By Lizette Salmon, Gardens for Wildlife Albury-Wodonga Project Officer for Wodonga Urban Landcare Network
I’ve had the privilege of visiting many wonderful habitat gardens across Albury-Wodonga, but to date I’ve only come across one that features exclusively indigenous (locally native) plants.
Despite being located in the middle of suburbia, stepping into Neil’s backyard is like stepping into the bush. Five years ago, Neil uprooted everything – lawns, trees, shrubs – to create a blank canvas on which to plant more than a hundred indigenous plant species occurring naturally within a 100km radius of Albury.
Neil began his pioneering approach at his back fence and progressively moved forward. Larger specimens including kurrajongs, cypress pines and taller acacias were placed along the periphery and other strategic spots. Native grasses were clustered at their feet, interspersed with an assortment of shrubs including grevilleas, banksias, acacias, tea trees, hop bush, salt bush and dillwynias. Splashes of colour and texture were added with assorted ground-dwellers including billy buttons, everlasting daisies, bush peas, diggers speedwell, pelargonium and native violets. When they’re young, he ‘babies’ his seedlings with a little hand-watering, saying we underestimate the number of losses in the bush.
A variety of larger native birds enjoy this miniature bushland, including blue-faced honeyeaters, parrots and noisy friarbirds. Aside from silvereyes and sparrows, smaller birds have yet to make a regular appearance because the garden isn’t located near a reserve or wildlife corridor. But with many skinks, geckoes and insects calling this place home, perhaps it’s just a matter of time before more of the little insectivorous birds make an appearance.
To view photos of Neil’s garden and his wildlife visitors, go to page 33 of Habitat Gardens of Albury-Wodonga: bit.ly/awgardens
Or, if you’re really keen to see his garden in the flesh, you can book one of two garden tours being held on Sunday 21 May. The ‘Local Legends’ tours are hosted by Gardens for Wildlife and led by Our Native Garden Nursery volunteers discussing their favourite indigenous plants.
Our Native Garden is a community-run nursery dedicated to growing and selling local native plants. It’s located at 29 Kane Rd, Wodonga and features a small demonstration with plants in more mature forms. Opening hours are Fridays 10-12 and Saturdays 11am-1pm, with further details at: ournativegarden.com.au
For bookings and information on the Local Legends garden tour visit: trybooking.com/CGZSO
Local Legends is generously sponsored by AlburyCity.