Written by Gardens For Wildlife Ballarat
Gardening is a wonderful pastime and so beneficial for our general wellbeing. No matter if the garden is big, small or just a few pots on a verandah or balcony, it is exciting to see a butterfly or dragonfly visit a plant we have been growing.
Gardens for Wildlife in Ballarat, part of a statewide program, is a community network for people interested in growing beautiful gardens that also offer habitat and shelter for our native wildlife. The program promotes the increased use of local (indigenous) plants as they are suited to local soil and climate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also grow a wide range of native and exotic plants including vegetables. All these components in your garden add to the habitat for wildlife.
Gardening to encourage wildlife doesn’t necessarily change what you are currently doing. It just means including a few more plants that we know benefit birds, frogs, lizards, butterflies, native bees and other insects, such as native grasses and daisies. This may also require you to think about how safe your garden is for wildlife and how to make better plant choices.
Living in Lucas means gardening on clay soil. It comes with some challenges but there is a range of plants that are suited to the local soil and environment and will also assist local wildlife.
Local plants may be mixed in with other plants and, as with most gardening, it is a good idea to keep plants with similar water and nutrient requirements together. Indigenous plants usually have lower water needs once established and don’t require a large amount of nutrients.
Just like us, wildlife needs shelter, food and access to water. Group plants together to provide layers and some height to the garden, add some mulch, rocks and a log or two. A complete garden makeover is not needed. You can begin by replacing a plant that has died or finding a bare area about 3m x 3m and add some groundcovers, small, medium and larger shrubs and a small tree. A reliable water source for a bird bath is also very important and it needs to be in the shade, especially during the summer.
Once you look at your garden and think about what wildlife needs then you may like to add a frog pond, a bee hotel, more daisies and correas or a nest box for bats or crimson rosellas.
There are a wide range of plants to include but here are a few suggestions:
Grass - Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), Common Tussock-grass (Poa labillardierei)
Daisies - Common Everlasting (Chrysocephalum apiculatum), Clustered Everlasting (Chrysocephalum semipapposum), Cut-leaf Daisy (Brachyscome multifida)
Groundcovers - Running Postman (Kennedia prostrata) Kidney Weed (Dichondra repens), Flax-lily (Dianella revoluta. Creeping Bossiaea (Bossiaea prostrata), Creeping Boobialla (Myroporum parvifolium)
Shrubs – Austral Indigo (Indigofera australis), Twiggy Daisy-bush (Olearia ramulosa)
Small Trees - Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa), Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata), River Bottlebrush (Callistemon sieberi)
website link https://gardensforwildlifeballarat.org/