elizabeth. It's part of the minimum disturbance technique of restoring the bush. Patience is needed, however, as the process takes decades & sometimes needs a helping hand be removing invasive woody weeds.

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