Trees: A haven for our feathered friends

There’s nothing quite like escaping from the hustle and bustle of life into a beautiful garden – yielding to the constant hum of birds calling away. Planting a tree even in the smallest of gardens is not only rewarding but an act of kindness to specimens who call it – HOME.

Our feathered friends rely on us to provide them with shelter from the wind and rain, a haven from danger, a perch to rest their weary wings, a place to nest and a dessert of fruit and nectar to boot. In return they do their bit by controlling the insect population in the garden, aerating the soil and keeping it free of grubs and harmful worms.

It’s important to understand which biome your garden falls under and what type of birds you can attract. Some bird species are strictly bushveld specimens, while others prefer riverine forests. But, if you’ve ever wondered which trees will welcome some feathered friends into your garden, here are a couple of our recommendations.

1. Heteropyxis natalensis – Lavender Tree

Nestled in your garden, this tree is an insect magnet, attracting bees, wasps and butterflies to its inconspicuous but sweetly scented flowers that occur from December to March. Known for its sweet-scenting leaves and blooms, this lovely tree is truly a gift that keeps on giving as insectivorous birds are attracted to it to feed off visiting insects.

2. Olea europaea africana – Wild olive Tree

The Wild Olive is loved by a variety of wildlife, from monkeys, mongooses, warthogs, to many birds (like the grey go away birds, African green pigeons, and the dark-capped bulbuls). Its flowers will attract many pollinating insects to your garden and bees tend to visit the flowers early in the morning when the scent is at its strongest.

When there’s a breeze, the tiny petals are like confetti blowing around the garden which is then followed by very decorative bunches of black berries with a fleshy red ‘cap’ that attract birds. It’s quite clear that if you plant this tree, you’ll certainly be encouraging some biodiversity, as the tree will also attract pollinators like butterflies and bees too.

3. Pittosporum viridiflorum – Cheesewood Tree

The Cheesewood is also an absolute ‘must-have’ for all wildlife gardens and is included in what is called the “exclusion area” of the wildlife garden. This tree attracts insectivorous birds due to the insects that come to the flowers and leaves. The seeds are also sought after by many birds, including African olive pigeons, doves, barbets and starlings, as well as francolins and guineafowls that feast on fruits that have fallen to the ground.

An interesting fact is that this evergreen was selected to be one of the South African trees of the year in 2002 because it’s ideal for both large and small gardens; and can grow naturally into a beautiful, minimal maintenance, well-shaped and medium-sized tree.

4. Apodytes dimidiata – White Pear

The White Pear is an excellent choice for the home garden with non-messy fruit and roots that do not disturb foundations or paved areas. Fruit-eating birds are usually attracted by the bright red aril attached to the seeds whilst insectivorous birds are often seen foraging for insects, particularly when this tree is in flower season. Many species of pollinating insects, including bees, visit the tree’s sweetly scented, pollen-laden flowers.

It’s an excellent time to plant a sturdy, luscious tree which welcomes the fragrance of some sweetly scented flowers and a magical birdsong orchestra into your garden.

Visit www.justtrees.co.za to make your purchase today.

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