Australian National Botanic Gardens

Sticky Everlasting - Xerochrysum viscosum - 3 Apr 2018

Golden Everlasting Xerochrysum viscosum

By: Michael Fox

Bright yellow Golden Everlastings provide a cheerful welcome to the Australian National Botanic Gardens (Canberra).

I particularly like ANBG because it recreates habitats ranging from rainforest gullies to central Australian desert, to present a wide variety of Australian plant species.


Australian Bluebell - Wahlenbergia stricta - 3 Apr 2018

Australian Bluebell Wahlenbergia stricta

Golden Everlastings Xerochrysum viscosum occur naturally in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian National Territory and Tasmania enjoying full sun and attracting native bees and feeding caterpillars of Australian Painted Lady butterflies. These spectacular plants are a great way to create a splash of colour in your Pollinator Link garden and your home as the flower heads can be easily cut, dried and preserved whist retaining colour for floral display.

Australian Bluebells Wahlenbergia stricta make a great show lining a “rocky creek” near the Visitor Centre. Australian Bluebells are widespread in most states and may often be seen flowering alongside highways in all habitats.

Austral Storks Bill - Pelargonium australe - 3 Apr 2018 - M Fox

Austral Storks Bill Pelargonium australe

A special discovery on this visit was Austral Storks Bill Pelargonium australe in flower. This beautiful hardy native geranium is widespread being found in semi arid, alpine areas and along the coast. Easy to propagate it grows well in containers with full sun or light shade so a good choice for Pollinator Link balcony gardens in unit blocks.


Native Wandering Jew - Aneilema acuminatum - 3 Apr 2018 - M Fox


Aneilema acuminatum Native Wandering Jew is an attractive delicate groundcover that can be used as Living Mulch to control weeds, retain water and keep the soil cool promoting soil health.


The most unusual discovery has to be the Banana Bush Tabernaemontana pandacaqui with its banana like fruit. An attractive and interesting plant occurring naturally in coastal Qld, northern NSW, WA and NT.  While its attractive white flowers and fascinating fruit the milky sap is toxic, similar to highly poisonous Oleander, so care should be taken.

Banana Bush - Tabernaemontana pandacaqui - 3 Apr 2018














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Cooee Motel: a surprise in country NSW

By: Michael Fox Gigandra

Travelling to Canberra over Easter and planning to visit the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo, we needed somewhere to stay overnight. We found Cooee Motel, a real gem in the small country town of Gilgandra, three hundred and thirty kilometres north-west of Sydney Harbour and surrounded by farm land.


We were just expecting a basic motel suitable for an overnight stay. What we found was an oasis created by our generous hosts Tony and Lois Smolders. After ten hours on the road I was surprised and delighted to be able to explore a large garden that met all the criteria of a Pollinator Link garden #WaterFoodShelter for birds, butterflies and bees.

Almost immediately I spotted a beautiful Australian Painted Lady Vanessa kershawi butterfly. I then had a pleasant thirty minutes checking out mature Casuarina and Cypress pine trees.

Cypress sp. - 30 Mar 2018

Cypress sp. 



A number of old growth trees with nest hollows providing Shelter have also been retained. Tree branches have not been trimmed close to trunk which means nest hollows are left for birds and possums.




Nest hollows - 30 Mar 2018Talking with Lois and Tony, I asked if the garden was public park land. I could hear the pride in their voices as they explained that the land is part of the Motel site. Rather than develop the whole site they generously chose to retain the habitat for wildlife and in the process create a relaxing space for travellers.

The Water, Food and Shelter available in this special habitat is used by Australian King-Parrots Alisterus scapularis, Western Rosella Platycercus icterotis, Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae and Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula using nest hollows and visited by Kangroos relaxing on the grass.

The generosity of our hosts was underlined when we entered a motel unit well equipped with the usual kettle, toaster and microwave. We felt really valued as customers when we realised that, unlike the majority of motel rooms we have stayed in, this unit was made welcoming and cheerful with good lighting not the parsimonious minimum low wattage lights.

Excellent habitat for wildlife and human travellers.

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Bushcare nursery thriving in backyard


By: Michael Fox

Greg Tasney’s passion for the environment and his generosity means that he has propagated more 1,000 plants for use in restoration of his Rocky Waterholes Bushcare site.

Walking round garden I was amazed by the diversity of plants: vines, grasses, shrubs, trees and wildlife in this standard suburban block. Greg’s effort and skill propagating plants for his Bushcare site and to share with others is an inspiration.


Joseph’s Coat Moth – Photo: Kerry  Sinigaglia

If you want to learn to propagate natives, Greg’s tip about Silver Plectranthus Plectranthus argentatus is a good start … read the Gardening Australia guide.

Kangaroo Vine, Water Vine Cissus antarctica is an attractive versatile creeper:

Climbing Maidenhair Fern 

Climbing Maidenhair Fern Lygodium microphyllum

Climbing Maidenhair Fern Lygodium microphyllum is an interesting option for shady spaces in the garden.

The Small-leaved Abutilon Abutilon oxycarpum is an attractive yellow flowering shrub 1.5 to 2 metre.

Greg refers to the Small-leaved Lilly Pilly Syzygium luehmannii  as a 7-Eleven for possums, fruit bats and Figbirds Sphecotheres vieilloti.

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Vine - Pararistolochia praevenosa - flower - 16 Oct 2016

Richmond Birdwing Vine flower

Plant the Richmond Birdwing Butterfly Vine Pararistolochia praevenosa in your Pollinator Link garden to be part of the project to save these beautiful butterflies. I received a report just last week of multiple sightings of Richmond Birdwing Ornithoptera richmondia So let’s make sure we are ready to welcome these beautiful butterflies back to our backyards.

Swamp Banksia Banksia robur As the name suggests this shrub will be happy in that wet spot on in your garden or can it will do well in a drier spot if water is provided. In full sun the yellow-green flowers provide food in the difficult Autumn / Winter seasons.

Lemon-scented Myrtle Backhousia citriodora Growing 5m tall and 3m wide in full sun this is an excellent screening tree to ground level. Bonus is the lemon scent from the leaves which can be used to make tea and works as a mozzie repellent. Birds visit the tree for fruit, insects and nectar.

Sweet Morinda Gynochthodes jasminoides

Sweet Morinda

A scrambling climber Sweet Morinda Gynochthodes jasminoides (previously: Morinda jasminoides)  is great for hiding an ugly corner and with pruning it makes an attractive bird sheltering shrub. Shiny leaves and sweet scented butterfly attracting flowers make this an attractive and useful addition to your garden.

Greg’s somewhat untidy gardens with garden waste recycled as lizard habitat obviously work with Eastern Water Skinks Eulamprus quoyii visiting.

Hairpin Banksia Banksia spinulosa is an attractive shrub growing to about 2m by 2m in a sunny position as part of a Verge Garden.

Spiders are not wildlife most people want in their backyard however when you hear the  ‘oop-oop-oop-oop’ of a Pheasant Coucal Centropus phasianinus that is something special.

Creek Mat-rush, Green Mat-rush Lomandra hystrix is typically thought to planted along creek however it also does well in much drier conditions. A useful Security Plant to restrict access for people and cats it is also caterpillar food for Splendid Ochre butterfly Trapezites symmomus.

Creek Satinash Syzygium australe forms an attractive hedge attracting fruit eating birds and providing bush food for people.

Native Mulberry Pipturus argenteus is an interesting bush food addition to Greg’s verge garden. Mothers will like the white fruit which will not stain clothes when kids have a mulberry fight. Fruit eating birds also visit and the tree will provide caterpillar food for Speckled Line-blue Catopyrops florinda, Varied Eggfly Hypolimnas bolina and Yellow Admiral Vanessa itea butterflies.

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Water Plants for Containers

Water plants for containers

Water Plants for Containers

If you have been inspired by Rob Lucas and his frog ponds download the excellent guide to water plants for small frog ponds from Native Plants Sunshine Coast.

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Urban wildlife oasis

Rob Lucas crop2

Rob loves his urban wildlife oasis

By: Michael Fox

Walking into Rob Lucas’ Pollinator Link® garden is like walking into an oasis for wildlife. Shady and cool it is also an oasis calm for people.

Gardens like Rob’s, support the volunteer restoration work of groups like Melrose Park Bushcare by providing water, food and shelter for wildlife moving through the urban habitat.

Tusked Frog and eggs - cropped

Tusked Frog and frog eggs

Water for wildlife is an important component of creating the cool micro-habitat of this garden.

A discarded child’s clam-shell has been used to create a frog pond large enough to host attractive water plants like Water Snowflake Nymphoides indica indigenous to south-east Queensland. Check with your local Community Nursery

Frog Pond

Old cook pot re-purposed as frog pond.

Evidence of success is a raft of frog eggs and a Tusked Frog Adelotus brevis hiding among the leaves.

You can build a frog pond.  A frog pond does not need to be expensive or even large. Evan an old cook pot can find a new life creating habitat for wildlife in the backyard.

Maintain some open water to encourage dragonflies to visit your garden. Dragonflies are beneficial insects providing free 24/7 pest control for you garden, with adult dragonflies feeding on mosquitoes and nymphs feeding on mosquito larvae in the water.

Blue-banded Bees Amegilla sp. are another special beneficial insect providing buzz pollination for your vegetable garden.

Australia has over 2,000 species of solitary bees, like the Blue-banded Bee. Solitary bees do not form colonies like Stingless Native Bees  Tetragonula sp. or European Honey Bees Apis mellifera. You can make your own Backyard Bee Home to provide Shelter for these valuable pollinators.

Waxflower Vine

Wax Flower Vine Hoya australis

Wax Flower Vine Hoya australis is a hardy versatile attractive native climber that does flowers well in sun but will tolerate deep shade and growing in pots or hanging baskets.

Food plant for Common Crow Euploea core butterfly caterpillars.



Dome Tent Spiders Cyrtophora moluccensis create webs peaked in a shape like a circus tent.

Spiders and moths like the Two-spots Tiger Moth Asota plagiata are food for birds like the Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides family nesting in the trees.


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Coorparoo Urban Forest

Red-fruited Palm-lily - Cordyline rubra lowres

Red-fruited Palm-lily Cordyline rubra

By: Michael Fox

Greg Neill’s Pollinator Link garden is an urban forest nestled on the edge of one of the appropriately named Coorparoo Finger Gullies.

Greg’s garden has: Water provided with birdbaths and frog pond, Food, like the Red-fruited Palm-lily Cordyline rubra, for fruit eating birds and Shelter like the termite nest used by Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae family.

Red-fruited Palm-lily with its distinctive red fruit and its narrow format (4m height and 50cm spread) is a useful plant for narrow borders or difficult corners.

Common Crow cropped

Common Crow butterfly on Pink-flowered Doughwood

Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus and Common Crow Euploea core butterflies visit to feed on nectar of the Pink-flowered Doughwood Melicope elleryana tree.


Wattle Blue - Theclinesthes miskini - 11 Jan 2018

Wattle Blue Theclinesthes miskini



Other butterflies in the garden include Wattle Blue Theclinesthes miskini and Bordered Rustic  Cupha prosope – caterpillar found.

Sightings have been uploaded to Bowerbird as part of our Pollinator Link research project. Bowerbird is a simple to use citizen science database that also feeds into the Atlas of Living Australia providing valuable information planning restoration of city Bushcare sites.

Creek Lily - Crinum pedunculatum - 11 Jan 2017 lowres

Creek Lily seed

Creek Lily Crinum pedunculatum adds to the rainforest feel of Greg’s garden and it attractive white flowers are very popular with Stingless Native Bees Tetragonula sp.

Scented Daphne Phaleria clerodendron and Giant Spear Lily Doryanthes palmeri are other species that create the rainforest habitat.

Frog Pond - 11 Jan 2018

Frog Pond



The frog pond is home to Striped Marsh Frogs Limnodynastes peroni.

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly - Orthetrum villosovittatum

Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum villosovittatum






The frog pond also attracts fun species like the Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly Orthetrum villosovittatum.





Brachychiton sp

Little Kurrajong Brachychiton bidwillii

The distinctive Brachychiton species like the Little Kurrajong Brachychiton bidwillii are an interesting addition to Brisbane gardens.



Finger Lime fruit 11 Jan 2018

Finger Lime Citrus australasica

Finger Lime Citrus australasica  are indigenous to south-east Queensland and food plant for Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus and Dainty Swallowtail Papilio anactus butterflies.

Finger Limes are interesting additions to your bushfood garden planting. Unlike better known oranges and lemons the juice is packaged in small capsules that look a bit like caviar and explode in your mouth as you bite down.


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Fourteen months to wildlife haven


Converting from 2D to 3D wildlife habitat

By: Michael Fox

Allison’s garden is a great example of a habitat haven created for wildlife and people. A typical suburban two-dimensional grass and dirt garden converted to a thriving wildlife habitat in just fourteen months. All without losing the inviting grassed play area for the kids.


Stingless Native Bee with large ball of pollen

Stingless Native Bees Tetragonula sp. are tiny black insects smaller than house flies that collect nectar and pollen to store in their hive. These tiny bees are amazing pollinators of everything from citrus to Macadamia Nut trees Macadamia integrifolia.

Unfortunately they sometimes also obsessively collect seeds of the local weed tree: Cadaghi Corymbia torelliana, that clog the entry to their hive.

Brushtail in box - Fox Gully Bushcare

Brushtail mum with joey – Fox Gully Bushcare

“If you build it, they will come.” Field of Dreams (movie)

In this case “Dale” the Brushtail Possum Trichosurus vulpecula has taken a tenancy. Visit Bunnings for a step by step guide to building your own Possum box.

Hoverflies are another but little known pollinator which also provide valuable pest control services in your garden. Hoverfly larvae are predators of many soft body insects such as aphids, scale insects, thrips and caterpillars.


Puddling Place

Butterfly Puddling Place

A Butterfly Puddling Place is a great way to provide water for wildlife. All animals need water, however, butterflies, bees and other insects, like hoverflies, need to be able to land and drink safely.

Male butterflies also collect minerals and salts that are transferred to the female during mating to help with egg development.


Hardenbergia violacea - flower - Aug 07

Native Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea


Native Sarsaparilla Hardenbergia violacea and Climbing Guinea Flower Hibbertia scandens are both tough spectacular natives that bees love and perform well as either ground cover scramblers or climbers.





Orchard Swallowtail - female - 2 Jan 2016

Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus on Finger Lime


The traditional backyard citrus trees or south-east Queensland native Finger Limes Citrus australasica are popular caterpillar food for Orchard Swallowtail Papilio aegeus.

Bee Home tennet close

Backyard Bee Home


A Backyard Bee Home is a good way to provide shelter for native solitary bees and range of other insects. Attracting insects to the garden is a valuable way to provide food for insect eating birds like the Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus and bonus you get free “natural” pest controllers like Orange Caterpillar Parasite Wasp.

Butterfly House




Allison also introduced me to Butterfly Houses something I had never heard of before. I am interested in following the progress with the Butterfly House as all the information I found online referred to winter in cold climates like the United Kingdom.

Frog Pond

Frog Pond



Frogs are serendipitous and welcome residents in Allison’s garden. An attractive frog pond replaced the out-of-control swimming pool and the Bleating Tree Frogs Litoria dentata use hollows in the pool fence for shelter.

Mozzie control is handled by Pacific Blue Eyes Pseudomugil signifer  native fish found in coastal streams along the east coast of Australia.

Mandevilla - Giant Pink - 5 Jan 2018

Sun Parasol Giant Pink – Common Crow caterpillar


An exotic species Sun Parasol Giant Pink Mandevilla hybrid provides caterpillar food for Common Crow Euploea core butterflies.



Frog Home 1 cropped

Vertical Wall with frog accommodation

Green Tree Frogs Litoria caerulea are even having special accommodation provided as part of the new vertical garden.

Allison’s Pollinator Link garden is providing links for wildlife and building links with neighbours who value the bumper crops resulting from the pollination services provided by native bees.

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