Creating a garden is one thing; but creating a garden with the Birds and Butterflies in mind is another.
It is true any garden will help create a sanctuary to those smaller creatures amongst us, but there are some plants that are essential in creating a useful habitit for specific creatures. We are extremely lucky here in North Queensland to be home to the Cairns Birdwing and Ulysses Butterfly. It is hard not to be in awe of such beauty: Ulysses for their stunning blue colouring and fleeting movements and the Cairns Birdwing for its size, colour and grace. Three plants for any gardener and landscaper to know are the Melicope rubra (Little Evodia), Melicope elleryana (Evodia) and Aristolochia tagala (Native Dutchman’s Pipe).
It is true that natives do provide the best for our native birds – but don’t discount how our feathered friends can adapt. Plants such as Metrosideros ‘Little Dugald’ (native to Polynesia) get covered in bright red bottle brush type flowers. I have witnessed countless Honey Eaters gorging on these spectacular flowers.
However, natives are the best in general for food, shelter, nesting and procreation. One of the best for the Townsville region (but not exclusively) is the Callistemon (now Melaleuca) – commonly known as the Bottle Brush. Callistemons have come a long way – there is a large variety in sizes and colours. From your border plants (under 1m) to your trees (up to 5m). Here in Townsville we are lucky that our Callistemons will flower many times a year – not just spring! By choosing Callistemons you are guaranteed your plants will be busy with Rainbow Lorikeets, Honey Eaters (including the stunning Blue Faced Honey Eater), bees and butterflies of all types!
For those with open space and well draining soil, you can’t go past the different Grevillea cultivars either. They tend to flower multiple times a year an attract all sorts of wonderful birds and insects. Just don’t forget to heavily amend clay soils with Gypsum, compost and mulch. If you have a spot that pools water, plant something else in that spot!
Other plants to consider are Buckinghamia celsissima -Ivory Curl, Banksia integrifolia -Coastal Banksia, Mimusops elengi -Red Condoo (for the Native Silkworm), Syzygium various –Lilly Pilly and Melaleuca various –Paperbark.