Native plants: bringing nature to the backyard

To celebrate Mental Health Week, NGT’s Lauren B. shared some wonderful insight into the vast benefits that being in nature brings to us, both in terms of our physical and mental wellbeing. Lately, the areas of nature within our reach have been reduced, either a little or a lot, depending on where we live.

Spending more time than usual at home, I have come to appreciate my immediate surrounds (i.e. the backyard) that bit more. So I’d like to share with you a few pictures to encourage how we can easily bring the many benefits of nature to us: with local, native plantings.

Growing plants from seed, or putting tubestock in the ground, helping them along and then watching the transformation and growth is something that can be hugely rewarding and is a part of gardening that many of us enjoy. Choosing local native plants for your home can bring something extra special, attracting biodiversity we might not normally see, including native insects, birds, frogs, and even mammals such as possums, gliders and bats!

Over the past few weeks, a grass tree that my partner grew from local seed seven years ago sprouted it’s first flower stem: the diversity of fauna – butterflies, bees, birds – that have visited the flower stem has been phenomenal! While this has been a particular hotspot for activity, there are wonderous nature experiences to be had all year round in a garden with native plants. It is extraordinary to think that by choosing native plants in our garden we may get to observe and witness interactions between plants and native animals that have evolved over thousands of years.

There are bucket-loads of studies that have now demonstrated that by simply looking out a window into nature or a green space we can reduce our stress levels, and how the activity of gardening can improve mental wellbeing. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to combine the two and look to bring some local natives into your home! We don’t all have a heap of space to work with; luckily there are many options when it comes to natives and a lot that will also do well in pots of all sizes!

If you are interested in planting natives at your place or diversifying what you already have and would like some help on where to start, or what to choose, just head to your local native plant nursery. If you’re located in the south-west of Victoria or South East SA, NGT’s nursery in Mt Gambier can help you. The most important thing is to ask for local native plants suited to your area and local conditions. As native gardeners we have a responsibility to plant what belongs – this is the best way to support native wildlife and avoid accidentally causing environmental weed issues. Who knows, you may one day have sugar gliders move in, like NGT volunteer Sue told us about here!

You might also like to get involved for Australian Pollinator Week between the 8th and 15th of November and watch the activity on a native flower in your backyard, or close to it, to contribute to our collective knowledge Australia’s native pollinators as part of the spring Wild Pollinator Count.

Lauren Kivisalu