Bringing birds back to  your garden

I know its been very wet lately,and so the amount of time you can spend in the garden is very limited,but its really enjoyable seing the first signs of spring in the garden.So many plants and trees are  starting to wake up,after  their winter dormancy,and i find every day i notice something bursting into growth or buds opening,and ready to make their show.This in turn,is bringing alot of birdlife into our garden at this time of the year,so today i want to talk about some of these bird attracting trees and shrubs.

The tui cherry-PRUNUS CAMPANULATA SUPERBA are looking fantastic around the waikato at the moment-it must be a great for the tui population,having so many of these  now around the cities and countryside.I know alot of my landscaping clients are really wanting to put plants in their garden to attract more birdlife to their local area.which is great to see.In our own garden we currently have tuis feeding and singing in the old camellia trees,i think the older varieties have a lot more nectar in the flowers than the modern varieties.BANKSIA INTEGRIFOLIA - is another great nectar tree for attracting the birdlife-the plant we have in our garden is currently smothered in pale yellow  banksia flowers,and they are excellent value trees , because the flowers tend to stay on the bush for at least 6 months of the year,in fact i think we have some sort of flowering all year round.Its a great coastal plant because it does very well in light sandy soils,can withstand alot of wind,drought tolerant.The tree will get up to 5 metres in height,but dont be put off by this ,if you dont have the room,for such a big tree,because they can be easily kept at 2 metres high,they certainly respond well to trimming.

We also have an ECHIUM plant in full flower ,in our garden at the moment.Not exactly sure of the variety,but it looks amazing with its cobalt blue flower spikes.The echium is another great bird and bee attracting plant,and as i write this article,i am looking out the window at the waxeyes hanging upside down and gorging themselves with something tasty from the flowers.The echium is bi-annual-this means it only lives for 2 years-growing from the seed and forming a vegetative bush the first year and then flowering in the second year.The seed drops onto the ground below,and we keep about 5-6 seedlings,and so the cycle keeps going.We in fact have had echiums flowering in our garden every year for the last 6 years,i think a very worthwhile addition for any garden.The like excellent drainage,dont mind the wind,.There is a good variety called ECHIUM COBALT TOWER avaliable these days,this gets a little taller than the one in our garden, but with flower spikes up  to 1 metre long,it is a real sight in the garden.

Another plant attracting a great amount of interest from the birdlife, especially the waxeyes is the dwarf chinese lantern-ABUTILON MEGATAPONICUM- a real beauty for the smaller garden-grows just as well in a pot or in the garden.I like the fact that the one in our garden,flowers 365 days a year,and the birdlife in the winter seem,to really like the nectar from the small red and yellow  chinese lantern shaped flowers.This plant needs to be kept trimmed,to keep it nice and bushy and compact,and you can train it into any shape you like,its grown as a  bush,topiary standard, and can even be trained as a climber on a trellis.

Very shortly we will have the native kowhai making its vibrant show around the waikato countryside.There are quite a few varieties and selections of kowhais avaliable these days,  something for every sized garden.One of the best is  SOPHORA SUN KING-a reasonably new selection-glossy deeep green foliage with good sized waxy yellow flowers which appear in mass in spring.This plant will get to 5 metres tall,but it can be easily kept at half this size,by taking the top out of it,encouraging more sideways growth,than upwards..So dont let the height ,put you off,would make a lovely specimen tree for a smaller town section.

I know hamilton city has really been getting behind bringing back tuis and other birdlife to its city,and have literally planted many 1000's of kowhais around the city parks,riverbanks-i applaud this,and i am sure in a few years,this will add a real positive aspect to the city.

Lastly,but by no means least,if you want to encourage birdlife to your garden,then the NEW SOUTH WALES WARATAH-TELOPEA SPECIES  is another great plant,the extra large bright red flowers in late winter are a real eye catcher for people and birds.If you are into floral art,you will know how good this plant is for picking,the flowers will last for many weeks in water.Like most  australian natives,the waratah likes a low phosphate  soil, so dont feed it with general garden fertiliser,as it will make the foliage go a funny yellow sick looking colour,but you can buy a fertiliser from your plant shop,that specifically looks after south african and australian natives.The minute our waratah comes into flower,the birds are attracted to it,like a magnet,so another  very good option for "bringing birds to your garden"



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Graeme Burton - Landscaper - Rukuhia Homestead, RD2, Ohaupo 3882
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