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Planting for the Birds

Welcome Birds into your Garden

As city dwellers, we sometimes, amidst the hustle and bustle of our everyday rush, forget that we share our urban spaces with our feathered friends and that, although they have very much adjusted to the challenges the city offers, they do still rely on us to provide for their needs.

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The African Hoopoe is a much loved local resident in Highveld gardens

Simply planting a tree or shrub, even in the smallest of gardens, will provide birds with a perch to rest their weary wings, a place to nest, shelter from wind and rain, a haven from danger, a smorgasbord of insects and a dessert of fruit and nectar to boot!

In return the birds will do their bit by controlling the insect population in your garden, aerating your soil and keeping it free of grubs and harmful worms and giving you their greatest gift – playful banter and an orchestra of birdsong!

In our recommendations of plants for a bird – friendly garden we have focused on Indigenous plants because, firstly, our indigenous birds are more attracted to and better adjusted to these plants and secondly, many estates and complexes adhere strictly to indigenous planting only.

Recommended Trees

All the trees listed are small to medium sized trees with non-invasive root systems that can be planted in small gardens as well.

  • Halleria lucida (Tree Fuchsia)
  • Searsia leptodictya (Mountain Karee)
  • Olea europaea africana (Wild Olive)
  • Rhamnus prinoides (African Dogwood)
  • Apodytes dimidiata (White Pear)
  • Mundulea sericea (Cork Bush)
  • Pittosporum viridiflorum (Cheesewood)
  • Ziziphus mucronata (Buffalo Thorn)
  • Ochna pulchra (Peeling Plane)
  • Heteropyxis natalensis (Lavender Tree)

Find out how to Plant Trees |HERE|

Recommended Shrubs

Dense shrubbery provides birds with a safe place to perch as well as an opportunity to scratch around and forage amongst the leaves and mulch on the garden floor. The shrubs of our choice all bear either colourful, nectar-rich flowers for the nectar-feeders, like sunbirds, or succulent fruits for the fruit-feeding birds – or both. The flowers also attract a range of insects to provide protein and fat for the ever-busy avians.

  1. Aloe
  2. Grewia occidentalis (Cross Berry)
  3. Leonotis leonurus (Wild Dagga)
  4. Leucadendron (Conebush)
  5. Leucospermum  (Pincushion)
  6. Erica spp. (Heather)
  7. Tecomaria capensis (Cape Honeysuckle)
  8. Buddleia spp (Sagewood)
  9. Carissa macrocarpa and Carissa bispinosa (Num-num)
  10. Ochna serrulata (Mickey Mouse bush)
  11. Plumbago auriculata (Cape Leadwort)
  12. Cassinopsis ilicifolia (Lemon Thorn)
  13. Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon Bush)
  14. Plectranthus spp (Spurflower)
  15. Pavetta lanceolata (Weeping Bride’s Bush)
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Kingfishers are found in areas with more wetland or humid conditions and are a joy to witness in ones garden.

Recommended Perennials and Cover Plants

Plant these as a border around the open area in your garden, leading into your woodland area or as groundcovers for the foragers.

  • Agapanthus spp (African lily)
  • Strelitzia reginae (Crane flower)
  • Kniphofia praecox (Red Hot Poker)
  • Watsonia spp. (Watsonia)
  • Protasparagus densiflorus var. (Asparagus ferns)
  • Rhoicissus spp. (Wild Grape)
  • Stachys aethiopica (African Stachys)
  • Clivia miniata (Bush Lily)

Recommended Grasses and Grass-like plants

Not only are ornamental and wild grasses and grass-like plants very trendy and water-wise, but they also provide birds with nesting materials, attract insects for the insect feeders and provide seeds for the seed-feeding birds.

  • Chlorophytum saundersiae (Weeping Anthericum)
  • Eragrostis spp. (Love grass)
  • Panicum maximum (Guinea grass)
  • Aloe cooperi (Grass Aloe)
  • Elegia tectorum (Cape thatching reed)
  • Crocosmia aurea (Falling stars)

“Everyone likes birds. What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?” – David Attenborough

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The Strelitzia or Crane Flower is a majestic plant which attracts many species of birds.

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