Garden design that’s just for the birds

DESIGNED specifically to attract birds and wildlife, Ben and Ros Walcott’s one-hectare Red Hill garden is a relaxing native haven with more than 4000 plants and at least 75 species of native birds, say the owners.

Open to the public for one day only on Sunday, September 18, to kick off the new Open Gardens Australia season, the spectacular garden features many rare and unusual natives – mostly Australian, but some from NZ – three large ponds, waterfalls and winding pathways throughout.

“Every plant is documented and labelled,” Ben says. “Ros also has a long necrology of plants that didn’t work out!”

The couple birdscaped the garden from the start, creating three distinct layers of trees, ground shrub and prickly bushes for nesting, and made sure something would always be in bloom.

“It ensures the birds stay throughout winter,” says Ros. “The meadow is a major bird attractor, although people always ask us when we’re going to fix up that area! But we needed an open area and it was never going to be a lawn.

“The meadow’s a mass of native grasses and absolutely full of seeds, so the birds love it. Unfortunately it gets a lot of weeds, too.

“In summer, the birds love the creek; they get in there and bathe.”

The water features are practical, too – rainwater is collected in the ponds, and it’s mixed with bore water for irrigation, says Ben.

“We use drip irrigation where practical, a microjet irrigation system for the plant areas and large jets for the meadow,” he says.

Ros says she and Ben love watching the birds and wildlife enjoying the garden.

“It’s like living in the country in the city,” she says. “We’ve learnt so much about native plants and birds over the years and it’s been an enjoyable process.”

“I love the pond area, with the infinity-edge pool,” adds Ben. “I like to sit out here before dinner and just enjoy the peace.”

Ben and Ros Walcott’s garden at 10 Wickham Crescent, Red Hill, will be open between 10am and 4.30pm on Sunday September 18. Entry is $6 per adult. Children under 18 are free. Scones with coffee and tea are available. Native plants for sale. Funds raised will go to Open Gardens Australia and Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

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