A New Hope

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jason
A New Hope

Hello, my apologies for pinching an old Star Wars title but after watching Chasing Ice by Jeff Orlwski last night, I feel the sun is setting on humanity and nature regarding global warming. Still as the title suggest there is always hope and humans are good at 11th hour fixes.  

I have found myself in a unique position after buying a house with a pool for the kids initially, on a park with a bike track, with only one neighbour. More on the importance of that later.  However I also have a creek, established large trees and much more if I take the opportunity.  

I have a large bat population in the hood somewhere that flies past as the sun sets. Bird wise there is a large population of Rainbow Lorikeets my distant neighbour feeds, but also flock to the Melaleucas’ that run along the creek.  I listen to the beautiful song of the Currawong every afternoon as he or she settle into the Eucalypts just outside my house. Magpies, Butcher Birds, and Peewee’s are all common visitors.  Crested Pigeons sit on the fence in pairs busily courting.  They also sit in the yard and were nesting in an exotic in the yard.  I have also seen Pale Headed Rosellas getting around, and Galars feed on my neighbours foot path in the afternoon light.  A family of Kookaburras are around but not by sight.  And of course, the usual gang of Noisy Mynas that dive bomb my pool for drinks when I’ve been slack with the bird bath.    

I have noticed however a distinct lack of small birds, maybe one Willy Wag tail.  Hardly surprising when there is no understory or small bushy shrubs around to hide in.  My house has established natives which are large open types, of which I have yet to define if they are local native or just native, or even what they are. Melaleuca is one though.  Many of these have been cut off at 1m height from the ground by the local cash only weekend tree lopper that grace the neighbourhoods.  All of this was the handy work work of the previous owners. My immediate neighbour has indicated to me the best tree is a felled one.  He has a big grass yard he spends time mowing it weekly for the pleasure of it all, a Mchedge fence, a couple dogs and a cat. 

So this is where I come in.  I’m no plant expert, gardner, or hard core tree hugger.  But I appreciate my natural surrounding and the animals that grace the world I live in.  Especially the Australian kind as its my home too. 

I plan to make my home, and eventually the park a bird haven as well supporting various wildlife especially lizards and frogs.   I have made mistakes already reading various forum pages, but I have also had wins.  I guess life is like this.  

Initially I cut out all the Mchedge yellowy things that have small orange seeds, purple flowers,  and spikes on the branches.  Also utilised that cash only tree lopper to bring down the three Chinese Elms in the yard. Then went on a drilling and round up mission to send them on their way good and proper.  

One mistake I have made was take out all the exotics to make way for native planting.  However it was hard to leave them there as that is where the new trees and shrubs are going.  

I started off planting Aus natives Grevillea and Callistemon which came from my local council nursery, so hopefully they are local.  But reading forum pages I think I’m now going to follow Woko's harder line of sticking to just local natives. Plunket Malle, Banksia Robour, and Native Frangipani are nice examplesand have made their way into the garden already.  I do have a dilemma however,  I simply love my Evodia, Swamp Bloodwood, and Golden Panda which have gone in for just the flowers and before I found the forum.  So time will tell how I feel if they stay or go.  

I utilised a shady part of the yard to make a frog garden using all the plants suggested by the Frog Society.  And have placed many grasses, Matt Rush, Common Rush, Kangaroo Grass around the place initially for them to shelter in, and ferns and plants in the garden like Native Ginger, Bat’s Wing Fern are a few.  I also discovered I have two small water dragons taking refuge in some gear we have not found a home for just yet, as we are still in the process of building a garage.  So this led to one of my stumpy cut off Callistemons in the way of the proposed garage being transplanted.  I made a rock pile next to the tree with more grasses and perhaps a good littering of old branches soon to come.  Would love to have a resident Blue Tongue somewhere, but its mostly for the water dragons which could be bearded dragons as well 

So it’s early days, but the ultimate goal is to first turn the house into a bird haven and little century for various reptiles and amphibian.  With a big breath and a leap of faith then perhaps use it as a show case to encourage the neighbourhood to giddy up on the park.  Hopefully the traffic on the bike path will produce some helpers when the time comes.  

I have to say reading the forum has increased my interest in birds immensely. How they interact with each other, what plants they prefere and so on.  Will get some images up soon I guess.  

Woko
Woko's picture

All the very best with your long term project, Jason. Apart from the idea of using indigenous plants I particularly like the idea of a rock pile to provide shelter for lizards. Maybe for frogs, too. A few flat rocks near the pile will give lizards places for sunning themselves in warm weather.

Those exotic plants you're mulling over will be OK for the time being provided they're non-invasive. Otherwise the natural environment will be much better off without them, I suggest. 

And let's hope your neighbour's cat doesn't inflict its presence anywhere within a million kilometers of your project while your other neighbours stand in awe of your increasing biodiversity.

jason

Thanks Woko,  I'm pretty excited about it all. I have 5 garden beds in the back yard, some long and skinny, a triangular one, and some odd look squares. All separated by open space of perhaps 3 to 4 meters, and the main yard in the middle. The front yard is dedicated to garden.   All of these gardens have rock piles to some degree.  I was lucky the previous owner left/ had many many bush rocks, so I use them for garden edging and rock shelters.

Actually both neighbours have cats.  I have herd the tinker of the bell in my yard only one night, but its enough to indicated someone is not being fair. I have a trap and experiance.  A zip tied note suggesting they just spent the night trapped and got away using all thier nine lives, it would be good to keep me in at night or I may never come home again should work.  If it doesnt work than I see it one for nature.  They will know who it is, so hopefully some mutual respect will be recognised.  Odly enough I don't mind cats, just not out side roaming, and particularly at night. 

I also have a fully fenced yard. We are replacing a large proportion with a matal one, and using the old wooden fence to sharpen up the remaining wooden. I will endeavour to make it toad proof if possible, this however restricts movement of animals I'd prefere, see how I go.  It should also give cats a hurdle I hope.  Shrubs will be planted all around the park side of the fence, for birds, for grafitie deterent, and for athetics. The down side it becomes a good hiding place for cats.  They are a formidible serious conern to birds and lizards the ol cat.  I have already found the tufts of feathers from a cat bird kill on the footpath.  I guess humans are also a serious formidable concen as well. 

Well its 6am and the Kookas are stiring.  Might be time for a coffee and a spot on a milk create to watch my little part of the world wake up. 

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

jason

Here is something intereting, well for me anyway.  All plants were planted late January, so 4 months growth.  All same water and similar position. Seems I cant get the discription to go with the picks.  

Top is Plunket Malle, local native andeasily trebbiled maybe more it's size. 

Second is Swamp Bloodwood from Nth Qld.  Maybe 6 inches.

Third Golden Penda native to Nth Qld, maybe doubled.

Fourth Swamp Banksia, local native to within 50km, put on 1/3

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

I just love your note tied around the neck of the cat! What a creative idea! Unfortunately, I doubt that your wooden fence will be a deterrent for any cats.

Looks like you've had a good growing season.

jason

Yes we have had our fair share of rain over summer, and just a few weeks ago some incredible amount in a day. The creek behind me rose higher than the 2011 floods apparently.  

I feel the pics are real evidence that growth rates related to plants local to my area is far quicker than just Australian natives.  Which means one could establish a garden much quicker using locals.  Kind of like fast tracked developement for bird housing.   I have you woko for educating me on this, thank you.

One has to be diligent though, I see reading through Brisbane City Council's info on local natives the Golden Panda is listed.  They like to plant them as well as Buckinghamia Celsissmia (ivery curl) a lot.  But neither are local, and have heard the Ivery Curl is not even native to Aus.

I'll probably get most my plants from the now defunct Greening Australia nursery.  It has taken a beating last time I was there, and a lot of its tube stock were pot bound. But a dedicated bunch of folk are getting it in order again.  Nothing like coming home with 60 or 70 tube stock on a Saturday morning, my wife thinks I'm odd and cant see the excitement of it at all. 

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

timmo
timmo's picture

Hi Jason,

That's a great story, it's lovely to see someone getting a passion for natives - I certainly share that passion and grow a lot of my own stuff both for myself and for sale.

While any increase of cover and native vegetation should be good in providing for birds, I think isolated suburban properties are going to struggle to bring back small birds. You probably have an advantage being near a creek, but connectivity and protection from Noisy Miners and other aggressive species will probably be the key.

I am in the same boat, trying to plant local natives with a bit of density to provide for small birds, but they just aren't in the area generally, except if you go 500m or so to Toohey Forest.

If you can encourage your neighbours to plant natives and some areas of density (and keep their cats inside...) that may help.

The "McHedge" you mentioned (purple flowers, orange berries) sounds like Duranta (or Sheena's Gold), which is one of those boring things everyone was planting here 15-20 years ago, like Mock Orange (Murraya paniculata). Well done on choosing something else!

Golden penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) and Buckinghamia are both endemic to NE Qld, north of Townsville, but are commonly planted as street trees in Brissie. Personally, I don't think they'd be a big issue to plant here, but I applaud your commitment to endemic natives.   

If you're interested in native plants there are a number of community nurseries around the Brisbane area that can provide locally endemic plants. These will often be targeted at revegetation, and hence provide a limited range of common species.

These include:

I'm not too sure what there is out Ipswich way.

I am a member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (now Native Plants qld) and we have regular plant sales - 3 to 4 a year - where you can often get a wide range from classic flowering plants like Grevilleas and Callistemons through to locally endemic species, bush tucker plants and a wide range of rainforest trees.

The next major sale is our spring flower show at Mt Coottha August 15-16. Details can be found at http://www.sgapqld.org.au 

Anyway, that's more than enough info for an unsolicited reply, but I hope it's useful.

Enjoy the birds and the gardening Jason.

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

Woko
Woko's picture

Hi again, Jason. That's an interesting observation you  make about the superior growth rate of local plant species. However, I suspect that this might apply on an average basis. There might be fast-growing non local species which would grow really quickly if conditions (e.g., rainfall in a particular season) closely approximated conditions in their native localities. Nevertheless, it seems rational that a species in conditions to which it has adapted over millions of years would have an overall advantage compared with a non local species.

It certainly pays to do your homework on whether something is local or non local, native or non native. An extreme case is the bunches of Proteas often labelled "natives" in florist shops. Check the distribution maps if you're unsure of a species' origin. Even then the issue of provenance comes into play because a species with a broad distribution may thrive better & be better suited ecologically if its seed comes from the location or as close as possible to the location into which it's being planted.

This may sound rather technical but it's important if we're trying to establish the conditions which once existed for our birds & other animals. However, the knowledge on this is still being gathered & uncovered so it's important not to beat ourselves over the head if we make mistakes. We can only do our best based on the information available. Far better, I believe, to be establishing indigenous habitats as best we can rather than knocking them down.

By the way, if you have any naturally occuring vegetation nearby or even on your own patch you could try some minimum disturbance bush care to enable local plants to regenerate. This applies particularly to native grasses & smaller native plants.

jason

Timmo, by the time I finish my shed, fences, and other bits and bobs enough so the garden wont get trashed, I think August might just be the right time.  Plus just in time for Spring too, so its a great dead line to go for.  Thanks for the heads up. You better tell me your store so I can say gday. 

I find myself checking distribution of plants on the SGAP web sight, but would be great to go to a trusted place and bring home a ute full of local tubestock to get it all going.  I am aware of SOWN nursery and was thinking of using them for the creek project if and when. And have used a Ipswich based SGAP member already.  I just cant fathom or could ever afford to use a main a stream nursery. At $10 to $15 a plant when you need hundreds, just takes the fun or affordabilty from gardning.  But I guess you are very aware of this, so thanks for the suggestd others.

I'm about 1km from Greenbank military reserve.  My neighbourhood has a few bushy corrodores that follow the creeks. Google maps paints a sad story but on the ground its a reasonabily native treed and bushy part of the world.  As for the neighbours, well who knows. The knock on effect often happens, I see it a fair bit in my trade.  

Woko, you are a wealth of info and new bench marks. Could also be seen as a pain, but only joking.  You remind me a bit of my old english teacher, always had something for me to get my head around. I will take my lad for a bush walk and see what I find in the older corrodors we have near by.  Trouble is on the large, thay are just trees to me.  Perhaps I better start looking for a few good books.  All suggestions welcomeed. And by all. 

The minimum disturbance gardning you mention, I know at my old place if I stopped mowing the far back yard 50 wattles would pop up.

So I stopped mowing.  I think those days have passed for where I am now.  My space is too encroaching, most of my existing garden beds have been raised and made, the pool has a sizable concrete apron around it.  Plus the wife won't cope with me letting the grass part of the back yeard grow to 1 foot, to see what seedling emerges.  Kids will find it interesting though.  The front yard has bob cats, cement trucks, steel deliveries, loads of dirt, fences, and whetever else arrives. Something may happen but also likely to get squashed the moment it does.  My front yard is an embarrisement at the moment.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

Looks like you have your hands full for the time being, jason. No sense in wearing your self out.

jason

Yes it does seem a bit like that, but better to be bust than not.  Do you mind me asking are you in plants as a profession, or is your knowledge come about from interest.  It's clear to see you have a deep ubderstanding and passion for nature and how it all fits together.  Hope I didnt offen with my poor humour.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

No worries at all, jason.

What little I know about plants comes largely from my interest although I did obtain an Advanced Certificate in Natural Resources Management from the local TAFE college many years ago. I do have a range of books on plants.

Originally, I became interested in birds following a trip to Queensland last century. I then became aware of the horrific damage humans were/are doing to the environment & simultaneously began to see the relationships between birds & plants. So I thought I'd do my best to re-establish some habitat. Ms Woko & I were lucky enough to be able to buy a block of degraded land which we revegetated for some years before doing minimum disturbance bush care to restore native grasses & other understorey species. The bush care continues.

While all this was going on I was working for a government department which was as functional as a severely injured goat so our enterprise kept my mind on more savoury things.

It's been a totally fascinating journey with a few kilometres to go yet.

jason

Well Woko if you know a little, I recon you have a better understanding than many.  And your depth of understanding filters through various threads on this forum. Well from what I have read.  There are a few very knolagable people here which makes this place a good place to be I think. I applor you for your continual push to plant local species. I certinally can see the value in it, even if I have to drop some plants I like.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

jason

Ok need some direction here

Hope you are around Timmo,  Would it be fair to say the plant sale list from the Native Plants (Qld) sale, would be similar to the up coming Botanic gardens sale.

I have been cross referencing sale plants to the Australian Native Plants Society net listing and very little matches.  I have used the ANPS site as they have a map of distribution along with description of habitat.  I found a site Atlas of Living Australia to cross match which uses ANPS description mostly, but often has a different distribution map.  Thirdly I use a Google search for look and description.  Its pretty slow.  I’m not saying sale plants should be local, but can you offer any tips on whittling down what possibly could be.

Also, I’ve been looking at trying to pick winter, spring, and summer flowering plants to spread the available food over the year.  I’m thinking dependent of size, I should try for 2 to 4 of each plant.  Grasses are by the dozen of course.  Is that the basics? To me it makes more sense for the birds, but limits what maybe seen as fantastical visual garden oozing variety.  I’m sure as long as what’s in there flowers and looks heathy, than I’ll be happy even if it’s only 5 species.    

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Night Parrot
Night Parrot's picture

This all makes interesting reading. My first thought was that this country needs a lot more jasons, timmos and wokos. It would be a beautiful suburb that consisted of only those sub-species.

jason

NP, the country also needs more of you.  You are here on a bird forum, which suggest you care for your world, even if it's just local.

For years I have been a passive observer.  I've always planted out the front yards with natives where I have lived.  But they have never really been that local, well I dont think.  Just native as I thought that was good enough.  I guess if I'm truthful with myself I'm not all that happy to have exocitic animals or plants running wild in the hood. So perhaps I shouldn't have non local native plants doing the same. I know it will never be nurvana, but even people with yards full of excotic plants plant for birds. So perhaps, in time, they may move away from the dark side. Even just one or two is better than non.     

I have probably wasted a lot of opportunity whilst bushwalking to lean a bit regarding plants species. But I have certinally seen and enjoyed nature the way it was and still do.  Remote throughwalking can take you to some magic places that truly enriches the soul.  Something I hope to hand on to the kids.  But it was the DVD that put a cracker under me.  I've have swayed both ways on global warming, and have sat on the fence for some time now.  But just feel I can do better.  If it's not for my kids, or the birds and wildlife, than  just for me. Knowing I had a go, and had some other purpose besides procreating and consuming in my life seems to be where I need to be at present.  Perhaps it is my destiny lol.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

I guess I share your experience of wanting to do something for the natural world, jason, especially when that world is being destroyed at a fast clip.

For myself, I find it increasingly difficult to find a lot of meaning and interest in consumerism. And I strongly suspect that in the long term our species will regret its obsession with getting & spending. Hopefully, there'll be an alternative for people to turn to when consumersim has run its course.

jason

Not wanting to bog down on the ills of the world, thought I'd share my very early, but established frog pond.  My son asked me for a fish in a bowl.  I replied how about a frog in a pond.  He said righto and I have to say I am very please with his patience.  He had no idea his decision would take a good 12 to 24 months to get rocking (hopefull).  I had no idea the $25 fish in a bowl would cost me $500.  I'm happy though and will push the garden back a little more when the steel fence goes in. The garden is South bound facing and is in between two large open shady trees that give good broken light. 

I had a hard time finding water plants, let alone local. So in an attempt to give the boy some satisifaction I bought 6 Pacific Blue Eye fish for him.  They keep the mosquito larvae down, don't eat tadpoles, and are Australian.  Of course the local fish shop said I need a Ph kit for water balance, but after googling where these fish naturally occure, I quickly forgot the Ph sarga. I used rain water to fill the pond and it sat for two weeks before the fish were introduced.  I have not seen any mosquito larvae since and think I may have over stocked the pond with fish.  I have counted 5 fish but they are hard to find.  Perhaps 3 to 4 would be a better number as I am trying to have no influence with suplementy feeding. 

But then of course the fish needed shelter, so I sourced a reed and a lilly to help start things get established.  I have noticed these cam with introduced snails and other weed, so have been removing them as I find them. The rest of the plants were through Pratten Steet nursery and a SGAP memeber out Ipi way using the Frog Society list of frog friendly plants.

I am not sure but I think green fog tad poles need shallow water, where rocket frogs are ok with deeper water. I have also seen pools used by green frogs so who knows.  I will look into what frogs were in my area and adjust the pond to suit for best chances.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

jason

Bit of a shame, I think my transplanted Callistemon stump is not going to make it.  I've been watering it, but given its a mature tree that has been cut of 1300mm from the ground perhaps 18 months ago, then dug up by an excavator and re planted it hardly surprising.  

The leaves are starting to dry out a bit.  Do you think some liquid fertiliser would work or reside to its a goner.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

I'd save the fertiliser, jason, & put the money towards a new Callistemon.

Reflex
Reflex's picture

Woko wrote:

a government department which was as functional as a severely injured goat

Just love this comment!laugh

 Interesting thread.

Samford Valley Qld.

jason

Yes I had a bit of giggle at that. Still do actually.

I’d like to share a story with you as the garden is on hold until the shed is in.  

Fig trees, I love them.  After working under one for a few days I realised what a busy little eco centre they are.  Bit like what a Westfields is to humans, we some anyway. The birds, insects, microorganisms, probably reptiles and perhaps mammals all use and thrive in mature fig trees. They bustle with action all day long.  

This particular Fig I have is a Moreton Bay Fig, and a real battler.  I only hope it gets to 100 years old and has a grand life because I think it has an amazing story already.  

It came from Wynnum as a seedling. Its parent lived next to one of the early farm houses out there, and overlooked Moreton Bay while being punched on a hill.  Then one day a bright spark poisoned it.  For better views, for possible root attack, for who knows why but they did.

So the owner built a big fence, bought a dog, and planted a tiny seedling that existed from it’s parent, back into the trunk of this poisoned beauty. I am happy to say that little seedling has taken root and grown to 1/3 of it parents size, and looks every but as good.

Now my little seedling has not been so nurtured as its sibling.  I popped it down the back yard of my property, watered it once, and left it there to do it’s thing.  It was going well until my dear dad ring barked the poor thing with a whipper snipper, and managed to take of two if its hanging roots.  There was not much I could do except hope it hangs in there.  A couple years passed and we moved.  But I figured my fig is coming as well.  It’s old place of residence has an uncertain future, and I have plan for a hopeful future for it.   

So now I live next to a creek and a park.  I asked my local council can I plant it down there.  The answer was yes and had the appropriate meeting and identified a location.  At last this Fig had found a real home.  I am also very lucky as I will be able to look out my kitchen window and see it in years to come.

Around 4pm on a lazy Sunday I put this little fig into its new home.  At 6am the next morning I pop my head over the fence to see how its going……….and its gone.  GONE.. what?

Feeling quite annoyed at my new neighbourhood I took pen to ply that afternoon and staked a notice in the park.  

there should be a pic here but I cant seem to get that working

Tuesday morning I look over the fence a bit depressed about it all, hoping it would be there……..and it was.  ITS BACK..what?  In pristine condition NOOO.  So I scurry off and pull my sign down.  My long shot had worked and I sore no reason to embarrass the culprit any more.

The next big adventure for it, and only a the next week, was the creek flooded.  Bit of a new event for me but I watched the water rise and rise to the tree.   I was quite worried about its fait.  It hung in there but lost all its mulch and some of its fill.  So I scurry off and rectified that in a jiffy.

Three months passed and the creek flooded again.  But this time higher then the 2011 floods that devastated Brisbane.  This time I looked out and the Fig was gone.  Under .5m of water was some ware where it once stood.  I dint feel so bad this time.  I kind of hoped it would take route down stream somewhere.  But accepted it was gone.  Saturday morning came, the rain had stopped, and I again looked out hoping to see but not expecting to, and to my amazement there it was.  It had been uprooted, had a wheel barrow of debris hanging off it, but in three months it had taken enough root to hold on.

So I scurry off to rectify it in a jiffy.  Stan it back up, some nice new dirt, some mulch and a sprinkle slow realise tucker for it.  Ahh I’m ecstatic by now.  

So after all the excitement of its first four months in the hood I went down to say Gday this afternoon.  It’s looking happy. It’s looking strong.  It has new growth, shiny leaves, and has attracted it’s first customer.  A testimony to nature if you give it a chance.  I love figs.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Reflex
Reflex's picture

Great story Jason. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and just love your sign but if you are going to call someone a "loser" at least take the time to check the spelling.wink

 Tree is looking good and strong now. Good luck and thanks for sharing your story.

Samford Valley Qld.

Woko
Woko's picture

A real labour of love there, jason. Hopefully, your efforts will bear fruit in both senses of the word.

jason

Haha come on Reflex, havent you knoticed my english is average at best.  I'm a bit surprised no one has comented already.  This site doesn't seem to have spell checking so I'm trouble.  

I'm greatful to whoever returned the tree though. I have no ill on them, kind of think they are more caring than not.  The council offered to put a mesh hoop thing around it but I declined.  Its easier and nicer to think people are better.  Though many years ago I watched trees planted by the council along Brisbane Road slowly get vandalised and ripped out over a couple months.  If I drive that strip into Ipswich now, I wonder how nice it would have been since its 25 years on.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

darinnightowl
darinnightowl's picture

Hi fellow Aussie I am miles away in New York and just finish reading some great posts because I had time to kill . Jason I've been down that track before. I am sure your kids will learn from all of this, and will carry it through for many years to come. Enjoy time with your kids & nature.

See it!  Hear it!

Mid-North Coast NSW

jason

Thanks Darinnightowl, yes it will be good for all of us.  I have back filled the re-taining wall in the front yard, and have sourced a tree list of local natives. Have to say in the small shrub 2-4m size, there seems to be uninspirational choices.  But mixed in with local ground covers and 1m plants we will make something happen.  In the end its the hopeful attracted occupants which bring the beauty and wonder. 

The kids have been patient, I keep banging on about what can be, but it all takes time, especially this dam shed.  No point planting until its up.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

jason

Hey I'm looking for some design input if you don't mind. I have a few ideas but it's usually good to get others. I'm looking at a max plant  height of 4 meters as the garden is 600mm aready above house level, and power, phone, and the neighbours winter sunlight has to be considered.   The sun comes from top of page in summer. There will be a 5ft (1200mm) high steel fence on the top of page as the front boundry.

We have a bedroom window in the lower right of page, so it would be nice to see possible action from there.  The window is also a bit lower than the garden, so probably look more at trunks and lower branches than the tops of plants.

Initally I thought some 3-4m shrubs down the right of page, 2-3m along the rock wall in the lower of page; then infront of these plants  have 1m shrubs.  Grasses along the rock wall, and more grasses around the rock pile and small bush rocks.  Just struggling what to put in the middle.  I am have been thinking a hollow log with ground cover, grasses, more little shrubs.  

What would you do.  Thanks

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

Jason, your plans seems to be aimed at creating a variety of habitats, including a fairly open area with native grasses, a log & a few small shrubs. This seems really good to me. I'd make sure that in spring & autumn there is plenty of sunlight falling on your rock wall & rock pile so that lizards will have good spots to take in the sun's warmth.

If you  have any natural bushland nearby take note of the spacing of plants there. That would be a guide for the spacing of your own plants.

The steel fence might be a good place to place a trellis on which you could grow a local creeper or two. I think Native Lilac Hardenbergia violacea might be local to your area but I'm confident there are others.

jason

Thanks Woko, decisions, decisions.  Actually one of the biggest challenges I have come across is finding local plants.  According to the Ipswich council my locals are not all that inspirational.  But the revegetating creek book I have which is a Brisbane publication, has 1000's of plants listed for each zone from in the water to the creeks edge, to the uppper banks and open wooded plains.  It reads any of these plants are welcomed as they are local to Brisbane. However the Ipswich council appears to have refined it a lot more, or perhaps has shortcut it and reduced the list to more common plants.  I see your suggestion is in the creek book, and looks pleasent as well.   

I do have some prickly options like Black Thorn (Bursaria spinosa) and Prickly Daviesia (Daviesia villifera) but will keep them more so for along the exterior of the fence.  From what I read prickly bushy plants are good for small birds.  I also hope it may slow down the riff raff from graffiting my fence.

Re to lay out, perhaps I should place my log near my window. It will see sun for half the day and I can hopfully spy it's occupants.  And then place a seat between the rock pile and entry and surround it with grasses. I may then be able to get lizards to the right, and birds in the centre.  

I have two little cheeky water dragons hanging around, which is great as I have trashed their world thus far.  Be nice to see them stay and bread.  It's still touch and go, but I think my Callistemon is hanging in there.  I really do hope it does, as that is where the dragons hung out around the most befor I moved it for the shed.  Also have a plan to create a rocky vegitated corridor from the front of the yard to the back and down to the rear fence where it's a short sprint accross the bike path to the creek.  Weather they take me up on it time will tell.   

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

I guess not all local natives have gloriously monstrous flowers with orgasmic perfume at 50 paces - if you get my drift. In fact, I reckon the bulk of Australia's gardeners have been seduced by introduced, large-flowering vegetation so it's little wonder that there's a habitat crisis in our towns & cities. However, restoring original habitats with all their attendant wildlife is totally inspirational in my opinion. 

Yes, prickly plants not only provide shelter but also great nesting places for birds. If you're efforts result in birds breeding you'll have added a most interesting dimension to your garden. Your idea of growing prickly plants as a graffiti stopper has considerable merit, too. 

A habitat corridor to the nearest natural habitat will almost certainly see not only water dragons but also other creatures such as frogs seeking to expand their ranges. 

I reckon you're on an exciting journey, Jason. 

jason

I think that is a good point Woko, big showy flowers with all the bling to ultimately bring in the ca-ching for whoever is pushing/promoting/selling them.  Still I have a Swamp Bloodwood for its huge leaves, gum nuts, and flowering plooms for those bling reasons.  Planted out of ignorance regarding "local" animals true requirements, but also planted because it was a native so had to be OK because it's Australian, so it was OK for whatever lived around me.  It's an easily blured line for a sale so a consumer feels better about the purchase.  But whos to say the seller or consumer are aware or even care about the detail regarding local and native.  It's only once you can see the bigger picture, and want that picture, it becomes more important.     

I'm finding this process quite the opposite to politics.  The more I know about plants the more intersting it becomes. Still can't get my head around botanic names, but working with a limited space, trying to make it diverse but populated enough with a few species so it has more than a passing interest to small birds and animals.  Then trying to cater for reptiles, birds, and butterflies food and housing interest for hopefully much of the year, is a fun and challenging evening filler.  I know it's not going to be as successful as the nirvarna in my head, but as you say it's an exciting journey.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

jason

Decided today I'm pulling the swamp bloodwood and golden penda out to exchange them for few more Plunkett Mallee.  Should make the locals happy, including me.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

Ah, the sacrifices we make! Swamp Bloodwood Eucalyptus ptychocarpa is a beautiful tree. I'm interested to learn about its long term survival outside its natural distribution in the Top End. A Gardener's Guide to Eucalypts tells me that it's "grown with success in Brisbane and elsewhere in Queensland."

Still, if you're into improving the habitat quality for your wildlife....

jason

Yes bloodwoods grow OK around Brisbane, well from the ones I have seen. How long for I can't say, but they are random as to whether thay are a good specimen or not.  The Plunkett Mallee is on the rare or threatened tree list I've been told, and is easily a worthy oponent for bloomage to the bloodwood. The smooth gnarly bark and form of the tree is also interesting.  I'm a bit of a fan of this tree and you can almost guarantee it will grow and perform well.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

It's a very attractive species from what I've seen via Google. From the distribution map I've seen I'm not sure that it's local to the Ipswich area although it might have been before so much land was cleared. Ipswich seems to be between several localities for Plunkett Mallee Eucalyptus curtisii so the species may well have lived in your area back in the day.

jason

Yes know what you mean, from my findings it's roots lay 60km Nth of Tamborine, which is at the foot plains of Mount Tamborine.  To the a novices' observations the land looks very similar from there to around my hood, and the distance is not great.  It's not impossible birds increased distribution, and humans then reduced it.  No doubt it's rarity is due to the small distribution of its original habitate. So it may be a little stretch on "true" local, but birds do fly, and Tamborine it a lot closer the Northern Australia.   

I also have to balance the family needs. We would like broken afternoon shade onto some grass near the pool in summer. A wall of these guys with their folage mostly from fence height to a couple meters above is going to work better than a plunkett, a bloodwood and a penda.  I'm also enjoy watching the bird activity in the afternoons whilst in the pool. From what have seen of the one in my parents garden I'm in for a show.  

I'm having a meeting with my local creek regen coordinator this weekend, so if he doesnt scare the day lights out of me I have plenty of scope to get the true known locals in out the back.  Actully a good clump of Wattles on the other side of the fence would make a good habitate of reasonable size for little birds.  Not infringe on park use, and provide a nice specticle to walk past.   Oh Woko it just gets bigger...     

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

Getting to know your local creek regeneration coordinator is an excellent way to go, jason.

timmo
timmo's picture

Hi Jason,

I've been following this thread with interest, though finding little time to actually reply.

All your updates, trials and tribulations and enthusiasm for natives is bringing a massive smile to my face, when life has been all work and frustration of late, so thank you so much! It's inspiring to see others out there doing their own little bit to help out nature in the suburbs. 

On the NPQ/SGAP sale thing, I think the plants available at the upcoming sale will be relatively similar to past sales, with the bulk of the same sellers, but people always have a handful of different things. I know my folks are working with Sunshine Coast group to propagate rare and endangered local plants as well as unusual plants from broader areas of the state.

I have both Plunkett Mallee and Swamp bloodwood here at my place, and they are both growing well, though I've planted a couple of Plunkett Mallee a little close together and I suspect one may have to go. Swamp bloodwoods have been a popular tree in Brissie over the past 30 years or so, and you see quite a number around - they are pretty obvious with their huge leaves. I've been disappointed with mine in terms of flowering, as it seems to bud and then the buds split and die and never get those beautiful big red blossoms. 

As far as spelling goes, don't worry about it, but if you care, Google Chrome has a built-in spell checker - though it may depend on the type of field being used on the web site, as it doesn't seem to work here... oh well.

Cheers

Tim

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

jason

Thanks Tim, glad you get a smile from my waffle.  Obviously you are busier than I, as I seem to get a fair bit of time to read and comment on here.  But I have to say it’s the only forum I am currently haunting.  I have discovered writing a responce in word with the benifit of spell check, then pasting it on here works.  But means you reply on your PC so it's a bit of extra time.  I’d imagine BiB HQ could tick the spell check box in the forum’s particulars, but it may cost more.  

In time it would not surprise me if I get into seed collecting and plant growing. I have always had an interest in trees, mores than birds or fauna for that matter.  Kind of worked on if the trees are there in plentiful numbers the rest will work itself out.  However I have found new depths of understanding and interest with this forum. I had only a small part of the picture.

Do you think at the sale I will find 

Shrubs 3-4m

Myoporum montanum - Boobialla

Jacksonia scoria - Dogwood

Acacia falcata - Falcate Wattle

Ground Cover 

Chrysocephalum apiculatum - Yellow Buttons

Eremophila debilis - Winter Apple

Lomandra filiformis - Wattle Mat Rush

Themeda triandra - Kangaroo Grass

Vines

Eustrephus latifolius - Wombat Berry

Hardenbergia violacea - Purple Coral Pea

Parsonia straminea - Twining Silkpod

I think according to the info I have regarding open forests and woodlands for my area, this is what I’ll start working with.

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Jason, I admire your passion with nature and wanting to vegetate not only your place but the park as well. Some people make it hard for people like us to vegetate anything. I still am actively trying to vegetate my garden which I rent privately, so I am limited to no large trees and a narrow strip of land. But I ain't letting my imagination stop me from planting trees. If I can't plant trees in the ground, I'll plant them on the surface of the ground. Plants are adaptable to everything I reckon. 

Every time I plant a plant someone comes along eventually and chops it down. Its really disheartening actually. I can sympathise with you and what you are doing in nature. But a thought came to me after reading a lot of what you wrote, and I am no expert at plants, gardening, etc. I thought (and I have this same problem here in Tenterfield, too, of very limited indigenious plant seedlings available), if you can obtain seeds of the plants you want to grow in your area rather than seedlings. Not only are seeds cheaper than seedlings you can grow more and actually give some away if you have a surplus. 

And that's where your fig tree story gave me an idea: if you grow plants from seeds and have lots of seedlings, you could put up a sign offering free tree seedlings to those potential tree thieves in your area. But also ask for donations of pots, compost, etc, to make your job easier. People steal plants because they want them but can't afford them. But if people see you are giving tree/plant seedlings away for free, it will more than likely bring out their better nature and will more than likely help you out with stuff. 

We rarely trade anything anymore in Australia - free stuff is almost not heard of anymore. Sure buying plants is expensive but they are not guaranteed to survive either. I found the best way to learn about plants and about them in particular is by experience - by growing them and observing them in nature and inside as they grow. 

I'm doing my own research on listing indigenious flora of Tenterfield, NSW, (that's where I live) and at some point in the future will be growing plants from seeds and giving seedlings away for free to whomever wants them.

On another note, I found the research done on plant communication fascinating. There's lots of videos on Youtube about it if you find the right ones. Its certainly given me a new way to think about plants. 

By the way, don't be discouraged by the fact your favourite plants are exotics. If you love them, and they're not invasive, keep them. You can always turn them into feature plants in your garden.

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

Woko
Woko's picture

Very encouraging, guys.

One way to get birds into your garden is to join a conservation or bush care group & encourage it to work in your area. Then you can link your garden with the nearest decent patch of native bushland.

Or you could become a phantom tree, shrub & groundcover planter & do likewise.

Another idea is to collect seed from the indigenous plants in your area & broadcast them into relatively weed-free places. (Check to see if you need a permit to collect seed from certain places. E.g., roadsides). Using this strategy requires patience as the germination of many seeds requires certain conditions to occur. E.g., Acacia seeds require heat or abrasion to crack their coatings. If you learn how to artificially treat seeds of certain species you can germinate your own in tubes or pots then plant out the results. If you have surplus you can give them away. Trees for Live in SA has a wonderful volunteer programme which operates along these lines. Check ww.treesforlife.org.au for details. Or you may  have a similar organisation in your state or locality.

When planting or broadcasting seed get an idea of the structure of the bushland that is nearest to where you live. Replicating this will enhance the chances of wildlife being attracted to your or your landgentry's property.

 Hyperbirds, I like your idea of ensuring that any exotic plants you want to keep are non-invasive. However, even non-invasive exotics are a poor substitute for the real thing if you're aiming to attract the wildlife community which once lived in your area.

jason

Thanks for the words of encouragement Hyperbirds.  Sorry to hear your work and enthusiasm gets removed or cut down, some people are so selfish and just don’t think.  Do look at a local bushcare group, you may find better results for yourself helping them out. I am only taking with no experience though.

I am lucky here, I have not seen many signs of vandalism, litter, or anti social behaviour in the park.  I’m hoping I’m just the start of the trend with a Scout hall in the park, and I’m aware of another interested person further along the creek. In time I may put small notice up with what, who, how, and your welcome. 

I may have enthusiasm, but I’m green as when it coms to plants, seeds and collection.  I think that is most likely a natural progression for me in the future, and I can see the many benefits of it, but at the moment I am very aware of I don’t want to be the Dad that forgot his family for his own interest. 

I have to admit finding local plants for my part of the world has not been that easy.  The council has a species list, but it’s more from the Bremer catchment area.  I’m not in that area, but it’s also not all that far away either.  I asked a friend who’s in Land for Wildlife for a local list but it never came.  Surfing the web looking at distribution maps is timely and at best fairly general from my reckoning.  So like you I am a bit lost in what is local and what isn’t.  I did think however it would be a nice little business venture perhaps, to create an Australian data base that one puts a post code into, and for a nominal fee you get all your local plants listed.

In a round about way I don’t have to know what are my local plants to a degree, they will show when the time is right. I have purchased the holly grail of land care books from what I read.  A little number called Bringing Back the Bush by Joan Bradley.   Have to thank Woko and others for their reading list in past posts.   Quite amazing what can be learned going back through past chats. I will also grab Weeds of the South East and Wetland Weeds in due course.  This goes hand in hand with my meeting with my local bush care chap. Best result for minimal effort was his chant, so I liked the sound of that.

Actually I’m off tomorrow to say Gday to my local group, and do a bit.  We also have the ball rolling on 300 to 400 plants and trees going in along both sides of a short stip of creek just behind my place.  And that clump of wattles on the other side of my fence is also a goer.   There was a fair focus on a realistic size that was not going become overwhelming for me.  No point trying to build Rome in one day basically, or walk away from it either.   I did get the impression however a tree is a tree to a bird, but I stipulated if I’m in, I would like them all to be local, not just native.  I’m even happy to buy what the local council can’t supply, there are a few community nursery around which make it virtually free for the plants in the end.  I’m guessing that is where I’ll cut my teeth with seed collection and propagation.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

Woko, I know what you mean that exotics are a poor substitute for the real thing. They have their place in nature just like our natives do, just like weeds do despite how much of a pain they are to eliminate. All that I was getting at is sometimes people don't want to get rid of an exotic plant or 3 and want to keep it/them for whatever reason. A plant is a plant and something will find it to be a food source or something useful to them. If there was nothing in the ground before the exotic plant/s were put there, and ants found the exotic plant/s to be a food source, if the plants were then pulled out where would the ants then be without that food source? Back to square one actually. Isn't that the point to nature and not how we humans see nature? Plants are there for themselves and depend upon animals for all kinds of things. Birds will adapt and so will all other creatures and the plants themselves because that's what they are designed to do. 

I can talk about exotics vs indigenious plants all day long but I won't. However I will just add: what's the difference between planting indigenious plants vs exotics taking into consideration the Woollemi Pine and other Gondwanaland plants still exist here in Australia? Which is the true exotic plant? And if exotic plants are being eaten from by some Aussie critter (feathered or otherwise) then would those plants be considered as a food source to those critters, and it be wrong to remove them just because they are exotics?

For example, if a Poplar tree was the most widespread plant in an area (as it is here in Tenterfield), do we chop them all down because they are exotic? A lot of people would say yes. But if you observe nature, Fruit bats eat nectar from the flowers each season as well as sharpen their teeth on their branches; Sulpur-crested Cockatoos eat their seed; skinks live in them; Eastern Rosellas and other birds roost in them; and more. Lose the trees and there's one less food source/shelter for these species. Birds prefer diversity in their food as much as we do. The more food variety there is the longer they will stay in an area. It makes their lives so much easier and simpler. That's my point in a nutshell.

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

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

So don't be the dad who forgot his family for his own interest. Its that simple! Don't put so much pressure on yourself. Just start small and do whatever you can when time permits. Nature has a way of taking care of itself, so the plants will still be there if you neglect your interest in them but your family might not be. Probably the best way to get the best of both worlds, in your case, is to start growing fruit trees from seeds. I know its not indigenious and probably not even native to Australia but you'll be providing food to your family and learning a skill in the long run. Learning how seeds germinate! Gotta start somewhere. 

I've previously tried growing native seeds but I think seeds have a mind of their own. Most of the native seeds I've tried growing (a good 80%) never germinated. I either don't have the knack for it or the seeds don't like me. 

Thanks for your advice, Jason, but as I've mentioned previously on this site the local Landcare folk are not all that helpful, nor is the local council for that matter. No-one in town has a complete list of indigenious plants for this area and no-one seems to care either. 

I think your business idea is awesome and a great idea. It would be exhausting work to see it through to completion and too time consuming without generous suppliers of information from across the continent. An awesome idea nontheless.

I have to admit a lot of the folks on this site know their plants as well as being an inspirational source of information. Their input is always appreciated and valued by me, and by others, too, of course. You know who you are folks!

Jason, do you have a list of indigenious plants of your area yet? Perhaps I can help you to add to it, if you're interested. Just me thinking out loud.

Below is a pic of my mandarin seeds that are beginning to germinate. A total of 3 are germinating and the rest are just starting to develope growth from the seed. All will germinate by the looks of it. The seed were obtained from a store bought Mandarin at Coles. and getting them to germinate is really easy too. I'm thinking - heck, where am I going to grow all these Mandarin trees? Eco-friendly "Green" shopping bags is where, because the bags automatically air prune the tree roots. Just keep up the leaf litter to it and it's its own ecosystem. I might give some of them away for free. 

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

Woko
Woko's picture

Interesting stuff, jason & Hyperbirds.

I think you're right, Hyperbirds, about removing all the exotic trees all at once & wildlife having nowhere to go. As has been mentioned by a number of folk on Birds in Backyards removal of exotics needs to be done carefully & gradually in concert with replacement with indigenous vegetation.

One of my concerns is with otherwise environmentally sensitive folk who chose to plant exotics without considering indigenous species.

Jason, I'd be wary about putting a lot of time & energy into producing a database of Australian plant species & their postcodes as you could find yourself re-inventing the wheel. There's a lot of information out there although as far as I know it hasn't been collated into an Australia-wide database yet & some of the data is incomplete. I have wondered if the Australian Plant Name Index (www.anbg.gov.au/apni/) could be easily adapted or extended to serve the function you're writing about. Also, have you thought about contact your state environment department about lists of indigenous plants?

You make a good point about committing so much to the environment that you neglect your family, Hyperbirds. It's important, I believe, to be aware of the limits within which you can work. Going outside those limits can make things go pear-shaped for all concerned.

My own experience tells me that by becoming interested in restoring habitats leads to all sorts of contacts with people with all sorts of knowledge I never knew existed. Doing some research on who does what in the environment can produce excellent dividends.

Hey, Hyperbirds, I can see 4 germinating seeds in your picture. At this rate I can also see a glut of mandarins on the market soon!

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

A point I forgot to mention, Woko, about removing exotics is it takes time for birds to realise they have a new source of native food to eat. It may take the birds a couple of years to realise the food is not poisonous to them. Birds also have to hone their survival skills when it comes to searching for food. That's to say, if these indigenious plants (insert indigenious plant species name here) were all removed from the area in the past and then revegetated back to life again, the bird life would check the plants out to see if it is edible or not. If it is they'd take note of that and then swarm to those plants the following year in larger numbers before any other species hears about it. And as most long lived native plants don't produce flowers until they are 7 years old it could be at least 10 years after a seedling is planted before birds have a good supply of food from that plant/s.  If you think about it, for most Aussie birds, that is most of their life. Only longer lived birds would really benefit from long lived Australian plants being revegetated. 

In my opinion, the maximum benefit you could give to plants and birds alike, is to start from the ground up. If the ground in which you are planting seedlings has compost or leaf litter of any kind on it, it attracts insects. Really bad soil can easily be made healthier in just a few years if you keep adding to it. I know you already know this, Woko, but insects and microorganisms are the key to getting plants healthy and the nutrients to the plants. Its complicated but so simple at the same time.

I like to think of it this way... in nature there's plant debris that falls to the ground. It basically stays there undisturbed until it finally rots away to nothing. Fungi grows and helps the plants to absorb more nutrients. A healthy ecosystem, whether massive in size or tiny with one plant in a pot, consists of fungi growing in it. You get those conditions right and your plants are getting all the nutrients they'll ever need. I think this is where us humans go wrong with compost, gardening, and the like. We are always disturbing the ground. We can't seem to leave the ground well enough alone to let nature take its course and create life.

Yes, there indeed are 4 germinating seeds in my picture. I just can't count when I'm tired and can't see straight. I'm still recovering from Bell's Palsy which I got in February this year. It affects my eyesight sometimes. I don't know if anyone is growing mandarin trees in town so it will be interesting to see them fruit in about 3 years time. The Torresian Crows seem to like mandarin scraps that I throw into my compost. Those birds will eat just about anything.

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

jason

Yeh I think that came out wrong.  I have no intension at all of creating a data base, just had a passing thought it would be great for starters like myself if it existed. I'm not overly concerned about not having a long list of local plants. As you say Woko, you meet someone here, and another there, and soon enough you meet the right person with the key.  Just finding this forum has been a wonderful resource of enlightenment.  And thank you for all the suggestions and comment. 

I dont mind what people grow really, but can't see any worth in true exotics. We don't have animals from other parts of the world so I can't see any worth, regardless of bloomage.  But also accept I don't get it from their point of view, just like they don't get it from mine.  I guess if we were all the same it would be dull, but it's also nice if people thought more like oneself.  

At present I also have an Evodia, and a Native Frangipani just starting out.  I was looking at the spacing between the bloodwood and the rest.  To be honest the spacing is adequete to put a Plunket Mallee in between them all minus a Golden Penda.  I can see Woko's perspective very easily, and if faced with a choice before planting, putting a local in so it can be as good as mum nature made it makes sense.  But one thing I have realised throughout life, it's good to have passion, it's good to have balance, and a bit of spice is also welcomed. Nature often has a bit of spice here and there.  So a few native exotics amongest the many loacals can't hurt if not invasive.  

It's also early days, and I have plenty to learn. Plus trees don't perform, wrong size, die, or just wrong for whatever reason, so it's possible for anything to happen. Something I need to do is make a little site plan of what is where, very helpful for a novice when called upon to know a little more than just the overall species name.             

Woko, don't think I'm suggesting you are not balanced.  You have endless passion for what you believe.  It is rare and you are not shy to ask people to constantly question what they are doing.  It certinally keeps me looking deeper into the results or dream I an looking for.  So thank you.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

jason

Wow that went well and I'm a little excited.  I think I have found a key.  

The coordinator Daryl, has over 20+ years in bushland rehabilitation, and was part of the founding movement in Brisbane, which has a very good reputation for such work apparently. Plus a bag of accreditation and some big word I can’t recall as a job.  But it’s in this field.  

About 10 of us planted another 100 tress and watered what has already been planted.  I brought to the party 800lt of water in a tank on trailer, so all the plants had a really good and probably final watering for themselves.  From what I saw perhaps 3 fatalities from 300 plants. It’s was quite inspirational really.  All very casual, friendly, simple, funny at times, and over in a few hours.   

The coordinator has been working with Ipswich council developing a seed base for local species, and the council is very keen to get stocks up and running and out there. They have indicated they can see the merrit of local native, not just native.  Daryl and I have a meeting penciled in for next week with the council for my part of the world, so hopefully the creek will have new inspiration before spring.   And then to cap it all off, I have movement (well indicated) on the shed, yah...big morning.  

Ipswich Shire Eastern flanks

Woko
Woko's picture

I read with interest your thoughts about the length of time it takes for native birds to adjust to new sources of native food & the time it takes for long-lived natives to produce flowers, Hyperbirds. I can't say I've taken particular note of these two factors but if I think about it I'd say that most of the plants I've grown have fairly quickly produced flowers & these have been quickly exploited by native birds & insects. I have noticed one particular species, Dryland Tea Tree Melaleuca lanceolata, a slow growing species, often takes a few years before producing flowers & then a few more years before birds & insects begin using the flowers. Perhaps plant productivity depends on the plant species. I'm not sure. Other posters may have observations to share on this matter.

The issue of compost in the soil is an interesting one. I strongly suspect there's an unconscious, even conscious, view at large in Australia that compost is good for the soil & good for plants. That may well be the case for many plants, exotics particularly, but from what I've observed & read the level & type of compost is important when considering soil conditions for Australian natives. In WA where, generally, the most beautiful of Australia's vegetation is found the soils on which the beatiful flowering plants grow is quite sandy & relatively low in nutrients. That flies in the face of the general notion that if you pour in the compost you'll get great plants. If I was revegetating a suburban block which had previously harboured exotics I'd be inclined to clear the exotics & then wait for a year or two for the high levels of nutrients to be leached from the soil before planting indigenous vegetation. It would undoubtedly upset any exotic-loving neighbours to see a barren "wasteland" for a couple of years but I would hope that my strategy would be for the environment, not my neighbours. The other consideration is that, having adapted to Australia's low phosphorous soils, many Australian natives dislike phosphorous & many of the fertilizers & composts used are high in phosphorous to suit exotics.

This is all probably getting a little away from your point about leaf litter, Hyperbirds, but I think it depends on what leaf litter. The litter from many Eucalypts contains toxins which suppress the germination of &, therefore, competition from, new Eucalypts. The toxins also suppress weeds in gardens where there are weeds. The litter breaks down very slowly so that the soil contains slow-release nutrients, an environment more suited to many Australian plants than to exotics. Litter from exotics decomposes faster providing a quick nutrient hit to the soil which would disadvantage many natives.

So, I believe it's important to consider carefully which natives you're growing where before thinking about nutrient levels. Generally, however, I avoid compost & fertilizers (as well as water unless the season has been extremely dry & I judge that recent plantings are in danger of dying) like the plague.

Looks like you're proceeding in leaps & bounds, Jason. Very satisfying, I imagine, particularly when you can shed development into the bargain!

Jason, it's difficult for most people, including myself, to get rid of plants that we're fond of. A bit like discarding a favourite, but holey, jacket. The other consideration is the circumstances in which you're living. E.g., I live in a high fire danger area where, to the north of us, there have been several bushfires lit by arsonists. So I'm conscious of the need to protect Ms Woko & our house (not to mention myself). To do this I've planted a row of Old Man Saltbush Atriplex nummularia on the north western side of our house as a relatively tall, non-invasive, fire-resistant screen. There's also a number of indigenous, fire-resistant groundcovers which have regenerated aided by minimum disturbance bushcare. So I've consciously &, I hope, carefully compromised on the total indigenous vegetation principle. But a little thought & planning can give our indigenous landscapes a big boost.

Shirley Hardy
Shirley Hardy's picture

jason wrote:

Hey I'm looking for some design input if you don't mind. I have a few ideas but it's usually good to get others. I'm looking at a max plant  height of 4 meters as the garden is 600mm aready above house level, and power, phone, and the neighbours winter sunlight has to be considered.   The sun comes from top of page in summer. There will be a 5ft (1200mm) high steel fence on the top of page as the front boundry.

We have a bedroom window in the lower right of page, so it would be nice to see possible action from there.  The window is also a bit lower than the garden, so probably look more at trunks and lower branches than the tops of plants.

Initally I thought some 3-4m shrubs down the right of page, 2-3m along the rock wall in the lower of page; then infront of these plants  have 1m shrubs.  Grasses along the rock wall, and more grasses around the rock pile and small bush rocks.  Just struggling what to put in the middle.  I am have been thinking a hollow log with ground cover, grasses, more little shrubs.  

What would you do.  Thanks

Hmm... I'd first decide what I want to attract to the garden then go from there. Without an actual picture of your backyard, Jason, it is a bit difficult to imagine things but I'll do my best with what you've given us to go by. 

Starting with the rock pile retaining wall by the bottom right window, I'd go with a spot for lizards to sunbake. If you don't have any rocks larger than 30cm in size to use, find broken concrete slabs, or anything really that absorbs heat. Ceramic pots (broken) are also good for this purpose too. Now considering the sun comes from the top of the page, I'd plant shrubs just to the right and behind the laid out concrete slabs for the lizards to sunbake on, so the rocks don't overheat and the lizards can stay there longer sunbaking. I'd create a sort of open sunny spot along probably half that retaining wall area just for lizards, with plants with big leaves (perhaps ferns?) or tall (say a few 1-2 metre erect shrubs); something lizards can retreat into if they overheat. I'd make the area a combination of hot and dry and cool and moist. Hot and dry in one area, cool and moist in the other. 

Going backward away from the rockwall and bottom right side window, I'd start planting things in the middle that create dappled light, especially in winter. But that's just me. I'd actually create, in the large open area, winding dirt paths that lead to a garden seat or picnic table, or something, surrounded by (in built up garden beds either sides of the dirt paths) local natives of various sizes. Kind of like creating a maze sort of thing. You could have all kinds of plants in those beds, from bottlebrushes, banksias, native lillies, to kangaroo grass. It'd create habitats for small birds, open areas for even more lizards, to even frogs residing there. You could add rocks, logs, statues, etc, or even add more (but buried) mini water features like you done for your son - which is brilliant by the way!

But as I said, it depends upon what you want to attract to your garden. The most important thing you want to attract to your garden are bees and insects - to pollinate everything and to build up a decent insect population which will attract insect eating birds. So, initially, you'd want to attract bees using flowers that may not be native locals, just to get the bees interested in your garden and to keep them coming back. I'd also take note of the colour of local native flowers in the area, or what coloured flowers the birds and bees are attracted to in your area. (In my area, red grevillea flowers, red coloured gum tree flowers, and yellow flowers from wattles and other flowers are the colours that attract the most bird and bee activity.) 

Also, on your rock wall, considering it has a height of 600mm, you could easily grow prostrate plants that hang over and down the wall. Prostrate grevilleas are good for this, especially red flowering ones (if red is a dominant bird/bee attractor colour in your area), as you'll attract nectar loving birds to it once it flowers. 

Now here's a thing to take into consideration - ANTS.  A lot of ants come inside looking for food. Why? Because there's no food for them outside where they live. The solution: plant several bushes that produce a LOT of nectar, escpecially in winter, and the ants will swarm to it. They'll choose the nectar over your house every time. And if you attract the insects into your soil to help break down the soil, the ants will eat those insects too. Ants are carnivores who also happen to like nectar if nothing else is available.

Enough for now as I have to go out. 

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

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