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An Oasis in the Suburbs

By David Thurley, Albury Councillor

When we think of living lightly we often think of reducing our consumption of fossil fuels by driving less and using a bicycle, cutting our energy consumption by switching off appliances and taking shorter showers and reducing the amount of water we use.  All of those measures are good but there are many other things we can do that will reduce our impact on the planet and help to restore damaged ecosystems and habitats.

Several years ago Sue and I looked at our garden and didn’t like what we saw; lots of lawn, standard roses and agapanthus and few trees and bushes to provide shade and shelter.  So on a 760m2 block we started again with a complete makeover.  The idea was to provide places that we could sit in, to reduce the consumption of water, to provide habitat for birds and other creatures and to reduce our energy consumption in gardening.

Now we have a healthy flourishing garden with no lawns, lots of native trees and bushes and gravel paths.  As a result we do not own a lawnmower of any of those fiendishly noisy blowers and whipper snippers.  The only tools we need to use are secateurs, clippers, lopping shears and a mulcher to recycle the prunings.

The trees we have planted give privacy and shade to our house and the garden changes throughout the year as the plants flower at different times and it is rare that there is no colour at all in the garden.

But the greatest benefit of all is that we have attracted many birds and other creatures to the garden because of the habitat and the sources of nectar.  Just outside the kitchen window we can see and hear the honey-eaters, the wattle birds and the friar birds as they collect the nectar from the Silver Princess eucalypts.  The parrots squawk in the taller trees at the front and the finches and smaller birds hide and play.

We have a pair of Striated Pardalotes who have raised chicks every year for the last three years, at least two Peron’s tree frogs and we occasionally meet a shy lizard or two.  It’s an oasis!