Backyard Biodiversity

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Backyard Biodiversity
Encouraging wildlife into your garden not only helps with pest control, but also ensures you learn more about your native fauna.

As Australian cities expand and more land is cleared, fewer areas of habitat remain for native wildlife. This, coupled with the likely future impacts of climate change, make it imperative that we all do our bit to help native animals survive. Horticulturist and environmentalist, Joan Dillon, has spent the past 15 years encouraging a range of native animals into the garden. 

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Backyard Biodiversity

  The methods are working. There are at least I0O bird species—as well as lizards. bandicoots, wallabies and spectacular Richmond bird wing butterflies— all cohabitating on her four- hectare Land for Wildlife property situated at Hunchy, on Queensland's beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Much of the Dillon property is regenerated and replanted bushland on a former dairy and grazing property, bat loans 2000 square-met-e garden contains an eclectic mix ornamentals, native plants, an extensive orchard and productive vegetable garden Wrens and other birds regularly visit the patch to eat grubs and keep insects at bay and don’t spray with chemicals. The birds do some of the work, but she also plants according to the climate. For example, in humid weather, Joan avoids zucchini because they got powdery mildew.
Joan is conscious that, as our climate changes, Animals will not only need to move through the urban environment, but will require places in backyards to live. She encourages neighbours to work together to create corridors for wildlife movement but also celebrates planting attractive habitat enclaves in her own backyard.

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Backyard Biodiversity

A Favorite spot in the garden encapsulates the message perfectly. Joan has a cool haven that features a remnant sandpaper Fig. Ficus fraseri, Is fruit attracts masses of insects, which are food for the resident honey eaters. Birds splash in a water dish, hanging in the tree.
Small honeyeaters swing on a draping hoya vine and sip nectar From the splendid waxy flowers. A selection of shrubs beneath the tree's canopy produce fruit For the birds and lush green ferns provide the perfect ground cover. "it's not a large area of the garden, but there's food. water and shelter for birds and other animals that regularly visit. Providing some habitat lice this is easy For all of us to do.” Expert says. whose passion for plants and wildlife started in childhood. She loves nothing more than to spread the word about ways to attract Fauna into the garden.


The first step, says Joan. is to start by planting species that are suited to your local area. As well as rood these plants will provide homes for local birds and insects. Understand your soil. Some species, such as grevilleas, ere sensitive to water logging. And so they need a spot with good drainage.

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Backyard Biodiversity

Another of Joan’s practices is to plant in layers. Select a diverse range of species that grow to different heights. Ground covers provide shelter for insects and lizards low- and medium –growing shrubs are a haven for birds. and an upper storey provides shade protect on and habitat for larger birds. Small birds Ike to nest in prickly, native shrubs. Be aware that larger flowering grevilleas are likely to attract more dominant honeyeaters. Which often chase away the smaller birds. Planting some exotic favourites is fine, but Joan warns that it is very important to manage these carefully. Any seed or propagate easily might escape to invade bushland or local wale ways. It's also important to supply water for the birds to drink and bathe in. Joan suggests terracotta pot saucers, because they rarely bp over. Be sure to place the water near the habitat so that, when the birds or lizards are drinking they are well hidden and protected.
While most of us are hardwired to create neat gardens, Joan recommends deliberately leaving an untidy spot where lizards and other small animals can hide. "They love a pile of rocks, rotting logs and mulch litter. As the mulch breaks down, t creates Food For the insects and fungi in the soil Mulching with straw, hay and even pine bars also keeps the soil cool.
Joan believes one of the keys to creating an effective wildlife- friendly garden is to select a range of plant species so that your yard has something in flower and fruit all year. "Birds such as honeyeaters are essentially omnivores. They eat fruit, nectar and insects, and need that diversity of food all year.
Banksias are a great winter food source in south-east Queensland, check what s available near you. Know your region and its soils. Work with the landscape and its plant species to help create biodiversity, sustainability and lots more native wildlife to your garden. 

Most people visit a zoo to see a koala, but Emma Menzies is lucky enough to have them regularly visit her backyard. She lives at Marcus Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, and lists birds, fruit bats, frogs, lizards and snakes as inhabitants of her wildlife- friendly garden. Menzies' 870-square-mctrc patch includes fruit trees, vegetable garden and many native plants that attract the welcome menagerie. She started with a wish list of all the wildlife that she wanted to visit, and then did some research to plan the approach. Birds were top of the list so, as well as native trees, she added a birdbath to the garden. “I filled it with water and it’s amazing how many birds come to bathe every morning. Attracting some birds was literally that simple.'’ she says. She also has nest boxes in the trees designed to attract bats, possums and the birds. The Frog pond came next. Native grasses planted around the perimeter create shade and Menzies also added rocks and stones for the lizards and green tree frogs to hide under or sunbathe on.
She has cleverly planted fruit trees in amongst copses of native species that flower at the same time. While the birds happily rest on the Fruit trees, they prefer to feed on the natives, leaving the family’s tropical peaches alone.
Flowering plants attract native birds, bees and butterflies. Tried to both research and plant indigenous species that really Suit the area
In the beautiful country, with so much amazing wildlife and we need to look after it. You don't need a huge garden. You can easily plant some native trees or shrubs for habitat on a balcony.

FYNBOS Fragrance

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Corfetti bush (Coleonema)
If you’ve ever taken a stroll in an area where fynbos occurs naturally, you’ll know that it has a distinctive fragrance. Scents of honey and herbs fill the air. It’s as if you can smell the plants growing. Fragrance is a lot more evocative than most people realize – have you ever noticed how people close their eyes when they smell something nice? That’s because smell and memory are closely linked. 
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Pink Coleonema flowers
Perhaps you’d like to recapture some lovely memory by creating the fragrance of fynbos in your garden? You probably won’t get the full aromatic bouquet, but you can go a long way towards capturing that elusive scent.

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Agathosma ovate
The buchu family’s is responsible for many of the wonderful herby aromas of the fynbos. That’s because their leaves are covered with tiny gland that secrete aromatic oils. The popular confetti bush (Coleonema) is a member of the buchu family. If you brush your hand against the leaves and then smell them, you’ll get lovely herby scent that smells a bit like tea-tree oil. The confetti bush is also a great example to prove a point; fynbos isn’t all that difficult to grow and not all buchus are difficult garden subjects.

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Agathosma serpyllacea
The buchus tat fall into the genus Agathosma give you the widest range of fragrances imaginable. There are spicy aromas, lemon scents, garlic notes and ever liquorice fragrances. You’ll recognize agathosma plants by the characteristic pink, white or lilac powder-puff flowers that most of them produce in late winter and spring.

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Agathosma apiculata
Agathosma apiculato is responsible for the garlic fragrance you’ll encounter in coastal fynbos, especially after rain. It’s a distinctive aroma that conjures up pleasant memories for many of us. This low-growing shrub has white flowers, but it’s the leaves that give off the marvelous aroma.

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Hymenolepis critmoides

Pink or white-flowering Agathosma ciliaris has a delightful scent, and taller-growing Agathosma ovate gives off a spicy aroma that’s difficult to define.
There are quite a few species of buchu available commercially, but be warned; your nose gets overwhelmed once you’ve smelled a few and agter a while it gets difficult to distinguish one aroma from another! Still, it’s lots of fun shopping with your nose.

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Another important component of the fynbos fragrance is the scent oh honey. Of course, the honeybush (Cyclopia) is one of the plants that add this rich fragrance to the aroma of fynbos. This time it’s the flowers that give off the scent, and the clusters of bright golden blooms really brighten up a winter’s day.
Not all the honey-scented blooms of the fynbos appear in winter. If you’ve ever driven down Sir Lowry’s Pass in the summer, you may have noticed shrubs with silvery foliage topped off with saucer-sizes cluster of lime-green buds that open to reveal bright golden petals. This plants goes by the name Hymenolepis crithmoides – quite a mouthful!

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Cyclopia genistoides
Spring is the time when a pretty groundcover called Hermannia Pinnata flavours the air with a taste of honey. The little bell-like blooms hardly seem capable or producing such a strong scent!

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Coleonema pulchtum “Sunset Gold’
If you’d like to create a fynbos garden, the most important factor is drainage. Most fynbos plants don’t like wet feet, so lots of compost will get you off to a good start. Compost will also help your soil to retain water without being soggy, and since most fynbos plants have fine roots that easily become desiccated, a good layer of mulch will also help to get you plants safely established.
Fynbos plants are only delicate during the first few months after planting. Once their foots are established, they’re actually quite drought-tolerant. They don’t like having their roots disturbed, so don’t let weeds get too big and don’t dig over the soil when doing garden maintenance.

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Coleonema alba (white breath of heaven)

‘To feed or not to feed fynbos?’ Is a commond question that confuses horticulturist and gardeners a like. For many years it was believed that one should never give fynbos plants any fertilizer whatsoever. Here’s the low-down: don’t use superphosphate, and bonemeal is unnecessary! That’s it. Slow-release fertilizers, organic fertilizers or a light dressing of 3:1:5 well watered in are all safe to use on fynbos plants and will enhance their growth. If you want to add a bit of fertilizer to the backfill when planting, go for really good, controlled-release fertilizer, the sort that lasts 3-6 months, and don’t overdo it.

When the Eden Project in the UK planted fynbos in one of their domes, they decided to stick to the ‘no fertilizer for fynbos’s philosophy. The result? Their fynbos plants didn’t grow well.
Last but not least, you will get the best results if you prune your fynbos plants. The buchus and ericas prefer regular, light trimming – a light ‘haircut’ every now and the prevents them from looking woody and gives them a lovely shape. Honeybush prefers a hard prune after flowering and light trims from time to time once it resprouts.
Now all you need to do is place a garden bench near your scented garden, spend a few minutes relaxing there every day and breathing in that lovely bouquet of a aromas Fynbos