Thanks for setting off this interesting discussion, Peter.
My garden is probably 95% native in volume (including 'lawn'), but exotics
play a very important role, and I love it when they serve native birds well.
Some of the things exotics do that natives (or most natives) cannot:
* Feed us well - we have been eating good quantities of tomatoes almost
every day since mid December (I still have two large trays ripening inside),
we frequently eat greens/herbs from the garden, and I'm looking forward to
water chestnuts ...
* give good shade in summer and let through the winter sun. We had a large
diseased eucalypt taken out on our SW boundary. This was replaced by
birches, and our neighbour has winter sun through her north facing glass (as
was designed for in the 60s!) through the morning and middle of the day for
the first time in 40 years (and we will have the late afternoon shade in mid
* provide cut flowers all year - proteas especially good this time of year,
roses at other times, and gardenias, daphne, wisteria, dogwoods, hellebores,
spring & autumn bulbs etc etc ... . Some natives that grow well in Canberra
are good, but most are too subtle or not sufficiently floriferous.
* provide sweet perfume (some natives very good here, too - eucs, wattles,
some grevilleas etc) - osmanthus, some species camellias, daphne, roses etc
etc - and lavender in the middle of the driveway and under the clothes line
My berberis are still too small, but in my parents' large country garden
their prickly berberis shrubs have in them dozens of small bird nests (esp
of fairy wrens) where they are protected from the currawongs.
On the other hand - why on earth do people who like formal, clipped gardens
plant box hedges when there are correas such as Dusky Bells ... etc ....
From: Peter Ormay
Sent: Thursday, May 19, 2011 11:54 PM
Subject: Re; Exotic plants for our native birds
Thank you Wendy.
I'm not advocating planting more exotic trees. My idea when I suggested
compiling information on exotic trees for native birds was to give people
who were looking for a decorative tree to plant a choice of selecting one
that will provide food for native species as well as be decorative.
A few years ago I saw about a dozen King Parrots feeding on some exotic
trees and on the ground under them in Yarralumla about this time of the
year. Their colour, contrasting with the autumn leaves was stunning. They
looked like Xmas decorations. I thought why aren't there more of these
trees planted? I think they were Pistachia chinensis trees. I'd rather
have more of those trees than the boring Pin Oaks that have dead leaves on
them all through winter.
asked people to