By Justine Olivier

It may be surprising to some, but the majority of gardeners welcome birds and wildlife into their landscapes.

Indigenous gardens are said to attract wildlife far more than those with exotic plants. There is, however, plant life that repels insects and birdlife and those that attract them as well. Creating a combination of various trees, plants and shrubbery will ensure that the right type of wildlife is always welcome in your outdoor area.

Birds, bees and butterflies are the most welcomed of these wildlife species. “Big, indigenous trees will attract birds,” says Yochai Zlotnick, of Renaldo and YZ Gardens, “while smaller shrubs will attract an assortment of insects, butterflies and so on”.

Birds are attracted to the most welcoming of landscapes, mainly those that provide ample food and shelter to meet their needs. Birds such as the weaver thrive in areas where there is more than enough foliage with long leaves and/or grasses that are ideal to build their nests with.

Yochai says that the white pear – the apodytes dimidata – is great when attracting birds including rameron pigeons, red winged starlings, pied barbets and so on. What makes this tree so perfect is that it also attracts a whole host of insects due to the fragrance of the flowers. Bees are nature’s little natural transporters; they allow plants, flowers and even fruits and certain vegetables to thrive through pollination. Without them a whole range of foilage would not even exist.

As a result, allowing bees into your garden not only contributes towards the growth of various plants but also allows you to be enveloped in the beauty of nature.

Everyone loves the idea of butterflies flying around their garden. Certain plant species are highly attractive to these insects and will draw them into you garden. The candle bush, also known as grondboontjiebotterkassia, is very good when it comes to attracting butterflies as the larvae of butterflies feed on these leaves.

The bush violet, also known as the bosviooltje, is great to plant in your garden as it attracts yellow pansies, one of Gauteng’s most colourful butterflies. Geraniums, spur flowers, wild scabiosa, ribbon bush, as well as vernonia are also ideal to plant as they will draw these beautiful creatures into your garden.

“Plant different types of fruit and nut-bearing plants in order to attract a sustainable and mixed variety of wildlife,” says Craig de Necker, of The Friendly Plant.

“Plant some plants which offer fruits or berries that are not particularly attractive to animal life – these will provide a show in the garden and reduce the chances of overcrowding.”

He further adds that by providing food and building materials (through the correct plant life in your garden) in moderation can prevent overcrowding and dominance of a single species.

Always ensure proper planning and research, or talk to a professional about the type of wildlife you wish to attract and what will and won’t work. This will make you one step closer to obtaining the garden of your dreams.