THE COTTAGE NURSERY

APRIL 5, 2015

Every  autumn and winter  we put out food for the native birds that come down from  the bush up in the hills above our house. Most native birds are nectar or insect  feeders, and so  we feed them sugar water  from  a big feeder hung in  the small trees at the back  of the house- mainly high enough  from  Tilly the cat!

In the middle of winter the birds can drink up to  2 litres of sugar water a day. We also  put old bread out  for the non-native seed feeders like the sparrows and the blackbirds  and thrushes and sometimes starlings. However everyone seems to like the apples that  we  peel  and then spear on  sharpened branches from  the old sweetheart rose that  grows wildly over the back   verandah roof!

Sometimes when  a horde of waxeyes  descend on fruit and water the arguments can  be fierce! Blackbirds hold sway over most  of the other birds, but sometimes an older  bellbird, and always the rare tui, will  outrank  a blackbird!  Very occasionally we might see a brilliantly coloured  Australian  parakeet that live in a small group  up  in  the high trees in the hills, who  comes  desperate for food in  mid-winter.

Up  until  a few years ago we would see a constant parade of  mallard and grey  ducks who  would first land on  our laundry    roof and then  lower themselves with  a loud flutter of wings and quacking, to  the back garden  area to  voraciously consume the bread there, and waggle their tails in  triumph and greed. Sadly for  no reason  known to us , the  ducks no  longer frequent our little  paradise or bring their little ducklings marching up  the front hall  if we left the front door open!

Because we have so many native birds in  the back garden they also    excrete the seeds  from  the native fruit they have eaten in  the bush, and little native seedlings sprout up  below the feeders and in  shady patches in the back yard.

It seemed a shame to waste these precious gifts, so  I began uprooting them from their homes between the bricks or in  the gravel, and putting them safely in  pots. The pot entourage grew! The plastic pots came from  the potted plants  we bought cheap at  fairs and  plant nursery bargain counters,  and the potting mix came from the beautiful  fine loam  created by  well rotted walnut leaves. And so the nursery  was born!

The birds in  their travels throughout the bush in  the hills above our home , bring us  kanono seed, makamako, a few kowhai, tree fuschia and many lemonwood, with  a few more exotic species from  time to time.

The vision is to  spread  more native plants,  uniquely adapted to our Dunedin weather and soil , throughout the city: to  create corridors of food for the native birds  that  fly between the ever-dwindling patches of native bush  around our city,  and to provide homes in the soil  for the myriad of insects and other native species that used to inhabit  this part of the world before the Europeans brought their environmental destruction  and European plants.

The Nursery

 

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